– Pokemon Essay, Research Paper

Anim? is the Japanese take on the word “animation”. It represents the

Japanese style of animating cartoons. However, not all anime is for

children. Majority imported to America is aimed at an adult audience-

containing deep storylines, graphic violence, gore, as well as nudity and

adult situations. This cinematic genre is a fast growing trend in the west

and can now possibly be considered the most popular phenomenon among

children, considering the success of the much-in-demand anime series

“Pok?mon”. Anime art is known for it’s characters’ big round eyes, abnormal

shaped hair, and it’s unique exaggeration of physical reality. Since anime

is basically movies translated into animation, it contains as many subgenres

as there are actual genres. However, the majority of anime contains some

type of action or martial arts, so I chose to discuss the action/horror

subgenre and will be using Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Ninja Scroll to aid in

describing its basic elements.

Action anime contains titles such as: Street Fighter II, Tekken, and

Battle Royal High School. Some titles I’ve come across that would fit horror

anime are: Shutendoji- the Star Hand Kid, Devilman, Biohunter and Vampire

Hunter D. I chose Ninja Scroll as my model not only because its animation

is “top-notch” and its storyline, in my opinion, is excellent, but it fits

both the action and horror subgenre.

Action/horror anime has three main character types: “the hero”, the

“damsel-in-distress”, and “the enemy”. The protagonist of the story, usually

male, is nothing short of a “superhero”. He’s smart, strong, brave, and

extraordinary, usually having some type of supernatural or uncanny power or

is extremely mastered in some type of martial art. He’s a mysterious,

isolated character, a lot of the time a wanderer, and is different from all

other characters in the story. We start off knowing little or nothing about

him, and as the story progresses, we learn more about his history and powers.

In Ninja Scroll, the hero of the story is Jubei, a mercenary ninja hired for

money. He proves in many confrontations to be extremely skilled in using a

sword, and through combining skills, brains, and the help from his trusty

blade usually comes out on top, no matter the number or strength of his

adversaries. The characters of the story are familiar with his skills and he

is known as a master swordsman.

The next character type is the “damsel-in-distress” character. There is

usually a character (or group of characters) aside from the hero and enemy

who is in need of aid or saving. Usually it’s a helpless, victimized, female

character that ends up falling madly in love with the hero. Kagero, a female

ninja, best fits the description of this character. Because she is a ninja,

she’s not as helpless as some might imagine the “damsel-in-distress”

character to be, but she is constantly victimized (helplessly raped twice by

two different enemy demons) and is saved a countless number of times by

Jubei. Sure enough, in the end, she falls in love with Jubei, the only man

to ever steal her heart.

The third main character type is “the enemy”. The “head” antagonist,

usually male, is a hideous monster in horror anime, and in action anime

almost always possesses supernatural powers. He seems much more invincible

and usually batters in the climax, but he always has a weakness for the hero

to capitalize on. He is impure, immoral, unethical and, in short, evil. His

heart has no remorse for his actions and for those suffering from them. The

enemy, like the hero, is unknown to us and is gradually introduced throughout

the story. The enemy of this story is Himuro Gemma. Gemma is a bisexual,

immortal human with the ability to reincarnate himself. In his early days,

he caused Jubei and his friends to turn on each other, forcing Jubei to kill

them. He poisons an entire village, and with the help of his henchmen, plans

to take over an already dark army of ninjas. There are usually lower

division henchmen that the hero must face before confronting the “boss” enemy

in the climax. In Ninja Scroll, there are the Eight Devils of Kimon, each a

demon possessing supernatural powers, and one by one they confront Jubei.

This story contains an extra element of enemy characters I call “soldiers”.

They are armies of henchmen, led by the head boss. They fight in large

numbers, but pose absolutely no threat to the hero. They are there simply to

display the hero’s strength and skill as the hero easily slaughters them.

These soldiers are ninjas in Ninja Scroll but are monsters in most horror


Also, most action/horror anime follow a similar plot pattern. It starts with

an introduction of the characters. Anime films like Ninja Scroll start of

with an introduction of the hero that would give us a sense of his power and

skill. The opening scene of Ninja Scroll is Jubei walking through a storm

where he is surprisingly ambushed by three thugs. Jubei effortlessly kills

two, disarms the third, and resolves the rest of the conflict verbally. We

are left here with a sense of his personality and the potential of his

fighting abilities. Gradually, as mentioned before, we are introduced to the

rest of his character as well as his history and past. Next, the main

conflict is introduced. Two random villagers are having a conversation when

a diseased girl (mind-controlled by one of the demons) let’s them know that

everyone in her village is dead. This is the introduction of the main

conflict. The rest of the conflict is exposed throughout the film.

Next, the damsel is put in danger or is captured by the enemy. The demons

throughout the movie capture Kagero several times, and in the end, Gemma

takes her life. The hero then must find and rescue the damsel. Jubei saves

Kagero every time she’s captured. After, the hero journeys to confront the

main antagonist. On the way, he defeats the last of the henchmen and lower

division enemies.

When it comes time for the climax, the hero usually has a score to settle

with the enemy. Here, Jubei not only tries to stop Gemma’s reign of evil,

but also seeks vengeance for the death of Kagero. There’s a long and brutal

confrontation, favoring the almost invincible enemy. Jubei is beaten close

to death, but in the very end manages to find a weakness and kill Gemma.

This scenario is similar in most action/horror anime. Finally, the

resolution shows the direction each character is headed- Jubei continues

wandering the earth with his memory of Kagero and his experiences with Gemma

and the Eight Devils of Kimon.

Although there is an extremely large selection of anime, even within the

action/horror subgenre, they share similar qualities and patterns in the plot

and characters. The genre keeps its diversity through differences in its

animation and storyline of each individual movie.


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