A mysterious vagabond sets out on a journey to confront his past. Little does he know he is up against a demonic force of killers, with a ghost from his past as the leader.
Five years before the start of the film, the Yamashiro clan's chief retainers (vassal lords) dig gold out of a secret mine behind their lord's back. The lord of the Yamashiro clan wants to have the gold for himself, but his forces are not strong enough, so he cannot act alone. He also cannot go to the government first, because they would take the gold if they knew about the mine. He orders his ninja team, led by Gemma Himuro, to kill the chief retainers, claiming he would then report the mine to the government. Jubei Kibagami and Shinkuro are members of this ninja team. After the chief retainers are murdered, the Yamashiro lord does not report the mine to the government. Later, Gemma orders Shinkuro and others to kill Jubei, hoping they would all kill each other, thus eliminating everyone who knew about the mine. Reluctantly, Jubei kills Shinkuro and the others in self-defense. While Gemma is riding along a pass, Jubei springs from the snow and cuts off his head to avenge Shinkuro and the others. Jubei then becomes a wandering swordsman-for-hire.
A brief epilogue aboard the sinking wreckage of the Toyotomi ship show Jubei, resting from his injuries and mourning the death of Kagero, being complimented by Dakuan for giving Kagero a brief taste of happiness, musing with genuine respect how a "heartless ninja" like himself can never be capable of such sincerity and human kindness. Jubei saw through the spy's final ploy to silence him once they reach Edo for his payment, dissolves their partnership in disgust, and wanders into the wilderness alone once more, with Kagero's Headband tied around his Katana's scabbard in loving remembrance.Character designs aren’t the only disturbing or mature elements in play. Action sequences are truly brutal and graphic, spilling blood and organs with the best of the best. There are also several scenes featuring explicit nudity and sexuality, much of which appears in violent and abusive acts. It’s worth saying again; this one is not for kids.
CharactersThe characters are phenomenal in design, with several demonic warriors boasting powers and appearances that are still innovative and impressive twenty years after it was made. Not to mention intense. This film definitely brushes off the territory of disturbing and truly earns its 18 age rating.
A vagabond ninja who once served the Yamashiro clan and the main protagonist. The character is inspired by the famed Japanese folk hero Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi.
The official food taster for the Mochizuki clan's Chamberlain. Kagero has an immunity to poisons and her work as a food taster has resulted in her body becoming poisonous due to her ingestion of so many toxins and poisons; anyone who sleeps with or even kisses her therefore dies shortly after due to the poison in her body.
A shady government spy who is also sent to investigate and stop the Eight Demons of Kimon and their employer, the Shogun of the Dark who wishes to overthrow the government. The character is a homage to the famed Japanese monk Takuan Sōhō.
The Eight Devils of Kimon
They are eight demonic ninjas with supernatural powers, seven of which were gathered under Gemma Himuro's leadership after he reincarnated himself from Jubei's ambush, and appear to serve under the Shogun of the Dark.
The leader of the Eight Devils of Kimon and the last demon to be defeated. Genma formerly served under the Yamashiro clan and was decapitated by Jubei prior to the film's events, but has acquired immortality by mastering control of his body down to the tiniest bone and blood, allowing him to reconnect any and all severed body parts, even his head or if he is split from top to bottom; Genma can also shapeshift as a side effect of his mastery of his entire body. He can't be killed due to his immortality, but is instead encased in molten gold and trapped at the bottom of the ocean for eternity.
The second demon to be defeated, she is a seductive woman who has snake tattoos all over her body that can come to life, and can summon a larger quantity of snakes to envelope her victims, as well as shed her skin. She is killed by Yurimaru after she failed to kill Jubei, but also because of Yurimaru's jealousy towards her for being Gemma's lover.
The third demon to be defeated, he is a hunchbacked dwarf who holds a hornet's nest in his back, is able to control these insects to do his bidding, can shoot out a needle from his throat and wields a two-pronged spear. He is killed by Jubei in a fight under water when the hornets try to escape from the water, fatally stinging their master.
The fourth demon to be defeated, he is a blind swordsman who challenges Jubei to a fight to the death. He is an incredibly skilled swordsman, having an uncanny hearing ability to engage his enemy as well blinding his enemy by reflecting light from his sword. He is apparently the only Kimon Demon without supernatural powers. He is killed by Jubei during a sword duel which he loses due to Kageros sword blocking his own, which he could not hear, making it seem like Jubei had both blocked and attacked at the same time.
The fifth demon to be defeated, he has the ability to merge into the shadows, create clones of himself, fire a large metallic claw from his hand and even possess peoples' minds. He is killed by Jubei during Jubei's rescue of Kagero, whom he had been hypnotized to try to kill Jubei, when Jubei throws his sword into the shadows just as Shijima attempts to hide in them.
The sixth demon to be defeated and the right hand of Genma. Yurimaru has the ability of generate electricity from his body, and would combine with a steel wire that wraps around his target's neck to conduct the electricity. Zakuro "accidentally" blows him up during his fight with Jubei, most likely because of her hatred towards him after Yurimaru rejected her.
The seventh demon to be defeated. She is in love with Yurimaru, who instead loves Genma (Genma is apparently bisexual, as he apparently sleeps with both Yurimaru and Benisato); by this end, she is very vengeful and took revenge against Yurimaru for rejecting her. Zakuro has the ability to manipulate gunpowder, and plants them inside living or dead organisms, having them move as explosive traps. She is killed by Dakuan and Jubei on the ship when they ignite her gunpowder body
The Mochizuki clan chamberlain, he sends Kagero and the Koga clan ninja team to investigate the plague in Shimoda and she sends her reports to him throughout the film.
The captain for Koga clan ninja team.