A while back, podcaster (http://bit.ly/cBRB9M) and buddy Daryl Surat talked about his trip to Sakuracon in Seattle, Washington. Present was Madhouse director Yoshiaki Kawajiri: he's responsible for Ninja Scroll (Jubei Ninpucho), Cyber City Oedo, and other titles that weren't popular at all in Japan but inspired cult followings in the States (http://bit.ly/NdSLAJ). At that convention, Kawajiri premiered a special treat: footage from a prospective sequel. This video was being shown around to potential investors, but it doesn't seem that the guys at Madhouse could get anyone to go for it.
I don't have any great insight on the subject. It just makes me a little sad, is all. The footage is starting to make its way around the Internet, and man, does it look like fun.
You know how in moe culture, every desirable characteristic is broken down and analyzed and reassembled, like “ahoge + yandere + siscon”? We all do this, it's just that otaku have actually made science out of it. For me, in this trailer, it's “ninja + snowboarding + sword”. He's snowboarding ON the sword. These people know what I want, not just from anime but from entertainment itself.
Unfortunately, things don't look so bright. We're talking about Ninja Scroll at all because it's one of those anime that's famous only outside of Japan. The film was no big success over there, nor was Kawajiri's other work. His fans are all here in the West. That's what he was doing in Seattle in the first place.
So here's what's crazy about this. Ninja Scroll is out of print in America. Manga Video USA let the license lapse a few years ago. We're not getting the Blu-ray either (but the UK is). Despite its huge success in the 90s, you just can't go to the store and buy the film anymore. The DVD was produced in large numbers (and in several different editions), but every version of the film commands around $50 on Amazon. American DVDs go for $15 to $30 at the most, so this is a clear case of audience demand exceeding the amount of Ninja Scroll DVDs out there.. and again, it's not a small number. The situation is like this for every single one of Kawajiri's films, with the exception of his recent Highlander movie and the recently re-released Demon City Shinjuku.
Money talks, and the story Amazon is telling about Ninja Scroll is that people still care about this movie. And they'll care a lot about a sequel.
So somebody, fund them! I'm begging you, Japan! America! France! Italy! Anybody! For the sake of all decent, good-hearted Americans, just get that magnificent motorcycle ninja on the screen!