ALL3920 Week 13


Position papers please.


I think I was expecting more out of 'Shinobi no mono'. I wasn't exactly impressed with anything in particular and there weren't any specific scenes that stood out to me except perhaps the scene where Goemon jumps over the tree branch with the other ninja still on the other end of the rope. While the other ninja was still hanging there, Goemon was fighting a second one and it seemed to me like a move you might see in a modern movie, too. But the scene, or that particular fight, didn't last very long. I think it might have been more interesting and a little more impressive had the fight taken longer.
Other than that, I think Nobunaga came off as rather ridiculous. It may be that my view is biased by preconceived notions attached to modern day norms, but he seemed to me like a little kid who was sure he would get whatever he wanted, and then had an army to back him up. I don't think I ever really saw him show his skills; he wasn't killed in a fight, but rather through stealth (which is understandable considering the movie is about ninjas). And he always carried around a cat, which was just...silly. I suppose that could be a historical thing, but I still think it gave him an air of foolishness that didn't fit with the role he was supposed to be playing, that of the villain. If it had been a more comedic movie, perhaps it would've worked better.
All in all, I think the fact that the movie surrounded around the life of shinobi took away from the action I would normally expect in jidaigeki. I think the idea of shinobi is mysterious and that watching them use their skills can be very interesting to watch; but I also think that this movie was a little too slow paced for me to enjoy that aspect of their society. Perhaps modern movies have skewed my view on ninjas and a more realistic approach to that lifestyle, like in this movie, was just too dull.

The best part of Shinobi No Mono was the plot. With the master of both training schools running back and forth between his competing places and no one knowing, the real stealth of a ninja can be seen. It would be hard to distinguish him as a step above all the lower ranks in his schools without having some kind of scheme worked out. I liked that we were let on to his trickery in the beginning so that the roles could be watched. If Yamamoto had waited until the end to reveal this secret to the viewer, he would have had to put a lot more emphasis on the masters than the rest of the story.

One scene that particularly stood out was that of the ambush in the woods of Nobunaga. In the scene before that, we have just seen Goemon informed that he only has one more chance to assassinate him (although these ‘one last chance’s stack up to a considerable number). The camera stays on a close-up of Goemon’s face for a few seconds, then fades to a crane shot of the woods as Nobunaga’s troops march through. We can see that there is a lot of foliage everywhere, it is hilly, and there are many trees to hide in. This transition between Goemon’s face and the raised, ‘hidden’ view of the camera give the suggestion that Nobunaga is being watched at that time, and not just by the camera. Someone else is in the woods. A little more time of peaceful marching ensues before the suspicion is confirmed, and an attack comes from the woods. What is interesting is that it was it was not Goemon afterall, but another assassin.

Another great point of interest comes in the ending of the film. Afterward I sat more shocked than at any in the past. A happy ending? Could it be?! From what it sounds like, no, it can not be when looking ahead to the second part. However, have Maki and Goemon happily united at the end is a drastic contrast to the other grim, sad tales told. Yes, the ninja garrison was destroyed, but throughout the film, we are taught not to feel too much for most ninja other than the dear Goemon. They prove to be lacking in honour and respect, however skilled at their work they may be. I would like to think that the ending is just as intended, and no ‘Part II’ exists.

Shinobi no Mono

The opening is very dark and dreary looking. Especially with the focus of
the crow, you get an ominous feeling. The opening text transitions in by
fading in and out. There is already an opening fight scene you can see both
men struggle. You can clearly tell the man who gets away is a ninja. The
map of Japan in the opening is also nice. An interesting scene is that of
the military stategy meeting the ninja’s have with the head sitting at
the front. It seems that appointing Goemon to help is Inone is a set up for
a possible romance as well. We see that the master is dressed and looks as
if he is sneaking out through secret passage ways. The movie is shot in
black and white and most of the time you can see shadows and parts of their
faces. We find out that Goemon and Inoue are actually having an affair, and
she is married to the master. Goemon ends up killing one of the people who
see them and Inone falls in to a well and dies. We see that Goemon runs
away and is caught by the master. In order to make up for his mistake he
has to kill Nobunaga, and regain his honor. Since other Ninja clans find
out that he will attempt to assassinate Nobunaga they will also try as

We see that the ninja’s have special talent better then the regular
human. They are stealthy, unnoticeable, and cunning. In this film it is
easy to tell who the ninjas are. However their costumes are not what we
expect to see in the main stream interpretation of a ninja, although they
do wear dark cloths. We also see a ninja star in the film, which is used to
by the ninja to disfigure his face. There are a lot of fade in to black
transitions as well. There is little to no music in this film. The majority
of the film gives off a mysterious and anticipating feeling. Goemon escapes
for awhile with Maki but is found again to finish his mission. In the end,
Goemon learns that the one master ruling two different groups to accomplish
one goal was his purpose. We also see that this film ends happily for
Goemon, although there were many deaths.

Shinobi no Mono uses a basic plot that has been adapted to be used in many different settings and eras. The basic premise is that there is a person with special skills who wants nothing more but to be able to live an ordinary life. However, for whatever reason, he is required to complete one last mission before he can retire. In the case of this film, his former master threatens the life of his wife and tells him that if he does not kill Nobunaga, the master will have the protagonist’s wife killed.

The majority of the film is spent letting us get to know the main character, Ishikawa Goemon. We see his skill in battle against fellow ninja, as well as seeing his developing desire to be free of the chaos and danger inherent in living as a ninja. Parts of the film seem somewhat reminiscent of Orochi, in that the situation is set up to be basically Goemon against the world, through no fault of his own. Unlike Orochi, however, in Shinobi no Mono, there is one man behind the scenes pulling the strings the entire time: Goemon’s master. Another feature of this film that reminded me somewhat of Orochi was the pace and style of the fight scenes. They seemed to feature far more acrobatics and were faster and more chaotic than the fights in some of the other films we’ve watched.

I don’t remember any particular scenes standing out that much to me. There were many scenes taking place at night, but that is to be expected in a ninja film. One thing that did stand out to me, however, was how well Nobunaga’s casual cruelty is portrayed. In the scene in which Nobunaga’s men have captured a ninja who had attempted to assassinate Nobunaga, although the professional torturers seemed to be squeamish about casually cutting off the captive’s ears, Nobunaga himself had no problem taking one of his lackey’s swords and using it to cut off the prisoner’s ears himself.

Shinobi No Mono is a film about ninjas and their lifestyles and codes. Unfortunately, either my computer did not like the digital copy version or the digital copy version was “scratched,” so I was only able to watch half of the movie, at which point every two or three seconds I watched would cause the film to freeze and revert back to the beginning. From what I did see, however, there were interesting new(er) ideas in this film than in previous ones we’ve seen. For instance, the opening scene of the movie was an action scene and a fight, only after which did the opening credits roll. This stands in stark contrast to every movie we have seen thus far, and contemporaneous films of both Eastern and Western film schools. The scene entailed a fantastical element, such as when the corpse robber jumped into the air (so high that he jumped off screen) and apparently was suspended there for a few seconds before reentering the shot and landing on the ground. Aside from this, however, the film seemed to dispel certain ninja myths—that actually could have sprouted in popular culture since the time of this film, now that I think about it. It shows the life of a ninja without the black mask, the ninja who must do mundane tasks and train in his spare time. It shows the politics involved even in ninja clans, such as the rivalries between various ninja clans and how they, instead of pooling resources in their common cause, compete against one another in their fight to be the first to assassinate Nobunaga. One interesting shot showed the Master agreeing with Goemon’s plan, then showing Goemon smiling smugly, setting his smug, arrogant character without any dialogue. An interesting aspect of the film in general is its inclusion of an extramarital affair, which seems to be an unpopular topic in older films, especially considering that this film deals largely with ninja/samurai themes, which would seemingly maintain a code that promotes a certain lifestyle through a nostalgic lens. I did not see the entire film, and I would have liked to see this play out, but I found it interesting nonetheless. The film also, oddly, used multicolored subtitles, to differentiate between multiple characters who speak either successively or simultaneously. I have never seen in any other film this nuance.

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Shinobi no Mono. It was kind of creepy. The music played a major role in making the movie uneasy feeling. The color and characters where kind of dark. In the beginning when we first see all the characters, I thought they all looked scary...mostly Sandayo. The movie is never very bright. This movie was also extremmely violent compared to the previous movies we have watched. Some scenes that made me cringe were of course the torture scene where he gets his ears cut off, the arrow shooting the cat, blood squirting in peoples' faces, the baby screaming while layining helplessly in a crowd of corpses, and the the arm of Goemon's father laying on the ground that got blown off. Those were all a little shocking. The woman who was buried alive up to her head shocked me as well. The last thing that freaked me out about the movie was Sandayo's face after he died. When it does the fade from his scary face to the calm face and back to the scary face, I was terrified!

I have some mixed feelings about the women in this movie. First of all, there were a lot of female character, which was kind of neat until you learn that they are all basically horny girls who just want to have sex. I did not like the way women were prtrayed in this movie. The only time I liked a woman character is when Nobunaga is attacked by a girl and instead of revealing her name and purpose when she fails to kill him, she remains silent and is punished greatly for it. I respected her. Maki wasn't too bad for the most part, but she was a prostitute to begin with which was aggrivating. The rest of the female characters were bimbos. All they thought about was sex and they acted really childish. This annoyed me.

Some things I liked about this movie were the weapons. Seeing a ninja movie was a nice change of pace from the samurai movies. I liked all the different weapons they used such as explosives and throwing stars. I also thought the poison dripping down the string was really clever. Also, I liked how this movie had somewhat of a happy ending. It didn't really seem to fit in, but I enjoyed the fact that Goemon and Maki got to be together in the end.

Shinobi no Mono
As the opening reveals a battlefield you are first introduced to two characters fighting each other. Their moves are acrobatic: swiping both with their arms and legs. At one point one of them dives to knock the other out by sliding into the other’s legs but it is avoided by a wide jump. This jump was interesting as the character jumps out of scene and comes back into the picture further in the background. This was unique as it makes the audience visualize the jump and guess how high he actually jumped.
In fact the way they run ridiculously fast seems to be a cinematic effect of speeding up the film in order to make it seem like the ninjas are moving faster than an average human. I noticed this twice in the film and both times caught my attention.
I thought the verbal fight between Yohachi and Goemon during the meeting was heightened by the cinematic effects of moving the screen back and forth always landing on close-up shots of each of their faces.
Later when the Master Sandayu confronts Goemon about his affair with the Master’s wife, they are in a small valley and the wind blows between their words. I thought this was a powerful scene where Goemon can not escape and Master Sandayu looks menacing and evil. Sandayu has turned Goemon into his pawn. Thus starts his real story.
Just like previous Jidaigeki films, Goemon must give up his ninja code in order to move on: he loves Maki. And the ninja code is heavily emphasized throughout the film. When Yohachi is first captured and endures torture only to mutilate his face before he dies. And later during the final battle when the remaining ninjas are outnumbered; some run towards the fire in order to burn their faces off so as to not to give their identities away. Although this code is pressed as important Goemon strips himself of this code. Although he was forced to steal earlier (and thus breaking the ninja code) when he meets Make he willingly gives up his code.

I really enjoyed Shinobi no Mono, or Ninja 1 as it is otherwise called, particularly for the twists and turns in the film. My jaw came close to dropping (if didn’t actually do so, that is) when I realized that the leaders of both “clans” was actually the same person and that he had been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. His disguise was rather believable, I thought. It was only until the camera showed him removing the wig and faux eyebrows that I reached the proper conclusion.

Plot-wise, one of the few things I downright detested was the out-of-nowhere, whirlwind romance between Goemon and Maki. I presume she is a woman of the brothel, and as I watched them spend the night together –a time elapse that is captured through various shots and changes in lighting—I couldn’t believe that they’d all the sudden fallen in love. They’ve known each other for a maximum of maybe 12-24 hours, yet they’re already making plans to run away together? The whole thing seemed rather sappy and melodramatic. Very much like Romeo and Juliet but more poorly executed.

Speaking of other dislikes, I didn’t appreciate Goemon’s character too much either. I cannot believe that a real ninja would ever be foolish enough to have an affair with his master’s wife. And then after he’s being punished for his disloyalty, he whines and complains about his master being “so cruel.” Yes, it turns out everything his master said and did was a total sham, but for the majority of the film, Goemon was not the least bit suspicious. Therefore, I don’t understand why he would question his master’s authority, if he were an honorable and dedicated ninja. In fact, throughout the whole movie, he just seems to have a lackluster part, even though he’s a central character. For someone who is so “intelligent and talented,” a young man with a promising future, or so the other members of the clan say, he just appears to be a bumbling, lecherous fool through most of the film. Perhaps he is redeemed a bit at the end, but otherwise, he’s a fool.

I thought the acrobatics were pretty impressive, considering this film was made in 1962. I noticed that whenever a person on screen did any sort of flip, they would do a flip that was really high and would soar over the range of the camera lens. Then as they were coming back down out of the arc of their flip, they would descend back into camera range. I’m guessing that was a trick or illusion to make the stunts look more believable. Either way, it was an interesting play with the camera.

On a final note, Nobunaga’s kitty was super cool.

Shinobi no Mono

This was one of the darkest movies we have seen so far. There was more than enough ultra-violence between the torture and fight scenes. The acrobatics in the movie were well done and a pleasure to watch, especially the fight between Goemon and the other ninja with the rope (and the opening scene with the corpse robber). The similarities between Shinobi no Mono and western spy thrillers (at least those similar to James Bond) was very interesting; a protagonist with superior martial ability, who has a taste for women, fighting against some ridiculous super villain with some sort of plan for global domination/extortion. I thought the plot twist with Goemon’s master was an interesting choice in the narrative. There were many bits of dialogue that were exceedingly creepy, and they were awesome. The one in particular that I remember was when the master’s wife was telling Goemon that her husband can spy on people via rat. The whole conversation between the two along with the particular, cinematographical decisions made by the director at that point were tense and weird. Another somewhat strange scene was when Goemon was running near the end and hearing the voice of his master urging him to go faster. The dialogue wasn't that strange, just the execution. The way he just bolts off to go kill evil cat man and while running is hearing this jerk critiquing his speed and urging him to move faster.
I didn’t notice anything worth mentioning about the music, but I did like some of the shots. My favorite was when Goemon’s master was watching his wife and Goemon. You could barely see his face through some boards. It was wonderfully strange and creepy. I also enjoyed when Goemon is looking down through a hole in the ceiling at evil cat man. Evil cat man is shown upside down lying in his bed through the hole. Just the fact that those directing decided to have him awkwardly upside down on the screen is pretty great. All the scenes were of low contrast too, only adding to the creepiness of much of the film.
I’m not sure why, but I really didn't like any of the characters in this movie. Maybe I just found them hard to relate to. But I really did like how dark it was.

The film Shinobi no Mono by Satsuo Yamamoto is a different kind of Jidaigeki. This is not your typical samurai film; instead it harbors the characteristics of ninja. As everyone knows, ninjas are not the same as samurai (though it could be argued through previous films like Jirokichi). Shinobi no Mono may be considered to be the first, and one of the only real, ninja films around. Most films after this were grossly over-romanticized, as are secret-agent films in America. The director’s utilization of the cinematography through the “special” effects, as well as the dialogue really make this film something different.
The first half, if not more, is almost completely dialogue. The main character, Goemon, isn’t shown often, but instead the plot of the assassination of Nobunaga is set up. Sandayu, the elder who trains Goemon, leads him to assassinate one of Nobunaga’s lords. Sandayu wants Goemon to successfully assassinate Nobunaga, and this is where the film takes off.
Something to note with the effects is that unlike all the other films, there are no katanas in this one. There are also no guns. This film uses traditional “ninja” weapons, like shurikens and shuko. There are also crafty devices that were used by ninjas also. One example is the bamboo read that was used to breathe underwater. There is also use of a poison rope (which is typical in a James Bond film). There is just a lot of craftiness going on in this movie, which make the ninja appear to be stealthy. There is also a lot of sneaking around trying to assassinate Nobunaga.
An interesting thing to note in this movie is that the ninja are working together. Unlike The Dark Knight, where Batman works by himself, or even James Bond who works alone, these ninja’s motives are a little bit muddled and put together for the group. This is however, typical of Japanese culture as the group is seen as a more important entity than the individual. I felt however that this aspect made Goemon less of an important character (unlike Jirokichi who was a real outlaw).
After getting into Shinobi no Mono, it was an interesting film to watch. It was unlike the others in the way that it showed more of a secretive attack than an honorable one. It was like the others in the way that it showed the importance of the group over the individual.

Shinobi no mono was interesting to compare with the samurai films. Like the samurai, the ninjas have certain codes to which they live by. The ninjas, however, didn’t seem to hold to their codes the way that the samurai do; it looked like the ninjas in the film were breaking codes left and right. For example, the ninja aren’t supposed to be attached to any women, but Goemon gets involved with Sandayu’s wife and, later on in the film, ends up falling in love with and marrying Maki. The ninja are also not supposed to steal, but Sandayu forces Goemon to become a burglar in order to complete a mission. They broke a lot of rules so that the rules could be enforced.

I wasn’t sure what the point of the opening scene was; Goemon posing as a corpse and getting in a fight with a corpse-robbing ninja didn’t really advance nor have any relevance to the plot of the film. The only things I could think of were either to demonstrate Goemon’s fighting skills (which were not that great because the other ninja got away) or to show that Goemon was against ninjas who were thieves (which is kind of ironic in that he later becomes a thief himself). This scene didn’t really make any sense to me; I wondered why Goemon was pretending to be a corpse in the first place and why, of all the corpses that the other ninja could have chosen, he just happened to pick Goemon’s body.

I liked the double life of the master; on one side he seemed quiet and reserved and on the other he was loud and aggressive. He used both of the groups to compete against each other to try to reach the same goal in the hope that it would make them more productive. Unfortunately, this plan did not work out and both groups were destroyed. It was kind of funny to know that he was telling everyone that a ninja should be deceptive and manipulative, but no one ever suspected him of deceiving them. The master was definitely the best ninja out of all of them, so I think he should have been able to kill Nobunaga by himself instead of making everything more complicated by pitting the two schools against each other.

Shinobi no mono
  The fighting scene at the beginning obviously showed that the film is about Ninjas. Acrobatic fighting with knifes (not the katana the samurai swords) with such costumes of Ninja.
  The setting of the film is before the Tokugawa period, it is the Warring States period (Sengoku jidai). The protagonist Ishikawa Goemon is a genin (a low ranking ninja) and aspiring to shusse (success in life) and eventually to become a master. His Ninjutsu is as good as master Sandayu in the Fujibayashi garrison. The film conflict seems to be an assassination of Oda Nobunaga but actually it is a conspiracy of Sandayu. After Goemon noticed his conspiracy, he quits ninja but he cannot escape from Sandayu because Maki, Goemon’s wife, got taken as hostage. Even thought Goemon fails to kill Nobunaga, Sandayu dies and Goemon is free to live with Maki.
  I thought it was interesting that Goemon becomes a hero when he quit the Ninja. Sandayu’s conspiracy reveals after Goemon meeting with Hata in Sakai. The real antagonist in the film is Sandayu, not Nobunaga. However, Sandayu is evil only from Goemon’s perspective. It was ironical that ending was ninja’s enemy Nobunaga killing Sandayu. Until Goemon notices Sandayu’s conspiracy, he wanted to become a ninja strong as Sandayu and all the ninjas goal is to kill Nobunaga. But Goemon quits ninja and Nobunaga raids ninja garrison and Sandayu dies.
  For visual aspects, there was an interesting transition in the film. The film contains several transitions with swipe, the swipe with motion match. And there were lots of long Shot as the one of the characteristics of Jidaigeki. However, the close up shots were very effective. The close up shots were only used for main characters so it was easy to remember their names and faces.
  One of the interesting scenes that struck me was the scene where Goemon assassinates Oda Nobunaga. It was very tense and I personally glad to see it because it is the famous story of Goemon tries to assassinate Nobunaga with poison while he asleep. The scene does not have music and this scene is the main goal for ninjas.

Shinobi No Mono-
Shinobi No Mono delves into a completely different vein than our previous Jidaigeki films and instead explores the seedy and deceitful world of the ninja. This film follows the story of a ninja in a conservative clan that focuses on Buddhist tenets who sleeps with his master’s wife, much because she throws herself at him due to her never being touched by her husband. We see the master himself watching this going on and later learn that he is leading a double life. In one village he leads a deeply religious and strict community while in the other he promotes physical pleasure and debauchery. These two villages are pitted against each other in pursuing the head of Nobunaga, a notorious man who is looking to conquer the entire region. We later find out the master has put these two villages against each other as a matter of ninja honor and pride in order to inspire each to work harder to destroy Nobunaga. This double life defines the master’s character and shows just how deeply his ninja will goes. By leading a double life in two differing worlds, he embodies the essence of the ninja in doing whatever is necessary to obtain results. For a ninja, nothing is off limits and any means necessary are acceptable. A ninja is expected to not compromise their order and must seek death or disfiguration in the face of capture by the enemy. This sort of ‘do or die’ mentality is what makes the ninja the soldier that is able to uphold society and its ideals by breaking all the rules of said society.
The thing that really caught my eye in this movie was the manipulation of lighting which lent heavily to the ninja atmosphere we feel throughout the entire movie. In particular, the scenes where the master is watching from the shadows shows an impressive use of lighting to convey his voyeur position perfectly in just a glance. Also, the weapons used in this film highlighted several staples ninjas are associated with such as the shuriken, sword, naginata and kusari-gama. This extensive show of weapons gives a feeling of expertise in the ninja seen on-screen and sets the atmosphere of the movie perfectly.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Anderson published on April 15, 2010 1:36 PM.

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