Amazing...I won't try to defend this for anything other than an incredibly gruesome, hallucinatory hour-and-a-half animated massacre, but what it does, it does so well. No film will desensitize you to the violent death of your fellow man more effectively than Ninja Scroll.
It's 'about' a wandering killer named Jubei, who in the mood-setting first scene tosses a rice ball into the air, puts an end to the lives of two highway robbers, then catches the ball and continues eating it. What it's really about, though, is the cast of villains, the Seven Devils, who seem like some sort of Jungain archetype of everything a good villian could concievably be. I'd be ruining some of the movie's best moments by listing all of their powers here; there are certain scenes where one of them reveals him or herself in a moment of unmatched grandueur; some of the best, though, include a sadistic bisexual lord whose body generates electricity and who runs nearly invisible metal wires across the countryside to zap his enemies, and a ninja who can sink into the shadows as into pools of water, and control the bodies of women in an absolutley disgusting way.
This is giving the stereotypical anime fan just what he wants, and there's a fair helping of sexuality as well. The movie stops just short of being crass, though, and has that uniquely Japanese way of making even the most hideous things somehow beautiful. Hardcore anime fans will not have lived fully until they've seen this; others, though, could probably benefit from it as well, if only by understanding a good deal of what anime ultraviolence is all about.