Ninjas have been known for their assassinations and espionage missions since ancient times in Japan. Nowadays, they are popular not only in Japan but also among foreign audiences, and the term “ninja” has become widely recognized worldwide. Ninjas, who skillfully use shurikens and ninjutsu techniques, is undeniably cool.
Anime and manga have long featured works centred around ninjas. Techniques like “Fire Style Jutsu” and “Transformation Technique” have been the aspirations of many children. In the following sections, I will introduce five selected anime series that showcase the adventures of ninjas, including “Naruto” and “Ninku -Ninja Scroll-
One of the most famous works in the ninja-themed genre is “Naruto,” created by Masashi Kishimoto.
Naruto Uzumaki, a mischievous and aspiring young boy from the Hidden Leaf Village, dreams of becoming a Hokage, the leader of the ninjas. Unbeknownst to many, Naruto carries the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed within him, which has caused him to be shunned by adults and experience a lonely childhood.
After graduating from the Ninja Academy, Naruto is assigned to Team 7 under the leadership of Jonin-level ninja Hatake Kakashi, alongside Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno. Their next challenge awaits them in the Chunin Exams, a gathering of ninjas from various villages.
Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1999 to 2014, “Naruto” had a long anime series that aired from 2002 to 2017. Its sequel series, “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations,” has been airing since April 2017.
Watching Naruto, who initially struggled academically, grow through missions and exams, reminds us of the importance of “effort.” The process of Naruto gradually gaining understanding and companionship from those around him is also profoundly moving.
Basilisk is a manga series written by Masaki Segawa, serialized in Young Magazine Uppers from 2003 to 2004. It was later adapted into a 24-episode anime series produced by GONZO, which aired from April to September 2005.
In the story, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who is torn between choosing his successor from two brothers, decides to pit the Kōga and Iga ninja clans against each other, with the victor deciding the outcome. Kōga’s Gennosuke and Iga’s Oboro, who were once in love, vow to bring peace between their respective clans. However, they find themselves manipulated by a cruel fate.
The Kōga and Iga clans select ten of their finest ninja to engage in a deadly battle, utilizing their unique ninja techniques. The struggles of these ninjas, burdened with various emotions such as love, loyalty, and hatred, are poignant and heartrending.
The manga NINKU by Kouta Hirano is a work that revolves around a fictional martial art called “Ninku,” which combines ninjutsu and karate. The anime adaptation aired for 55 episodes from 1995 to 1996.
When a war between the Imperial Army and the Republic Army, the Imperial Army is pushed to the brink of destruction by a faction known as the Ninku, however, when the Ninku suddenly disbands, the war comes to a close with the victory of the Imperial Army.
In the post-war period, the Imperial Army, fearing the power of the Ninku, began hunting them down. Fūsuke, a kind-hearted boy who loves peace, embarks on a journey to stop the Imperial Army’s evil deeds.
While the series features a lot of comedy, the battles using Ninku techniques are intense. Fūsuke and his companions face various enemies along their journey while heartwarming stories also unfold.
4. Ninja Slayer From Animation
Ninja Slayer From Animation is an anime adaptation of the novel Ninja Slayer, created by American authors Bradley Bond and Philip “Ninj@” Morzez. The anime series, produced by TRIGGER, aired for 26 episodes from April to October 2015.
The story follows an ordinary “salaryman” named Fujikido Kenji, who gets caught up in a conflict between ninja organizations known as the “Soukai Syndicate” on Christmas Day, resulting in the loss of his wife and children. While facing imminent death, Kenji is possessed by a mysterious ninja soul called “Naraku Ninja,” which allows him to survive. Determined to seek revenge against the ninjas involved, Kenji becomes the “Ninja Slayer.”
The series presents a unique world that sets itself apart from actual Japan, as it is depicted through the lens of foreign imagination. It features distinct phrases that leave a lasting impression, such as shouting “Namamidabutsu!” (a Buddhist chant) in moments of despair and referring to everyday incidents as “Chamemi Incidents.” Set on the massive artificial island of Neo-Saitama, the stage is set for intense battles between Ninja Slayer and the various ninjas.
5. Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash
The anime Senran Kagura aired from January to March 2013. It has a sequel titled Senran Kagura SHINOVI MASTER -Tokyo Youma-hen- which aired between October and December 2018. Initially, it was a Nintendo 3DS game released under the genre of “hyper-busty battle.”
The story occurs in the National Hanzo Academy (Kokuritsu Hanzou Gakuin), established to train “good shinobi” who serve the country. Asuka, a second-year student in the Shinobi Department, embarked on her training alongside the calm and composed Ikaruga, and the compassionate Katsuragi, among others, to become top-class ninjas.
The voluptuous and beautiful girl ninjas engage in intense battles, while the series also offers ample fan service with scenes featuring bouncing breasts and panty shots. Throughout the story, they encounter conflicts with the “evil shinobi” known as Homura and others. Understanding the backgrounds and reasons, why they became evil shinobi becomes a point of interest.
The battles between ninjas are incredibly immersive and intense!
From the heart-wrenching love story of Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls to the comedic ninja battle anime NINKU -Ninpocho-, we have introduced various genres of ninja anime. Despite being categorized as ninjas, each of these works has unique characteristics.
Ninjas employs many ninjutsu techniques, and some series even feature original ninja techniques. The psychological and strategic battles between ninjas, where you never know what kind of technique your opponent will unleash, will keep you on the edge of your seat.
I encourage you to check out the anime we’ve introduced and immerse yourself in the intense world of ninja battles.