PLOT: Kenji Fujikido is a salaryman whose wife and child were killed in a ninja turf war. In a brush with his own death, Fujikido is possessed by an enigmatic ninja soul known as Naraku Ninja. Fujikido cheats death and becomes “Ninja Slayer” -a Grim Reaper destined to kill evil ninja, committed to a personal war of vengeance. Set in the dystopian underworld of Neo-Saitama, Ninja Slayer takes on Soukai Syndicate ninja in mortal combat.
In the fall of 2012 began the Ninj@ Conspiracy project that ended up breaking out on Twitter in brief chapters by Japanese translators Honda Yu and Sugi Leika claiming the material is from two American authors. What’s interesting is how much mystery surrounds the actual production of the novel series written by Bradley Bond and Philip Ninj@ Morzez. The animated series that was announced months ago elevated the idea that perhaps these two authors weren’t even real– considering how there has been no real copy of Ninja Slayer in production aside from the first manga being illustrated by Akumetsu artist Yuki Yugo. Whom also adapted an alternate telling of Shin Mazinger— now I can see where these robot designs come from in this episode! What’s even more weird is how far the manga’s production goes– famed yaoi artist Ageha Saotome illustrated the second manga adaptation from the supposed novels. I’m curious as to how Hiroyuki Imaishi’s [Kill la Kill director] will tackle all this creativity in 2-cour fashion. Fictional authors are built up around the popularity of the novels’ success in order to write a complex story of revenge about a salaryman possessed by a ninja’s soul “Naraku Ninja”.
Seeing this first episode is a blast from the past with the beat ’em up genre of video games. It’s cheesy and its for very good intentions– heads roll and large explosions of Ninja Slayer’s enemies jump this series into a half-baked style of this idea around American Ninja films. A straightforward narrative about a protagonist Ninja that winds up having his family murdered by ninjas. I like how this episode re-introduces this slapstick storytelling by using 2D platform segments with a touch of frantic [and at times jarring] jumps and attacks that give the camera a backseat.
Anyone that has been reading my blog since the beginning would know that I’m a pretty big fan of GAINAX and TRIGGER’s works– Inferno Cop stepped into this realm with a strong-willed sense at being ridiculously poor in quality for good reason. Starting up as a Youtube program on Anime Bancho programming block– with Ninja Slayer we’ve got a similar step into this direction with it being advertised as an ONA [Original Network Animation] on streaming service website NicoNico. What’s even more intriguing is how As for the actual story it’s mindful at being silly playing on the vendetta trope that we often see in American action films like Kill Bill. What intrigued me is how it has a runtime of only half as long as a regular televised episode of traditional animated series but it works really well at creating any sense of disbelief that Ninja Slayer will be nothing but fun.
I hope that Studio TRIGGER can pull this off and I do wonder if this is going to be televised next year will there be additional content including a full runtime?
OP: “Back in Black” by Boom Boom Satellites
One of the top bands of the Japanese music industry to popularize a rock/punk image with electronica at the forefront! The last time I’ve heard this band perform for an anime was Mobile Suit Gundam UC’s fifth ending theme installment and before that was another ONA production Xam’d: Lost Memories. This is a hard-rock song featuring english vocals– an adrenaline pumping song that focuses on the revenge aspect this series will focus on. The animation features better visuals than any of the content shown throughout the episode– we see a nice flashback of what happened to Ninja Slayer and the normalcy this show seems to offer with the girls that look like they are pulled right from Kill la Kill and Panty/Stocking’s transformation sequences.
ED: “Kilmister” by Boris
Experimental rock band that suits this series quite well. I will say I’m not a huge fan of this genre of music but it does correlate to the themes Ninja Slayer represents: death, revenge, cyberpunk adrenaline pumping action. Vocalist Takeshi reminds me a lot of WHITE ASH’s singer Nobita– a youthful startup to Takeshi’s voice that ends up being an entanglement around the melody that overall makes this song explore the grunge scene of early 90’s American bands.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10