September 2nd, 2010

win!

NINJAS!!!

Hiya kids. In case anyone was wondering, I've moved my CD-a-Day posts onto a dedicated blog, disk-a-day.blogspot.com. Go check it out!

As for this here blog...well, I'll keep it cool, random, and fun. So dig this:

I've got an infatuation with ninja's these days. They're back kids. Remember how the 80's were inundated with ninjas...Sho Kosugi and his peeps owned the Dino Di Laurentis studios back then. American Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja 3: The Domination were my faves. I was recently turned on to another one called Pray for Death, which went the whole way and starred Kosugi-san as the lead, a family man who has to revert to the old ways to bring down some local garbage that killed his wife and wounded his son. Epic!



Last year or so, a new ninja epic came out that brought it all back, but I didn't see it in the theaters. I waited for the DVD release, and while I would have loved to see it in the theaters, I can say it was worth the wait. Behold!



That's Sho Kosugi, the old man narrating the trailer at the beginning. And he is still, even more so, a badass! This flick is WAY over the top, as in buckets of (CG) gore gets spilled when this skinny little dude defects from his ninja clan over a girl. Like the best of ninja movies, this is action for action's sake, and I really enjoyed it.

I am so taken, in fact, that I've been revisiting the best ninja's of old...that is, the digital kind. Particularly Joe Musashi and Ryu Hayabusa, of the videogames Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden, respectively. I'm two levels away from finishing this one:



Yes, you saw right...you fight the Statue of Liberty. You fight. The Statue. Of. Liberty.

In fact, going back to the old Sega Genesis came Shadow Dancer, level 3 sees you climbing the Statue of Liberty and fighting on top of it. So, is Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 an homage, or a one-up. You decide.



And lets not forget the ninjas that don't wear hoods. In Japan, there was a little movie called Jubei Ninpucho: The Wind Ninja Chronicles. I knew it by the dumbed down name, Ninja Scroll. Whatever the name, it kicks some serious butt, although there are two too many scenes of an explicit sexual nature for me to heartily recommend. The action and ending, however, are amazing. They also made a 13-episode series which followed the further adventures of Jubei. Apart from some questionable animation in the middle (quality, not content), this too is a killer foray into the ancient ninja lore.

I recently finished a TV series called Basilisk, about warring ninja clans in old Japan. The story is a tragedy, about star-crossed lovers bound by custom and politics. It's good, but extremely melancholy. They made a live-action film which I actually prefer, called Shinobi: Heart Under Blade. The trailer is in Japanese, but you get the idea:



There's always my favorite techno-ninja - The one, the only Snake Eyes!



Sometimes friend, always rival Storm Shadow is no slouch either, but you've gotta dig a cat that never says a word, truly speaking with his actions. The above is from a little one-off called GI Joe Resolute, which kinda trivializes Snake and Storm's long-running relationship from the comics. Still, fun stuff!

Such is my infatuation with the secret shadow warriors that I just today bought a little b-grade flick for $4, titled, simply, Ninja:



Ho-ho, man! Have the ninjas already jumped the shark, just as they're resurgence is beginning?! Well, my friends, you could say that, but if anyone is going to jump a shark, or say, hi-five a shark, it'd be a ninja, or at least the associate of one.

So, what is it about the ninja? Is it the costume, the secrecy, or the martial prowess? Is it the seemingly mystical skills, the whacked-out weapons, or the ability to run silently across rooftops? All of the above, my friends. Ninjas are both cool and paradoxically, ridiculous. They defy period-placement, and demand total suspension of disbelief whenever they're presented. They represent both the best, and worst, of Japanese pop-culture tropes. THAT'S what it IS about the NINJA.

My top 10 (yes, I can list ten!) favorite ninjas, not in order accept #1, because he's reading this:
10: Wins-Without-a-Knife Wayakuma from the movie The Flying Guillotine.
9: Joe Musashi from Sega's Shinobi games
8: Dr. McNinja
7: Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden
6: Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe
5: Rikimaru from the Tenchu games
4: SCORPION! (GET OVER HERE!)
3: Ibuki from Street Fighter
2: Joe Armstrong from American Ninja
1: Sho Kosugi from BEING A REAL NINJA!!!!

So, take your favorite katana out of the closet, wrap a black sash around your head, and sneak into your neighbor's yard to plant smoke-bombs, because I'm declaring September Ninja Month. This year. It'll change, like leaves blowing on the wind, like the sun setting across Kanto Plain, like cherry blossoms swirling around Kasumi from Dead or Alive (Did not make the list because she's physically IMPOSSIBLE!)

And if you don't have a suitable or practical katana, ask this guy for advice:



"IT'S TAPE!!!"

bonus list: Top Ten Not-Really-Ninjas:
10: Batman
9: Spiderman
8: Italian Spiderman
7: Daredevil
6: Strider Hiryu from Capcom's Strider games
5: Grey Fox from Metal Gear Solid
4: Raiden from Metal Gear Solid
3: Olga Gurlukovich from Metal Gear Solid (I sense a theme)
2: Vampire Wolfer and Fire Slicer from Axe Cop
1: Optimus Prime (He turns into a truck. I guarantee he could sneak up on you.)