- Ninja World USA #1
- Written by Toji
- Illustrated by Nobita
- Colors by Hayasato
- Mechanical Design by Kazuhiko Kakoi
- Translated by Frank Dowd
- Publisher, Shigeki Hoshino
- Coming soon to ComiXology & Amazon
Ninja World USA tells the story of what happened to Ninja after the end of the Samurai era. When a Japanese conglomerate decides that Ninja are too useful to dispose of, they find themselves secretly deployed to various parts of the world. While under the guise of being businessmen or immigrants they hide in plain sight while undertaking secret missions at the behest of the massive company. As the name implies, Ninja World USA will follow the descendants of some of these Ninja on their modern-day exploits in the United States.
So you’ve always wanted to get into Manga, but you’ve had trouble making the adjustment? I get it, there are a lot of differences between how Japan handles their comicbook storytelling and how it’s put together for western readers. Sure, there’s a language barrier, but that’s relatively minor once you get the hang of it… like reading Shakespeare. The biggest challenge for western readers is in the cultural differences. Reading a story that was written by Japanese creators, specifically for Japanese audiences, and then directly translated into English can be a challenge.
Then along comes Enmaku & company, with Ninja World U.S.A. This is a story written and illustrated by Japanese creators, with the intent to distribute for a western market. What that means is that this isn’t a story that requires interpretation or familiarity with the manga style. Granted, some of the awkwardness of the translation is still there, but again that’s all little stuff. Instead, this is an enjoyable comic that puts out the question of where might the ninja be if we were to assume that they were still a force to be reckoned with in the world today.
Cuz let’s face it, people, ninja are very cool. So much so that it’s my personal belief that every awesome movie/show/comic ever made has been awesome because of the presence of ninja… we just didn’t always see them, because ‘ninja’. Anyone who lived through the ninja craze of the 80’s is going to know what I’m talking about. Sho Kasugi, you are still, and always will be, the Man!
In Ninja World USA as written by Toji, the idea is that the ninja clans of feudal Japan never faded into legend with the close of the 1800’s. They continued in their functions as spies and assassins, only instead of serving the shoguns of old, they have grown to work their trade on behalf of corporations & multinationals. As readers are introduced to this very modern world, we meet young Rob Wilson, the son of an influential Senator on the rise. A steadfast gun control advocate, Senator Wilson turns to an unconventional resource to keep his son safe and the young shinobi Sakura is assigned to act covertly as Rob’s bodyguard.
Artistically, this might not be the most manga manga out there, and for the purists among us that could be a problem. The best advice I can think of for anyone unable to make the adjustment would come from Major General James Mattis (USMC)- “Doctrine is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” The team of Nobita and Hayasato have put out some outstanding work & turning a blind eye to it would be a shame. And I would argue that Ninja World USA is just manga enough, especially in the action panels. There’s a definite flow to the movements on the page as young ninja Sakura is put through her paces, and the manga style is most notable in her character. There really is a lot of visual appeal to this book overall.
The bottom line is that this new title, soon to be released digitally through Amazon & ComiXology, has all the promise implied in its title. Honestly, if I have to go any farther than “ninja” to get some eyes on it, I don’t really know what any of us are doing here. As further incentive (seriously… NINJA!), I’ve been told that the first issue will be priced at a low, Low, LOW introductory cost of $.99 for the first month in its release. After that the price goes up to the normal $3.99… This is a great example of a group of people with faith in their product and want to stand behind it where it counts.
Give it a look. What’ve you got to lose, besides a buck?
Final Score: 10/13