Shinobi no Ittoki

Title:Shinobi no Ittoki
Keywords: , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - TROYCA
The biggest problems Ittoki Sakuraba had to deal with yesterday were the demanding cram school and gymnastics classes that his widowed mother expected him to take. Things have changed a good deal in the space of 24 hours: he now knows that his family is in fact the leader of the centuries old Iga village ninja clan, and he is none other than the 19th successor to the leadership of the group. Also, there is a feud underway between the Iga and somewhat larger Koga villages, which would explain a number of close calls Itokki has experienced recently. "Itokki, become a ninja!" his mother implores.

12 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Unevaluated Stretch [series:4551#628]
(Eight episodes watched):

I wanted to include the keyword 'Comedy' since things happen so rapidly and in such a mind-blowing manner for this ordinary teenage boy that one can only laugh. But I don't know just how serious things will get (one person has already been killed). At any rate, episode one did a very good job of grabbing my attention and keeping me entertained for 23 odd minutes. Itokki discovers that there are definite reasons why he has been strongly encouraged to become a gymnast, why friends and relatives of his not terribly wealthy family keep a close eye on him, why his mother is suspicious of a new girlfriend (his first), and why strange people seem to want him dead. It seems that he is the target of a plot to take revenge on the Iga for supposedly killing a prominent Koba ninja leader. The characters seem colorful and fun, and these seem like high-tech ninjas that wear some sort of modern body armor instead of the traditional garb. If the remainder of this series can be as fun as episode one was, this looks likely to be a favorite of the season for me.

Episode two was fun as we learn that not only do Ninjas still exist today, but they even have their own academy to train at. This seemed like not just a plot point but also a sly joke to me. Though he is offered a way out, Ittoki agrees to enroll since he cannot leave his mother to bear the weight of leading this village by herself. We learn a little about how things work within the Koga village (clan?), which is sort of like a corporation which can use any means from economic pressure to outright murder to get what it wants. They blame the Iga for killing someone of theirs who was important and want revenge, but the kill was apparently actually made by some person acting on their own. Episode two didn't seem as much fun as episode one did, but it was entertaining nevertheless. Likewise with number three. But during episode four the thought occured to me that the novelty, the originality, and perhaps most of all, the absurdist humor of episode one--an ordinary boy learns that he is in fact the heir to an ancient Ninja clan--had worn off somewhat. In fact, it has virtually disappeared. But that was the one part I liked most. This show wasn't as good as I had initially hoped.

It seems that the basic conflict is not the murder of the Iga leader after all, but the fact that the Iga want to get their hands on a precious Ninja 'Core' that the Iga possess--either that, or get a first-rate Ninja device craftsman to make them one of equal value. What exactly is a 'Core'? What is it capable of? There is a mention in episode eight of the Iga one possessing 'unlimited power'. They seem like the Ninja equivalent of an atomic bomb, and the Koga are racing to acquire one. Judging from the OP sequence, I bet the red-haired guy from the Koga clan, Suzaku (IIRC), who is currently trying to kill Itokki, will wind up his friend and ally eventually. Perhaps they will learn that the Koga leader who is pressing for revenge against the Iga has actually been doing so for his own nefarious purposes. More likely than not, this guy is more to blame than anyone among the Iga for the death of the previous leader, who was a peacemaker. When you can predict how the plot will go like this, it isn't as much fun as it would be otherwise.

Again, episode one had seemed to promise an unpredictable and original plot, but that isn't what has been delivered. I felt like rolling my eyes when the Iga were framed at a special Ninja Council. The NSC, Japan's equivalent of the FBI (I think), is aware of the secret code of conduct that Ninja live by, and which a person can even be put to death for violating--and they are perfectly OK with that. Itokki's mother is sentenced to death based on one short film clip that was provided by the Koga (surely they can be trusted!). It turns out that the Koga possess an army of robot Ninjas and are eager to try them out. And the modest Iga clan has built a multi-billion Yen strongpoint on the road to their village. Things became so absurd that I was left wondering why these same touches might seem 'cool' in another story but I could not take them seriously here. I guess the answer is that they have to be at lest semi-plausible. I must be able to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy a show, and there are so many inexplicable twists here that I cannot. For all the high tech elements this actually feels like a pretty simplistic plot--a conspiracy of bad guys threatens to steamroller the good ones, and one extraordinary guy will have to rise to the challenge and beat them. Not exactly novel. Maybe the problem is that this show never really convinced me that Ninjas would not only still exist today but exercise extraordinary power and influence from behind the scenes (like installing a sympathizer as head of the NSC).

Last updated Wednesday, November 30 2022. Created Monday, October 10 2022.

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