Ninja Nonsense: The Legend of Shinobu (ニニンがシノブ伝 Ninin ga Shinobuden?) is an anime and manga series by Ryoichi Koga (古賀 亮一 Koga Ryōichi?). The series subtitle is "The Nonsense Kunoichi Fiction". The anime has been licensed and released in North America by The Right Stuf International under the title Ninja Nonsense: The Legend of Shinobu. The translated manga was released by Infinity Studios under the title Ninin Ga Shinobuden.
Ninja Nonsense is an absurdist comedy series which stars Shinobu, a young girl training to become a ninja. However, the series does not focus on ninja training, instead focusing on Shinobu's lifestyle and friends through a series of disjointed comedic plot lines. Towards this purpose, each episode of the anime is split into two separate stories. The series uses character designs that favor a soft and rounded look rather than the slender bishōjo style commonly used in anime or manga series featuring young girls.
As a comedic manga and anime designed for "adult" audiences and intended to be aired late at night, Ninja Nonsense is filled with sex, much of which satirizes other anime and manga. Onsokumaru, a satire on mascot characters, joins a long and "distinguished" line of anime perverts whose interest in anything sex-related is carried to incredible lengths. Sasuke (and his identical fellow students) has a habit of breaking the fourth wall and commenting on things such as the fan service that seems to follow Shinobu wherever she goes.
Shinobu's fondness for Kaede, which frequently crosses the border into obsession, has led Onsokumaru to suspect a lesbian attraction. The subplot, such as it is, is played for laughs — particularly Onsokomaru's softcore-pornographic fantasies on the subject, one of which is shown on-screen briefly. The anime lacks any space-time continuity; characters can appear anytime, anywhere, even simultaneously in two distinct places. The anime includes references to Japan's television programming content laws, particularly in reference to nudity.
Ninja Nonsense is an absurdist comedy, and as such there is no multi-episode story arc and very little plot within individual episodes. The characters essentially 'reset' at the beginning of each show, much like other absurdist comedies such as Galaxy Angel or Mini-Goddesses.
In the first episode Shinobu, a ninja apprentice, is attempting to pass her ninja exams while Kaede, a normal schoolgirl, studies for her school exams. As a part of her exam, Shinobu is ordered to break into Kaede's room to steal her panties by her instructor, Onsokumaru. Shinobu, who despite her enthusiasm, possesses little if any actual ninja skills, believes herself to be invisible and 'sneaks' into Kaede's room. Since Shinobu is perfectly visible to Kaede, the mission doesn't go as planned. Despite all of this, Kaede takes pity on Shinobu and the two become close friends.
Although this is a ninja-themed series, most of the twenty-four stories are self-contained snippets of Shinobu's life and dealings with her zany instructor, Onsokumaru and other ninja (sometimes referred to as the Sasuke Army). They are often accompanied by Kaede acting as the only voice of reason among the otherwise madcap characters. The series concludes with the Sasuke Army breaking the fourth wall and discussing how the anime should actually end, briefly exploring each of the options before ending on a positive note reinforcing the relationship between Shinobu and Kaede.
- Shinobu (忍?)
- Shinobu is the star of the series. She is kind, hardworking, and dedicated, but naive and somewhat clumsy with complex tasks. She is usually charged with taking care of her dojo because everyone else is too lazy. She usually wears a purple and pink ninja outfit, but sometimes wears other costumes. Her ambiguous relationship with Kaede, whom she describes as "more than a friend but less than a lover", ranges from admiration and idolization to romantic interest. Despite the influence of Onsokumaru, she remains fairly innocent. Unless you count her blatant attempts to tell Kaede how she feels including asking her to bathe together then grabbing her breasts while shouting "Boobs!" and then claiming her hand slipped, in which case, she is a bit darker than is expected.
- Kaede Shiranui (不知火 楓 Shiranui Kaede?)
Voiced by: Ayako Kawasumi (Japanese), Zoe Martin (English)
- A blonde schoolgirl about Shinobu's age. She is the most sensible character of the series and thus usually the most put-upon. However, she does not allow herself to be tormented and usually puts annoying people in their place. Kaede represents the viewer as the new person into the world of Shinobu and the ninjas. As a consequence, she is the most aware that she is in an anime, frequently remarking, "What was that scene about??" and in the first episode saying, "It's only episode one, I don't want to die yet!" She is often seen making remarks about Onsokumaru and the male ninja, such as "Will you just SHUT UP?!" and "Why do you have to say such stupid things?!".
- Onsokumaru (音速丸?)
- A shape-changing creature, his name (roughly, "sonic speed ball") is fairly descriptive. He is usually depicted as a round, yellow sphere with a face, variably with wings or arms, deep voice, and a loud temperament. Often, when getting emotional, he will transform into an extremely muscular full human body. In spite of being such a bizarre creature, he is for some reason the leader of Shinobu's ninja clan. Onsokumaru is perverted, lecherous, messy, loud, a cheat, and greedy. He imagines softcore-pornographic fantasies about Shinobu and Kaede (which wouldn't be far-fetched if it was just up to Shinobu), either for his own personal pleasure or to enthrall or persuade the male ninja into helping him. On the other hand, he is often friendly, and has a silly playful side.
U.S. manga volumes
- Ninin Ga Shinobuden Volume 1, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1596972216
- Ninin Ga Shinobuden Volume 2, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1596972223
- Ninin Ga Shinobuden Volume 3, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1596972230
- Ninin Ga Shinobuden Volume 4, 156 pages, ISBN 978-1596972247
Although there are twelve episodes, each episode consists of two, separately titled and independent stories. As such, each episode here is shown with two titles.
- Shinobu, the Ninja Apprentice, Appears and The Master Appears
- Ninja, Enjoying a Cherry Blossom Party and Shinobu, Date with Kaede
- Onsokumaru, Getting Angry and Shinobu, Running Away
- Ninja, Getting Hot and Miyabi, Falling in Love
- Onsokumaru, Goes to Hell and Ninja, Enjoying the Summer Festival
- A Typhoon is Here and Ninja, Going Mushroom Hunting
- Onsokumaru, Gets Stuck and Shinobu, Play Ball
- Shinobu in Disguise and A Monster Plant Going Wild
- Girls, Getting Warm and Kaede Catches a Cold
- Ninja Christmas and Ninja, Cursed
- Sasukeden Begins and Ninja, Showing Gratitude
- Onsokumaru's Secret and Farewell, 2x2=Shinobuden
U.S. DVD volumes
The U.S. English DVD volumes are:
- Vol. 1: Enter the Ninja (Episodes 1-3)
- Vol. 2: Psychedelic Summer (Episodes 4-6)
- Vol. 3: Ninjas on First (Episodes 7-9)
- Vol. 4: Exit the Ninja (Episodes 10-12)
- The Full Limited Edition with all 4 volumes
- ↑ From liner notes of DVD Volume 1.