An awesome series on first viewing. It loses a bit the second time around, though.
What They Say Take one totally cute (and naive) ninja-girl trainee, add a ninja horde under the tutelage of the weirdest headmaster ever - a strange, yellow, spherical, pudgy... creature... named Onsokumaru - and you get the kind of 'super-explosive ninja insanity' that can only be found in what's been called 'the runaway nuclear reactor' of anime comedies!
For this viewing, I primarily watched the English 2.0 dub; a Japanese 2.0 track is also offered. For a show such as this, with random insanity taking place at all times, a solid audio track is needed to be able to take it all in. We get this with Ninja Nonsense. Despite typically having at least three things happening at the same time, there was never a point where I had to rewind to catch something, as each sound was able to come through clearly and separately from everything else, with decent directionality used throughout. The only minor beef I had with the audio tracks is that with so much action, a full 5.1 treatment would have made the aural experience even better. However, even in 2.0, the audio handles the daunting task admirably.
Again, with so much insanity at all times, a good video treatment is needed as well, and again Ninja Nonsense delivers. Presented in a 4:3 full-frame aspect ratio, the video transfer here is terrific. Every visual has its own distinct look and stands out well from the rest of the image, regardless of how much is currently going on. Colors a bright and varied throughout, with nice contrasts between foreground and background elements, and there are no technical issues at any point. Visually, this is a very well done show.
I like the design of this set, though it is essentially a standard thinpak release. The box that holds the singles and extra booklet features two great pieces of original art: one with Shinobu holding Kaede around the waist from behind with both wearing the other’s clothing, and the other features Miyabi using her magic to force Onsokumaru and Sasuke to kiss each other. The front covers of the thinpaks also have pieces of original art that each feature Shinobu in some way, while the back covers give episode and special feature information.
As great as everything has been so far, the menus come out as a little underwhelming. The main menu has a nice opening animation reminiscent of the ending credits, a Shoji screen opening after some fist pumps from the Sasuke Army while “Kurukururin” (the closing theme) plays in the background. The menu itself is static, showing the same image from the front cover of the disc. The menus are still well designed, however, with the selections standing out well, and a helpful ninja star guiding your cursor. The rest of the menus have a bit of a simpler design, as one might expect, however there are some amusing short animations that transition from one menu to the next. I particularly like the one of Onsokumaru eating yellow ninja stars like he is Pac Man. Solid effort here.
For the most part, the extras on this release are pretty standard, but, man, are there a lot of them. Clean openings and closings, TV spots, character bios, cast interviews, and trailers are all in abundance. But my favorite is on the last disc, and that is the extended version of the ED. The standard closing for Ninja Nonsense is an amusing, claymation scene of the Sasuke Army chasing Onsokumaru after they catch him wearing panties on his head, which, like most closings, is considerably shorter than the song that is playing, “Kurukururin.” However, on the last disc, they show a version of the ending where the creators extended it to the full version of the song, almost four minutes long. This is a lot of fun to watch. Finally, since thinpaks are too small to have the booklets that came with the individual releases, the box has one book that compiles all the information from those booklets—liner notes, production notes, art, etc. The only thing it is missing is the bonus comic that came with the first boxset. It’s a shame, but not a huge loss. Having the rest of the notes is a huge plus that I did not expect with this set.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ninja Nonsense is a title I first saw shown off at Anime Boston 2007. I managed to see the rest of the series later that year and loved every moment of it. Its hectic pace was tiring to be sure, but its short length and half-episode format helped keep it moving along. But I also worried at how well it held up to repeated viewings. The answer? Well enough.
Ninja Nonsense tells the story, if it can be called that, of ninja-trainee Shinobu, her studies to become a ninja, and her potential romance with her best friend Kaede. Unfortunately, Shinobu is not exactly the ideal ninja candidate. She is gullible, flighty, and not just a bit air-headed. She does not carry her ninja stars because she does not want to ruin the cute bag she bought for them, and she has an explosive case of ADHD. I am not sure there could be a worse candidate for ninja training than Shinobu.
And of course, it gets worse when you consider her head master is the lecherous Onsokumaru. Generally a spongy yellow ball—you know, just because—Onsokumaru is able to transform his body into many different shapes and sizes. Because of this, he should be an ideal ninja. However, rather than train Shinobu the right way, he instead tries to think up ways to get Shinobu into compromising positions for his own perverted thrills. With Shinobu’s gullibility, his job is not too hard. At least she has the level headed Kaede around to keep her from falling for Onsokumaru’s more devious schemes.
But for all the pretense of a story, Ninja Nonsense is just driven by its insanity. Whether it is Onsokumaru “wearing” an alligator to make himself invincible, Shinobu randomly getting distracted by kitties, or a game of ninja baseball that ends when a spell backfires on Onsokumaru causing enough outs for his team to lose four games, this series is not stop jokes. Much of the humor is driven by the Sasuke Army—the band of ninjas that live at the school who are completely indistinguishable from one another. On the surface, they have the same perverted thoughts as their headmaster, but they have far more honor and think nothing of taking Onsokumaru to task if they think he is going too far.
It is this insanity that made me fall in love with Ninja Nonsense a few years back. It can be difficult to get this sort of humor right, but it is done right here. Unfortunately, because this humor is based on randomness, it loses a bit on replay. Shinobu falling while jumping from roof to roof because she sees a cat is funny because it is unexpected; once it is expected, it does not work as well. It is still funny, and I was certainly able to appreciate it much like I did the first time. However, the first time around, I found Ninja Nonsense to be laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish; this time it was more amusing than funny. Still fun to watch, just not quite as much.
With fast pace, random insanity, Ninja Nonsense is a hilarious series. On first viewing, I found that I could not stop laughing most of the time. However, on second viewing, the humor did not work quite as well. It was funny, and I could still appreciate it for what it was, but it was not the unending hilarity from first viewing. If you have not seen it yet, then you should. If you have, just understand it might not hold up as well. Recommended.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character bios, interviews with the Japanese cast, TV spots 1-18, textless openings and closings, 'Kurukururin' (closing) full-size video, original U.S. trailer, A 32-page booklet featuring production journals, 'Happy Doodles' from the Japanese staff, liner notes and more
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32” TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System
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