The ninja is a commonly used stock character in both Japanese and international popular culture. The cultural references listed below are separated into categories, such as novels, comics, anime and manga, games, television, music and others. Live-action films and video games are discussed in detail in separate articles.
- 1 Overview
- 2 In literature
- 3 In film
- 4 In television
- 5 In manga and anime
- 6 In games
- 7 In music
- 8 In sports
- 9 In tourism and other business
- 10 On the Internet
- 11 Other
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Depictions of ninja range anywhere between realistic to fantastically exaggerated, both fundamentally and aesthetically. In stylized form, a ninja wears a dark hood, or mask, and can move in a stealthy or secretive manner. Ninja are also often a subject of parody. As far back as the late 19th century, erotic art was made using the ninja theme. Japanese ninja literature and cinema still contain an element of eroticism, including some pornography, often focusing on kunoichi (ninja women). According to Glenn Morris, ninjutsu in Western popular media has been incorrectly associated with the image of an "unemotional, heartless assassin" due to the influence of Ashida Kim, Frank Dux and Eric van Lustbader. According to The Guardian, "in Japan, ninjas are now something of a national myth, a slightly cartoonish composite of old folk tales and modern pop culture."
Ninja are a long-popular theme in Japanese folklore, jidaigeki literature and performing arts. For example, Ishikawa Goemon was the subject of many kabuki plays and Sarutobi Sasuke has been featured in many Japanese children's stories since 1911. Koga Unôn Ninjutsu Kogaryû, a silent film from 1916 was possibly the first ninja movie. Ninja-based films and books became a major Japanese pop-culture craze during the 1950s and early 1960s, since then expanding into numerous comic books and video games. In Japan, the word shinobi and its variants are often used instead of "ninja".
The first major appearance of ninja in Western pop-culture was in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), as a secret commando force used by the Japanese intelligence service. The 1960s TV series The Samurai caused a significant wave of interest in ninja among younger viewers in Australia, but the impact of the ninja phenomenon was not felt in other western countries until considerably later. Western fascination with the ninja bloomed in the 1980s, especially in the United States. Several American ninja movies starring Sho Kosugi were released in the early 1980s, largely responsible for introducing ninja to American pop culture and contributing to worldwide ninja-mania on grand scale. These included megahit media franchises such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the late 1980s to early 1990s and Naruto in the 2000s.
Ninja characters are often identified by their use of traditional blade and ranged weapons in modern and even science fiction settings, as well as numerous superhuman abilities (such as running on water and up walls). Though depicted as nearly-invincible warriors (especially when they are the heroes of the story), they are often conversely depicted as disposable "cannon fodder", to be dispatched by the hero character, especially one who's a ninja himself. Thus, modern entertainment has shown the ninja as either expendable "redshirts" attacking in large numbers, or as nearly invulnerable solitary warriors (who are often unmasked in contrast). In effect of this common approach, a single/small group of protagonist ninjas may often easily defeat waves of incompetent enemy ninja on multiple occasions, only to have far more trouble when facing a more competent lone ninja - this seemingly inconsistent portrayal is jokingly referred to by the ironic "Inverse Ninja Law" (also called "conservation of ninjutsu"), according to which ninja are weaker when they are in larger groups.
Ninja-themed novels include:
- Brett Wallace: Ninja Master: An eight-book series by ‘Wade Barker’ (Richard Meyers).
- Demon King Daimao: The light novels by Shotaro Mizuki features girls who represent the rival Koga and Iga ninja clans. It was adapted into an anime and manga series.
- Fukurō no Shiro: Ryotaro Shiba wrote this novel as well as a collection of short stories called Saigo no Igamono. Both were made into hit movies.
- Kage Kara Mamoru!: The series of light novels later adapted into a manga and anime series.
- Kamui: A series of five novels by Tetsu Yano that were later adapted in manga, anime and eventually live-action format.
- Ninja's Revenge and The Bamboo Bloodbath: The novels by Piers Anthony.
- Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe: A novel by Robert Asprin and George Takei featuring a member of a ninja clan in the future.
- Ninja Slayer: A series of Japanese cyberpunk novels written by "Bradley Bond".
- Not for Glory: A space opera novel Not for Glory by Joel Rosenberg about a mercenary tribe of descendants of Jews and Japanese who practice ninjutsu.
- Sanada Ten Braves (Sanada Jūyūshi): An old legend that originated in the Meiji period, first published in the novel form during the Taishō period in 1912; since then in several books, movies, audio shows and the other media.
- Shinobi no Mono: A series of novels by Tomoyoshi Murayama about the life of Ishikawa Goemon. In the 1960s they were turned into a series of hit films about the lives of Goemon and the other historical ninja.
- Tales of the Otori: The Tribe is an entity of five families of ninja with powers (such as invisibility, splitting themselves temporarily, a stare that induces sleep, sharper hearing and eyesight, faster reflexes, etc.).
- The Diamond Chariot: Erast Fandorin learns ninjutsu while in Japan.
- The Kouga Ninja Scrolls (Kōga Ninpōchō): A novel by Futaro Yamada about two rival ninja clans, the Iga and Kouga. Later turned into a manga and anime series and a live-action film.
- The Ninja: A thriller by Eric Van Lustbader featuring a half-Japanese, half-white character who received ninjutsu training in his youth. The original book was followed by The Miko, White Ninja, The Kaisho, Floating City, and Second Skin.
- Tulku, a Tale of Modern Ninja: A novel by Stephen K. Hayes, famous American ninjutsu practitioner.
- You Only Live Twice: The 1964 James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, in which the Japanese secret service employs a top secret ninja force to play a critical role in helping the British spy stop SPECTRE's grandest scheme.
- The series of children books American Chillers and Magic Tree House: Volumes New York Ninjas and Night of the Ninjas, respectively.
Ninja characters also have minor roles in Shōgun, Thief of Time, Vineland, and the Young Samurai series, among others.
Non-anime TV series dealing primarily with ninja themes include:
- Blood of the Samurai: The Series (2004) and Ninja EX (2004-2005): An indie action series and its spin-off martial arts comedy series, featuring Yuki.
- Bounty Hunter (Shokin Kasegi) (1975)
- G.I. Joe: Four cartoons: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero 1985 and 1989 series, G.I. Joe Extreme and G.I. Joe: Sigma 6.
- Fūma no Kojirō (2007)
- Henshin Ninja Arashi (1972-1973): An Edo period henshin series based on the manga of the same title.
- Kaiketsu Lion-Maru (1972-1973) and Fūun Lion-Maru (1973)
- Kurama Tengu
- Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu: A TV series about four teenage ninja who must defeat the land's Dark Lord. They use a fictional ancient martial art called "spinjitzu" .
- Lone Wolf and Cub/Iron Samurai (Kozure Ōkami) (1973-1976)
- Majin Hunter Mitsurugi: A tokusatsu series ostensibly set in the Tokugawa era.
- Masked Ninja Red Shadow (Kamen no Ninja Aka-Kage) (1967-1968): Its footage was also used to make the film The Magic Sword of Watari.
- The Master (1984): An action-adventure series featuring John Peter McAllister, an aged American veteran and ninja master who has returned to the United States.
- Mito Kōmon Gaiden Kagerō Ninpō-chō (1995): A ninja spinoff of Mito Kōmon.
- Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm: An animated adaptation of the video game series, featuring Kitana in one of the main roles.
- Mortal Kombat: Legacy (2011-)
- Ninja Captor (1976-1977)
- Ninpō Kagerō Giri (1972)
- Ōedo Sōsamō (1970-1992)
- Phantom Agents (Ninja Butai Gekkō) (1964-1966): An action series about a group of modern ninja agents working for the Japanese government.
- Pucca: A ninja boy named Garu is a love object of the series' main character (Garu's arch nemesis Tobe is a ninja as well).
- Rambo and the Forces of Freedom: Rambo's ally White Dragon and his enemy Black Dragon.
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja (2012-)
- Raven (1993-1994)
- The Samurai (Onmitsu Kenshi) (1962-1965): A jidaigeki series featuring Tombei the Mist the Iga ninja as the hero's sidekick and many various ninja villains.
- Samurai Girl (2008)
- Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya (1988-1989)
- Shadow Warriors (Kage no Gundan) (1980), Shadow Warriors II (Kage no Gundan II) (1981-1982), Shadow Warriors III (Kage no Gundan III) (1982), Shadow Warriors IV (Kage no Gundan IV) (1985)
- Shōgun Iemitsu Shinobi Tabi (1990-1993)
- Shōgun no Onmitsu! Kage Jūhachi (1996)
- Shuriken School: A cartoon about a school that trains children and teenagers to be ninja.
- Sukeban Deka III: Shōjo Ninpō-chō Denki (1986-1987)
- Supah Ninjas (2011-)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The 1980s, the 2000s and the 2010s cartoons, as well as a live-action TV series.
There are several ninja-themed Super Sentai and Power Rangers shows, including Hikari Sentai Maskman and Ninpū Sentai Hurricaneger (footage of which was used in Power Rangers: Ninja Storm). Footage of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger was used in season three of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, in which Ninjor (Ninjaman in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger) gave the Power Rangers their new Ninja Powers and Ninjazords.
Ninja Warrior (Sasuke) and Women of Ninja Warrior (Kunoichi) are two Japanese sports entertainment shows that are featuring (respectively) male and female competitors on an obstacle course. In the Prank Patrol shows, "ninjas" are the show helpers setting up the pranks.
Ninja apparead in a number of television advertisements, including for the Alior Sync bank, Anime Network, Bombay Sapphire, Clamato, FedEx, Free Realms, Honda Civic Si, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, MyHome.ie, Nicorette, Nike, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Oregon Lottery, Pepsi, Pop-Tarts and Sure.
In animated series, ninja were featured in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (episode "Robo-Ninja"), American Dragon: Jake Long (Huntsman and Rose), Batman Beyond (Curaré of the League of Assassins), Batman: The Animated Series (Kyodai Ken in the episodes "Night of the Ninja" and "Day of the Samurai"), Chop Socky Chooks (Ninja Chimps), Karate Kommandos (a Chuck Norris series with the villain Super Ninja and his ninja henchmen), Code Monkeys (episode "Revenge of Matsui"), Codename: Kids Next Door (Teen Ninjas), Conan the Adventurer (episodes "Shadow Walkers", "Dragon's Breath" and "Sword, Sai and Shuriken"), Danny Phantom (Bertrand), Digimon Data Squad (Falcomon), 'Eon Kid (Black Beauty and her ninja robot army), Family Guy (in "Wasted Talent" and "I Take Thee Quagmire"), Happy Tree Friends (Generic Tee Ninjas), Jackie Chan Adventures (the Shadowkhan) Johnny Test (one of Johnny's transformation is Ninja Johnny), Kim Possible (the Yamanouchi ninja school), Planet Sketch (Ninja Handyman), Robot Chicken (various parodies, as well as some original ninja skits such as "Brandon the Ninja" and Ninja Stars), Road Rovers (episode "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie"), Samurai Jack (episode "Samurai versus Ninja"), Skunk Fu (Ninja Monkeys), South Park (in the episode "Good Times with Weapons" the kids pretended to be ninja warriors; another episode, "Fantastic Easter Special", has ninja mercenaries working for the Roman Curia), Stroker and Hoop (episode "Ninja Worrier" / "Chopping Spree"), Superman: The Animated Series (Death Fist Ninja), Teen Titans (in "Masks", Beast Boy has a video game "Super Ninja Showdown 8"), The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (episode "Crouching Jimmy, Hidden Sheen"), The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (episode "Sneaky Lying Cheating Giant Ninja Koopas"), The Legend of Prince Valiant (episode "The Ghost"), The Legend of Zelda (Sing), The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (episode "Night of the Zinja"), The Simpsons (in "The Telltale Head" Bart Simpson disguises as a ninja; in "Treehouse of Horror XVIII" one of the aliens is dressed as a ninja, in "Husbands and Knives" the Comic Book Guy has ninja weapons, in "Yokel Chords" Bart plays a spoof video game featuring a female ninja, among many other references), The Transformers (Greatshot, Nightbird and Prowl), The Venture Bros. (Otaku Senzuri), Wolverine and the X-Men, Xiaolin Showdown (Tubbimura).
In live-action series, the ninja were featured in Baretta (episode "The Ninja"), Big Wolf on Campus (episode "Play It Again, Samurai"), Charmed (episode "Awakened"), Criminal Minds (episode "True Night"), Danger Theatre (episode "Tropical Punch: Lethal Luau"), Dude, What Would Happen (episode "Ninja Slicing"), Knight Rider (1982 TV series) (episode "Knight of the Rising Sun"), Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion (The 5 Space Ninjas), Kung Fu (episode "The Assassin"), Magnum P.I. (episode "The Arrow That is Not Aimed"), Mito Kōmon (Tsuge no Tobizaru and Kagerō Ogin), Mortal Kombat: Konquest (alternative versions of Kitana, Mileena, Reptile, Scorpion and Sub-Zero), Quincy, M.E. (episode "Touch of Death"), She Spies (episode "Fondles"), Shōgun (features a realistic ninja castle raid in feudal Japan), Simon & Simon (episode "Opposites Attack"), Space Sheriff Shaider (Girls' Army), That '70s Show (episode "Jackie Moves On"), The Greatest American Hero (episode "Thirty Seconds Over Little Tokyo"), Verbotene Liebe.
There are also many ninja villains in the various Super Sentai series, such as Negative Syndicate's Dark Shadow clan in GoGo Sentai Boukenger (Gekkou, Yaiba and Shizuka), Miratrix and some other of Kamdor's henchmen in Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive, Ninja Org Duke Dorodoro in Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger (Onikage in Power Rangers: Wild Force), Dora Ninja in Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger (Dark Warrior in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season one), Shinobilar in Denkou Choujin Gridman, and Kirikage in Mahou Sentai Magiranger.
Shows that featured ninja characters of motifs include American Idol (a contestant Danny Noriega is a self-proclaimed "sexy intense ninja pickle"), Big Brother Australia (the people who have to enter the house to do things such as maintenance are referred to, even by Big Brother himself, as "ninjas"; on the Friday Night Live show, the "ninjas" are much more prominent, are given personalities and have segments dedicated to them), Cheat! (episode "Cheat-jitsu"), Deadliest Warrior (in one episode a ninja fought with a Spartan, but lost), In Living Color (an episode featured a skit about a ninja home security system in which a ninja was used to kill intruders), Gamers, Late Night with Conan O'Brien (Conan and Jim Carrey fought ninja), MadTV (in some of their Steven Seagal parodies), Mystery Science Theater 3000 (an episode featured Joel and the 'bots singing a song called "Master Ninja Theme Song", which became a popular song from the show), Mythbusters (a ninja special of the show tested classic ninja myths such as walking on water, catching a sword and catching an arrow), Screen Test, Splatalot! (Shaiden), The Lance Krall Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Craig Ferguson fought ninja), You Don't Know Jack (in one episode the host was attacked by ninja).
There are a number of television series which feature characters that are mistaken for ninja, or are merely characters dressed in ninja-like costumes (usually done as a spoof). In Chuck (the pilot episode "Chuck vs the Intersect", 2007) Sarah is dressed in a ninja-like costume for one scene; in Hill Street Blues (episode "Look Homeward, Ninja", 1986) a mentally unstable character believes himself to be a ninja and dresses as a ninja in one scene; in Knight Rider (2008 TV series) (episode "Knight Fever", 2008) so-called "motorcyle ninjas" are merely wearing ninja-like black hoods under their helmets; Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (episode "Chi of Steel") (1995) features a Chinese Yi Chi Master who wears mystical bracelets and is dressed in a ninja-like costume; in MacGyver (episode "Murderers' Sky", 1988) opening scene features a character dressed in a ninja-like costume; in Perfect Strangers (episode "Karate Kids", 1987) Balki dresses as a ninja in a spoof of the Cato surprise attack scenes in the Pink Panther movies.
In manga and anime
Ninja themed manga and anime series
The following manga and anime series feature ninja as one of their main themes.
- Akakage, The Masked Ninja (仮面の忍者赤影, Kamen no Ninja Akakage): Anime adaptation of the television series.
- Angel Beats!
- Azumi: Its story concerns the title character, a young woman brought up as part of a team of assassins, charged with killing the warlords that threaten the uneasy peace in Feudal Japan following the end of its long Sengoku civil war period.
- Basilisk (バジリスク〜甲賀忍法帖〜, Bajirisuku ~Kōga Ninpō Chō~, Basilisk: The Kōga Ninja Scrolls): Two ninja clans, Tsubagakure of the Iga and Manjidani of Kouga, battle each other to determine which grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu will become the next shogun. It features many character names from the ninja rival clans during the rule of Tokugawa shogunate.
- Black Lion (Kuro no Shishi)
- Brave10: A manga adaptation of Sanada Ten Braves.
- Flame of Recca (烈火の炎, Rekka no Honō): A teenage boy learns he is the descendant of a Hokage ninja clan during perished during the time of Oda Nobunaga. He forms a team that goes on adventures.
- Fūma no Kojirō
- Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger
- Henshin Ninja Arashi: A manga by Shotaro Ishinomori. Its characters also appear in the manga Skull Man.
- Himawari! (ひまわりっ!): A comedy series about a non-ninja teacher at a modern all-girls ninja school.
- I Am Sarutobi! (Ore wa Sarutobi da!): A manga by Osamu Tezuka about Sarutobi Sasuke.
- Igano Kabamaru
- Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl (十兵衛ちゃん, Jūbei-chan): A action comedy television series about a teenage girl who turns into a deadly ninja warrior when she dons an eyepatch.
- Shadow Hunters (Kage Gari)
- Kage Kara Mamoru!: A teenage boy transforms into a master ninja to protect his neighbor.
- Kamui the Ninja: Stories Other Than the Legend (忍風カムイ外伝, Ninpū Kamui Gaiden): a 1969 anime adaptation of The Legend of Kamui.
- Kunoichi Mahouden
- Karasu Tengu Kabuto: A manga series later adapted into the anime series and an OVA film.
- The Last Kunoichi (Kunoichi Bakumatsu Kitan): A hentai anime series about several kunoichi caught by the struggles of the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate.
- The Legend of Kamui: Largely realistic and historically accurate manga series .
- Legend of the Mystical Ninja (パワーストーン, Pawā Sutōn): anime adaptation of the Legend of the Mystical Ninja video game series.
- Lupin III: Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a member of Lupin's gang, is the 13th descendant of the historical Goemon. Various other ninja characters also appear, chiefly the evil Fuma Ninja clan (including in the film The Plot of the Fuma Clan).
- Naruto (NARUTO—ナルト—): A hit series that takes place in a fictional world where characters attend ninja school and practice various forms of ninjutsu. It achieved enormous international popularity in the 2000s and also spawned many video games. It features a large number of ninja characters, including the title character Naruto Uzumaki, his allies Sakura Haruno, Kakashi Hatake, and various rivals Sasuke Uchiha, Orochimaru, Kabuto Yakushi, the Akatsuki, Obito Uchiha, and Madara Uchiha; other ninjas include Gaara, Itachi Uchiha, Hinata Hyuuga, Jiraiya and Shikamaru Nara.
- Nabari no Ou
- Ninja, the Wonder Boy (まんが猿飛佐助, Manga Sarutobi Sasuke): Follows the adventures of a young ninja Sarutobi Sasuke.
- Ninja Girls (乱飛乱外, Rappi Rangai, lit. Flying out of turbulence): A boy rescues a kunoichi who then becomes his servant and introduces him to her friends.
- Ninja Hattori-kun (忍者ハットリくん)
- Ninja Nonsense: The Legend of Shinobu (ニニンがシノブ伝, Ninin ga Shinobuden, also 2x2 Shinobuden): A teenage girl becomes involved with a ditzy ninja girl and her crazy clan.
- Ninja Robots (忍者戦士飛影, Ninja Senshi Tobikage, lit. "Ninja Warrior Tobikage"): A sci-fi series where teenagers from Mars pilot ninja-styled mechas to protect a princess in an interplanetary war.
- Ninja Scroll: The Series (Jūbē Ninpūchō Ryūhōgyoku Hen)
- Path of the Assassin (Hanzo no Mon): Story of the life of Hattori Hanzo, the famous historical ninja in the service of the shogunate.
- Rakudai Ninja Rantarō
- Rantaro the Ninja Boy (Nintama Rantarō): An anime series for young children about the adventures of Rantarou and his friends and teachers at a ninja school.
- Samurai Pizza Cats (Kyattou Ninden Teyandē): In the Japanese release, the title characters are ninja (not samurai), and they often face off against ninja enemies.
- Sarutobi Sasuke: A manga by Shigeru Sugiura.
- Sasuga no Sarutobi: A comedy manga by Fujihiko Hosono and a TV series about a modern high school for ninja.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman): The titular five young International Science Organization operators, dressed in bird-like suits and trained in ninja arts.
- Senran Kagura - An anime adaptation of a video game of the same title.
- Shinobu Kokoro: Hidden Heart
- Shinobi Life
- Shōnen Jiraiya: A ninja manga by Shigeru Sugiura.
- Shōnen Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru
- Tail of the Moon (Tsuki no Shippo)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Legend of the Supermutants: Anime adaptation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls (Y+M)
- Zannen Kunoichi Den
- Zanpei Kumotori: A manga by Takao Saito.
Sanpei Shirato also authors many ninja-themed manga, including Akame - The Red Eyes, Band of Ninja (Ninja Bugeicho) (later adapted into an anime film), Kaze no Ishimaru, Ninpou Hiwa, Ookami Kozou, Ninja Senpuu, The Legend of Kamui and Watari (later adapted into a live-action film Watari, the Ninja Boy).
In non-Japanese comics
In the Marvel Universe, ninja have been often featured as exotic antagonists and allies, such as Spider-Man's foe White Ninja, X-Men supporting character Yukio, Ghost Rider's foes Deathwatch and Death Ninja, Wolverine's mentor Ogun, Hawkeye (currently operating as Ninja Ronin), the Punisher's friend Katherine Yakamoto (from Shadowmasters), the Pacific Overlords operative Kuroko (Aya Komatsu), Blackhawks member Kunoichi, and the original owner of Psylocke's Asian body, Revanche (Kwannon). In the Marvel Mangaverse, Spider-Man is the last member of a clan of ninja. A sinister ninja cult called The Hand, is prominently featured in several comic series, particularly X-Men and Daredevil. The Hand and their associates were responsible for the martial training of Psylocke, Elektra, Daredevil, Black Tarantula, Kitty Pryde, Lady Bullseye and Wolverine, among others. The Hand's good rival group are The Chaste; they are also at odds with their Korean offshoot True Believers that include Dragonfly (Meiko Yin).
Characters with the sort of mystical and superhuman martial arts abilities attributed to the ninja occur in the DC Universe. One character who is portrayed in a fashion similar to a ninja is master martial artist and assassin Lady Shiva; Shiva also killed Armless Master, who had trained both Catwoman and Hellhound. The fourth recent Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, also has the qualities of the Western perception of a ninja (there is also a book titled Batman and the Ninja). The retconned stealth and martial arts training of the recent Batman incarnations has led many latter day Batman fans to assume that Batman is a ninja; Ra's Al Ghul specifically mentions ninja during his training of Bruce Wayne.
In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) series, all four main characters and many of their friends and foes are ninja, mostly from the Foot Clan (a pastiche of Marvel's group The Hand), including Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Splinter, Shredder and Karai. The franchise achieved a massive popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s, resulting in a franchise of four movies (three live-action and one animated), four animated series, a live action series, several video games, and a wide range of toys and other merchandise.
The G.I. Joe of comic books featured ninja far more than the cartoon series, and many story arcs revolved around Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Jinx, Kamakura, Firefly and the Arashikage ninja clan, which consisted of an extended family of ninja characters (never featured in the toyline or cartoon). Other characters in the comic who received ninja training from the Arashikage clan and their associates were Cobra Commander's son Billy Kessler and the shapeshifter Zartan.
Other ninja-themed comics include:
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- Blade for Barter
- Empowered: A reformed villainess Ninjette.
- Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa
- Kabuki: The series concerning a member of a government-backed circle of masked and costumed female assassins in the near-future Japan.
- Livewires: One of the main characters is Hollowpoint Ninja.
- Mail Order Ninja
- Mortal Kombat: A series based on a series of video games under the same title and featuring Jade, Kitana, Mileena, Reptile, Scorpion and Sub-Zero.
- Ninja Boy
- Ninja Funnies
- Ninja High School: A ninja-themed furry comedy series.
- Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja: A comic about an American ninja during World War III.
- Pirates Vs. Ninjas
- Shi: A comic series about the modern-day "shadow war" between descendents of the warrior monks of medieval Japan.
- Sin City: A noir-like series featuring Miho.
- Whisper: A comic series by Steven Grant about a modern female ninja.
- Zen the Intergalactic Ninja
Supporting appearances include Chastity, G.I. Combat (Kana), Karate Kommandos, Lucha Libre (the Pom Pom Ninjas), Masters of the Universe (Ninjor), Rebirth (the hero's ally Eiji Inaba), Sam Noir (villains of the series), Scott Pilgrim (Roxanne "Roxie" Richter), Spike: Shadow Puppets, Sonic the Hedgehog (Uma Arachnis and the Arachne), The Order of the Stick (Therkla and others), The Tick (Oedipus), Usagi Yojimbo (features various ninja of the Neko, Mogura and Komori clans, notably Kashira Chizu), Y: The Last Man (Toyota).
The following stories feature a major ninja character, but is not primarily ninja-themed:
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- Afro Samurai: One of Afro's personalities is Ninja Ninja.
- Ai Kora: Kirino Ootori comes from a ninja family, and supporting characters Ai Hagidzuka and Kunoichi Awayuki also practice ninjutsu.
- Angel Blade: A hentai (adult) OAV series.
- Bastard!!: Ninja Master Gara.
- Blade of the Immortal: Master Sōri and his female students Meguro and Tanpopo in the final arcs.
- Bleach: Yoruichi Shihouin and Soifon.
- Chōdenji Machine Voltes V: Megumi Oka, the only female member of the Voltes V Team, is a female ninja.
- Demon King Daimao: Some of the girls are involved with the rival Koga and Iga ninja clans.
- Dragon Ball: Anthropomorphic ninja dog Shu and the six Murasaki brothers.
- Erotic Torture Chamber: A hentai anime OVA series.
- Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture and Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle: Two anime movies based on the series of video games featuring the ninja girl Mai Shiranui. (She also appears in an original net animation The King of Fighters: Another Day.)
- Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin, Ginga Legend Weed and Kacchū no Senshi Gamu
- Hakodate Youjin Buraichou Himegami
- Haō Taikei Ryū Knight
- Inuyasha: Featuring several ninja characters.Template:Specify
- Kaze ga Gotoku
- Ken'ichi: The Mightiest Disciple (Shijō Saikyō no Deshi Ken'ichi): Shigure Kousaka is a weapons master who uses items typically associated with ninjas.
- Kōtarō Makaritōru!
- Labyrinth of Flames (Honoo no Labyrinth)
- Millennium Actress
- Mirmo! (Wagamama Fearī Mirumo de Pon!): Chiefly Yashichi (Yacht), other characters including Yamane and Nezumi.
- Musashi Gundoh
- Nagasarete Airantou: Several of the island girls practice ninjutsu including: Chikage, Kunai, Mikoto, Rin, Shinobu, Yukino.
- Negima!: Magister Negi Magi: Kaede Nagase practices ninjutsu.
- Outlaw Star: "Twilight" Suzuka is a skilled ninja assassin.
- Rurouni Kenshin: The manga and TV series feature the Oniwabanshu ninja group, which include major characters Shinomori Aoshi and Makimachi Misao.
- Sailor Victory: A comedy OAV series about a team of policewomen using ninja mecha (giant robots).
- Samurai Deeper Kyo: Chiefly Sarutobi Sasuke, a member of Sanada Yukimura's ninja group.
- Samurai Legend (Kaze no Sho): A historical drama manga by Jiro Taniguchi.
- Samurai Spirits
- Short-Tempered Melancholic (Kanshakudama no Yuutsu)
- Soar High! Isami
- Soul Eater: Students Black Star and Tsubaki practice ninjutsu.
- Sgt. Frog (Sergeant Keroro): Dororo and Koyuki, are both skilled in various forms of ninjutsu (also in Keroro Land).
- Transformers: The Headmasters: Sixshot is portrayed as a ninja.
- Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle: Kurogane is a ninja in the main group who travels to various parallel worlds.
Supporting appearances include: Ah! Itoshi no Banchousama (Hirayama Hayaka's ninja bodyguard), Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (OVER's Ninja Assassin Corp and The Ultimate Five Assassins), Code Geass (Sayoko Shinozaki), Cutey Honey, Dinosaur King (episode "Ninja Nightmare"), F-Zero: GP Legend (Dream), Gin Tama (Sarutobi Ayame and the Shinobi 5: Hattori Zenzou, Gou, Shuwa, Wakikaoru, Matsuo), Hero Tales, Hunter x Hunter (Hanzo and Machi), Hyper Police (Kasumi), Is This a Zombie? (Seraphim), Kamen no Maid Guy (ninja maids Shizuku and Tsurara), King Arthur, Kinnikuman (The Ninja), Kirby: Right Back at Ya! (Kirby becomes a ninja and works with Benikage and Yamikage in the episode "Visiting Ninja, Benikage!" ("Ninja Binge"), Lone Wolf and Cub (various characters), Machine Robo: Battle Hackers, Magical Nyan Nyan Taruto (Rakugan), Magical Princess Minky Momo (episode "Ninja Arrived! Momo is Ninja"), Mega Man Star Force (the Tribe-On transformation Green Ninja), Metal Fighter Miku (episode "Pretty Four vs The Lady Ninjas"), Miami Guns, My-HiME/My-Otome (Akira Okuzaki), Oh My Goddess! (Marller's ninja trio), Planetes (Tanabe's neighbors in "The Lunar Flying Squirrels"), Pokémon series and Pokémon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu (Aya, Koga / Kyō and Janine / Anzu), PQ Angels, Ranma 1/2 (Konatsu, Sasuke Sarugakure, and Shirokuro), Saber Marionette, Sailor Moon (the villain of the week Ninjana / Oniwabandana), Sakura Wars (ninja stagehands), Samurai Champloo (episodes "Bogus Booty" and "Baseball Blues" deal with characters who are ninja or former ninja), Samurai Girl: Real Bout High School,Template:Specify Sonic X (the E-91 Lady Ninja and Espio the Chameleon), Sorcerer Hunters, The King of Braves GaoGaiGar (Yūsha Ō GaoGaiGā) (Volfogg), Those Who Hunt Elves, Tower of Etruria (Palmyra), Ultraman (Alien Baltan), Yami to Bōshi to Hon no Tabibito, Yakitate! Japan (episode "Nin Nin Nin!! My Way of Ninja!"), Yoshimune (Kunoichi), YuYu Hakusho (Team Shadow Channelers).
In traditional games
There are several ninja-themed role-playing games (RPGs):
- Bushido: A role-playing game set in feudal Japan. It includes the supplement Ninja - Shadows Over Nippon.
- Choose Your Own Adventure: There are ninja player characters in several gamebooks in this series: Secret of the Ninja (#66), Return of the Ninja (#92), The Lost Ninja (#113), Ninja Cyborg (#155) and Ninja Avenger (#179).
- Hero System: An RPG that includes the Ninja Hero ninja genre book.
- Legend of the Five Rings: An RPG set in the world resembling feudal Japan and featuring the sourcebook Way of the Ninja.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Ninja is a character class in this first and the most-known role-playing game, first featured in the 1st Edition supplement Oriental Adventures in 1985. There is also an AD&D adventure gamebook Test of the Ninja.
- Ninja Burger: Three separate editions of an RPG based on the website, as well as a card game.
- Ninjas and Superspies: A modern world RPG system.
- Queen's Blade: Two series of erotic gamebooks featuring the ninja character Shizuka as well as several ninja guest characters from video games, such as Kasumi and Taki (in Queen's Gate).
- Rifts: The Mystic Ninja and Ninja Jucier character classes were introduced in the book Rifts World Book 8: Japan.
- Sengoku: A samurai RPG set in 16th century Japan. It includes the sourcebook Shinobi, Shadows of Nihon.
- Spycraft: A modern world espionage RPG in which the Ninja character class was added in the campaign setting World On Fire.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness: A role-playing game by Palladium Books based on the Ninja Turtles media franchise.
- The Way of the Tiger: A ninja-themed series of gamebook set in a fantasy world.
The ninja are also featured in other traditional games, including:
- Role-playing games, suchs as Feng Shui and Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game.
- Collectible card games, such as Legend of the Five Rings CCG, Magic: The Gathering (where the ability Ninjutsu was introduced in the theme deck Betrayers of Kamigawa) and Mortal Kombat Kard Game.
- Miniature wargaming, such as Heroscape.
In video games
Besides a large number of video games, there are also several game developing units that used the word "ninja" in their name (such as Ninja Studio, Ninja Theory, Ninjaforce, NinjaKiwi and Team Ninja), a group of gamers called Ninjas in Pyjamas and a video gaming magazine character Sushi-X.
In massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), the term "ninja" (also "loot ninja" or "ninja looter") may be used as an adjective to describe a player who has stolen another players item (this is perceived negatively by the other players - if a player is labelled a "ninja" in the game they are often rejected by the community and find it difficult to join guilds or raid parties). In the first-person shooter (FPS) multiplayer community, "ninja defuse" is a term meaning sneaking-up to defuse the bomb immediately after it was planted by the enemy player in a team-based deathmatch game.
Several musicians and bands have the word "ninja" in their names and stage names, including Anty the Kunoichi, Ninja, Ninja Crew, Ninja High School, Ninja Sarasalo, Ninjaman, Ninjaman Japan, Shinobi Ninja and Vanilla Ninja.
Shadow Warriors, a joke side project formed by members of the band DragonForce, refer to their music as "evil ninja punk metal". Ninja were featured in the music video for the Presidents of the United States of America's song "Peaches". The singer Cheryl Cole dressed as female ninja and performed with a group of similarly-themed dancers in the TV special Cheryl Cole's Night In. Members of Momoiro Clover Z dressed up female ninja for a music video for the single "D' no Junjō".
A number of music albums include the word "ninja" or "ninjas", including:
- Club Ninja, an album by Blue Öyster Cult.
- Camouflage Ninjas, a single by Killarmy.
- Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin, a single by In Nothing We Trust.
- Enter the Ninja, a single by Die Antwoord.
- Ninja, the debut album of Christina Aguilar.
- Ninja Jane, an album by Zola Turn.
- NIN|JA, a collaborative album by Nine Inch Nails, Jane's Addiction and Street Sweeper Social Club.
- Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja, the debut single of Lostprophets.
Bands 7 Seconds of Love, Concord Dawn (in the album Uprising), Europe (in the album The Final Countdown), ICP (in the album Tunnel of Love) and Jay Chou all have songs titled simply "Ninja". In addition, GO!GO!7188 and Afrirampo both have a song "Kunoichi" (in the albums Ryūzetsuran and A', respectively).
There are also many songs and tracks having the word "ninja" as part of their titles, including "Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin" by Reuben (in the album We Should Have Gone To University), “Hoodie Ninja” by mc chris (in the album mc chris is dead), "Imaginary Ninjas" by Vince Dicola (in the album Falling off a Clef), "Ninja Goon" by Gruvis Malt (in the album Sound Soldiers), "Ninja Hi-skool" by Bis (in the album Play Some Real Songs: the Live Album), "We Are Ninja" by Frank Chickens (in the album We Are Frank Chickens), "Ninja Highschooool" by Peelander-Z (in the album P-Pop-High School), "Ninja Rap" by Vanilla Ice (in TMNT II Soundtrack), "Ninja Step" by RZA (in the soundtrack for Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai), "Ninja Quiet" by Marco Beltrami (in the album World War Z: Music from the Motion Picture), "Supa Ninjaz" by Method Man (in the album The Pillage) and "This Secret Ninja" by AFI (in the album Very Proud of Ya).
Ninja Tune is a London-based independent record label. Fans of the white rap group Insane Clown Posse, commonly identified as juggalos, sometimes refer to themselves as "ninjas" and to any female as "ninjettes".
- Iga F.C. Kunoichi is a Japanese L. League women's association football team.
- New Haven Ninjas is an American football team from New Haven, Connecticut.
- Ninja Chops, a wrestler in the Naked Women's Wrestling League.
- The American Ninja is one of stage names of the wrestler Brian Adams.
- The Black Ninja is a stage name of the wrestler Cocoa Samoa.
- Canadian NINJAs, a tag team of Portia Perez.
- "Ninja" is a nickname of the Brazilian MMA fighter Murilo Rua.
- "The Ninja" is the nickname of the Filipino boxer Bert Batawang.
- Super Ninja is a ring name taken by several professional wrestlers, including Keiji Mutoh and Rip Oliver.
- A WWE Diva Lena Yada dressed as a ninja for the 2008 Cyber Sunday Halloween Costume Contest and later appeared as one under the stage name Ninja Yada for Wrestlicious.
In tourism and other business
Iga Ueno Ninja Festa, the annual ninja festival in the Japanese city of Iga in the former province of Iga, features ninja-inspired performances, competitions, and opportunities to practice ninja skills since 1964. Iga is also location of the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum and many local businesses such as ninja-style restaurants and cafes.
There are also other ninja attractions across the country, such as the Koga Ninja Village and Kogaryu Ninjutsu Yashiki (Ninja Houses) in Koga-gun, Shiga Prefecture, Togakushi Ninja Village for Children and Togakushi Ninpo Museum and Karakuri Yashiki (Ninja House) in Togakushi, Nagano, Edo Wonderland theme park in Nikkō, Tochigi, and theme restaurants Ninja Akasaka in Tokyo and Ninja Kyoto in Kyoto.
In the United States, there is Ninja New York restaurant in the New York City, and the roller coasters named Ninja (in California) and The Ninja (in Missouri). There is also an American media company Kunoichi.
On the Internet
Websites and web comics
There have been numerous popular websites dealing with the parody of the ninja, the most well-known including:
- Ask A Ninja: A series of popular podcasts in which a ninja answers questions asked about ninja.
- MyLifeIsAverage: Ninjas are one of the most common topics on humor site MyLifeIsAverage (MLIA).
- Ninja Burger: A humor website (as well as RPG, card game and a book) which purports that ninja run a fast-food delivery service.
- Ninja Spirit: A series of short martial arts parody videos.
- Ninjai: The Little Ninja: A Flash animation.
- Ninja the Mission Force: A comedy series.
- No Need for Bushido: A webcomic.
- Pucca: Korean media franchise sparked by a Flash animation, including book and TV series.
- Real Ultimate Power: A humour website created by Robert A. Hamburger (as a 13-year-old character) about ninja, whom he constantly describes with superlatives such as "totally sweet".
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: A webcomic about an Irish ninja who is also a doctor and has a Batman obsession.
- TIN The Incompetent Ninja: Another webcomic series.
- White Ninja: A webcomic that is part of the National Lampoon Humor Network.
In information technology, "cyber ninjas" are the sophisticated counter-hackers. Ninja is also a name of modification of the web browser K-Meleon.
December 5 is International Creep Like a Ninja Day. Internet spoofs have often pitted ninja against pirates and asked which would win in a Pirates versus Ninja fight.
Several various products have been named after ninja, including:
- N.I.N.J.A. MITES, an Italian bootleg keshi.
- Fuwa Maru ninja snacks by Tohato.
- Lego Ninja theme of the Lego bricks, which was succeed by LEGO Ninjago.
- Lego Minifigures Series 1 includes a ninja minifigure.
- Ninja, a series of sport bikes by Kawasaki.
- Ninja 4WD competition buggy by Tokyo Marui.
- Ninja, a brand of food processors manufactured by Euro-Pro.
- Nodal Ninja, photographic equipment manufacturer and products.
Several paramilitary, police and militia groups around the world use the names or nicknames of "Ninja" or "Ninjas":
- The Santomean special police forces (of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe) are a paramilitary police force officially referred to as the Emergency Police, but popularly known as “Ninjas”.
- Rebels in the Pool Region of the Republic of the Congo also called themselves "Ninja".
- Red Berets, a Croatian Serb rebel paramilitary group of Dragan Vasiljković based in Knin, Croatia, called themselves "Kninjas". During the early 1990s, the Kninjas militia was even the subject of a comic book series printed in Serbia.
- Some death squad-type armed groups active under Indonesian occupation of East Timor called themselves "Ninja". The name seems to have been borrowed from the movies rather than being directly influenced by the Japanese model. The "ninja" gangs were also active elsewhere in Indonesia.
- During the Algerian Civil War, the government's feared commando units were known as "Ninjas" due to the black hoods they wore.
- The FBI's Hostage Rescue Team has also been sometimes called "Ninjas".
- NINJA loan is a slang name for a type of subprime loan to someone with "No Income, No Job, or Assets", and "ninja miners" are Mongolian miners that dig small unauthorised mines for gold.
- Sometimes, petty criminals are nicknamed as "ninja". For example, an American burglar reported to have used a nunchaku on one of his victims was known by the media as the "Staten Island Ninja", while a former Russian soldier who engaged in robberies in Italy using a black attire and a bow was called "Russian ninja" by the media. "Ninja rocks" is also a type of burglary tools.
- In 2006, Miss Japan Kurara Chibana appeared in a ninja/samurai-style national costume during the Miss Universe competition. Goth Ninja is a type of Japanese street fashion which became popular in 2009.
- According to data compiled by Indeed.com, there was 7,000 percent growth in the number of job listings that include the term "ninja" over the period of 2006-2012.
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