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[R1 DVD box art]
AKA: 2x2=Shinobuden, ニニンがシノブ伝 (Japanese)
Genre: Ninja comedy
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Right Stuf International
Content Rating: 15+ (Fanservice, innuendo, slapstick violence.)
Related Series: None.
Also Recommended: Excel Saga, Hayate no Gotoku
Notes: Based on the manga by Ryoichi Koga, serialized in Dengeki Daioh.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Ninja Nonsense

Synopsis

Failing spectacularly in infiltrating the home of Shiranui Kaede, the ninja trainee Shinobu finds herself between a rock and a... yellow ball with... arms and a face?

Uh, anyway... since the underwear raid met with success and a passing score for Shinobu, Kaede is rewarded with access to the secret mansion of the ninja and the lives of Shinobu, her master Onsokomaru and the large horde of identical, faceless ninja, one of which is named Sasuke. There's even a chance she'll survive this, if she doesn't go crazy first.


Review

I was a little worried about this show when it started off with Shinobu being sent off to steal underwear. The fact that Shinobu is a collossal airhead didn't help matters.


And hey, take a look at that art style. Pretty bubbly stuff, isn't it? Who'd think that Ninja Nonsense would turn out as amusing as it did?

Funny thing, this show is actually pretty harmless for all its perverted posturing. A gag manga in origin, Ninja Nonsense's main interest is putting ninja shenanigans into everyday situations and having Onsokomaru unleash his devious plans on the girls and failing spectacularly. (Usually with dire physical consequences, made all the worse by him being a resident of a ninja mansion.) And much as I usually hate slapstick violence directed against males for no reason, Onsokomaru has it coming pretty much every single time it happens. In fact, Ninja Nonsense usually skip the middle woman and has Onsokomaru directly face the consequences of his own setup.

Even so, Ninja Nonsense simply doesn't have time to beat up Onsokomaru, because it's far too busy throwing sight gags, word gags or just plain, ol' physical comedy at you at a breakneck pace. And for all of Shinobu's klutziness and useless nature, she's surprisingly capable in other areas (no innuendo intended) and her roof-hopping abilities would actually make Ranma Saotome nod in approval. (Then again, Shinobu is a ninja, and should know better than to do stuff like that in the middle of the day.)

And don't get the idea that the girls are the main attraction (no pun intended) of this show, because it takes Onsokomaru and his team of identical ninja about one and a half episode to completely steal the show. Onsokomaru is one of the few characters who actually manage to be completely perverted and utterly hilarious about it. The fact that he's a yellow ball with shapeshifting abilities actually helps with the physical comedy that makes up the comedy of this show helps a lot too. His male ninja cronies are a bit girl-happy, but thankfully toned down enough so that they can be used for whatever theme the episode of the day is centered around. It also makes them a lovable bunch despite their anonymity -- the complete opposite of useless, mentally retarded male hordes from shows like To Love-Ru or Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~.

As random as Ninja Nonsense is, it still rises above shows like Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (give or take a bo or two). The comedy still works because there's a common thread that ties it all together. It's also surprisingly normal despite the behavior of almost every single character, but the root of the comedy of the show is still centered around normally everyday situations or behaviors, unlike that other show, which relies on complete and utter randomness.

The dub is actually quite great too. Not, sadly, on the female roles' part (which are average), but the male roles are great, especially Sean Schemmel as mind-goes-mile-a-minute Onsokomaru. I suspect this might have something to do with the show playing the girls' roles straight, while the males in the show gets to flaunt the full range of their insanity with wild abandon. The intro theme is kind of annoying, mostly due to the characters randomly shouting stuff during the song, but the ending animation is also great, consisting of some kind of screwed-up Rednex October Festival remix song routine set to stop-motion animation made by stuff found in the arts & crafts department.

Ninja Nonsense is hardly highbrow stuff, but it's clever enough to be amusing and just up the alley of those who want a good gag-laden comedy. Its cartoony style lends itself well to the gags that fills it to the brim. It's also surprisingly innocent for all the off-color gags and fanservice, at least when compared to more recent shows. So, if you thought Bobobo Bo Bobobo was too incoherent and Puni Puni Poemi too... controversial, then Ninja Nonsense is for you.

Just the right level of insane. Remove a star or two depending on your level of dislike for random gag humor.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The levels of fanservice in this show is fairly... normal. Maybe even light compared to recent shows. Still, there's girls in swimsuits or girls in the bath holding their chest. There's the guys reading magazines with scantily-clad women. And there's Onsokomaru's dirty imagination, of course.

The slapstick violence is usually light (and usually well deserved.)



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Ninja Nonsense © 2004 Ryoh-ichi Koga / MediaWorks / Ninin ga Shinobuden Production Committee
 
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