Tomorrow is a landmark day for those of us with an avid interest in Ninjahood. Shinobi No Mono, the 1962 movie most agree launched the modern day ninja craze, is set for release on DVD tomorrow. I've heard that Blockbuster has hired 3,000 ninjas to guard the entrances to their stores in anticipation of huge demand and rioting. We have the inside scoop, gleaned from a ninja operative we've installed on the corporate board of Blockbuster, Inc. But don't look for the ninjas tomorrow - you won't see any of them, that's how stealthy they are...
But back to reality. Perhaps no film has tried so earnestly to depict the world of the ninja in realistic terms. From DVD Lounge:
Few things in popular culture could ever hope to be as universally accepted as being cool on the same level that ninjas are. Chronicled in all sorts of mediums from comic books to Saturday morning cartoons, the black garbed warriors are the stuff of legend, with mysterious origins and fantastic abilities. It is film, though, that has really elevated the notoriety of the ninja, as even a big budget American epics such as The Last Samurai have helped to further cultivate the esteem of the masked assassins. In Japanese cinema, ninja have often been given almost magical abilities even, as films such as Azumi and the Lone Wolf and Cub series have imbued them with nearly god-like powers. This is why it is interesting to watch a film such as Shinobi no mono, perhaps the first movie about ninjas, and one of the few pictures that have tried to take the subject as seriously as possible.
Ever that bastion of top rate intellectualism, especially as it intersects with ninjas, the New York Times had this to say about the movie:
As nefarious warlord Oda Nobunga continues his quest to conquer all of Japan, a powerful young ninja becomes ensnared in a plot to kill the powerful ruler in this period adventure that helped to launch the ninja craze when originally released back in 1962. Ishikawa Goemon (Ichikawa Raizo) has lost his honor, and now in order to reclaim it he must do away with the most feared man in all of Japan. But the task won't be an easy one, because death lurks around every corner as enemy ninja gangs fast close in. In order to ensure the authenticity of their ambitious martial arts feature, the producers of Shinobi No Mono enlisted the so-called "last living ninja" as an expert consultant.
I've updated my netflix queue. Have you?