Mail Order Ninja is an OEL manga written by Chicago-based artist Josh Elder and illustrated by Erich Owen. A winner of Tokyopop’s Fifth Rising Stars of Manga contest, the series features two graphic novels released in 2006, a nationally syndicated comic strip, and a revival in 2012.
The novels follow the adventures of eleven-year-old Timmy Mc Allister
, a bright fifth-grader with freckles and unruly hair who lives with his parents and bratty, little sister in generic Cherry Creek, Indiana. After yet another ordinary day of being stepped on by the bullies and trust fund babies at school, he comes home to find that he’s been chosen as the winner of a sweepstakes. The prize: his very own ninja, Jiro Yoshida, the main character of his favorite graphic novel series!
Mail Order Ninja contains examples of:
- Artifact of Doom: the Heart of Darkness.
- Big Brother Is Watching: After Felicity turns the town into a giant 1984 reference, posters sporting a picture of her face with the slogan “Big Sister Is Watching You!” are hung up.
- Big Damn Heroes: Nearly everyone in volume two.
- Chekhov's Gun: The seemingly useless yet expensive dragon statue that Felicity brings to class for show and tell houses the Heart of Darkness.
- Comic Books Are Real: The characters from Timmy’s favorite graphic novel series, Ninja Warrior Gunshyo, exist in his universe.
- Deus ex Machina: What the Ninja Warrior Gunshyo sweepstakes was for both Timmy and Jiro.
- Enemy Mine: Brock and his lackeys help Timmy overthrow Felicity in volume two.
- Everytown, America: Cherry Creek, Illinois. Population: 23,745.
- Faux Horrific: How the ninjas of the White Dragon clan react to having dirty laundry fired at them from a cannon.
- Gang of Bullies / Terrible Trio: Brock, Remus, and Romulus.
- Girl Posse: Felicity and her entourage.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Brock and his boys are genuine threats to Timmy only during their first appearance but devolve into this in the comic strips.
- Good Times Montage: Complete with a musical accompaniment appropriately titled “Ninja Fighting”.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Jiro allows the White Dragon clan to capture him in exchange for Brock’s life in volume two.
- Kids Are Cruel: Basically what encourages Timmy to use his ninja to overthrow the social hierarchy at his school.
- Make Way for the Princess: This signals Felicity’s first appearance.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: Happens during volume two. Effectively turns a ragtag bunch of misfits into an organized army of children capable of going toe-to-toe with trained ninjas.
- Ninja School: A flashback reveals that Jiro, Nobunaga, and even the two White Dragon henchmen attended one of these.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: According to the bio, “The good folk of Cherry Creek have no use for giant robots, mystic rings of power, or any other such nonsense.”
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Timmy and Herman disguise themselves as the two White Dragon henchmen. Felicity is none the wiser.
- Parents in Distress: In volume two, all the adults in Cherry Creek have been brainwashed.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The White Dragon clan to Clan Yoshida.
- Rousing Speech: Timmy makes one in volume two. He’s painfully Genre Savvy about it.
- Rousseau Was Right: Several characters undergo a Heel-Face Turn in volume two and help Timmy take down Felicity.
- Smooch of Victory: Aleasa gives one to Timmy after Felicity is vanquished.
- On the cheek. A rare downplayed example, too, since the actual kiss took up only a small panel.
- Status Quo Is God: Cherry Creek and all its inhabitants return to their mundane lives after the destruction of Felicity’s Orwellian regime.
- The Darkest Hour: Happens after Timmy’s teacher is abducted for speaking out against Felicity’s tyranny.