"I'm Shinobu, and my feelings are always twirling around!"
a.k.a:2x2 Shinobuden, Ninja NonsenseNinja Nonsense: The Legend of Shinobu was a manga series by Ryōichi Koga that ran in Dengeki Daioh from 2002 to 2006. The 12-episode anime ran in 2004, featuring a set of Japan's most popular seiyuus. It is licensed in the US by Right Stuf International, and featured a particularly good comedic dub with regulars from New York-based NYAV Post recording studio. Although Right Stuf continues to hold the licence and (as of now) its video sets are still in print, they farmed out the broadcast rights, first to ADV's Anime Network, then more recently to FUNimation.Kaede is a normal schoolgirl struggling with her studies at home. The last thing she wanted was an interruption in her studies. However, when that interruption takes the form of Shinobu, a pink-and-purple clad, buxom ninja apprentice trying to pass her own tests, interruption takes on a surreal new meaning.Despite misgivings, Kaede decides to help the innocent, somewhat ditzy Shinobu to pass her test, and eventually befriends her. Shinobu introduces her to the mysteries of living as a ninja. Mysteries like her classmates, who all resemble the love children of Sho Kosugi and a Jawa. Or their leader, Onsokumaru, who appears to be nothing less than the Walmart happy face after moving to Japan and taking up the role of martial arts master / pervert.One starts to wonder if the real mystery is how Shinobu remained as innocent as she is, while living in the frat boy atmosphere of the ninja mansion....The antics only get weirder from there. But, when a series closes not just with ninja, but line-dancing puppet ninja high-kicking in stop motion while their master flies around with panties on his head to a disturbingly catchy banjo riff, you know you're not in for philosophy.
Bait-and-Switch Credits - Lampshaded. The opening theme features what looks like Shinobu fighting a dark version of herself, which never happens in the show itself, much to the surprise and consternation of the characters. Word of God says that the battle with "Dark Shinobu" was actually storyboarded, but they ran out of episodes and budget to do it. Of course, these are the same people who wanted the opening credits sequence to have three thousand frames (for those who do the math, it's impossible to fit that many animation frames into 90 seconds).
Beware the Nice Ones - Kaede, the only person in the series who never had any sort of fighting training (regardless of competence), delivers one hell of an asskicking to Onsokumaru in Episode 3 when she thinks he kicked Shinobu out of the ninja school.
Character Focus - Onsokumaru hogs the spotlight so much, most of the comedy situations revolve around him, and one begins to wonder what all that exposition with Shinobu trying to become a real ninja was about!
The second-to-last episode parodies this to a certain extent, with an episode focusing on Sasuke aka one of the random ninjas (albeit the one Onsakumaru addresses by name the most)
Covert Pervert: Shinobu, who barely conceals the less-than-innocent thoughts she has about Kaede. Onsokumaru, on the other hand, is a very UN-Covert Pervert
The Ditz - Shinobu, who might even be considered a Genius Ditz at ninjitsu... at least compared to the rest of her clan.
On the other hand, the rest of them are all aware that Onsokumaru is the Headmaster (to the extent that they think his "secret" is something else), whereas Shinobu is unable to see through his Paper-Thin Disguise, even when he finally does tell her he's the headmaster
How much of a jerk do you have to be that you even get banished from hell? Well, Onsokumaru found a way.
Evil Weapon - Parodied to the hilt in an episode where Shinobu opens a box of supposedly cursed objects; the first object is a samurai sword that possesses its holder and makes them attack people, but the blade turns out to be made of jelly. Further evil objects emerge, getting steadily more ridiculous (a steering wheel that causes its holder to pretend they are a car, an afro wig that causes its wearer to disco dance, etc.), until the characters realize they misread the label on the box and the curses were all in their minds.
Expressive Mask - Shinobu and Miyabi's headbands have smiley-faces that match their mood.
Faceless Masses - The ninjas are pretty stereotypical, so we never know what they look like under their masks. Even the only one who gets a name (Sasuke) gets nothing else to stand out - except more screen time.
Fluffy the Terrible - Shinobu names her giant, mobile, carnivorous plant monster Pochinosuke (for the non-Japanese, that's "Spot" with an archaic name ending tacked on). Of course, she is the only one who can keep it from wreaking havoc.
Footnote Fever - The English manga has so many footnotes that it makes one wonder why it was even translated. The first volume has almost half as many footnotes (63) as there are pages (148)and half of the footnotes go on for a full three sentences, sometimes telling us about things you could already guess if you've ever heard of the subject. Worse is that they pop up every two of three pages throughout the entire thing.
Funny Background Event - In episode 4, a world map is shown and two places, one in the New Hebrides (now known as Vanuatu) and the other in Australia, are marked out. Both are named "Eromanga". Interestingly, they really exist in real life, though the former is more commonly known as Erromongo.
Gag Series - The only way to describe most things in this show is to mention this trope.
Inexplicably Awesome: Onsokumaru, except for the "awesome" part. No explanation is given for what he is, how he became the head of a ninja clan, or how he can shapeshift. This doesn't make him any less of an incompetent screw-up, however
Instant Expert - Parodied. When Miyabi is cornered by her own paper wards in Episode 2, all the ninja immediately throw lots of shuriken to stop them. They don't miss a single one. As Miyabi thinks that maybe that ninja clan isn't as half-assed as she thinks... cut to the ninjas tearfully celebrating the fact that it was the first time they threw shuriken (one of them even calls his mom to tell her about it!).
Pun-Based Title - It's a pun on "2x2=4" / "two twos are four", "two people" (the meaning of ninin if written 二人, though it's more commonly read futari), and "to hide" (shinobu, which is etymologically related to shinobi, a synonym for ninja).
Puni Plush - Shinobu has been described by fans as fairly chubby and having a big butt, partly from the art style. This gets a little toned down in fanservicey shots...
Quirky Household - Both Kaede's real parents, and to a certain extent, Shinobu's ninja clan.
Spoof Aesop - Onsokumaru plays a practical joke where he puts mandarin orange segments on people's faces while they sleep, and gets told off by Kaede's mother for wasting food. Lampshaded moments later as the ninja observe that this is the first episode that has had anything approaching a moral message in it.
Stock Scream - Howie Long scream used in episode 5 when Onsokumaru goes to hell.
Theme Tune - Both the opening and ending tunes are hard to get out of your head, dammit!
What Could Have Been - In-universe example: Shinobu says the way they, the ninjas, celebrate Christmas is to "Eat all of the emergency food supply and talk about all of the stuff we didn't get to do this year!"