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Manga / Choubu No Shinobi

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Choubu no Shinobi: Lepidoptera is a 2017 Fighting Series manga written by Murata Shinya and illustrated by Hayami Tokisada, who previously worked with him on Caterpillar. It is published under the monthly Gangan Joker magazine.

In Japan during the Sengoku Period, one year after Oda Nobunaga's death, a samurai known as Hanza prepares for an important task that several of his late comrades were unable to fulfill for themselves: getting laid. However, as he enters a brothel little does he expect that Rin, the courtesan inside, is Nobunaga's murderer and that two rival ninja clans are out to capture her and claim the late shogun's head which she supposedly holds.

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The story spans 25 chapters compiled in 5 volumes and was finished in July 2019. It takes place in the same setting of Jackals and Arachnid.


This manga features the following tropes:

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: All the ninjas have insect-themed superpowers, but unlike Arachnid this is far enough on the fantasy side of the scale that readers shouldn't need to call fridge logic on every little thing.
  • Ascended Extra: The tiger beetle motif had been used in Arachnid for a throwaway character. In this story, it belongs to the male protagonist.
  • Author Appeal: Yet more bug trivia from Murata.
  • Back for the Dead: Subverted; Megumi survives getting hit by a poison dart in the neck and sits out of the entire conflict, only showing up in the very end to sabotage the protagonists. Then Ran appears behind Megumi and knocks her out.
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  • Belly Mouth: The lanternfly ninja is a youkai creature (or just a really misshapen guy) whose actual face is on his chest. He puts on oddly convincing fake heads and kills people with a backstab after pretending to die from headshots.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Hanza is hypnotized by a female enemy into believing he's caring for a distraught Rin, and in this state he's reduced to being a harmless puppet and gets repeatedly raped by her. Rin later gets Hanza back to his senses by performing erotic ear-cleaning on him.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gokiburi fares as well as her counterpart in Arachnid, actually surviving to the end but getting beaten up all the time and not being able to achieve much throughout the story. Goki's last scene has her getting tossed around by Ran, and then lying unconscious with her bare butt left exposed.
  • Continuity Nod:
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    • Caterpillar once had the narrator explain that insect-themed superpowered assassins had existed in the setting since ancient times. The same group shot panel from that scene is reused by the narrator in this story, though the samurai character in it got retconned to a different design. This is rather odd, because this samurai never appeared in either Arachnid or Caterpillar...
    • The ending makes mention of how a certain ageless parasitic girl will begin brewing trouble in Japan some centuries later.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Hanza betrays Rin for his clan early on, but regrets it and saves her later. She doesn't forgive Hanza and rejects him for a while after repaying the favor, but they do end the story as Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Fan Disservice: Three female ninjas die half-naked. One dies from offscreen Bloodless Carnage, but the others all get sliced. Regarding how the volume releases have uncensored nudity, the artist actually made their death scenes a selling point on Twitter.
  • Guns Are Worthless: One of the clan leaders kills two characters offscreen, and in the second-to-last chapter is revealed to have done that with a pair of guns. Seeing this, Rin uses a spray of volatile powder to detonate the entire room when he shoots, making his Healing Factor moot at the same time.
  • Harmful to Minors: Several children die either during the story proper or in flashbacks, though all the surviving antagonists are the youngest in their clans.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Megumi carries a giant bowl around to hide under or throw at people.
    • The spittlebug assassin lady can, well, piss out a ton of sticky slime which she attempts to use as blockades and hazards. More plainly, she can also harden her hair and stab people with it.
  • Japanese Ranguage: "Lepidoptera" goes with an "r", and not an "l" like it says on the cover for some magazine chapters and the volumes. They keep switching between the two for some reason.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • The body snatcher from the beginning raped and killed Rin's little sister.
    • One flashback shows some male ninjas raping a woman and a girl on-panel. To their side is a child whom they killed by impaling her in the navel and crotch.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: This is a distant prequel to Arachnid, and yet it directly references the true antagonist of that story by name during the closing narration for the ending. Just for the heck of it.
  • MacGuffin: The Iga and Koga ninjas attempt to obtain a box that contains the severed head of Oda Nobunaga.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted, as most of the ladies in the story meet gruesome ends.
  • Mythology Gag: Ran meeting Megumi at the very end and walloping her is amusing and ironic because of the teacher-student relationship their counterparts in Arachnid have. The ending also states Ran grows up to train the next generation of Iga ninjas.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Female nipples are usually conveniently hidden under hair or something else, but some of those instances are uncensored in the volume releases. This makes the manga Hotter and Sexier compared to its predecessor Arachnid.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Two female characters bare their breasts to get the jump on male opponents, but this just gets the two killed like chumps when both dudes don't die from their wounds as expected.
  • Quest for Sex: Hanza really wants to catch some tails but is out of luck and when he does it is by being repeatedly raped while brainwashed. Fortunately for him, once everything is done with he does gets together with Rin.
  • R-Rated Opening: In the beginning when Rin is interrogating a paralyzed Hanza over his intentions because she fears he's after her head, her little sister comes up behind her and turns out to be dead and possessed by a body snatcher who, as he bursts off her corpse, brags about having raped the child before he killed her.
  • Razor Floss: Ayano summons threads around her to trap and garrote enemies. Unlike Turis and Alice, she does it without any kind of tool.
  • Recycled In Space: It is Arachnid in Feudal Japan, though the two clans killing each other is more akin to the premise of Jackals.
  • Reused Character Design: Some character designs from Arachnid reappear here.
    • "Gokikaburi" Megumi is just Megumi "Gokiburi" Oki but blue.
    • "Scarab" Ran looks and acts like Ran "Kabutomushi" Kabuto did as a child in Caterpillar.
    • Ayano is named after Alice Fujii's mother Ayana and fills the spider assassin role. Her friend Hiyori is closer in looks and personality to Alice herself, like Pure Inui and Himeno Endou.
    • Another character who makes a brief appearance is designed after Hanakamakiri from Caterpillar.
  • Shown Their Work: As usual, battles are juxtaposed with trivia about the bugs the characters represent.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Everyone who's not either protagonist or the clan leaders gets killed in battle like two chapters after being introduced and without getting to do much of anything. Some even die offscreen.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The story has some narration at the end about what happened to the five surviving assassins.
  • Wild Card: Hanza helps, betrays and rescues Rin in the first few chapters alone. He ends up teaming up with and fighting people from both opposing clans to ensure his own survival.
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