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Manga / Ninja Nonsense
aka: Ninin Ga Shinobuden

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Yes, that's a ninja crocodile.

"I'm Shinobu, and my feelings are always twirling around!"


Ninja Nonsense: The Legend of Shinobu, known in Japan as Ninin ga Shinobuden note , is a manga series by Ryōichi Koga that ran in Dengeki Daioh from 2002 to 2006. Its story, such as it is, can best be described with that word "Nonsense" in the international title, being one of the purest examples of rapid-fire parody and insanity since Excel Saga.

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.

The series got a 12-Episode Anime adaptation in 2004 featuring a cast of some of Japan's most popular voice actors. It was licensed for North America by Nozomi Entertainment and given a high-quality comedic dub courtesy of Michael Sinterniklaas's NYAV Post studio. Nozomi continues to hold the home video rights to this day, but broadcast rights have shifted over the years, first to ADV Films' Anime Network and then to Funimation and Hulu. The original manga was briefly licensed and translated into English but cancelled partway through and is long out-of-print.


Ninja Nonsense provides examples of:

  • 108: The number of outs Onsakumaru gets in the baseball episode, thanks to him multiplying the balls and Miyabe catching all of them with magical baseball mitts
  • Action-Hogging Opening: Just the battle against the "Dark Shinobu" in the opening contains more action than any episode.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Shinobu is not ambiguous in the least; she has a massive crush on Kaede and occasionally refers to her as her "more than friend but less than lover". Kaede, on the other hand, is more ambiguous, flipping through being freaked about Shinobu's crush to being very protective and supportive of Shinobu.
  • Art Shift: Several times, especially during the fanservice heavy scenes, the flashbacks, the parodies, and oh yeah, the ending, which is an extremely catchy claymation scene.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Kitty! Shinobu's being distracted by a cat during her exam actually sets the story in motion.
  • 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 proper, 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 cels. note 
  • 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.
  • Bishie Sparkle and Love Bubbles: Shinobu sees these when thinking about Kaede, which is a lot.
  • Blatant Lies: Onsokumaru's claims that he's a hawk, or anything remotely competent. Shinobu buys it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frequently. It's rare that this show has a fourth wall, at least whenever Onsokumaru and the Sasukes are around.
    • Kaede gets one early on after the ninja clan decide not to kill her:
      "That's good. It's only the first episode; I'd hate to die so soon."
    • The opening credits feature Kaede chucking Onsokumaru into the camera.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The last episode is an epic Lampshade Hanging of this.
  • 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, one of the random ninjas (albeit the one Onsakumaru addresses by name the most)
  • Christmas Episode: One of the funniest of the lot, actually. K-A-E-D-E! K-A-E-D-E!
  • Covert Pervert: Shinobu, who barely conceals the less-than-innocent thoughts she has about Kaede. Onsokumaru, on the other hand, is a very OVERT 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.
  • Dumb Is Good: Again, Shinobu.
  • Ecchi: It's hard to tell if this show's doing it straight, subverting it, or both.
  • Even Perveted Otaku Ninja Have Standards: The ninjas tend to object to, but ultimately go along with, Onsokumaru's antics. But when he pretended to be sick to get Shinobu to bathe with him, they all stepped in and took over for her.
    • The time when Onsokomaru (again) tries to get Miyabi-chan to undress.
    • How much of a jerk do you have to be that you even get banished from hell? Well, Onsokumaru found a way.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: After Shinobu gives Kaede Valentine's Day chocolates, she wonders why she's so popular with other girls. (She also received a ton of other chocolates from her female classmates.)
  • 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.
  • Fan Disservice: Onsokumaru's muscle-man form is creeeepy.
    • Not to mention when the Sasukes start taking their clothes off…
  • Fanservice: Shinobu and Kaede are both very curvy and the anime loves to draw attention to it. Of course, it's also Lampshaded to the hilt.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Onsokumaru
  • Festival Episode: Complete with a (long) Ondo number at the end.
  • 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.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Nearly every character has these at least once over the course of the series.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: According to Miyabi, this is what happens when Onsokumaru makes the scene in a normal setting.
  • Gratuitous English: In the Japanese dub, Onsokumaru is fond of phrases like these (as is his voice actor).
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Shinobu dresses in bright pink. The common ninja wear the stereotypical stagehand outfit.
    • Lampshaded by Kaede in the preview for Episode 3. Shinobu can't come up with a good explanation, so Kaede assumes it's because she's the main character.
  • Hot Springs Episode: And the show takes every opportunity to parody the concept to oblivion.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each of the shorts' titles end with no Maki ("Volume/Chapter of...").
  • Imagine Spot: Several, but one particular spot in Episode 5 of Shinobu and Kaede changing for the pond edges dangerously close to being hentai!
  • The Imp: Onsokumaru
  • 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!).
  • Jerkass: Onsokumaru.
  • Lethal Chef: Miyabi, although in her defense she'd never cooked before. That doesn't really excuse her for mixing up gunpowder for pepper, however.
  • Little Miss Badass: Miyabi
  • Love Potion: In episode 5, the ninjas make one for Miyabi. Of course, things don't go as planned.
  • Magical Girl: Parodied in the final episode, including a Transformation Sequence and a Non-Human Sidekick (played by Onsokumaru, of course).
  • Marshmallow Hell: Onsokumaru gets this treatment from Shinobu after he turns out to not be dead in "Onsokumaru Goes To Hell". Unfortunately, he can't enjoy it as she accidentally suffocates him.
  • Mukokuseki: Being blonde and blue-eyed, Kaede would fit the Gaijin Phenotype Stereotype like a glove, but she is apparently Japanese. This isn't exactly surprising, considering Kaede's VA has a very long story voicing blondies.
  • Mushroom Samba: The mushroom picking episode: Onsokumaru + hallucinogenic mushrooms = hilarity
  • Ninja: What do you expect? It's even in the title.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Ninja crocodile. Named Devil. Yeah.
  • Nosebleed: Every male character has one at least once. Shinobu gets one sometimes around Kaede.
  • Only Sane Man: Kaede is a perfectly normal (blonde, blue-eyed) Japanese high school girl dragged into a world of zany ninja antics.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Onsokomaru dressing as "The Master" by putting on a fake beard. The only one who CAN'T tell that they're the same person is Shinobu.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The ninjas.
  • Pun-Based Title: Hoo boy. It's a multilevel pun on "2×2=4" / "two twos are four", "two people" (the meaning of ninin if written 二人, though that character combination is more commonly read futari… which can have romantic subtext, fitting considering Shinobu's obsession with Kaede), and "to hide" (shinobu, which is etymologically related to shinobi, a synonym for ninja). The English title doesn't even try to translate the pun, going with the much more descriptive "Ninja Nonsense".
  • Puni Plush: This series's art style is all about this. It results in Shinobu appearing fairly chubby (for a Japanese girl) and having a big butt. It's toned down a little in fanservicey shots.
  • Quirky Household: Both Kaede's real parents, and to a certain extent, Shinobu's ninja clan.
  • Raging Stiffie: Sasuke gets one when his "sister" wakes him up.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Shinobu's hair definitely counts.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Shinobu explicitly introduces Kaede at one point as "more than a friend but less than a lover". Although the manner in which Shinobu consistently lusts over Kaede makes it clear that her feelings towards Kaede are more than platonic
    • The supplementary art plays this up to the hilt. Nozomi's DVD box features Shinobu and Kaede standing back-to-back, hands interlocked… and wearing each other's clothes.
  • Schmuck Bait: The button in the New Year's episode. It has warnings posted all around it, but of course Shinobu presses it anyway.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Shinobu most certainly qualifies as this. If her overt infatuation with Kaede (and her Mother in one episode) doesn't make things clear, in the manga she is completely serious about wanting to marry Kaede.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sick Episode: Kaede gets sick in one episode which ends with Shinobu getting sick.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Again, Onsokumaru.
  • 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.
  • Sweat Drop: Used in almost every episode.
  • Theme Tune: Unusually for a series like this, the anime's opening theme was specially made for it.
  • Thunder Shock
  • Token Mini-Moe: Miyabi
  • Too Kinky to Torture: One of the ninjas discovers a new kink in episode 5 as he's getting spanked during one of Miyabi's rampages.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: One of Shinobu's home run hits during an especially heated baseball game. It ends up reaching another galaxy! Also, Onsokumaru in the intro.
  • Two Shorts: Almost every episode of the anime follows this format.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Kaede is pretty much dragged into this whole ninja stuff.
  • Visible Sigh: Pretty much everyone does this at least once.
  • 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!"
  • Widget Series: Boy howdy.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Part of Shinobu's "ninja" costume, and sported by Kaede and other female characters as well on occasion.

Alternative Title(s): Ninin Ga Shinobuden


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