Friday, 8 April 2011

ニニンがシノブ伝 / Ninin-ga Shinobuden / Ninja Nonsense

2x2-ga Shinobuden was a very, very silly anime I watched a few years back. All I wrote when I finished it on December 2, 2004 was how much I laughed at the magical girl parodies at the end, especially when perverted Onsokumaru transformed into a cute sidekick. Only twelve episodes long, it was at the time what I thought was a very silly, likeable throwaway comedy – but that only shows my heightened expectations back then, for only a handful of shows I’ve watched since have been as funny, silly and enjoyable to watch as 2x2-ga Shinobuden.

The title is a pun: ‘2x2=4’ is expressed in Japanese (in the right contextual setting) as ‘ni ni ga shi’, while ‘nin nin’ is a cutesy thing ninja often say in comedic representations, making for a double meaning. Originally a Dengeki Daioh manga, it is both more overtly perverted and yet much less seriously so than the likes of Ichigo Mashimaro, and has a much zanier and more exuberant comedy style than Azumanga Daioh or Yotsubato!

The story is a typical odd-couple setup. A nice normal girl, Kaede, meets loveable and inept ninja Shinobu when she is on a mission to steal panties. The whole mission was the idea of the real star of the show, strange yellow blob and ninja boss Onsokumaru, so the two girls reconcile and become friends. Over the course of the 12 episodes, the characters have a series of very daft adventures, such as when Onsokumaru gets wedged in a hole and can’t get out. The humour prefigures the sort of thing SHAFT enjoy, with lots of references, sight gags and surreal nonsense.

One of the funniest anime of the last decade, to be sure, and certainly one of UFO Table’s best.

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