Just about everybody loves a good ninja story, especally in manga. The mysterious hooded figure leaping through the shadows. Getting rid of opponents before they even have a chance to make a move is something that has captured the imaginations of millions for decades. The shinobi, we have come to know through mass media consumption, is mostly a figure of imagination, but it lives on to this day.
Developing in Japan, the shinobi art was crafted for a lateral form of warfare; information gathering, spreading of misinformation, the odd poisoning, etc. Very rarely would one carry out an application at the rate at which popular culture would have one believed. A true shinobi would need to be able to hide in plain sight, and only sometimes employ martial arts or specialized weaponry on missions.
The specter of the shinobi referred to as the ninja in popular culture lives on in Japan as well. There are a decent number of Japanese Manga comics dedicated to the ninjas. Here are a few ninja-based Japanese manga comics that we’ve picked out.
Based on a Tokugawa era event, which saw two rival ninja clans dueling to the death to determine the next shogun. Two clans, the Iga Tsubagakure and Kouga Manjidani have been locked in a rivalry for 400 years. Only a truce orchestrated by the great Hanzo kept it from erupting into an all-out blood bath. Now the aging Tokugawa needs to select an heir, and he leverages the rivalry between the clans. Each to represent one of the potential heirs.
That’s not all, there is a love story mixed into it all. Gennosuke of the Iga, and Oboro of the Kouga are madly in love, and you can imagine how inconvenient it would be for them if their respective clans were to go to war against one another. The tension is especially heightened by the fact that Oboro is the only Iga clan member who can kill the formidable Gennosuke.
This Action Thriller, with supernatural elements heavily pumped into the story,follows the plight of the legendary swordsman, Yagyu Jubei, who returns to his namesake home village after a time serving in feudal conflicts. Life back home is as peaceful as it can be for a war veteran. That is until rumors of four dead warriors returning from the grave to wreak havoc on forces that the tired warrior back into battle.
A Bat in a Blue Sky (Souten no Koumori)
This is a once-off,63-page manga that tells a whole story at a frantic pace. The story revolves around a shinobi who wakes up in a mansion and is promptly introduced to a fellow who is next in line to run things. The circumstances behind his arrival at the mansion, and a good amount of other details, are left out as there is no time and a lot has to happen now. That’s the feel this manga offers, in a brilliantly told, Tarantino-esque style that is supported by detailed art that makes the sparse sword fight look quite epic.
Path of The Assassin follows, in panel form,the life of Hattori Hanzo, the man charged with protecting a young Iyeyasu Tokugawa. As the protector of someone who would go on to unite Japan, the shinobi had to be adept in a vast array of skills. The manga even touches on the close friendship formed by the two, in all the time they spent together.