A Bunch of Ninjas

Today I watched Naruto for the first time after a long hiatus, and I realized yet again that the Naruto series has the same charming energy as Hatsumi’s art and books. You could learn a thing or two about illusion and strategy from both works.

Clearly the writer(s) for the Naruto manga and show have read Hatsumi’s stuff. His books are the best ones on real ninjas widely available to the public. And his writing on genjutsu (illusion techniques) is just delish. A bunch of other things in Naruto were picked up from Japanese mythology and culture and so on, so if you’re interested in that stuff, you know what to do.

Hatsumi himself gives off such strong energy, he could pull some serious illusions on you. And I guess that’s sort of his game to begin with. Not only can he make and see through illusions, he’s pretty talented artistically — he’s a good writer. So he can pull people into his art through that alone.

Now, there are tons of high-level martial artists out there, many of whom are pretty comparable. Every martial art has the same belief that their lineage is the toughest, that some guy in their lineage is the best fighter the world’s ever seen. It’s a pretty narrow-minded belief, and as a show, Naruto demonstrates that stuff in a cool way; the various ninjas are exceptionally skilled at different areas of expertise. ‘Coz the various martial arts are like that, too. And in real life, and in the show, the person who survives is usually the genius of strategy and deception and perceiving when to act. And that’s what ninjutsu seems to be about as well, at the end of the day.

Naruto is such a bangin’ show when it does its stuff well. I know anime elitists don’t like it, because they need to keep everyone else off their scent (we can’t know what their underground tastes are!). And Naruto is a serialized show, so due to it’s high ratings and popularity as a money-maker, it probably won’t ever end. But if you can watch 4 or 5 episodes per sitting, you’ll be pretty set.


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