Ninku: The Movie Anime Review
US Release By
Superninja Action Comedy
What's In It
- Superpowered Fistfights
- Violence: 1 (mild)
- Nudity: 0 (none)
- Sex: 0 (none)
- Language: 1 (mild)
The Ninku Clan, an ancient and powerful clan of Ninja, are all but extinct. However, four still remain. These four (who look remarkably like college dropouts) and their penguin apparently spend their time flying around in a biplane over some unnamed desert without any food. After a near disaster, they leave what's left of their plane and travel to a nearby town to look for work as bouncers. Unfortunately, the jobs are taken, by none other than a bunch of Ninku posers. The real crew gets hired as servants for their doppelgangers while they decide on a course of action. Well, as it turns out, the baddest bunch of ninja-magic-wielding outlaws in the area are on their way to town, and it'll be up to the real Ninku to show up their impostors and take out the bad guys.
Short and strange--basically a big-budget episode of a little-known TV series. It's targeted at existing Ninku fans, which are a rather rare breed at least in the US, where no other Ninku has been released as of this writing. As a result, the sum total of your introduction is a voiceover at the beginning introducing the ancient Ninku clan, and even that fails to point out that the four starving weirdoes with the broken biplane are them. Past that, non-fans will have no idea who these people are, why they're flying around a desert in a barely functional biplane without any food, or for that matter where they're going.
For as long as it lasts, Ninku: The Movie is almost completely without plot, but it's reasonably funny and the one action scene (which amounts to about a fifth of the movie) is actually pretty well done even if the participants look goofy. The art is noteworthy because it... well, doesn't quite look like anime. The character designs are somewhat similar to the What's Michael manga, which is to say silly and sort of "comic strip" like. It's also surprisingly high-budget--25 minutes may be short by theatrical standards, but the animation is certainly cinema-quality. In addition to the nifty looking dustup at the end, the character animation in the rest of the movie is quite fluid.
The acting, while not bad, isn't particularly noteworthy in either the sub or dub. I do have to comment on the subtitles themselves, though: Aside from being somewhat inaccurate and not particularly funny, the awkward writing is worse than most fansubs--growing pains of a then-fledgling anime company, I suppose. The script may have been improved on the newer DVD release.
In summation, Ninku: The Movie is fun but short and devoid of set-up or backstory, so I wouldn't recommend it unless you're already a Ninku fan. It would probably also make for some pretty good laughs as a late night MST3K-style rental with some friends.
Notes and Trivia
Letterboxed, and, in fact, a theatrical movie, even though it's only 25 minutes long.
Note that this movie is based on a comic and TV series of the same title that, perhaps unfortunately, has never been released in the US and is almost completely unknown here. AnimeWorks must have picked up this movie at some sort of fire sale, because it very much assumes some foreknowledge of the characters, and seems rather pointless to the uninitiated.