Back in the early 2000s, I came across a cute little gem of an animation which, till now, keeps me wanting for more. We’re talking about Ninjai: The Little Ninja which was originally a web-based Flash cartoon/animation about the travels of a little ninja named Ninjai, a small bird as a companion named ‘little bird’, and the fantastic adventure of slaying demons and enemies.
The series was considered one of the best web-based series of the time and it saw quite a progressive improvement in the quality of the animation style. There were rumours that the Ninjai Gang was going to make it to the big screen. Much haven’t been heard since then. Their official site and IMDb suggest a feature film but so far no one has come across it.
To me, the Series was top notch. It had a massive following too but the long wait and the unsure continuation has made me fall out of touch with it. But I do appreciate and give the creators the credit they deserve. As I have read, the designers are not paid for this web series and it had drained their webspace so I can understand why it wasn’t so easy to keep on going. However, as a fan, I do hope to see future releases of the same.
Coming to the series itself, a little fair warning is in place. This series is not for children. It contains strong language and gruesome fight scenes — but in a charming and oddly calm manner which made it that more dramatic.
Ninjai- the Little Ninja is a charming piece of animation history. It is a journey of a little nameless ninja travelling the ancient world in search of the “self.” The protagonist, the kid with no name, is apparently amnesiac. He sets out on a journey meeting friends and foes along the way. He has a childish innocence which is given away by his characteristic voice. And his behaviour when he is not slaying demons is playful and curious. But as said, when he is in attack mode, his deep sense of a warrior spirit comes out. Almost like he goes after his enemies in a deeply calm conviction that only a warrior who has seen death — and stared it in its hollowed soul and survived — could have.
The series maintained his innocence with the help of his little best friend, Little bird — who oddly enough stuck with him even in the most gruesome of circumstances — who the little ninja would often converse with.
There is a scene as I can remember, where the little ninja rather than fearing that his life might end, accepted it and spoke out a prayer while submerged in the swamp/quicksand was one of the most innocent yet real experiences that I had goosebumps and made my partner cry. That is how good this web series was.
The Animation style is cartoony and we couldn’t have it any other way. The landscapes and backgrounds are often breath-taking and the details were incredible. Add to that tasteful original music that complimented the scenery and you can see why I still think it is one of the greatest masterpieces out there.
The voices of the entire cast were exceptional, especially Ninjai’s. They were able to give life to animation and the voices further brought the characters to life.
The Chapters are short but interesting and retained its originality throughout. It is entertaining, that’s what it is. But don’t get the wrong idea. It is still pretty gruesome. Cute, but gruesome.
But before I end this, I want to leave everyone with a scene from the series without context.
The scene goes like this, ‘ A guy pulls the eye out of its socket…….. Holds it…… still connected….. Then looks at his own face and pops the thing into his mouth, optic nerve intact.’
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Sources : Ninjai : The Little Ninja Website