NINKU – the Little Gem that Nobody knows.

In the early 1990s, a little gem of a manga came out about an odd-looking boy named Fusuke who also happens to be a powerful warrior of the Ninku style of martial arts. As the story goes, in order to fight against an evil empire, the Ninku forms the Ninku corps. The 12 Chinese zodiac animals were inspiration to the group.

Before we get into the meat of the anime, be sure to check my article on Netflix’s Aggretsuko and maybe, if you’re into an equally old anime like One Piece, be sure to check my list of best One Piece Quotes. But have you heard of Hi-Score Girl? Do check that as well.

Fusuke is the former captain of the 1st Ninku corps, the Rat, and has the ability to control the wind.

There are other characters who belong to different Ninku corps. Together with Fusuke as the main protagonist, went on a journey together to stop the rise of the imperial army. They also want to restore the name of Ninku users and find Fusuke’s mother. She was kidnapped from Fusuke at a very young age.

Ninku characters
Visuals from the anime (c) Kōji Kiriyama/Ninku Production committee

They also made this Manga into an Anime in the mid-part of the 1900 and is also the First Anime that I watched. Apart from Fusuke who was a character I was most interested in because of his quirky attitude and kick-ass ninja-style martial art, I also remember other characters like the ‘Jumping Guy’, named Aicho who was the captain of the 10th Ninku corp, the rooster who had really strong legs and a tough guy attitude. Another weird character I can not forget is the ‘Half-Naked loin cloth Guy’ called Toji. He is also the captain of the 6th Ninku corp, the snake and is very strong with ground attacks.

There was also a penguin and Toji’s sister, but as a young kid, they did not interest me.

Ninku sketc
Visuals from the anime (c) Kōji Kiriyama/Ninku Production committee

One of the interesting things about this anime and especially Fusuke was how much he also resembles Naruto. Naruto’s weird and quirky character throughout the anime. His signature move, the Rasengan which is a powerful ball of spinning air, seems to be a direct descendant of Fusuke’s signature move, the Kuatsuken. It would not surprise me if that was true, but I am just making speculation as I saw and had observed. 

An anime of the 90’s era which did not have many takers here (in Shillong) and children my age at that time would probably be more excited about things. Back where the mainstream are characters of DC universe like Superman or Marvel superheroes like spiderman. When The Dark night was still a friendly detective dressed as a bat, I was hooked into my first anime which had a storyline, a little drama, a little hardcore fight scene and the coolest imagination I had ever seen come to life on the TV. A little side note – We did not have cable yet and so for me to watch it, I would have to go to someone else’s home to view it, an episode a week and can you imagine the torture I had to go through just to maintain a friendly relationship with them.

Ninku fight
Visuals from the anime (c) Kōji Kiriyama/Ninku Production committee

Ninku was a straightforward anime. There wasn’t much of a plot twist along the way. The journey that the characters took was the entire plot. But it had some beautiful fight scenes and storylines along the way just to keep you hooked throughout.

Ninku was an all-out adventure-base anime and, like Naruto, has a lot of side stories. But unlike Naruto, I feel the side stories are better told and not as boring. Even the outcomes of these side stories or filler episodes are interesting because some of them were quite emotional and not all ended happily.

It was straightforward and lacks the sophistication of the twist and turns of today’s anime. I was really immersed in this world that the characters took me into. The writers of this anime did a pretty decent job to be able to captivate the audience of that era where televisions or Magic Box are still considered a luxury.

However, as good as this anime was to me, hardly will I encounter another Ninku fan. Let me rephrase that. I have never encountered another Ninku Fan in Shillong. Maybe now I will.

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