Friday, August 28, 2015

Review of Secrets of the Ninja by Sean Michael Wilson, Illustrated by Aikiko Shimojima

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from the publisher for review purposes

Title: Secrets of the Ninja: The Shinobi Teachings of Hattori Hanzo
Written by: Sean Michael Wilson
Illustrated by: Aikiko Shimojima
Publisher: Blue Snake Books
Format: Softcover
Page Count: 138
Cover Price: $15.95 (US)

    Human brains seem to be designed for story telling.  We are story telling animals.  Studies have shown that people will remember the same facts better, if they are told them as part of a story.  This book exemplifies idea and gives you historical information about the ninja, not just as part of a book, but a story in comic/manga format, which is the way all ninja information should be passed on right?


Content

    This book is about 100 pages of a manga style story of a ninja teaching two young disciples the methods of ninja.  He teaches his two young apprentices about ninja equipment, ninja deception, and ninja tactics.  They are then given part of an assignment to demonstrate their knowledge of ninja.  After that, the last 40 pages or so are commentary by Antony Cummins documenting, and expanding on the information given in the comic.  Those pages cite where the information comes from.

Pros

    I did like the format of showing the information as a story.  I also enjoyed the story itself.  It wasn't just a student/mentor story, there were other characters, and you actually end up feeling for them.  There's even a love story.  That's a lot packed into those 100 pages.  I'm not the largest anime/manga fan, but I definitely appreciate the media.  The art is this book wasn't overly cartoony, nor was it the jagged edged hair type of art.  This was a very good realistic style of manga. 
    The story, which didn't beat you over the head with "your reading educational stuff," was very nicely done.  That maybe because you, the reader, weren't the one learning, you were reading of the student Hisaaki, and learning about actual ninja ideas by proxy through him. 
    I also appreciate the end pages which tell where the information came from, and they're not just making it up.  I did an interview with Antony Cummins a while ago, and was appreciative of his knowledge of ninja, and actual ninja scrolls.

Cons

    I'm not sure why its in there, but the Samurai/Ninja instructor character seemed to be unnecessarily cruel in his teaching.  I'm not sure what that was trying to say with that aspect.  Maybe I'm just being sensitive to today's teaching methods.

Conclusion

    If you know someone who's into anime or manga, and likes Naruto or something similar, this could be a great gateway for them.  This is a great, lets take what you think you know, type of book.  I know in Japan, Manga are not viewed as kids materials, and adults are often seen reading them in public, but in the US we still see it as something people grow out of.  So, I think this book is being intended for people younger than me.  Even so, I did enjoy the story, the art, and the historical accuracies of the book.  As such, I'm going to give this book 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I really had a grin on my face while I was reading it, but because of the stigma associated with reading comics, I don't know how many people I could openly recommend this book to.

5 comments:

  1. Being myself an adult who regularly reads comics (including manga) and still gets together with his pals to throw some dice in a role playing game, I have to say I'm sold.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What dice your rolling currently?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you receive it as an ebook or solid book and did you pay for it? Can the publisher lend a free copy for review purposes? Please answer these questions because I too am interested in writing reviews for martial arts' books.

      Delete
  4. Nice Website...
    Hey JOIN now fblikesbot.com and Increase Facebook Likes your profile and websites.
    Increase Facebook Likes and check your website worth worth my websites
    its may be very beneficial for you also really

    ReplyDelete