Title: Secrets of the Ninja: The Shinobi Teachings of Hattori Hanzo
Written by: Sean Michael Wilson
Illustrated by: Aikiko Shimojima
Publisher: Blue Snake Books
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?
ContentThis 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.
ProsI 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.