were ones tail

Ninja in popular culture

Ninja are common stock characters in both Japanese and international popular culture. Depictions range from anywhere between realistic to fantastically exaggerated.

Ninja characters are often identified by their use of traditional bladed and ranged weapons in modern and even science-fiction settings, as well as numerous inhuman abilities such as running on water and up walls. Though depicted as nearly-invincible warriors (especially when they are the heroes of the story), they are often conversely depicted as disposable cannon fodder to be dispatched by the hero. Ninja are also often a subject of parody.


In Japan, ninja-based films and books became a popular culture craze during the 1950s and early 1960s. The theme remained popular, expanding into numerous comic books and video games. In Japan, the word shinobi and its variants are often used instead of ninja.

The first major appearance of the ninja in Western popular culture was in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, in which the Japanese secret service employs a top secret ninja force to play a critical role in helping the British spy stop SPECTRE's grandest scheme. Western fascination with the ninja bloomed in the 1980s, especially in the United States. Several American ninja movies starring Sho Kosugi were released in the 1980s, largely responsible for introducing the ninja to the American pop culture.

Modern entertainment has shown ninja as either expendable redshirts attacking in large numbers, or as nearly invulnerable solitary warriors (who are often unmasked in contrast). An example of both depictions can be found in the American Ninja and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, where a small group of protagonists (ninja) easily defeat waves of incompetent enemy ninja on multiple occasions only to have far more trouble when facing a more competent lone ninja. This seemingly inconsistent portrayal is jokingly explained by fans using the sarcastic "Inverse Ninja Law", which states that ninja are weaker when they are in larger groups.

As far back as the late 19th century, erotic art was made using the ninja theme. Usually the images were ones of violent entry and rape. The ninja, using his strength and ability to gain entry to any place, would tie up or slay men and rape women at their pleasure. Japanese Ninja literature and cinema still contain a powerful element of eroticism, including some pornography, often focusing on ninja women.

The term ninjer originated in poorly dubbed ninja and kung-fu films. The reason for this unusual pronunciation is unknown. The term has since become associated with the more outrageous depictions of ninjas as well as martial arts enthusiasts who style themselves after these fantasy images.



In addition, New York Ninjas in American Chillers and Night of the Ninjas in the Magic Tree House series.

Role-playing games

Comic books

Notable series

DC Universe

Characters with the sort of mystical and superhuman martial arts abilities attributed to the ninja occur in the DC Universe. One character who is portrayed in a fashion similar to a ninja is master martial artist and assassin Lady Shiva. The most recent Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, also has the qualities of the Western perception of a ninja. The retconned stealth and martial arts training of the recent Batman incarnations, condensed in the Batman origin film, Batman Begins, has led many latter day Batman fans to assume that Batman is a ninja. Ra's Al Ghul specifically mentions ninja during his training of Bruce Wayne.

G.I. Joe

The G.I. Joe series of comic books featured ninja far more than the cartoon series, and many story arcs revolved around Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Jinx, Kamakura, Firefly and the Arashikage ninja clan, which consisted of an extended family of ninja characters (never featured in the toyline or cartoon). Other characters in the comic who received ninja training from the Arashikage clan and their associates were Cobra Commander's son Billy and the shapeshifter Zartan. The massive popularity of the ninja characters completely overtook the more conventional army characters, and creator Larry Hama was pressured by Hasbro to create more ninja for the series.

Marvel Universe

In the Marvel Comics' universe, ninja have been featured as exotic antagonists and allies, such as the White Ninja from Spider-Man, X-Men supporting character Yukio, Ghost Rider's foes Deathwatch and Death Ninja, Wolverine's mentor Ogun, The Punisher's friend Katherine Yakamoto, or the original owner of Psylocke's Asian body, Revanche (Kwannon). In the Marvel Mangaverse, Spider-Man is the last member of a clan of ninja. A sinister ninja cult called The Hand (comics), is prominently featured in several comic series, particularly X-Men and Daredevil. The Hand and their associates were responsible for the martial training of Psylocke, Kitty Pryde, Elektra, Wolverine, and Daredevil. The Hand's good rival group are The Chaste.


In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) series, all four main characters and many of their friends and foes are ninja, including the deadly Foot Clan (pastiche of Marvel's The Hand). The comic archived a massive popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s, which resulted in a franchise of four movies, three animated series, numerous video games, and a wide range of toys and merchandise.

Other comics

Minor roles

Manga and anime

Major roles

Minor roles




There were several dozen of "Ninja"-titled Z-movies by the Hong Kong-based low budget director Godfrey Ho, with the titles such as Full Metal Ninja, Vampire Raiders: Ninja Queen, Ninja in the Killing Fields, Ninja Death Squad, Ninja Terminator, Ninja Operation: Licensed to Terminate, Ninja the Violent Sorcerer, or Zombie vs. Ninja (which featured no zombie).

Minor roles


Live-action series

Animated series

Super Sentai shows

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger and Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger are two ninja-themed Super Sentai series that had their footage used respectively in. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season three and Power Rangers: Ninja Storm.

There are also many ninja-themed villains:

Minor roles

Video games


Major roles

Minor roles


In a massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), ninja can be used as an adjective to describe a player who has stolen another players item. If a player is labelled a ninja in MMORPG they are often rejected by the community and find it difficult to join guilds or raid parties.

There also are game developing units that use the name, such as:

Ninjas in Pyjamas is a group of professional Counter-Strike players, while Sushi-X was a videogame magazine character.



There have been numerous popular dealing with the parody of the ninja, the most well-known including:

There has also been a recent movement on the world wide web to celebrate International Creep Like a Ninja Day (December 5).

Recent internet spoofs have often pitted ninja against pirates and asked which would win in a Pirates versus Ninja fight. In fact, a comic book dedicated to the concept of Pirates versus Ninja exists, produced by Antarctic Press.


Bands and musicians Several musicians and bands have the word ninja in their name, among them:

Shadow Warriors, a joke side project formed by members of the band DragonForce, refer to their music as "evil ninja punk metal". Albums

Bands 7 Seconds of Love, Europe (in the album The Final Countdown) and Jay Chou all have a songs called "Ninja", while Vanilla Ice has a song called "Ninja Rap" (for TMNT II Soundtrack), Vince Dicola has a song "Imaginary Ninjas" (album Falling off a Clef), Method Man has a song "Supa Ninjaz" (album The Pillage) and AFI has a song "This Secret Ninja" (album Very Proud of Ya). In addition, GO!GO!7188 has the song "Kunoichi" in the album Ryūzetsuran. Ninja are also featured in the music video for the song "Peaches" by Presidents of the United States of America.Other Fans of the band Insane Clown Posse, commonly identified as juggalos, sometimes refer to themselves as "ninja" and to any female as "ninjettes". There is also an independent record label called Ninja Tune.



There are, among other products:

There are also roller coasters named Ninja and The Ninja. NINJA loan, a type of subprime loan to someone with "No Income, No Job, or Assets".

Several paramilitary and militia groups around the world use the nickname "Ninja" or "Ninja". "Ninja Miners" are miners in Mongolia that dig small unauthorised mines for gold.

Sometimes, petty criminals are nicknamed "ninja". For example, an American burglar reported to have used nunchaku on one of his victims was known by the media as the "Staten Island Ninja", while a former Russian soldier who engaged in robbery in Italy using a black attire and a bow was called "Russian ninja" by the media. "Ninja rocks" is a name for a type of burglary tools.

The annual ninja festival in the Japanese city of Iga in the former province of Iga features ninja-inspired performances, competitions, and opportunities to practice ninja skills from April 1 to May 6. Iga is also location of the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum.


External links

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