If you have ever enjoyed anything to do with ninjas whatsoever, then you are in for some great news! From those of us who have grown up with ninja characters in the G.I. Joe, Mortal Kombat, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchises, to fans of anime like Ninja Scroll, Naruto, or others, we have all seen a great piece of ninja entertainment in our time. For the last four decades at least, ninjas have maintained a steady presence in entertainment worldwide. They are a mainstay and fixture in storytelling that has always been around, that has helped to shape entire genres, and that will be around for many decades to come.
Now, hot off the press is a new offering in this much-loved genre. This brand-new animated feature film: Ninjai – The Little Ninja contains all the classic elements of the ninja genre reconfigured into a fresh new take that looks unique, interesting, and visually stunning. And while animated films are not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, we think you will like this film, nonetheless. It has the perfect blend of all the right elements to make it look like one of the best films of the year – not just in the animation category.
All About Ninjai: The Little Ninja
This animated film is being produced by an independent group of artists, creatives, and martial artists who have dubbed themselves as the Ninjai Gang collectively. They have created Ninjai completely independently of any major studios, production companies, or source material. That makes Ninjai: The Little Ninja into one of the few truly original IPs to come out over the last ten years or so in the mainstream entertainment industry.
From a teaser trailer released online, Ninjai: The Little Ninja looks just as good as, or even better than anything that has come out in the action movie world recently. Featuring stunning art direction, gorgeous visuals, and world-class animation, this film is easily in the uppermost echelon of animated films of the past few years, if not more. Giving us a fresh, unique take on the ninja genre is another advantage to the feathers in this small but mighty film’s cap.
Ninjai: The Little Ninja focuses on the character of Ninjai, a small ninja and young boy who is trekking across the ancient world in search of answers to questions he has about his true identity. This search of self is hampered by a slew of antagonists and villains that challenge him along the way. Most of these adversaries are led by the film’s primary baddie and Ninjai’s biggest foe: a fierce and menacing shogun warlord. There is also a rogues gallery featuring other villains that Ninjai encounters drawing from all flavors of ninja and samurai lore.
But it is not just villains the film features!
Ninjai is accompanied on his journey by his friend Little Bird: his staunch and loyal companion with whom he trades delightful dialogue from time to time. Out of the plethora of cute-kid-with-animal-sidekick duos we have gotten over the years from the likes of Disney, Pixar, and others, this pairing ranks very highly on the list. Ninjai and Little Bird are instantly iconic and have a great rapport and on-screen dynamic that is endearing and entertaining to see. There will undoubtedly be many merchandising opportunities based on this little ninja and his adorable avian friend, and honestly, we are all for it. Bring it on, Funko Pops!
Now, with all this glowing praise and hype laid out for the film, we come now to the question of when we can see it on the silver screen! While Ninjai: The Little Ninja does not currently hold a release date, an un-official Ninjai site and Ninjai social media channels and fan Ninjai videos are abuzz with rumors and tidings of a 2022 release date – bolstered by the fact that this is also listed on Ninjai’s IMDb page, which currently classifies the movie as being in “post-production”. All of this must mean good things, and we are hopeful that we will indeed see this exciting new animated film in theaters this year. One fan video has collected various promotional stills, artwork, and other materials from the Ninjai film that give you an extra look into what you can expect.
Why Ninjai is Important, And Not Just to the Ninja Genre
We are all familiar at this point with superhero fatigue, and the stifling effect the mega-studio business model is having on the film industry as a whole, hamstringing independent productions and original ideas from making their way to audiences. As the years have gone by, original scripts, characters, and franchises have become fewer and far between, replaced by prequels, sequels, remakes. And since studios like Disney, Marvel, and others have only been getting bigger and bigger (cue Fox/Marvel merger) there is less and less room in theaters for smaller, independently produced films to be released.
Ninjai: The Little Ninja has all the right pieces to revitalize and be a proof of concept for why independent films are still vital and important in entertainment, and why there must be space allowed for them to exist without getting suffocated by the massive budgets and business decisions of corporate studios.
Ninjai: Bringing Ninjas Back into the Mainstream
Ninjas as a class of warrior are well-enough known; they are masked, mysterious and skillful operatives that use stealth, deception, and agility to execute their missions and assignments, whether it be assassination, infiltration, espionage, or sabotage, among others.
But lately in modern entertainment, they have been falling by the wayside, with little in the way of preserving this ancient archetype’s presence in storytelling. Enter Ninjai: The Little Ninja, which brings back this legendary type of warrior and repackages them to restore their vitality and interest to audiences.
Ninjas & Ninjitsu
As previously mentioned, ninjas and their tactics of stealth are based around and founded upon the martial art known as Ninjitsu. This art was one of the, if not the original mixed-martial art, comprising of many different practices that came from a variety of sources like generals, soldiers, and monks, and were compiled into one discipline that provided ninjas with a well-rounded set of skills that enabled them to accomplish their goals.
Ninjitsu has been passed down traditionally within very tight-knit circles within the ninja community, and much of the ancient art has certainly been lost to history, so a complete understanding of the workings of Ninjitsu is unfortunately non-existent. But enough has been preserved and recorded, that we are able to glean some idea of how and what Ninjitsu entails, and the skills one can learn by becoming a student of this elite practice.
Ninjai: The Future of Ninjas
Ninjai is certainly a milestone in the ninja genre and will raise the bar for future ninja-themed projects. Offering up just the right mix of elements, this animated film looks like it has all the ingredients to be a recipe for tremendous success. Add to that the fact that it is an independent production by a small group of artists, and there is more reason to root for it!
Hopefully, we will get to see this film land on theater screens sooner rather than later!