From readers and around the web…

posted in: 7 - Ninja Miscelany | 0

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We’re hard at work on a major feature on Eric Van Lustbader‘s novel The Ninja, and it’s ill-fated film development, slated for later this month, but in the meantime, here’s all sorts of shinobi-centric goodness:

VN reader Brian had a chance encounter on Google Earth — this random sign in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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Great graphic, the blue skin reminds me of characters in Watari, but is possibly sourced from a video game. I.D. anyone?

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What this mini-market is advertising is Ninja brand mosquito coils, a pungent incense that keeps bugs away. Stupid mosquitos! Look at that ninja, you pissed him off and now you’re gonna DIE!!!

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At first we thought that sign was a fireworks ad, which in another random Google encounter led us to this gem. Awesome rip-off from the old 80s Ninja magazine, logo and all. SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS!

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VN fan Jason Blakely fashions 80s-inspired ninja fare like swords as a hobby, but he recently channeled his skills into 3D prototyping and resin casting to come up with these full-scale gems:

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That’s right, Lee Van Cleef’s signature pendant from The Master. He’s also working on prop-grade shuriken as seen in the credit sequence. These might become available for sale in the future, stay tuned…

Meanwhile, from the immortal inspiration that is Godfrey Ho and IFD/Filmark:

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If you liked the Ninja: the Mission Force videos, check out a French crew with equal love for the best/worst ninja sub-genre ever.

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Really fun stuff, and made with infinitely more care than the material that inspired it.

If you want more discussion on all things Ho, check out Neon Harbor for Ed Glaser’s Golden Ninja Podcast.

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And if you were a fan of (or are nostalgic for your heartbroken hatred of) the original Nordic ninja-sploitation epic The Ninja Mission, the good folks over at Ninjas All The Way Down have created about the best write-up on it you’ll ever need.

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Have something vintage, or new but vintage-inspired to sell, or a project that needs a plug? Email us at our BRAND NEW EMAIL CONTACT!

Email us: krainville@vintageninja.net

 

Up close on some old SHINTARO cards

How many times, in a jealous fit of childish resentment, have I openly cursed all Australians on this site? Seriously, that continent probably hates me, but dammit, their head start on the ninja craze outside of Japan beat us by two decades and I just can’t get past that so BITE ME!

The Samurai, originally Onmitsu Kenshin in Japan, also referred to by Australian fans as ‘Shintaro‘, was not only the first ninja property exported from Japan to an English speaking market, it fostered the first licensed ninja merchandise produced by any company outside of Asia.  Samurai “swap cards” were sold with Scanlens bubble-gum at the height of the show’s massive boom in Australia starting in 1964. They remained an institution among the show’s multi-generational fan-base for the original 10-season run, then subsequent sequels and repeats in syndication forever. The card designed even inspired the DVD sleeve art forty-odd years later.

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The 72 card Scanlens set was always a highly collectible item down there, but in the early 2000s when DVDs of the old show finally became available worldwide (and my jealousy complex started as well) the potential collector base widened considerably and prices shot up. A complete set now commands anywhere between $200-600, which is a shame because, to be completely honest, at least half the set kinda… sucks.

Don’t believe me? Check out a complete set scanned and uploaded here. Seriously, I’m not being a hater here, but as a designer, art director and third generation photographer the choice of images and cropping here offends my brain and artistic sensibilities to a baffling degree. Scantness must have had jack squat to work with if these are the best shots that made the cut.

So yeah, as much as I love the show, I’m not about to shell out half a grand for this card set.

Once in a while I will buy some single gems, though, and here a few recent scores, with some up close and personal views.

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“Certain Death for Tombei” [sic] could have been the title of every other episode of the show. The awesomely cool ninja ‘Tonto’ to the ‘Lone Ranger’ that was Shintaro often existed solely to pad episodes with expositional lessons on ninja gadgets and commando tactics (many comic book level sensationalistic) and then to inevitably get captured by more bloodthirsty and aggressive ninja. None of the hundreds of shinobi who ever captured Tonbei were a tenth the swordsman Shintaro was, though. You’d think at some point these shadow clans would have recruited a proper long-swordsman to specifically wait around to duel the big guy when needed…

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As much ‘legit’ ninjutsu as was presented in the show, some episodes leaned on entirely silly fare like Dragon Submarines made of bamboo, and magical wizardry notions left over from previous decades’ image of ninja. This snow-storm attack, filmed using soap flakes and paper confetti way too big to be ice crystals, is a pretty goofy moment actually captured quite nicely in this pic.

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Onmitsu Kenshin is, arguably, the single media property most responsible for the shuriken fetish ninja would be saddled with from the 60s boom onward. They perfected the technique of actors posing against wooden walls, then holding still as throwing stars were lodged into the surface between quick takes of 3-6 frames of film. The result, with the right sound effects, looked like a handful of blades were thrown at a target at once. As the show went on, they got more astute in filming this and did so in reverse, starting with several stars in the wall, plucking them out one by one then reversing the resulting film for a smoother action.

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If you haven’t checked out any of The Samurai, do so for both the legit good ninja stuff and for its place in ninja pop culture history. The English-dubbed episodes are widely available, including legit release DVDs easily found on eBay.

More crappy (aka GREAT) 80s package art!

I just cannot get enough of illustrated and painted ninja art from 80s no-name ninja merch. Sometimes, well, lets be real… OFTEN… more time was spent on the package art than was on designing the crap under the blister card therein.

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Ja-Ru was (and still is) a company specializing in “rack toys” — the junk near the register in supermarkets or that sad little half office supply/half toy aisle in chain drug stores. To this day, they still make “Fun Erasers” of whatever’s hot in popular culture. In the 80s, it was pro wrestlers not-so-vaguely reminiscent of Hulk Hogan and ilk, break dancers, knock-offs of girly stuff like Strawberry Shortcake, any old science fiction molds re-purposed for Star Wars and Transformers love, GI Joe/Rambo-esque soldiers and yes… NINJA!

I got this less-than-pristine backer card from Ja-Ru’s ninja erasers for my birthday last month, and while I can’t put my hands on the actual erasers it would have once contained at the moment, I’m near certain I owned them back in the day. And like most any figural erasers, they were utter crap as action figures and even worse crap as functional erasers.

But man, this package art!

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Over-stylized hard-to-read logo anyone?

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These illos are like many others of this type — derived from martial arts manuals, movie posters or magazine covers that were circulating at the time. While the top most image in this post looks very manga-ish in source, the one directly above looks traced from an Inside Kung-Fu article or supply ad for ninja suits.

I’m not big on mint-condition collectibles or things being in pristine shape to rate my shelves, but man I’m absolutely TORMENTED at where a select area of this card was torn off!

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I would kill to know what sort of crazy smack Ja-Ru was talking here, both in terms of ninja history and lore, and the educational value of their poopie erasers! Dammit…

If anyone out there has these erasers or a more complete card with the above text intact, drop us a line!

 

VN REVISITED: Fujimaru Book-n-Record

posted in: 2 - Books and Manga | 0

Originally published in two parts — July 2009

Growing up in the pre-home video era often meant the only way to relive your favorite movie or TV property was the now extinct book-n-record. I positively wore out my GI Jo Adventure Team, Frankenstein and Planet of the Apes comic book / 45rpm sets from Power Records as a wee lad.

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The Japanese had it just as good – the formats being rather similar: 8-16 page booklets featured art inspired by anime, manga, live action genre films, etc. Short, simple adventures corresponded to narration and sound effects on a 45rpm flexi-disc, with a property’s signature theme song often on the b-side.

I find the real charm of these sets to be the original artwork, produced by the licensor, sometimes with great skill in replicating the look of a famous artist, but just as often displaying some totally off-model mutations.

This set, from 1964-5, is a rather faithful adaptation of Shirato Sanpei and Hayao Miyazaki‘s collaboration Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru (aka Samurai Kid).

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‘Fujimaru of the Wind’ was a young ninja apprentice with a mastery of swirling wind storms. He was a chip off the old Sanpei block – hanging in the treetops in a tunic and shortpants, needing only his shortsword and a few shuriken, etc/ and so forth. He was a friend to animals, and sworn enemy of fire-breathing wizard Japusai.
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LOVE these ninja heavies!!!

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I dunno about the furry one-sy he wears, but how cool was the era when kids with swords were role models! This show was rather weapons-laden…
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And he gets to KILL ninja! Sure, no gore, but c’mon – wack a guy in the head with a Wakizashi and what’s the result?

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How awesome is this nut-punch technique!
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Fujimaru’s mystical gimmick was the control of wind, and whipping up a tornado of leaves was a common escape. Ninja are either extremely susceptible to allergies, or terrified of yardwork…
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Most of the sets I’ve seen adopt the common Japanese publishing practice of running several more interior pages in 2-color process to save printing costs. Clever use of halftone angles and dot-pitch make subtle browns and beiges out of black and orange inks.
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Fujimaru’s girly pal Midori gets caught up in the inevitable hunt for the hot-potato secret scroll, aided by a somewhat Deputy Dawg-esque cast of animal sidekicks.

 

Fujimaru had a rather large friend from above his whole life – a giant eagle. It was all part of a well-balanced mix of genuine historical weaponry and credible martial arts with superhero-like powers and outright magic. Blend it all with goofy animals for comic relief and a snappy theme song by a kids chorus, and that’s your formula for successful boy’s adventure anime in the 60’s.

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OK, that animal on the far left, the one with the same haircut as my mailman… what exactly is that? Monkey? Wombat? Proto-Ewok?

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Fujimaru’s whirlwind could turn Japusai’s fire right back on him in spectacular fashion! I love the character design of the old wizard…

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These terriffic action poses are right out of the credit sequence to the TV anime. The show was adapted from a popular Sanpei manga, and animated by the now legendary Hayao Miyazaki.

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Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru ran on Toei’s TV network from Jun. 7, 1964 – Aug. 29, 1965 – the same year as Johnny Quest here in the U.S. But while JQ was about the apex of boy’s adventure cartoons in the States, Fujimaru was just one in a long line of weapons-carrying, ninja-slaying, super-powered shinobi role models for Japanese kids.

Some info from Yugoslavia

posted in: 2 - Books and Manga | 0

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Back in March of 2015 we posted some art, and plenty of speculation, about 80’s craze-era ninja comics from Yugoslavia, and now we have some first hand info on them, thanks to VN reader and student of the arts Navid Bulbulija:

Yugoslavia at that time had a huge (considering the size of the country) comics production. One of the leading figures being Branislav (Bane) Kerac, creator of Cat Claw.  I don’t believe Kerac ever drew for the ninja series, but he did have a picturesque ninja villain in the Cat Claw series. Yugoslavia at the time had a license for Tarzan, Disney characters, Tom & Jerry, and few other characters so the local authors were able to make a living drawing and writing comics.

The Ninja series, in the scans on your site, was drawn by local artists, and the main character is Leslie  Eldridge — the only non-japanese ninja (loosely based on Stephen K. Hayes). The character was based on the pulp novels published by the same publisher — Dečje Novine, Gornji Milanovac. They were writen by Derek Finegan (or, as the legend goes Brana Nikolić, Finegan being his pseudonim).

Navid included some scans from his personal collection, albeit in rough shape. To quote him “These were my first exposure to ninja. I was a collector of the ninja magazines and books as a kid, but most of them were destroyed in the war.” Being a collector of 80s ninja fare in a country that wasn’t torn up in a 6-way civil war is hard enough, I can’t imagine what fortune it took for these to survive not only the common childhood but a war zone to boot.

We hope to hear more from our new pal from the former Yugoslavia, where ninja fandom endures.

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Support The Ninjaplex, and my new book!

posted in: 8 - News & Notes | 0

I don’t normally shill on this site, but both myself and VN’s shadow-spiritual advisor Tim March have announced side projects in the past week that could use the bandwidth, so deal with it!

First off, I’m ringing the bell to garner support for Tim’s new dojo space:

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Want to support a project that teaches kids the most positive aspects of martial arts, combines performance arts with martial arts and will serve as an event space for creative types, musicians, performers and general weirdos in the the Greenville, SC area? Then click here for the GoFundMe campaign for The Ninjaplex. I love any martial arts training center that hybrids with something decidedly non-martial arts oriented — be it martial arts and dance, martial arts and stunt work, martial arts and calligraphy, whatever…  It vastly expands the spiritual experience of the trainee, exposes the faithful of both pursuits to the possibilities of the others’ passion, and can genuinely provide hybrid training that opens doors on unexpected career opportunities.

The GoFundMe campaign is based solely on the rental and renovation of an industrial space, rescuing it from its decidedly un-colorful state and giving it a colorful new life. The world needs more efforts like this, so let’s all throw a few bucks their way… every little bit helps.

Speaking of other charitable causes — COUGH! — in my spare time I’m an indie book publisher. OK, stop, put the canned goods and first aid relief packages away, it’s not that bad…

Over at my other hooded passion in life — the Mexican masked wrestler-based imprint From Parts Unknown — I’ve announced a new fiction novella coming from the superb writer Matt Wallace (you may remember him from his great write-up on the American Ninja sequels from a few years back). Rencor: Life in Grudge City is a four-fisted tag-team adventure that reads a lot like an old Starsky and Hutch episode or the movie 48 Hours, but the reluctant partners in question are luchadores, and they HATE each other! And then the mummies attack…

Matt’s write up on the project is a lot more readable than my ramblings, so check it out here.

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More good Blu news for 2016!

posted in: 1 - Film and TV | 0

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Well, it took 30 some odd years but we’re finally getting close to having all the classic Sho Kosugi fare well represented on home video. Arrow’s superb sounding release of Pray for Death hasn’t even shipped yet and they’ve already announced a follow up — the end-of-craze-days actioner Rage of Honor.

Rage was the movie where you could just feel Kosugi not wanting to do costumed ninja stuff anymore, and the industry was indeed on the verge of the kickboxer takeover, but there are plenty of shinobi-fodder on hand for him to slice up with various self-designed ninja-esque gimmick weapons. The marketing boasted the film a “high-tech adventure” but qualified that with “full of new wave ninja tactics” so yeah, no one was entirely comfortable turning their backs fully on the ninja craze quite yet.

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I was a fan of the film’s villain Lewis Van Bergen from his stint on the long-forgotten Sable TV series (a superhero role he evidently inherited from a never-aired pilot that starred Gene Simmons of KISS), and would of course see anything Kosugi did, but back in the day this film felt like one of the more pronounced nails in the coffin for the ninja boom. The marketing was ninja-less, the video packaging later on was ninja-less, and moreover it almost seemed like everyone involved was embarrassed by or trying to deny the hooded pedigree of work that had gotten them to where they were. Note below the signature Kosugi kick, but in spy-wear. Ironically, the mid-2000s DVD packaging would repurpose Revenge of the Ninja publicity material to swing the pendulum back on ninja-nostalgia.

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I was such a ninja-loyalist in 1987 that this turn away from the genre by some of its crucial creators felt like a major letdown, however removed from that sting by a few decades, I’ve come to enjoy Rage of Honor for the nutty fun action blast it actually is. I love the write up for it over at Cool Ass Cinema, who call it “the most expensive ninja movie Godfrey Ho, Joseph Lai, and Tomas Tang never made.”

From the Arrow Films press release:

Sho Kosugi’s ninja domination continues!

Rage of Honor (Arrow Video) Blu-ray

Following his star turns in ‘80s actioners Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, Sho Kosugi continued his domination of the US martial arts movie with 1987’s Rage of Honor – helmed once again by Pray for Death director Gordon Hessler (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad).

Federal agent Shiro Tanaka (Kosugi) used to live for his job – now, he lives only for revenge. When his partner is killed during a bungled drug bust, Shiro throws away his badge and the rule book with it: arming himself with an array of deadly weaponry – including nunchucks, blades and ninja stars – he sets out to Buenos Aires to settle the score with the bad guys.

Packing explosions, flying kicks and somersaults aplenty (as well as some truly logic-bending stunt sequences), Rage of Honor sees Kosugi at the top of his game as he battles his way from the streets of the urban jungle to the very literal jungles of South America.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM
– Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Sho and Tell Part 2: The Domination – brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi on Rage of Honor and the later stages of his film career
– Sho Kosugi Trailer Gallery: Enter the Ninja (1981), Revenge of the Ninja (1983), Pray for Death (1985) and Rage of Honor (1987)
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

The first pressing includes a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film and an extract from Kosugi’s upcoming book

Really interested in that new Kosugi material promised!!!

Moving on to other major Blu-news…

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Finally. Fi-nal-ly! FINALLY!!!

Perhaps the most ‘fallen-between-the-cracks’ major chapter of 80s martial cinema to largely miss the DVD era is getting a legit release worthy of its quality! The Challenge (aka The Equals, Sword of the Ninja) was a 1982 American film shot mostly in Japan, directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Grand Prix, Ronin), co-penned by John Sayles (Brother from Another Planet, Matewan, Eight Men Out), scored by the great Jerry Goldsmith (The Twilight Zone, Planet of the Apes), and photographed by Hideo Gosha favorite Kôzô Okazaki (Goyokin, The Wolves, The Yakuza). A-List behind the camera, and A-List in front, too.

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It was the first American audiences saw of Toshiro Mifune since The Bushido Blade and Shogun, and would end up being the last English-language work he’d do. Scott Glenn, after surviving the rigors of Apocalypse Now and hot off making a splash in Urban Cowboy played The Ugly American fish-out-of-water, a no-good palooka that Bushido master Mifune and daughter Donna Kei Benz (Pray for Death) whip into shape for a showdown with the clan’s black sheep brother, a rich industrialist obsessed with reuniting a pair of family swords separated after WWII. Much blood-letting ensues.

This movie sees life imitate art quite a bit, in that Scott Glenn, once on the turf of Japanese stunt crews and martial arts choreographers, takes a real beating as an actor, just like his character does. And in a refreshing departure from the normal ‘white guy gets in over his head in a foreign culture then becomes the best example of that culture ever and turns out to be their savior’ bullshit we get so often, he is instead constantly fighting from behind the 8-ball, a thoroughly expendable pawn manipulated by two sides of a generational feud. When it does inevitably come down to him ‘saving the day’ it is more a matter of self-preservation, as a frantic sword fight against a lifelong kenjutsu master turns into an explosion of pure anarchy that a barely trained but desperate x-factor of a fighter miraculously endures more than outright wins.

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Despite everyone and everything about this movie being first rate, including some superb martial arts, The Challenge fell into a weird hole. It was all over cable after a brief theatrical run, and had a big box VHS release, but never made it to DVD (at least not 100% legit or intact) in this country. It wasn’t until airings on cable in recent years that anyone had seen it widescreen, but now , because maybe the gods have not abandoned us after all, somebody woke up and we’ve got a Blu coming and man are we stoked!!! Scott Glenn fighting ninja on Netflix’s Daredevil and now The Challenge in HD? Somebody pinch me!

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Two other 1980s Japanese martial arts-oriented films that weren’t necessarily martial arts films have also gotten new HD life. Scream Factory continues their budo-horror preoccupation that started with Ninja III: The Domination with a double feature disc of The House Where Evil Dwells and Ghost Warrior!

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From the press release:

A Double Dose Of Samurai Action!

THE HOUSE WHERE EVIL DWELLS
1982 / 1.78:1 / NEW Transfer

A century ago, a samurai brutally murdered his adulterous wife and her lover before taking his own life. Now, the Fletcher family has found what they think is their perfect Japanese home – not knowing it’s the same house where the murders occurred. But as strange events escalate and the ghosts of the dead begin to toy with the living, the Fletchers discover they’ve become unwitting players in a horrible reenactment… one which they may not survive! This chilling ghost story stars Edward Albert (Galaxy Of Terror), Susan George (Straw Dogs) and Doug McClure (Humanoids From The Deep) and is directed by Kevin Connor (Motel Hell).

GHOST WARRIOR (aka SWORDKILL)
1986 / 1:85.1

While exploring a cave, two skiers find the body of a 400-year-old samurai warrior entombed in ice. He is brought to the United States in a hush-hush operation and revived through cryosurgery. Unfortunately, he is then forced to battle for his freedom, dignity and life. This Charles Band production stars Janet Julian (King Of New York, Humongous).

Two more mainstays from my cable TV-feuled youth, and another swoon-worthy Susan George role, fresh off of Enter the Ninja.

TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY!

 

This post BLOWS!

From our friends at Vintage Nunchaku comes a feature on a critical piece of survival equipment that helped us get through the 1980s — The Jivaro Blowgun.

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The Jivaro Blowgun: This was serious “ninja stuff.”

First of all you had to be able to find them, they weren’t listed in Black Belt, Inside Kung Fu or any of the other major martial arts magazines. That meant you had to be familiar with magazines such as Solder of Fortune, Warriors or similar titles.

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Second, at least in the beginning, you had to be able to build your weapon. You literally got a long piece of aluminum tube, some brown rubber hose, a bunch of spring steel rods and some beads on a string. You boiled the rubber hose until it expanded and you then put those handguards on your blowgun before they shrunk. That done you installed the mouthpiece. As for darts, you stripped a bead off the cord, cut the spring steel to the desired length, heated it in a candle and then inserted it into the bead (if you were smart you followed the cord channel) and it literally melted into the plastic bead which hardened.

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It was a lot of work but it was a good system. You cut long darts for hunting and small darts for target practice or applications where a smaller less noticeable dart would be preferred. You could be a ninja without a sword, but there was no way you could be a ninja without a blowgun. This was the epitome of silent and deadly, it was the true signature weapon.

Jivaro blowguns go back at least as far as 1978 (that’s when I ordered my first one from an issue of SOF and were available until the mid 80s. I literally had about a dozen of these in that time. I had six foot ones for long range target use and I made them in lengths from two feet to four and a half feet to have a portable weapon for “missions.” I had some wrapped in black electrical tape for night use and even had a couple done in white athletic tape for winter use when I moved up north.

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Around 1984 they started shipping them completely assembled and they switched to a cheap plastic cone dart. Thankfully I had hundreds of beads on a string and lots of spring steel rods because those cone darts were junk. They were too light for any real accuracy. The bead darts on the other hand were amazingly accurate and from a 4.5″ blowgun I could nail lizards on trees from 30 feet away. I could put 12 darts in the same tree from twice that distance in a 6 inch group.

The two piece blowgun seemed like a good idea but the reality is it came apart at the wrong time, rattled no matter how you packed or slung it and the connection seemed to lessen accuracy. I found I could get almost the same results from one half of the two piece blowgun compared to the fully assembled weapon. Nothing beat a full size 6-foot blowgun, but it wasn’t exactly portable.

Sadly the majority of my Jivaro blowguns went to ninja heaven as they were destroyed in training. The only one that remains is a 1983 vintage six foot model that thankfully is in perfect condition…because you never see these come up for sale and the new ones don’t even come close.

As with most things from my younger days, I wish I had bought a couple extras.

— Vintage Nunchaku —

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We at Vintage Ninja never had Jivaro blowguns, opting for self-made (and vastly inferior) fare instead. I did have a plastic toy blowgun for suction darts that was actually branded from the American Ninja film, though, if that counts.

While an actual effective blowgun took some work, skill and practice, and some serious lung capacity, making non-functional but convincing movie-prop grade blowguns is much easier. Ours is a decorative bamboo rod from a florists with some twine embellishments. If we did it, anyone can!

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VN REVISITED: A look at ZANPEI KUMOTORI manga

posted in: 2 - Books and Manga | 0

Lots of new readers lately, and I always love delving into the archives, exposing folks to some of the great stuff we posted back in the early years, so here’s an EXPANDED revisit of an article originally from November of 2009:

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“It’s all for the taking. From the undergarments of countless beauties to the great buddha himself, an individual with the ability to snatch the clouds from the very sky!” (JManga)

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Takao Saito, best known as creator of Golgo 13, was also responsible for two ninja manga: Kage Gari in the 70’s (the Shadow Hunters, which also spawned two films), and Zanpei Kumotori in the 80’s. The latter featured a Sean Connery-esque shinobi getting into all sorts of mischief.

Here’s a few choice pages:

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Plenty of historically credible espionage techniques on display in this series, right alongside silly stuff like giant piloted kites.

For me, that mixture of fact and fantasy is one of the ninja idiom’s biggest appeals.

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Some good martial arts action, too. There’s a lot of weapons foreshortening in the artwork series-wide.

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Here, the savvy spy uses a marionette doppelgänger, while getting a little grabby with a defeated female bodyguard.

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Things could get wacky once in a while, too, with an occasional mutant supervillain or (in this case above) a GIANT Komodo dragon thrown into the mix.

Here’s some 2-color pages:

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How great is this composition!!!

I dig these title pages/ads and trade paperback collection covers, too:

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Zanpei Kumotori wasn’t exactly revolutionary or even a genre milestone, but it had a lot of that Golgo tone and swagger (you can just hear the jazz and funk soundtrack that a film adaptation would have had while flipping the pages), with enough meat-and-potatoes ninja action to be a hit for years.

Well worth the effort too track down…

THANKFUL…

Assessing life as one does at Thanksgiving, here’s a pile of random ninja-related stuff I’m thankful for:

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That I’ve been able to turn so many people on to CASTLE OF OWLS via this site.

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Mexican lobby cards of Hong Kong movies starring Japanese actors I bought from a guy in Ohio.

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That FIVE ELEMENT NINJA is streaming now and all sorts of new audiences are discovering it.

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That so many grails of B&W 60s shinobi-cinema are available with subtitles in one form or another.

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For the privilege of meeting Sonny Chiba earlier this year.

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That AMERICAN NINJA is coming out on Bluray next year with newly shot extras.

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That after 15 years in California, my vintage porcelain collection hasn’t had any earthquake casualties.

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That my pal Eddie Mort exposed me to THE SAMURAI years ago.

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That these relics of my 80s early teen years somehow survived.

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That this weird-ass ninja statue I scored in Chinatown is wearing SNEAKERS! Untied sneakers…

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For the Hana Rangers.

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That some photo-painter in Thailand back in the day laid down these hand-tinted colors so thick they lasted 50+ years.

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That Elsa Chung had no problem gettin’ nekkid…

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For having so many awesome artist friends.

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That I just barely beat out three other eBay bidders on this MAGIC SERPENT poster a few years back.

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For the 60s/70s Japanese movie and TV trope of female shinobi sidekicks.

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That Tim March and I are still friends 30+ years later.

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That companies are still kicking out cheap 80s-style ninja crap like this even in a post-Naruto modern day.

That finding a collection of photos from AKAI KAGEBOSHI sparked the original impetus to start this website in 2009!

AND…

Most of all I’m super thankful 6000-10,000 of you find us every month and dig through these categories and pages. We get great fan mail, and love hearing how we’ve connected with like-minded souls.

Thank you all.

 

Keith J. Rainville

11-24-2015

 

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