Coming soon…

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…but not necessarily this week:

And if anyone can identify where this panel comes from I’ll send them something cool free!

Meanwhile, I’m looking at a busy two weeks in front of me, so new stuff might be sparing. I’ve been thinking about dusting off some of the better archive posts, particularly from our first year, and republishing them for the new readers (and those without the patience or DEDICATION to click through the categories on their own).

Stay tuned folks!

Give us your TOP 5

Had a reader on the VN Facebook page (have you ‘Liked’ us? If not, SHAME!) post a great question:

“If you had to distill your favorite ninja films into a grievously unfair list of only 5, what would they be?”

OY! Can you imagine the nightmare scenario where you were trapped on a deserted island with only five ninja movies to watch over and over? Or if you had a bomb shelter with space for only five ninja films to survive the apocalypse and represent the genre for far-off future archeologists? Top tens are easy, but FIVE? That’s tough.

What I ended up coming up with (in no particular order) were:

Castle of Owls (1963) Probably my favorite ninja film ever.

Shinobi-no-Mono 1 (1962) For its historical significance, and being the best example of Hatsumi-driven credible espionage-based ninja flicks.

Revenge of the Ninja (1983) Arguably the best of the American 80s craze, which must be represented.

Five Element Ninja (1982) As should Hong Kong’s co-opting of ninja into their kung-fu empire.

Magic Serpent (1966) To satisfy the Monster Kid in me, and represent TOAD MAGIC!

The Top 5 format forces me to exclude the entirety of the Joseph Lai/IFD genre-unto-itself cut-together films (Full Metal Ninja being my personal fave). Also on the bubble: The Octagon, the artistic apex of the genre Samurai Spy, Mission Iron Castle for being the height of dark ninja noir, and one of the Kadowkawa/Chiba/JAC collaborations has to be high up there too (Ninja Wars being another personal bias, lots of late-light cable viewings in this man’s youth). Ninja Scroll is probably the anime entry as well.

But what about all of you? Commenting is now wide-open to anyone and totally easy, so please, leave us you own Top 5 below. Really curious how many of us have similar lists, and am ready to slap myself with disgust for missing a crucial title that should have been on there.

Speak up folks!

Volunteer translator(s) wanted…

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Heya cats,

We’re regretably without the services of a Japanese translator at the moment, and are looking to glean some info from a few old movie flyers and video packages. Nothing heavy, we’re mostly looking for titles, actor names and dates.

Anyone who wouldn’t mind an occasional jpg e-mailed to them for  a spot translation, please drop us a line at unknownpubs@yahoo.com or leave a comment here.

Many thanks in advance…

KR

Looking forward to a return to form in February…

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Y’know that place you have to go to during the day where people make you do stuff, and then give you money so you can pay your rent and shit? Well, my decidedly non-ninja-riffic PAYING career really kicked my ass in December and January. Coming out the other side of huge deadlines and 8-day weeks now though, so VN will go back to regular updates come February.

In the meantime, while doing some emergency house cleaning on an old computer, I found these:

Way back… like 2005 or so… I had this silly notion of PRINT still being viable and adapting the old Ninja80 website into square-bound manga-sized ‘zines. Mocked up some kind nice covers, too.

I’m a much happier puppy pushing out stuff online though, and while I would certainly entertain a book offer from another publisher, my days of losing my own shirt and lugging books to the post office are long gone.

I do miss designing book covers though…

 

Have a safe and happy holiday!

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Alright you, and you all know who you are…

Make me a promise right now that you won’t hurt yourself Christmas morning on any new sharp-pointy things Shinobi Clause brought you. (Like I did in, what was it, 1983, 84, 85, 86 and/or , well, you get the picture…)

Here’s a mid-80s haul I got after Santa evidently stopped off at Asian World of Martial Arts before coming down our chimney:

Oddly, the shinai is alive and well today, but the zinc-alloy katana with the hollow plastic handle they used to pawn off on the unknowing is long gone. The sais and shoge survived several moves cross country as well, and after coming out of more than a decade of storage were refinished and re-detailed for a photo shoot a few years back.

Enduring Christmas memories of the 80s craze. I hope kids today are getting some sort of shinobi swag that has the same lasting impact…

Let MONSTERS AND MASKS MONTH 2011 begin!

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This year, Monsters and Masks Month will also be celebrated at our lucha libre-themed sister site From Parts Unknown, where plenty of masked wrestler vs. monster and Dia de los Muertos inspired mayhem will ensue. The party’s already begun over there, so expand your horizons and step into the ring!

Meanwhile, I’m pretty crushed for time lately, so this may not be nearly a prolific October as the last two. So I encourage y’all to visit the previous years’ celebrations of ninja and horror hybridization:

Monsters and Masks 2009

Monsters and Masks 2010

And return here in a few for our first MaMM 2011 post, featuring my favorite 80’s perverted ninja wizardry effects-laden creep-fest Ninja Wars!

 

 

Around the interwebs

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Temple of the Blue Dragon has a ton of video game concept art, martial arts ephemera and high-kicking comic-book heroes:

There’s always something good, genre-related or otherwise, at Tiger Roll:

The Shinobi-Ya online store in Japan is now selling internationally on eBay as the Samurai-Japan Store. These folk have superb rubber training/movie prop shuriken.

Great to see new monster stuff up on Black Sun!

For absolutely no on-topic reason whatsoever, the cosplay of YaYa Han:

And finally, an oldie but a goodie – Slate’s 2007 State of the Ninja – a take on how cheesy ninja have been portrayed in post-craze kid’s movies and Naruto‘s value in turning thing’s around.

Meanwhile, in our OTHER schizo hooded world…

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Posts might be a bit lean here right now compared to other periods of VN’s history, but for the best of reasons.

I have migrated my original publishing venture – From Parts Unknown – to a brand new (and visually familiar to VN readers) site, now live and growing over at FromPartsUnknown.net. If you’re not familiar with the golden age of Mexican masked wrestlers, when they thrived both in the ring and on the silver screen in some of the best monster movies ever, then get a few lessons over there.

I’m also pleased to announce the release of FPU’s first eBook – Christa Faust’s HOODTOWN!

Read a press release here if you’re so inclined.

With these tasks out of the way, more ninja stuff will be coming – worry not. Check back in the next day or so hoodites!

KR

 

Karate Laundromat?!?

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Spotted in Pismo Beach, California today.

Bad strip mall sign spacing, or greatest crossover business idea ever?

I imagine students hand-wringing your dirty clothes, whipping them around like weapons to dry alá training montages in old Gordon Liu and Jackie Chan films.

Monsters, with some surprise martial arts legends

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Spent the weekend selling vintage toys and collectibles at the big Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank. Normally, details of this wouldn’t land on this site, but to my surprise there was quite the array of martial artists and Japanese film legends on hand.

For starters, what was Gerald Okamura doing wandering amongst the Frankensteins and werewolves? Great to meet this icon of exotic weapons.

It was also great to talk with journeyman martial artist/stuntman/actor Al Leong – you know, the long-haired Asian guy who gets wasted in every action movie made in the 80s. A real sweetheart, and his book The Eight Lives of Al ‘Ka-Bong’ Leong is an entertaining read.

I was a big geek for veteran character actor James Hong, who signed autographs AS LO PAN from Big Trouble in Little China. He was pure schtick, too, berating weak minded nerds, hypnotizing ladies, the whole nine yards.

The master of arcane sorcery and ping-pong is not impressed with my ninja knowledge...

And yes, I met GOD-F’N-ZILLA himself! Myself and the entire Southern California monster kid community would like to thank August Ragone for bringing Haruo Nakajima to Los Angeles.

Nakajima was the man in the suit for myriad kaiju films throughout his career, including War of the Gargantuas, wherein he threw all sorts of monster judo moves!

HA! It wasn't just a complaint from my last girlfriend, I am literally bigger than Godzilla...

Alright, you people have endured enough of my barely-semi-on-topic geekery. Be thankful I’m sparing you totally un-ninja-specific moments like shaking hands with Bert I. Gordon or meeting the cast of Creature from the Black Lagoon!

Swing back around this weekend – I’ll be back from vacation and promise something actually ninja-related will grace this site.

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