Sonosheets from Japanese eBay – Part 2

And a few more awesome sonosheet sets from Japanese eBay:

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The photo cover from this KAIKETSU LION MARU set is cool enough, but the illustrated interiors are fantastic!

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Another ninja series from Japan translated into English that never made it to US shores - PHANTOM AGENTS. Again, those darned Aussies got this, a cult hit there alongside THE SAMURAI.

See more of these 70’s Flexi-Discs, in all genres, at the great Pink Tentacle blog.

Sonosheets from Japanese eBay – Part 1

It’s not that you can’t win auctions over international eBorders, but it’s a bit logistically tough – there’s the kanji barrier, shipping rates, communication delays over the dateline, etc. and so forth. All these are excuses enough to keep me from doing so, and thank god, cuz I’d be soooo beyond broke!

But TRAWLING Japanese eBay, doing a little eWindow shopping, THAT we can all do from the financial safety of our own geographical confines. This week, I found several amazing sonosheet book-n-record sets.

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Manga / anime version of MASKED NINJA AKAKAGE

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This one bridges the illustrated and live action TV show. LOVE THAT TOAD!!!

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This amazing HENSHIN NINJA ARASHI piece also bridges the manga and TV show. That red demon he's fighting looks like a yokai version of Gossamer from LOONEY TUNES...

More coming in the next day or so.

Revenge of the Menkos

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Now these are some awesome menko cards! Watari the Ninja Boy, Sasuke, Tange Saezen and more, represented by original art from the card company – hence the slightly off model illos. And do we really need that male nudity???

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This un-punched sheet of circular menkos is a lot more off-model. I’m pretty sure two of them are supposed to be Kagemaru of Iga, but the rest are a crapshoot.

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OK, the rectangular Henshin Ninja Arashi cards are pretty good, but that circular ‘POG’-like one in the middle is just awful! But these aren’t the best of the worst…

Kaiketsu Lion Maru my ass… I’m calling total bullshit on the disc on the right! That’s just some nature book painting of a lion’s head with some hastily drawn gloves coming in from the sides. Even the more on-model rectangular card is pretty wonky in the too-human face. Looks more like that old Ron Pearlman Beauty and the Beast TV monster than the white-maned transforming ninja hero of the 70’s.

Awesome!

Ninja Blowing Gun???

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Don’t know if this is old stock, a warehouse find, or new print runs, but Ninja-Weapons.com has all sorts of old 80’s ninja posters for sale, and CHEAP!

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I got these two CLASSICS for Christmas, 1983 I think… I still have them, too! I absolutely love that these Kosugi posters are still available somewhere. That jump kick pose was bitten by movie posters, VHS clamshells, toy packages and more, endlessly, and you still see it once in a while…

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But I never had this one… Man, if I had ANY wall space, I’d be on this like a bad smell.

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And where has this Henry Sanada poster from Ninja in the Dragon’s Den been all my life???

Most of these are 24×36″, probably on cheap gloss – like they should be – and retail for less than FIVE BUCKS!

I’ve never ordered from Ninja-Weapons.com, and the site seems a bit dodgy (parts of it possibly not updated since 2004) so who knows… I may place a test order to see what comes through. Will keep y’all posted.

FUJIMARU book-n-record (PART 2)

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The adventure continues…

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.

We’ve got some imagery from the anime itself and the inspiring manga coming in the future.

FUJIMARU book-n-record (PART 1)

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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 Joe, Frankenstein and Planet of the Apes comic book / 45rpm sets as a wee lad.

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 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. OK, printing lesson over - quiz tomorrow.
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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.

More kid-vs-ninja mayhem coming in PART 2!

Enter the Menko

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I absolutely adore the Japanese equivalent of our “cigarette cards” – menko. These collectible cards featured all sorts of popular media, celebrity actors and athletes, historical and nature subjects, etc. I scored a pile of these in 2006 and 2007, many of which feature photos and illustrations of hooded swordsman and ninja.

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Menko have been big since the 1910’s, when photographic reproduction wasn’t exactly great, especially on a cheap mass-produced premium.

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One really strange thing you run across with vintage Menko is off-model illustrations. Hard to tell if it was a pirating issue or not, but companies often used their own in-house artists to portray hit animated and manga properties, rather than license the actual artwork from the source. You get some really goofy variants…

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