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.


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).


‘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.
LOVE these ninja heavies!!!


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…
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?



How awesome is this nut-punch technique!
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…
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.
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.




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



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


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.





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.