A noble ninja family battles an ancient demon and his evil hordes, with international ninja from around the globe thrown into the mix. Gimmicked vehicles, soaring stunt work and plenty of explosions in rock quarries are on tap. It’s World-Wide Ninja War Jiraiya, as seen in a 1988 photo book:
Tomorrow, some of the weirdest ‘shockers’ ever and some reeeealy 80’s costumes.
If you’re a big enough toy geek, the 1988 Japanese tokusatsu series Worldwide Ninja War Jiraiya (Sekai ninja sen Jiraiya) will look somewhat familiar. The action-packed “Metal Hero” show was never exported to the States, but some of the toys were — the absolutely awful line of floppy rubber figures in hard plastic armor known as “Tacky Stretchoid Warriors.”
While these gummy figures positively sucked, the source series is a pretty damned good example of 80’s superhero television, packed with tons of colorful characters, high-flying stuntwork, explosive action, and some historically significant cast members.
Jiraiya’s plot unfolded over 50 episodes; a ninja family entrusted for centuries to guard the secret of an alien treasure races against an ancient demon to unlock its considerable powers. Complicating matters is a colorful cast of international ninja with mixed allegiances — a superb plot device said to be inspired by the Seoul Olympics.
In-dojo training sequences with Togakure-Ryu grandmaster Hatsumi and appearances by several of his ninjutsu students give this show a unique quality. Mixed in with the genre-requisite explosions and decorated vehicles are some genuine martial arts. This kids’ show may have been the most Hatsumi and the Togakure were involved in a media property since their genre-defining technical advisory role in the Shinobi-no-Mono films.
Starting tomorrow, we’ll have a pile of pages from a nice photo book of the series, showing both some timeless tokusatsu designs and some hopelessly 80’s fashions.