A rather odd perk to running a blog is the spread sheet of your own behavioral patterns. For instance, during the years I've been writing here November has always been a bit sluggish and half-baked. No clue why that is. I'm plenty cheery, the weather's been decent, but that was last week. Just now I', having to redo a decent bit of this article to make up for the time loss from a few days of neck pain, followed by a weekend of binge viewing Jessica Jones. Talk about great timing for a series by the way. I mean it pops up along with the first solid snowfall of the year which made for an awesome excuse to sit around watching the boob tube. Currently I'm facing something I truly despise, a 9 AM job interview. So with the threat of employment baring down, let's talk about he pleasantries of Japanese television.
Big shift in tone and focus here as we get a very kid friendly, I.E. crazy episode. There's a new kid living near the dojo who thinks ninja are lame. Well not really, he's just caving to peer pressure at the pre-school level no less. When our heroes decide to help the kids mom out by delivering lunch they find his preschool to be a force field surrounded terror fortress run by Yokai. Oh and from now on I'm sticking with that spelling. I have no clue why this fansub group adds a U when nobody else does. Rant over, let's get back on track. The place is secured by an Izayoi ninja. Yea, you read that right, Kyuuemon has his own school of ninjitsu which means we have new kinds of monsters and basic goons to boot.
Adults can't enter the pre-school grounds so the team uses magic to transform into toys and brave the dangers of giant children. While inside they slowly revert to their original forms and start fighting while Fuuka and Nagi guide all the kids onto a bus with a happy dance and chicken hats. Somehow that plays into the monsters plan as the bus is rigged to never stop, an affliction which is later bestowed onto Takaharu.
All in all it's a rather bonkers tale and fairly funny despite the handicap of annoying children. Most of it works as a stand-alone story except for kickstarting this new story arc and a surprisingly serious ending. Gramps has a reflective moment where he regrets how his failings as a teacher lead to Kyuuemon being such a kooky bastard. He also let's slip how Kyu got all his groovy powers by stealing them from Fuuka and Taka's dad.
Here we have an excellent example of a series utilizing previously underdeveloped plot points to deliver a top tier installment. We pick up right where the last ep left off with grampa continuing the tale of how his son, Tsumuji trained alongside Kyuuemon who stole his nintality and erased his memories of the incident. Remember back in...was it episode 16? Where Tsumuji's lost powers seemed like just a simple way of putting together a sentimental story? Well now we're treated to the real deal as his memories are turned into a twisted board game to crush childrens spirits.
Naturally the team finds themselves playing the same game. Upon realizing it's made from their dads/uncles memories they face the dilemma of whether to enlist his help in beating this challenge. Yakumo makes the choice to bring Tsumuji in and we get to see the full tale of his promise as a ninja, his continued training alongside Kyuuemon, and the eventual betrayal where he lost his powers. Poor guy overcomes any emotional blows and helps the team rescue all the lost kids with a good old fashioned speech so they can beat down the baddie of the day.
Everything culminates in a great scene between father and son. Grampa is saddened by his failings as a father/teacher but Tsumuji doesn't need any of that. Even though he didn't achieve his dream of becoming a great ninja, his new dream is to help these kids accomplish their goals. Then they share a quick hug and damn if it isn't effective as all hell. Mark this one as a high point in the series.
Switching gears from deep emotional stuff we get a rather straightforward episode mainly notable for adding another cute ninja girl to the mix. She's actually an old friend of Takaharu's who wants to show off her new teaching position at a new ninja school. Little does she know her boss is possessed by an evil ant ninja who wishes to turn the kids into soulless soldiers.
There's nothing really wrong here, just a basic story that sets up a potentially recurring love interest for Taka. Not trying to sell it short but considering it's placed between better, more important entries makes it seem a tad lackluster.
|I'm positive there's a website for this sort of thing.|
So the newest evil ninja on the block is a badger (who everyone mistakes him for a raccoon) who steals special traits from people. He first uses this ability on Kasumi who frankly deserved it for delivering a terrible pep talk minutes before when she points out that staying in the race sometimes requires being a step ahead. Oh so that's what I've been missing. I just have to be ahead of everyone to register as a competitor. Bunch of damn nonsense.
The badger's big on gaming so the kids bet their talents in a game where they must recover the ball he keeps his stolen goodies in. What follows is a mix of body doubles and personality swapping. Oh, and let's not forget swan boat possession which turns out to be an oddly important development later on.
If the write up seems short for what I'm claiming to be an important installment, it's because all this badger based tomfoolery ends a few minutes earlier than most tales to make way for a bigger plot point. Each ninja monster defeated so far has turned into a mystical gear. Mr. Badger marks the final gear necessary for Kyuuemon to power his own giant robot with which to kick ass. And kick ass he most surely does as he destroys most of the teams robots and leaves us with a sudden cliffhanger.
With the ninja allies destroyed except for rodeomaru, and with Lion Ha-oh broken, Kyuuemon brings the fight back down to human size and blasts the hell out of our crew. Grampa swings in for a rather showy fight though even he finds himself slightly unprepared for the situation. Before things can get too horrible, he unleashes a strange light from his chest which Kyuuemon feels certain is the end shuriken.
From there, the episode mainly revolves around the team trying to get the robot situation under control. At first they decide to just have their monk friend build new ones. Everyone comes up with a design for their new oversized whip only to blow it at the soul-infusion stage of the process. Takaharu actually begins to have an Epiphany that doing things just like gramps isn't the right path for them to take. Of course he bungles his speech, leaving no one quite sure of what he means before it's time to charge into battle. Against who you ask? Well that badger is back somehow thanks to the contrivance of ninja skills. It's all for the best though since we're treated to some of the best action this series has to offer.
Problems arise once the monsters turn giant sized. That's when the kids finally figure out a way past their robot problem. They decide to use the possession technique Nagi utilized on the swan boat last ep in order to actually become the new ninja allies themselves. The day is win, everyone's happy, and this story arc draws to a close.
Sorry that took so long, folks. November's been a strange month so far and it's certain to get a lil weirder with this interview and Thanksgiving in the mix. Speaking of which; we've got a special Thanksgiving post that I'll aim to have up around Wednesday. See you then.