Jff Movie Reviews - Ninja Kids!!

Imagine, if you will, the love-child of Naruto and Yo-Gabba-Gabba. Sure, its not the most likely of mash-ups but if you can wrap your head around it, you'd get Ninja Kids!!! (忍たま乱太郎). Stylistically the film takes its cues from the original manga and anime series' Rakudai Ninja Rantaro by Sōbē Amako.

Rantaro is born into a bottom tier, yet incredibly dedicated ninja family. In order to get the family back on track he is sent to a prestigious ninja academy to learn the sacred and spiritual art of ninjutsu. A boy who is swift of foot and pure of heart, Rantaro quickly excels at school and amasses a solid group of friends with whom he embarks on an adventure of snot covered peril. If only Rantaro could get a hang of those pesky throwing stars.... There is no way to truly explain Ninja Kids!!! You just have to see it for yourself.

Prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike is best known for his more... mature films such as Ichi the Killer, Crows Zero and last years smash hit 13 Assassins but this is an out and out family film. I'd be much more inclined to call it a kids film if I didn't absolutely adore it myself. Although being shown in Japanese with English subtitles, the visuals in this film are so vivid that words are almost unnecessary. Miike managed to capture the comic book sensibilities on camera perfectly without the awkwardness that accompanied other manga adaptations like Cutie Honey and Yatterman. Perhaps this is in part because Ninja Kids can turn the cartoony aesthetic up to 11 without concern of being TOO cartoony.

Another striking difference between Ninja Kids and Yatterman is the quality of acting. For a film full of kids, the acting really shouldn't be underestimated. Our hero is played by Seishiro Kato. Although only 10 years old, young Seishiro has amassed a healthy catalogue of work including ongoing roles in Japanese soap operas, his own music CD and voice over work in the Japanese dubs of Happy Feet and Where the Wild Things Are. This boy exudes the wonder and purity of being a child and infused that throughout the film. The rest of his cohorts were just as great and their on-screen chemistry was undeniable. It was obvious that these kids were having fun. The adults also produced some fantastically slapstick performances with Tsusumu Terajima, Tamao Nakamura, Takeshi Kaga and Hansuke Doi rounding off a fantastic ensemble.

This is without a doubt, one of the most fun films I have seen in a long time. Miike proves that he is every bit the cinematic master that I thought. Ninja Kids!!! is a pitch perfect film which will assuredly delight kids and big kids alike. Now I'll just keep my fingers crossed for a local DVD release!

Ninja Kids!!! is screening at the 15th Annual Japanese Film Festival as hosted by the Japan Foundation. Tickets are available now but be warned that it will only be shown on the 20th of November in Sydney and the 3rd of December in Melbourne so get your tickets now!


  1. From your review I'm still not sure if I should take my children. I have two boys who are 10 and 8, I think the 10 year old should do okay but I'm not sure about the 8 year old with subtitles. Do you think it is visually appealing enough without understanding the language or reading the subtitles?

  2. Hi there! I certainly think that kids will get a kick out of it regardless of the language.

    Just as a side note, when I was a kid I used to watch VHS tapes from Hong Kong of Dragonball so I couldn't understand the audio or subtitles but I still loved it!

    Of course, it is up to you but I certainly think that your boys will love it regardless.

  3. do you know where to get the english subtitle for this movie? been googling enough but couldnt find any.

  4. Hi Syad, no I'm sorry I don't. I'm not great with the old "interweb". I'm more of a DVD/cinema man.

    Thanks for checking out our site though!


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