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Ahh ninja’s! You know ‘em and love ‘em. Moving in the shows, tree to tree they are known to strike silently. They are deadly. They are fast. They’re so dang cool! Usually when you think of a ninja, they have a deadly set of weapons nearby ready for use. Shuriken, Blow darts, and Kunai are just a few. Sometimes they even had smoke bombs! Very rarely will a ninja attack out of being provoked because they are on a mission. Today we are taking a look at shows that have a focus on ninjas or are specifically about ninja life!
Real quick before we get into this list, I want to point out what the differences between Ninja and Samurai are. There is a reason why shows like, Samurai Champloo, Gintama, Rurouni Kenshin are not on here. Ninja traditionally were viewed as being low class mercenaries because there was almost no honor to what they did. Ninja’s specialized in espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination. Samurai on the other hand, even ronin, followed set rules, and with the exception of ronin who didn’t have one, they usually had a master that they served loyally.
Here we are taking a look at Ninja and not samurai. With that being said, let’s get into it!
10. Senran Kagura (Senran Kagura Ninja Flash)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2013 – March 2013
Our first one starts us off fairly easy and light hearted. Senran Kagura is an ecchi, action, and comedy anime. The age of ninja has come… and unfortunately gone as well! The need for ninja though has not disappeared, it just has changed. Five girls, Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu, and Hibari are students training to be ninja while at school. They each has a secret scroll that they must protect at all times!
The girls are attacked from various other ninja factions within the world of Senran Kagura throughout the series. Sometimes enemies that turn out to be just puppets are all they end up fighting! Talk about some good jitsu magic…They struggle to fight against the dark shinobi of other factions all while trying to learn their own way in the ninja world. Senran Kagura is ripe with male fan service (it is an ecchi….) and it takes a look at a lighter side of things when it comes to ninja! But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2006 – July 2006
Himawari! is about a school somewhere in very rural japan. One day, Himawari Hinata is transferred to this school to train to be a female ninja. On the first day though she meets Hayato Madenkoji a teacher at the school. There, he is there to pay back his debt to society. Himawari catches a glimpse of a tattoo on her teacher’s body. Hey wait a minute… that’s the same tattoo from a man who saved her a long time ago! That’s the reason why she wants to become a ninja!
Hinata does kinda break the mould a bit as a ninja. She’s fearlessly loyal to her teacher and will even use the suffix “donno” to talk to him. Her classmates may dislike her, but she still pursues to learn more about being a ninja! Hayato on the other hand is the real treat of this ninja series. He’s adept at darts…. *coughkunaicough*, and he’s able to duck quickly! This show was fairly popular so it got a second season as well! Check it out for more!
8. Ninja Nonsense
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2004 – September 2004
Shinobu is a ninja in training. She has a critical mission given to her by her master, Onsokumaru. She needs to steal panties from another girl while in disguise. The problem is that Kaede, the girl she is supposed to be robbing, can see her plain as day! They awkwardly become friends and then Kaede starts to help Shinobu with her training under Onsokumaru.
This time, ninja nonsense, is borderline…well… a bunch of nonsense! It’s more about slapstick comedy and onsokumaru has a personality very similar to koro-sensei from Assassination classroom. This show is more about making you laugh while gently talking about ninjas. Heck, even the other ninjas all dressed in black, tend to like partying more than anything else! This is sure you make you enjoy yourself as long as you don’t take the series too seriously.
7. Ninja Slayer from Animation
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2015 – October 2015
The future is now here. In Neo-Saitama, a turf war is brewing. A man, Kenji Fujikido loses his wife and child to this war. Tragedy has now struck and he becomes possessed with an old spirit of a ninja. This ninja craves revenge nonstop leading Kenji to become the Ninja Slayer! He is now the grim reaper, destined to kill those who hurt him.
What’s great about Ninja Slayer from Animation is the fusion of old and new. New time, new city, new ideas, but revenge, killing, syndicate crime. It’s awesome! It’s loaded with traditional ideas of ninja like them being solo killers, poses, jitsu and other things! The new parts give you explosions! Fire! Death! And of course… crime syndicate ninjas, which doesn’t happen often. There’s one slight problem, the more Kenji gives into his rage, the more the ninja spirit merges with his own. He has to remain in control of his emotions. This is a great watch! Enjoy!
6. Brave 10
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2012 – March 2012
What would you do as a wondering ninja? How about assemble a team to alter the course of history? That’s what Saizo Kirigakure does in this show! Set in the sengokujidai, (warring states) era of Japan, Saizo is one day wandering when he stumbles across a girl named Insanami. She is being pursued by the people who burned down her temple, so Saizo is helping her. In the next town they learn that the people they seek shelter with are assembling a team together to change history! So they set out to do just that!
First things first, Hattori Hanzo. He’s awesome. Next, this has everything that you could want from a ninja anime! There’s copious amounts of fighting, ninjutsu aka ninja magic, cool characters and just about one for everyone. Not to mention some of the fight scenes will have you on the edge of your seat! There’s also the mysterious power that Isanami possesses. That too is very important to the plot. This is one show that you’ll love!
5. Nabari no Ou (King of Nabari)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2008 – September 2008
Nabari no Ou is a modern day school life based anime. Rokujou Miharu is so bored with his life. He really doesn’t care about anything. Unfrotunately for him, he carries the ultra-rare “Shinrabanshou” jutsu. Two people, a classmate and a teacher approach him to join their clan of Banten ninjas for protection. He rejects the offer, but suddenly attempts are being made on his life. Running out of time and options, he joins their group for survival reasons and slowly but surely, he becomes more powerful…
It’s pretty cool to think that in a school setting one could be approached about being the ruler of something. Not only that, but you have some kind of gift that everyone needs. Once the attempts on his life start rolling in, this series really pics up! In Nabari no Ou you do have the stereotypical ninja poses everywhere when people are casting ninjutsu. The fast paced fights are awesome as well as what the actual power that Miharu has. You’ll have to watch the show though to find out what it is!
4. Ninja Resurrection
- Episodes: 2
- Aired: February 1998 – March 1998
Based on the same universe and material as Ninja Scroll but not directly a sequel or prequel, Ninja Resurrection follows the Tokugawa era in Japan. Jubei yagyu is fighting both good and evil and is leaving a trail of bodies in his path. Unfortunately, so is the army of the shogunate. The demon rises as the devout are faithful.
Jubei returns home in the second one and suddenly an army of the undead rise up! He has to fight to save his town and those he is familiar with! Ninja resurrection is all about the classic ninja elements. There’s blood. People die. There’s action and fights. This OVA was amazing and I’m sure you’ll like it!
3. Ninja Scroll
- Episodes: 1 (movie)
- Aired: June 1993
Set way back into feudal Japan, Jubei Kibigami is a very effective killer. One day he saves a woman ninja. After a string of strange enents, something happens and now he’s locked into a deadly puzzle. If he doesn’t solve it, it will kill him! To top things off, he’s up against a group of demons that are led by a ghost of his past! He’s got to somehow solve everything as well as kill all his foes and leave no one standing.
Ninja Scroll is a classic and arguably one of the most famous ninja movies of all time. Everyone should see it if they love ninja anime/movies. Heck, even if you like samurai anime/movies, you should like Ninja Scroll! Fair warning, as this is a ninja movie about killing demons, there will be blood and gore and lots of it! Demons, rising dead, plans to overthrow the government, Ninja Scroll is not something for the faint of heart, but at the same time, can be loved by everyone!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2005 – September 2005
Basilisk is another historically based anime where the tales of ninjas actually comes from. Two factions of ninja, the Iga and the Kouga have been engaged in war forever. Then the Tokugawa Shogunate comes to power, he issues a cease and desist. So for a while, the peace is upheld. Skip ahead to now the Tokugawa Shogunate’s son ruling and the uncertainty of which grandson will succeed. Suddenly war breaks out again. In order not to have to deal with it, the Shogunate issues a battle decree to the Iga and Koga clans. They will select 10 of their best warriors and a grandson to support in the wars. Once the 10 battles to the death have been fought, then and only then will an heir be chosen.
Basilisk is another classic anime. For those who love action, fighting, blood, ninja, or period dramas, this is the show for you. Berserk even has a tragic love story tucked into it. What is also unique is how Berserk ninjas are horseback riders. At first sight, one would think that they are knights, but they are actually ninjas! How cool is that?!?
1. Naruto/Naruto Shippuden
- Episodes: 220/currently airing (shippuden)
- Aired: October 2002 – present
I mean really… what did you expect? Naruto is arguably one of the most famous brands and ninja shows to have ever hit the anime world! It’s been around for 13 years and it clearly has no signs of stopping. Now for those who have been living under a rock and have never heard of this show, I will be giving you a very very very loose introduction to what Naruto is.
Naruto Uzumaki is a very hyper child who is studying to be a ninja. He lives in the hidden Leaf village. Right after he was born, a giant nine-tailed fox was sealed inside of him. Unfortunately he was shunned because he was not normal. Now with his companions Sasuke and Sakura, the try to find their paths in life while Naruto chases his dream of being the next Hokage!
Naruto is a true ninja anime throughout the entire show. Magic deception, ninjutsu, weapons like shuriken and kunai, are among some of the scenes you will see. Naruto has the standard two handed casting stance for ninjas as well. When there are fights, they are nonstop and very long so you can be sure you will be entertained for hours with this show if you’re into ninjas!
And there you have it the Top 10 Ninja Anime! I really had to scour hard to make sure that these shows were actual ninja based shows and not samurai shows. That being said, I really hope that you enjoyed this list! Have you seen some of the shows here? Let me know if you have and let’s talk about them in the comments below!