Review: Ninja Cadets (1996) Anime | My Reviews 24 AUG 2011

If you want to enjoy some classic 90’s OVA animation in a short little burst, then AIC’s 1996 action comedy Ninja Cadets serves this up rather nicely – unfortunately from director Eiji Suganuma’s point of view, there really isn’t any other reason for picking this up though!

Split into two thirty minute episodes, Ninja Cadets throws you into the middle of it, as six young nina cadets are tasked with their final ninja exam – infiltrating Byakkuro Castle and retrieving a powerful scroll from the scroll room. Oh, and one of the cadets is actually secretly the Byakkuro Princess who was forced to flee when only a baby, though she doesn’t know this and it doesn’t really matter all that much in the greater scheme of things, outside of the fact that she should technically be able to trigger the strongest scroll that still resides there.

As the six go on their mission, a group of bandits all of a sudden appear who for no apparent (or rather given) reason, are now searching for the princess, and have decided that she must be in this group of ninja, who they now set off to foil by summoning minor demon creatures to block their path. Oh, and when that fails, to cause the suicide of their summoner so that he can be transformed into a big spider-demon to try again. And when that fails, then there is always mind control or the big robot approach to try.

There really isn’t much of a story to Ninja Cadets and even less in terms of character development. Instead the entire OVA appears to be an excuse for battle sequences and lots of slapstick humour revolving around the high-strung girls in the group, but the events and pacing are just so haphazard that the show feels like a whole lot of pieces stuck together with Prestik putty. Sure there are some amusing bits here and there and some pretty cool fight scenes to take in, but for the most part it really is a bit of a hit and miss.

The animation is very 90’s in terms of visual style and execution, and features some pretty colourful ninja outfits that most ninja wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in real life, but which admittedly does make for a nice visual differentiation between all the very different characters. On the whole, it is pretty polished (once you get over the ridiculously thin, waif-like waists all the characters are in possession of) and the action sequences work well for the most part.

So in other words, nothing to write home about but certainly nothing to really fault either.

Unfortunately I’ve only encountered the English dub of Ninja Cadets so I can’t comment on the original Japanese voice-over work or even the soundtrack for certain, but the English dub is actually not all that bad, though one or two of the girls really do go a bit over the top in certain instances. Of course, some of the slapstick humour also loses its charm with the dub, but this is pretty normal for most English dubs I find, so I can’t really mark it down on that one.

In summary, Ninja Cadets is too short, too silly and a little too haphazard, with no real redeeming storyline to make it one of those anime titles you should make an effort to see. Sure it features juvenile ninjas and one or two nice fights, but outside of that, this is one action comedy routine that you can safely take off your list of “Anime from the 90’s to experience before you die”.

And now you know.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.