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Where have all the ninjas gone?


Forget about the cowboys... Where have all the ninjas gone? I can
almost hear Paula Cole singing her soulful ballad about missing all
the ninjas that we grew to love in the late 80s.

I was playing Shogun:
Total War
a while back, and after my ninja successfully gutted an enemy
Daimyo.... it struck me how cool the whole ninja thing really is. I had
forgotten, at least a little bit, about how much fun the
shadow-warrior-assassin-guy-in-all-black-with-kick-ass-funky-weapons concept

Then it suddenly occurred to me... we have a major deficiency with
regards to our Ninja Quota in our media these days. Back in the late 1980s was
they height of ninja glory. Some might say that the ninja's heyday was back in
the 1500's, but allow me to take a moment to refute that...

Table A: Ninjas
in mainstream Movies and Television, 1980-1989

color="#FFFFFF" size="2">Source: target="_blank">Internet Movie Database.
Movies 145
Movies (Straight to video) 3
Movies (Made for TV) 2
Televisions Series 3

Table B: Ninjas
in mainstream Movies and Television, 1500-1599

color="#FFFFFF" size="2">Source: target="_blank">Internet Movie Database.
Movies 0
Movies (Straight to video) 0
Movies (Made for TV) 0
Televisions Series 0

I think it's safe to say, the evidence is overwhelming. It's obvious
that the ninja was much more popular in the 1980s. I don't even have to
point out how many comic books featured ninjas in some way or another.

Where are they now though? I encourage you to go to the IMDb any see
for yourself. Search on 'ninja' in the 90s and you will see an alarming
decline in movies and television shows about the well-loved assassin. Those
movies and shows that due turn up often treat the ninja like he's some
cute cuddly guy who kids should pal around with... not the eye gouging,
sword swinging, shuriken throwing badass assassin he should be.

Why? Why has mainstream media forsaken the once adored shadow-warrior?
I don't know for certain, but I suspect it has quite a bit to do with the
rise in popularity of Kung Fu movies and TV shows.

I like Kung Fu as much as the next cat. I mean, any martial arts with
style names like "drunken monkey", "flying tiger" and "big fat alligator"
is just cool.

But is it cooler than ninjas? No way! Jackie Chan has never, to my
knowledge, killed anyone with a shuriken or blowgun! Bruce Lee never
disappeared in a puff of smoke. When is the last time you saw Jet Li
carrying a grappling hook and rope as standard accessories?

I want my ninjas back, dammit.