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A staple of Japanese culture, the ninja is recognized as an individual or group of agents fighting covertly in feudal Japan. The ninja took on many roles; such as mercenary, assassin, and spy for espionage, sabotage, and irregular warfare. Also recognized as shinobi, these warriors are specially trained but are ranked lower than the stoic samurai due to their flexible codes and unrestrained boundaries. In the anime world, ninjas are just as attractive and exciting and we can’t help but take flight toward their awesome abilities. The appearance of ninjas is increasing because their legends and folklore of superpower potential capture the heart of every otaku.
With that said, we present ten updated anime recommendations for the best ninja series. We know there are many more shows that capture the lives of these stealthy warriors, so here’s what we’ve gathered so far! Enjoy!
10. Juubee-chan: Lovely Gantai no Himitsu (Jubei-chan the Ninja Girl: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 1999 – June 1999
Jubei-chan has a lot going on than what viewers see on its surface. Jiyu Nanohana is a 14-year old middle school student. Bright-eyed and a positive spirit, this ordinary school girl's life is about to change when she runs into a 300-year-old samurai who tells her that she is the reincarnation of Yagyu Jubei, famed warrior from Japan’s feudal era. When she dons the “Lovely Eyepatch”, Jiyu transforms into Yagyu, inheriting his fighting abilities. With two rival clans going at each other to settle an old family grudge, Jiyu finds herself using the “Lovely Eyepatch” quite often. Comedic with eye-catching battle sequences, Jubei-chan encompasses many elements of a ninja anime.
9. Batman Ninja
- Aired: June 15, 2018
The heroes of the West make their way into the past of the Far East. Batman Ninja centers on the journey of several iconic DC heroes and villains as the ingenious Gorilla Grodd develops a time machine that transports them all to feudal Japan. The villains take the form of feudal lords that rule over various regions and it's up to the heroes to restore order in this time and return everyone to the present. An exciting take fusing two categories of distinct warriors, Batman Ninja is innovative, engaging, and one of a kind; highlighting folklore and pop culture. Set in a time when ninjas existed, the animation concept and action scenes are bound to draw in fans of both DC and anime.
8. Karakuri no Kimi (Puppet Princess)
- Aired: March 4, 2000
Karakuri no Kimi centers on the life of Princess Rangiku Ayawatari, a woman who tragically lost her entire family to the vicious Lord Sadayoshi Karimata after he invaded the family home to steal her father’s life work, puppets with unique powers. The Princess sets out on a journey with her father's most magnificent puppets to seek revenge, although their strength combined is not enough to offer full protection. So, the Princess attempts to find a ninja, Yasaburou Manajiri, who is willing to work for the little money she has.
A brave and independent woman of her time, Princess Rangiku desires to hold her family’s honor at a high standard. Princess Rangiku and Manajiri are an excellent team as their puppet skills and ninja talents make their enemies break and crumble like broken toys. Karakuri no Kimi is a short OVA, but its animation and action scenes take viewers on an epic and fascinating expedition.
7. Ninja Hattori-kun (2012)
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: May 2012 – February 2015
Ninja Hattori-kun is the remake of the Ninja Hattori-kun series aired in 1981. Revamped yet retaining its classic flair, we are introduced to a young ninja named Hattori Kanzo. Hattori-kun befriends a mischievous boy named Kenichi Mitsuba and later becomes a part of the Mitsuba family along with his brother Shinzo, and ninja dog Shishimaru. As time goes by, we observe as the characters go about their daily lives as students and ninjas. We also watch Hattori-kun butt heads with his nemesis, Koga ninja Kemuzou Kemumaki and his ninja cat Kagechiyo. Although Ninja Hattori-kun is rated as a children's series, the overall story and message are appealing to ninja fans of any age.
6. Rekka no Honoo (Flame of Recca)
- Episodes: 42
- Aired: July 1997 – July 1998
Rekka no Honoo centers on the life of a boy who believes he is much more than what his family has in mind. Rekka Hanabishi's family is in the business of making fireworks, but he wants to do something different with his life. He envisions himself as a modern-day ninja. Rekka puts his skills to the test by challenging anyone he comes across, and if he loses, he will become their servant. Just his luck, Rekka meets an extraordinary girl named Yanagi Sakoshita. Their chance meeting reveals that Rekka hails from a legendary ninja clan and has superpowers of his own. As we follow Rekka on his newfound path as a ninja, we unravel the journey of the many challenges he will face, the opponents he will take on, and his exponentially growing skills and strength. We also learn that a dream can never disappear as long as there are hope and perseverance.
5. Nobunaga no Shinobi (Ninja Girl and Samurai Master)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2016 – March 2017
Ninja Girl and Samurai Master appeals to chibi lovers, history buffs, and ninja enthusiasts combined. In this story, we follow Chidori, a young Shinobi from Iga. After a near-fatal accident, Chidori is indebted to the ambitious warlord, Nobunaga Oda, an individual with a vision of a unified Japan. During this tumultuous time of conflict and instability, Chidori is assigned to participate in acts of surveillance and assassination. As a highly skilled ninja, she takes on each mission effortlessly, serving her savior while dealing with Nobunaga's eccentric family. Cute, informative, and comedic, Ninja Girl and Samurai Master is an excellent ninja anime to add to your list.
4. Nintama Rantarou
- Episodes: 2007
- Aired: April 1993 - Ongoing
Ever wonder what it is like to train as a ninja? Nintama Rantarou, a classic ninja anime follows Rantarou, Shinbei, and Kirimaru, three ninja apprentices ranked as "Nintama", considered an elementary grade in the Ninja Gakuen. Nintamas are taught the basics of ninja arts, but our heroes have other subjects in mind that are more interesting and mischievous. In each episode, we explore the boys getting into all sorts of trouble, along with juggling their ninja studies. Silly, outrageous, and entertaining, Nintama Rantarou is a series that never gets old or tiring, bringing nostalgia to youthful Saturday morning shows.
3. Donten ni Warau (Laughing Under the Clouds)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2014 – December 2014
There is more to a warrior than the type of weapon he or she wields. Laughing Under the Clouds takes place when the Meiji Era banned the possession of swords. As a result, the samurai population decreased. Many samurai who opposed the ban made life difficult for those living among them, causing riots and disruptions throughout the countryside. When the situation became uncontrollable, a prison was erected to contain the criminals. Enforcing the law are three men of the Kumoh legacy named Tenka, Soramaru, and Chuutarou. Seems simple enough to lock away the bad guys, but the men come to learn that there is a hidden agenda to their duties.
Filled with action, Japanese history and folklore, and elements of the supernatural, Laughing Under the Clouds makes our list because of the thrilling and mysterious storyline. The animation is superb with crisp colors and fine details. The characters are diverse, bringing life to each episode and the overall story. This anime encompasses the essence of ninja folktale in an imaginative and easygoing style.
2. Juubee Ninpuuchou: Ryuuhougyoku-hen (Ninja Scroll)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2003 – July 2003
Ninja Scroll: The Series takes place fourteen years after the film. Jubei Kibagami has defeated the dark and immortal warrior, Gemma Himuro, and now continues to roam Japan as a swordsman without a master. On his travels, he meets a beautiful priestess named Shigure, a woman who has never left her village. Shortly after, Shigure’s village is destroyed by a band of demons in search of the priestess and the Dragon Jewel. As they flee the area, a monk named Dakuan and a thief named Tsubute accompany them. Traveling to the village of Yagyu, Jubei offers his skills and services to protect the jewel, priestess, and light of the world.
A familiar theme in the ninja genre, what makes Ninja Scroll: The Series stand out is its progressive storyline. Viewers are introduced to new and developing scenarios throughout the series that keep us all absorbed and occupied. The animation style matches the tone of the story, and the characters are all incredibly fascinating, particularly Jubei, who is a perfect representation of a ninja warrior. Adding the excellent action scenes to our viewing experience, Ninja Scroll: The Series is one that shouldn't be passed up.
1. Naruto: Shippuuden (Naruto: Shippuden)
- Episodes: 500
- Aired: February 2007 – March 2017
Naruto Shippuden is the continued story of Naruto's life journey several years after the first series. Naruto still strives to be the best ninja of his age. He has progressed tremendously but is still under the threat of the Akatsuki organization. As Naruto leaves the Hidden Leaf Village, the path before him leads to more intense training and discipline.
A world-renowned series in the anime community, Naruto and the characters involved in his endeavor towards becoming Hokage are the primary drive of the storyline. Additionally, the details in the world of the shinobi capture the interest of all viewers fascinated with the subject, digging into its roots and heritage, which is why we rate it number one! Naruto Shippuden has remained so popular over the last decade because of its budding plot, creativity, and quality to strive for excellence.
We hope you enjoyed our recommendations for top ninja anime! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out all of these great titles! Some other series worth mentioning, albeit far from the ninja archetype are Sushi Ninja (2014) and Colorful Ninja Iromaki (2016), encompassing the ninja theme and wrapped in cuteness! As always, we truly appreciate you guys tuning in. Also, let us know if we’ve missed any other great, awesome ninja anime by commenting below! Thanks, and see ya!
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!