Takashi Miike / Japan / 2011 / 100 min / Japanese with English subtitles / Color / 35mm
Recently remaking “serious” samurai films as 13 Assassins and Hara Kiri, the notorious Japanese iconoclast Takashi Miike undoubtedly realized the problems of such classics: not enough small children, LSD-inspired sets, musical numbers, and cross-dressing hairdressers. Seemingly filmed in an acid haze somewhere between ancient Japan and the Castro, Miike’s freaked-out Ninja Kids fortunately brings all those missing ingredients together, presenting viewers with a Harry Potter-esque kids’ film/samurai movie that’s Sword of Doom by way of Willy Wonka.
Eight years old and saddled with your chemistry teacher’s old glasses, cute little Rantaro has just entered first grade in Ninja Academy, and is soon wandering around with his classmates in adorable blue ninja pajamas. His lessons in explosives, startossing, and mountain-climbing soon come in handy, however, when he and his mates band together to help protect the Saito clan, former ninjas turned cross-dressing hair stylists. Guided by teachers and their ancient master, as well as “your friendly ninja trivia commentator” and a ninja grandma in pink sweatpants, Rantaro and his friends fight to save the day—and the salon!
Based on a popular manga, Ninja Kids explodes with a color palette and visual flair that makes the Teletubbies look neorealist, yet boasts a command of samurai genre archetypes familiar to any film buff. Filled with snot jokes, random gags, musical sequences, movie references, and even some helpful life lessons, Ninja Kids is Miike back to his playful, crowdpleasing
Co-presenters: Nakayoshi Young Professionals (3/11, 3/17), RAMA (3/11, 3/17)
- Director: Takashi Miike
- Producer: Atsushi Terada, Hiroshi Hattori, Toshiaka Nakazawa
- Cinematographer: Nobuyasu Kita
- Writer: Yoshio Urasawa
- Editor: Kenji Yamashita
- Cast: Seishiro Kato, Roi Hayashi, Fuuta Kimura, Susumu Terajima
- Sound: Jun Nakamura