Under Ninja is a new anime series from Tezuka Productions that takes place in a world where ninjas work in the shadows to keep the peace both domestically and internationally. Adapted from the manga of the same name by Kengo Hanazawa, Under Ninja Episode 1 introduces viewers to Kuro, a high school loner who gets thrust into the role of international assassin. Will he live up to the role, or will the responsibility be too much for him to handle?
Under Ninja Episode 1 starts off by establishing the world of Under Ninja and the people in it. The episode opens with a unit of soldiers speaking in English, helping showcase the international aspect. Interestingly enough, the English voice acting mostly sounds like native English speakers which helps with the immersion. It’s unclear how often the series is going to swap between languages, but the use of English so far helps establish the setting even though it is only shown briefly.
The main character is introduced relatively early on and it’s clear that Kuro is a loner with a bit of a sad life. He has a very depressing middle-aged man vibe to him, which would work great if he was not supposed to be a 17-year-old high school student. Still, Kuro is interesting enough and his motivations, while not explored too deeply in this introduction episode, are intriguing. He has a deadpan approach to everything he does which helps deliver some good comedic moments in a series that seems like it won’t take itself too seriously.
It is hard to tell if Under Ninja is aiming to be a serious, mature drama or a deadpan comedy since there is a healthy mix of both. It can feel jarring at times to go from a more serious situation to attempted humor on a dime, but there are a few moments like with Kuro and his neighbor where the delivery works and the sudden switch is entertaining. A constant switch of tone could get old, but for now, the balance mostly works itself out.
There are several different moving plot points established in Under Ninja Episode 1 that feel a bit confusing at the start. There is a bit of a “too much, too fast” feel, almost as if they felt the need to get every subplot moving right away. As far as series premieres go it gets a bit convoluted, but if the threads play out naturally it could end up working out in the long run.
Visually, Under Ninja Episode 1 is a bit hit-or-miss. The CGI soldier animations are jarring and some of the other non-CGI characters appear quite bland. Kuro himself looks like your run-of-the-mill middle-aged loser, which would work if he wasn’t supposed to be a teenager. Despite mediocre character designs, the background art in each scene steals the show and keeps it from looking too uninteresting. Hopefully, the character animation gets a chance to shine once the show really gets going. For now it’s a mixed bag.
Under Ninja Episode 1 is an interesting series premiere that is not without its flaws. Too many moving parts and some awkward tonal shifts make it feel convoluted at times, but the potential for the series to improve is there lurking beneath the surface. It just needs to tighten up if it wants to hold the viewer’s attention for more than a few episodes.
Under Ninja Episode 1 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.
Under Ninja Episode 1
Under Ninja Episode 1 is an interesting series premiere that is not without its flaws. Too many moving parts and some awkward tonal shifts make it feel convoluted at times, but the potential for the series to improve is there lurking beneath the surface.