Clever Ninja Hattori-kun Escaped My Attention for Dozens of Years

Posted by Michael Pinto on Aug 4, 2009 in Animation |

After all these years I’m always amazed by how much I don’t know about anime: Case in point is the comedy series Ninja Hattori-kun which started life as a manga. Shown above is the opening title to the TV series based upon the manga which aired from 1966 until 1967. So looking at those opening credits you’d just assume that it was an anime series? Wrong! The opening titles were animated but the show is live action — but the show looks very strange as they have live action characters wearing manga like masks:

By the way it’s interesting to note that the English wikipedia article makes no mention of the live action series, but the Japanese article does. But the English wikipedia article does mention that in 1981 they turned the manga into an anime series, but what’s strange is that I was into anime in that era and I don’t recall the show at all! Granted my main interest was in space pirates and giant robots, but I’m surprised this ninja slipped under my radar:

There was also a film that came out in 1983, a NES videogame in 1986 and a live action film in 2004. Now the funny thing is that the main character in the series (10-year old Ken’ichi) does look very familiar so my only guess is that I came across his character design at some point but just ignored it thinking “oh no it’s some dreadful kids show that doesn’t have any spaceships or giant robots!”

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