There is a series of novels currently making waves on Twitter in Japan. Known as Ninja Slayer, the cyberpunk ninja action novels feature ninjas with a habit of shouting, “Aieeee!” Released in a unique serial form, the story unfolds in realtime through Twitter, where it currently has over 47,000 followers. The English version is available on TOM!
With this popularity, an anime adaptation was finally announced in April of this year. Handling production is Studio Trigger, who have gained attention through anime such as Little Witch Academia and Kill la Kill. What kind of changes will there be when the novel is turned into an anime? Anticipation grows with each passing day.
The world premiere of the first anime trailer will be released at Anime Expo 2014 (Los Angeles, U.S.) on July 3. In this piece, we speak with Bradley Bond and Philip Ninj@ Morzez, the two people behind the original Ninja Slayer novels the anime is based on.
──Let’s start with your self introductions. Please tell us a bit about your background, what parts of Ninja Slayer you both handle, and what you are currently working on.
Bond: Hello. I’m Bradley Bond.
Morzez: Hello. I’m Philip Ninj@ Morzez. We can’t give a detailed profile. The reason being we’re always under the threat of being bugged or attacked by ninjas.
B: Our apologies. The one thing we can say is that we’re not just brains floating in a tank. We are human beings. We first started writing Ninja Slayer in the mid-90s.
M: Writing the series is a completely collaborative effort. With each episode, there are times when we choose a main writer and there are times when we both write it. Both of us can do the plot, script, illustrations and designs. There aren’t any defined roles. The two of us are one team.
B: We’re currently rewriting Part 3, and, with the release on TOM, we’re doing minor updates on the English version of Part 1. Why?
I can be a bit of a perfectionist, and if I have even just a little time, I’ll try to rework something to make it better. I receive feedback from the translation team about how some Japanese or Japanese culture is written in English, and I make some corrections.
── Ninja Slayer follows a violent underground society and a man whose family has been killed. Could you tell us what brought about the feuding ninjas who live in secret in the story?
B: The first thing we had were the words Ninja Slayer. I came up with that, and Phil drew concept sketches.
M: However, as I was drawing the sketches, something felt lacking. Having studied Japanese, Bond searched online and taught me the characters nin and satsu. When I added those to the Ninja Slayer sketch... I was blown away, like I had been struck by lightning or I had just heard rock music for the first time in my life. The finished sketch was incredibly cool.
B: That moment was the birth of the person who kills ninjas, the Ninja Slayer. Ninjas are almost godlike and feared in Japan. This person kills them. I could only think of that as being the epitome of vengeance and rebellion.
M: We realized right away that we needed a villain to fight him. A villain that was a ruthless ninja. Ninjas like Laomoto Khan, Darkninja, 6 gates... Several cool ninjas came about. We came up with the characters first, before the story or the setting.
B: We’re making a major ninja organization with a lot of villains. But this series isn’t for children. We wanted to make high quality pulp to be read by someone older. What would be a “bad organization” to an adult reader?
Naturally, we decided they would hide their ninja identities and run an underground society. That’s when the Soukai Syndicate was born. We love the night scenery from Bladerunner and Chiba City in Neuromancer, as well as violent movies and yakuza movies that show real crimes, and so the setting became the thrilling crime-filled city of Neo-Saitama.
M: We got to this theme naturally. Anyone can understand the themes of violence, vengeance and rebellion and an elegant discipline and zen striking a balance with them, and that’s because no matter how much technology advances, readers in any generation can easily sympathize with that. Plus, the two of us both really like that kind of theme.
──Please tell us about what brought you to release the English version (original version) of Ninja Slayer.
B: That was of course because we wanted our work to be read by people around the world. We also had the ulterior motive of eventually formally publishing it in America, getting money and fixing Morzez’s printer. (Note: Ninja Slayer was originally printed on his home printer and bound.)
M: Originally, we were going to re-use the material we printed a long time ago, but we never did. That version is old and is a generation behind what has been published in Japan.
B: We had the strong desire to base the visual images on what was published in Japan, and after negotiating with Enterbrain, we decided to first keep releasing it like this on TOM. Why was that? Warainaku’s artwork is just that wonderful. His artwork gave us new possibilities and inspiration for Ninja Slayer.
M: Ninjas were originally from Japan. But a lot of Americans like ninjas and have made countless ninja films and games. With that influence, we created this series, and it gained popularity in Japan and a Japanese artist drew pictures for it. It’s amazing. I like mixing and remixing. This will make Japanese and American culture mix even more and the series will continue to get even more chaotic.
This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.