Lenni Reviews: Ninja 1000 Years of the Shadow Warrior

Many an otaku has had the desire to find out more about the culture they’re exposed to in manga and anime. I, for example, took a semester of Japanese in college. In retrospect, my GPA would have been better off if Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior, by John Man had been around instead.

While this book’s concept is interesting, it’s told through vividly detailed accounts of history and Man’s personal stories of meeting ninja families in Japan. The book is really meant for people who are interested in a deep history of real ninjas and their role in the ever changing landscape of medieval Japan and through World War II. It’s dense and fact filled. Some of the battle stories are interesting but overall, it read like more of a vacation story with some ninja facts thrown in. I learned some really cool facts but only serious Japanese history buffs are going to enjoy this. A casual reader may get bored or dizzy by so many names and dates flying at them.

To see the birth, use, and latter demise of the ninja is fascinating despite the clunky nature of this book. It can’t be helped since many concrete records of real ninjas have been lost to history, so Man is working with whatever he’s got. I recommend this book for serious Japanese history fans looking read whatever they can about ninjas. For a passing interest, it may be too heavy and boring for you.