In space, all you need is NINJA

Have you heard the one about the skeleton, the pirate, and the Disney princess who walk up to eerily decorated houses on an inky Indiana night as their slightly freezing parental units and visiting relative wait patiently by the curb? Indeed, such was the role of those hardy adults on All Hallow’s Eve, yet the nieces and nephew should not be the only ones enjoying a sugary buzz. Starving for your fix, dearest readers? Well, then, open those minds and we’ll happily drop in some tasty info-nuggets to sweeten the deal!

Today’s C-U Blogfidential confection is one of several notices we’ll be sharing about projects that have recently premiered. Although we caught wind of it just prior to release on Friday, October 24, we’re only now unmasking the Neon Harbor Entertainment DVD for SPACE NINJA: THE ANIMATED MOVIE, a compilation-slash-expansion of their previous Web series based on the comics of Alex Mitchell. Described by producer Ed Glaser as a “crazy, [Akira] Kurosawa-meets-cyberpunk animated epic [that] tells the story of a former assassin who must protect a feudal society of spaceship dwellers from a sadistic, godlike tyrant,” SPACE NINJA is a stylistic detour from the Neon Harbor stable (PRESS START, ROBOGIRL, etc.) in several respects including Mitchell’s anime-inspired designs and limited color palette, voice work provided not by in-house talents but the St. Louis firm Anime Midstream, and a music score composed by B-movie veteran Chuck Cirino (CHOPPING MALL, NOT OF THIS EARTH, CAMEL SPIDERS). Featuring a final cut of the adventure with new scenes and a never-before-seen ending, the disc also sports a making-of featurette, a production art gallery, a proof-of-concept short film, another short animation called JADE’S OMAKE, a Space Ninja comic book, and a commentary track by Glaser and Mitchell.

As should be clear from several of our previous posts, Neon Harbor openly credits the Asian cinema that influences their titles if not just personal tastes. The latter is represented by one additional perk on the SPACE NINJA DVD, a one-reel ninja fantasia from Japan called JIRAIYA THE HERO (GŌKETSU JIRAIYA, 1921) said to be the first ever tokusatsu (special effects) film ever made in that country. As well, Glaser points out on his Web site the current animated opus takes its genre-bending cues from a more contemporary rarity, the feature CYBER NINJA (MIRAI NINJA, 1988) directed by Keita Amemiya (ZËIRAM) and available for free YouTube viewing in its mid-Nineties, English dubbed form courtesy of an outfit called The Wu-Tang Collection. May a bevy of movie ninjas nip at your heels this November!

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. The word “ninja” appears in seven previous CUBlog headlines, all of them tied to Neon Harbor/Dark Maze Studios news. We had to check, no ninja lie!

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