Ninku (NINKU -忍空- Ninkū?) is a Japanese manga series by Kōji Kiriyama. The original manga spanned 9-tankōbon volumes and was serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump manga magazine between 1993 to 1995. A second manga titled Ninku Second Stage: Stories of Etonins (忍空 -SECOND STAGE 干支忍編-?) ran from 1994 to 1995, but recently restarted in the seinen magazine Ultra Jump in October 2005, with its sixth tankōbon volume being issued in November 2008. It ranked number 21 among the top-selling manga volumes during the week of its release.
Shortly after its release, Ninku was adapted into an anime series, produced by Pierrot and directed by Noriyuki Abe, spanning 55-episodes and a movie. The anime series, originally running between 1995 to 1996, premiered on the Fuji Television network, and was broadcast by the anime television network, Animax, across Japan, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and other regions. Geneon Entertainment has released the series in two DVD boxsets in Japan. The first set containing the initial 28 episodes was released on February 25, 2005 and the second set containing the remaining 27 episodes was released on March 21, 2005.
The anime series spawned a movie in 1996, entitled Ninku: The Movie (also called Ninku The Movie: Knife no Bohyou), which was a "double bill" (the other movie being a YuYu Hakusho film) release, produced by Pierrot. Media Blasters's AnimeWorks brand released both movies in their original "double bill" format across North America in 1998. A DVD version was released in early 2001 as a result of a poll conducted by Media Blasters.
A number of video games based on the series have been released for platforms such as the Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation. Jump! Ultimate Stars, a fighting game for the Nintendo DS released in November 2006, has three participants from Ninku, including Fuusuke as a selectable fighter.
The story in Ninku is about an odd-looking 12-year-old boy named Fuusuke (Fuusuke of the wind (風の風助 Kaze no Fūsuke?)) who is a powerful warrior from the Ninku school of martial arts, a style that mixes ninjutsu and karate.
It is explained that before the present time in the story that those who could use Ninku were targeted by an evil empire and the Ninku corps were formed to combat the menace. The names of the corps were taken from the twelve Chinese zodiac animals (干支 Eto) and each captain of the corps was called the zodiac animal Ninku master (干支忍 Etonin). When the war was over, the Ninku were defeated and almost all of them were killed (except for a few corps' captains) since they were useless and were also dangerous for the rulers. At the beginning of the story, three years later, Fuusuke, the young former captain of the 1st Ninku corps and controller of the wind and Hiroyuki (ヒロユキ), his flatulent penguin, start searching for the other Ninku captains, each of whom can control various elements. However, a new group of Ninku users has arisen and are trying to take over the world. Fuusuke and his penguin must defeat the new Ninku empire with the help of his old comrades.
- Fuusuke, also called Fuusuke the Wind (風の風助 Kaze no Fūsuke?), the main character in the story, is a former captain of the 1st Ninku corps (子忍 Ne-nin, the rat Ninku). With the ability to control wind, Fuusuke searches for other former Ninku after a war with an evil empire. He is voiced by Rica Matsumoto in the Japanese anime and by Michelle Moran in the English dub of the movie.
- Aicho, also called Aicho the Sky (空の藍朓 Sora no Aichō?), is the former 10th Ninku corps (酉忍 Tori-nin, the rooster Ninku) captain and has extremely strong legs with an attitude to match, enabling him to cover large distances in a single bound and cause big damage on enemy machinery through his techniques. He also hates women, as this can be seen in his attitude towards Toji's sister, who has a crush on him. He also considers Toji an idiot. He is voiced by Mitsuaki Madono in the Japanese anime and by Rudy Luzion in the English dub of the movie.
- Toji, also called Toji the Ground (大地の橙次 Daichi no Tōji?), is the former 6th Ninku corps (巳忍 Mi-nin, the snake Ninku) captain specialising in land [ground] attacks and techniques. He is voiced by Juurouta Kosugi in the Japanese anime and by Rob Thomas in the English dub of the movie.
- Hiroyuki (裕行 Hiroyuki?) is Fuusuke's pet penguin. He possesses the ability to release explosive farts powerful enough to propel Fuusuke and itself. The stench is described as terrible and can knock others unconscious. Fuusuke considers him a friend and not a pet. He is supernaturally powerful. He is voiced by Katsumi Suzuki in the Japanese anime.
- Rihoko (里穂子 Rihoko?) is Toji's little sister. She was unintentionally rescued by Fuusuke from fake Ninku and, at the time, he was unaware that she is Toji's sister. She desperately wants to meet handsome men and immediately becomes infatuated with Aicho, but has little luck with him. She is voiced by Megumi Hayashibara in the Japanese anime and by Wendee Lee in the English dub of the movie.
|Corps#||Ninku||Specialty||Etonin (captain of the corp)||Other members|
|1||rat (子忍 ne-nin)||Wind||Fusuke the Wind (風の風助 Kaze no Fūsuke)||Suzaku (朱雀) Souta (草太)|
|2||ox (丑忍 ushi-nin)||Metal||Kei Hayashi the Ore (鉱の林慶 Aragane no Hayashi Kei)||Baku (獏) aka. Byakko (白虎)|
|3||tiger (寅忍 tora-nin)||Spiritual||Takeru (精霊の火瑠 Seirei no Takeru)|
|4||rabbit (卯忍 u-nin)||Light||Yamabuki the Light (光の山吹 Hikari no Yamabuki)|
|5||dragon (辰忍 tatsu-nin)||Flame||Sekirai the Flame (炎の赤雷 Honō no Sekirai)||Yōkō (陽紅)|
|6||snake (巳忍 mi-nin)||Ground||Toji the Ground (大地の橙次 Daichi no Tōji)||Kōshu (黄愁)|
|7||horse (午忍 uma-nin)||Ice||Kisumi the Ice (氷の黄純 Kōri no Kisumi)|
|8||ram (未忍 hitsuji-nin)||Plants||Midori the Plant (植物の緑里 Shokubutsu no Midori)|
|9||monkey (申忍 saru-nin)||Thunder||Seima the Thunderclap (雷鳴の青馬 Raimei no Seima)|
|10||rooster (酉忍 tori-nin)||"Flight"||Aicho the Sky (空の藍朓 Sora no Aichō)||Kirin (麒麟) aka. Hamaji (浜地)|
|11||dog (戌忍 inu-nin)||"Animal"||Shigure the Wild (野生の紫雨 Yasei no Shigure)|
|12||boar (亥忍 i-nin)||Water||Kokuro the Water (水の黒楼 Mizu no Kokurō)|
–Rat, Boar, Monkey, Ram, Horse, Dragon, Snake, and Ox classes have the ability to control their element in question.
–Rabbit: uses the power of light to make optical illusions.
–Tiger: communicates with spirits, control the ghosts in their favor to dominate the field.
–Dog: most talking dogs fall under this class, Ninku of this division that are humans have the ability to tame animals, or else take the form of one.
- "Ninku (manga)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- "忍空―SECOND STAGE 干支忍編―/6" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved 2008-11-29. Text "桐山 光侍" ignored (help); Text "ジャンプコミックス" ignored (help); Text "BOOKNAVI" ignored (help); Text "集英社 " ignored (help)
- "Japanese Comic Ranking, November 4-10". Anime News Network. November 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-29.
- "「忍空」DVD-BOX発売のお知らせ" (in Japanese). Studio Pierrot. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
- Ninku: The Movie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ninku: The Movie - DVD details - at Rotten Tomatoes
- "Media Blasters Poll". August 29, 2000. Retrieved 2008-11-25. Text " AnimeNewsNetwork.com " ignored (help)
- "JUMP ULTIMATE STARS" (in Japanese). Nintendo. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- Pierrot official Ninku website (Japanese)
- Animax Asia's official webpage for Ninku (Japanese)
- Animax South Asia's official webpage for Ninku (Japanese)
- Ninku (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ninku (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ninku: The Movie (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ninku: The Movie at Rotten Tomatoes