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Ninja, samurai, and secret shinobi magic – Matt Kamen thinks Nabari no Ou has got it all.

It’s said that some people are born to greatness, while others have greatness thrust upon them. In the case of Nabari no Ou’s Miharu Rokujo, it’s a bit of both. Although he has the text of the Shinra Banshou – the ultimate secret ninja art, granting control over all things in nature – written on his very body, Miharu knows nothing of his power or destiny. Following the mysterious death of his parents, he’s grown into a relentlessly apathetic teen, content to be living with his grandmother and working the family restaurant.

That all changes when he crosses paths with Koichi Aizawa and Tobari Kumohira, a classmate and supply teacher at his school, both of whom seem overly eager for Miharu to join their ‘martial arts’ club. In reality, they’re both ninja of the Banten Village clan, sent to protect him from other forces out to kill or control the listless youth – and the incredible power within him – for their own purposes. Drawn into the world of Nabari, a hidden society where the last living remnants of ancient ninja clans continue their ways, Miharu is forced to confront the world around him for the first time and begin his own ninja training. And if shuriken and jutsu skills fail, he can always resort to his failsafe technique – expert emotional blackmail!

Joined by the samurai girl Raimei Shimizu, the four travel Japan seeking each ninja village’s kinjutsushō – a secret technique known only to the leader of that tribe, often gifting powerful abilities such as telepathy or super-healing. However, while gathering the tribal abilities should make Miharu the ruler of the Nabari world, he’s got other plans in mind – he wants the mystic power removed from his body, something that has never been done without killing the host…. To make matters worse for the young lad, he’s dealing with ninja – traditionally masters of deception and subterfuge, after all – can any of them, literally any of them really be trusted?

Nabari no Ou is the brainchild of up-and-coming manga creator Yuhki Kamatani, a Hiroshima-born artist whose work debuted in the pages of Square-Enix’s Monthly G Fantasy anthology. Her first professional series, it was adapted to animation by noted studio JC Staff, also responsible for such series as Azumanga Daioh, Excel Saga and Ghost Hunt. Directed by industry veteran Kunihisa Sugishima, this 26 episode series is a perfect blend of action, comedy and refreshingly complex characters. If you’ve ever been tempted by the epic adventures of Naruto – the world’s only ninja to think a satsuma-shaded jumpsuit is stealthy attire – but found yourself put off by its equally epic episode count, then Nabari no Ou is the show for you!

Nabari no Ou, series 1 part 1, is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

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