Manga Sarutobi Sasuke - Reviews

Alt title: Ninja the Wonder Boy

Deago's avatar
Sep 9, 2023

Manga Sarutobi Sasuke (1979), also known as 'Ninja, The Wonder Boy' in America, is the third iteration of the Sarutobi Sasuke character in anime, following 'Magic Boy' (1959) and 'Sasuke' (1968). While 'Magic Boy' adopts a whimsical fairy tale style and 'Sasuke' delves into a serious grim political feud, this anime attempts to blend both by being political yet goofy.

Despite its initial promise of political intrigue, the anime merely uses internal politics as a backdrop for conflicts. The plot centres around the samurai and warlord Sanada Yukimura in the Sengoku period, who fights in the name of peace. Sasuke, who shares those ideals, pledges allegiance to Lord Sanada and undertakes various daily missions, such as espionage, sabotaging enemy arsenals, and thwarting their evil schemes. The core conflict involves Sasuke's clashes with a rival ninja clan serving the enemy. This clan frequently dispatches its top elite ninjas to eliminate Sasuke, assassinate Sanada, aid the enemy's schemes, or simply act as bodyguards.

The series quickly falls into a repetitive pattern. It adopts a 'monster of the week' formula, or rather, 'ninja of the week', with each episode featuring a new enemy ninja. The promised cool ninja action and battles fail to deliver excitement, as the fights become monotonous, especially during climactic showdowns where Sasuke and his opponents often transform into huge kaiju monsters. Furthermore, the overuse of ninja tricks, such as substituting themselves with logs or other objects, diminishes the tension, as both sides can employ deus ex machina ninja magic to escape danger.

Visually, the anime stands out with its pretty bright colours and catchy visual effects. Alas, the limitations of the series' budget become apparent, evident in the frequent reuse of animation sequences after just a few episodes.

Although the series may evoke nostalgia for certain viewers, especially those who watched it dubbed during their youth, it's not recommended for those seeking immersive experience.

1.1/10 story
5/10 animation
4.4/10 sound
3.3/10 characters
1.7/10 overall
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