First (and Last) Impressions – Ninja Slayer

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No, your eyes didn’t deceive you – that piece of dreck from Trigger was actually in 4:3, a product of its status as a web series.  And boy, was it horrific in every way.

When Trigger first started up, the natural inclination was to assume they’d be a kind of post-Gainax studio.  But much more than Gainax, they’ve come to resemble Shaft (or at least what Shaft has become) – a vanity project reflecting the style of its major director, and one which tries to mask appallingly cheap animation with equally cheap visual trickery, and substitute self-aware pretentiousness for wit and intelligence.  And one whose every move smacks of immense commercial calculation.

Ninja Slayer is I suppose an attempt to be a follow-up to Inferno Cop, Trigger’s original work.  Unfortunately Inferno Cop pretty much sucked to begin with, but compared to Ninja Slayer it’s Seirei no Moribito.  I’m over Trigger – anything positive that comes out of the studio will be a surprise.  Their creative high-water mark came early with Little Witch Academia – which while clearly marketing-driven and not remotely ambitious, was at least attractive, honest and modestly fun.

It’s been all downhill from there, and the current body of work from the studio is remarkably soulless and generally terrible to look at.  I realize this trifle is intended as a cheap (even by Trigger standards) knockaround internet lark and not truly representative of Trigger’s output, but it’s symbolically the epitome of why they suck as badly as they do.  Imaishi has talent – he couldn’t have done the work he did at Gainax (culminating in TTGL) if he didn’t – but he’s spent the last eight years systematically arguing the case that he doesn’t.  He may not have directed Ninja Slayer (Inferno Cop’s Amemiya Akira, a fellow Gainax exile, did) but his fingerprints are all over it.  Dropped, with extreme prejudice.



  1. S

    Too bad. Maybe someday we'll actually see a Little Witch Academia anime.

  2. t

    And yet the anime community seems to like Trigger for some inexplicable reason.

  3. Well, the anime community was giving this show a sub-6 rating on MAL and sub-2 rating on AP. But what difference does it make? The anime community seems to love almost everything Shaft has put out in the last couple of years, too. People can like whatever they want.

  4. S

    Well, Inferno Cop was something you could like as long as you felt into the joke. And Kill la Kill had lots of good things to it – then again, it just depends on what you're looking for. Inou Battle was a rather generic anime though and this… eeeeehhhh. It's basically the same joke as Inferno Cop, but repeated, more stretched out, and with some actual animation in it (which actually makes it feel less gutsy if anything). Not really seeing what they're going to do to have this go on for 26, 12 minutes long episodes.

  5. R

    B-But Kill La Kill…

    Meh, forget it. KLK really felt hollow by the last third or so, especially when you compare it to the sheer sincerity that TTGL poured in for its story and characters.

  6. S

    I think KLK never aimed at anything more than "let's take as many battle anime tropes as humanly possible, blend them together with a good dose of craziness, and see what comes out". It got a bit weaker in the middle-to-end part where Ryuko kept harping on that whole "not being human" thing, but I think the ending was honestly good. Not as many FEELS as TTGL but I don't think it was meant to, it was always more of a zany comedy than an epic.

  7. s

    I dont get it; the source material for ninja slayer actually had something interesting, cool and dark to offer. Why would they give it this treatment??? Why??/ I am a very very very open minded person and while i get the joke in this style of presentation, there is no merit in resorting to do ninja slayer like this….ugh

  8. C

    Well…. I kinda respect Trigger for doing what they want to do, but… what the hell is this crap?

    Not to mention an opening AND ending on a 12-minute runtime? Are you serious? I thought KLK had sold really well.

  9. M

    I'd suggest reading the manga and waiting for the TV anime in 2016. I'm not really sure what Trigger was going for here. I'm not sure I'll drop it yet as I like the source material (it's kitschy, sure, but it's supposed to be as its poking fun at American stereotypes of Japan, and the art is gorgeous) and some speculate that they're going to pull something like make the first few eps have cruddy-to-nonexistent animation and give the rest a proper shake.

  10. S

    If it's a troll, it's worse than the ending of P&SwG, and that's saying A LOT. It would also be an undeniably genial move, but a rather masochistic one as lots of people will have dropped the series before they can realize it.

  11. G

    Seems like the joke went over everyone's heads. I guess that's fine, not everyone likes the same kind of comedy. If you didn't "get" Inferno Cop, you're not going to "get" Ninja Slayer.
    I do however take offense with comparing Trigger's self-aware, blatant and purposefully comical cheap animation techniques with what SHAFT is doing. SHAFT might be blatant and self-aware, but only to cut corners in a pseudo stylish attempt that has gotten old since Bakemonogatari.
    Ninja slayer is a japanese parody of the western point of view a cliche 90's action anime, like a sentence passed through google translate multiple times until its meaning is lost, or a really bad dub struggling with the peculiarity of japanese language and culture with hilarious results, such is the type of fun you can expect from Ninja slayer, and I think the cheap Inferno Cop-like style is perfect to enhance the experience.

  12. M

    Oh I got it. It just didn't make me laugh.

  13. s

    same here; in my opinion it adds nothing to the type of story ninja slayer is. I understood it was a parody of the western view of ninja's, it just didnt work for me. I did not like the direction nor the execution.

  14. Ah, that old saw – "If you didn't like it, it was because it was too sophisticated for you". There's nothing like the classics.

  15. G

    Never said it was sophisticated, just explained the joke and how it might be enjoyed since you or no other commenters even attempted to do that before mercilessly bashing Trigger..

    I even said it was perfectly okay to not like it because enjoying comedy is very subjective. Ah, accusing someone you disagree with of saying something they didn't say. I think that's a classic too.

  16. C

    Being a re-appropriation of a cultural appropriation is clever and all, but by virtue of itself that doesn't really mean it's actually funny or good.

  17. Z

    Little Witch Academia is marketing driven?

  18. S

    Well, it's a cute girls anime set in a magical school… granted, it's very well done and has some interesting vibes (as well as the girls not being cutesy/ineffectual as you'd expect) but hardly breaking new ground. At best it's drawing inspiration from Harry Potter.

  19. Z

    Watching it I never got the sense that it was marketing driven at all. It's called the Young Animator Training Project for a reason – the point is to showcase the skills of young animators, it isn't about directorial debuts. The focus is on technical animation.

  20. D

    Everything is subject to getting tainted, my friend.

  21. y

    The focus isn't so much on technical animation but the training of newbies. One concern is that there aren't many opportunities for young hires to learn, so the government funding is supposed to alleviate the problem. By working on these projects, studios are supposed to show them the ropes and hopefully prepare them for greater contribution on commercial productions.

    Treating it as a chance for technical showcase is actually missing the point (as the people who are supposed to be in training would be far too inexperienced for an emphasis on challenging techniques). Interestingly, administration of the project recently shifted from an animator's labor association to a studio-oriented association (headed by the president of Production I.G.), perhaps to ensure that the intended purpose is being served.

  22. Z

    What I mean is "anime" viewers keep expecting profundity from a what is essentially a training exercise in the various aspects of animation production.

  23. E

    If Death Parade could pull it off I see no reason why Little Witch Academia couldn't.

  24. Z

    Perhaps because each team was going for a different approach? Any plot, themes, "feels" you get in Mirai/Project A are bonuses, not the point of the exercise. Again this is Young Animator Training Project, not Young Auteur Director Training Project.

  25. g

    It's funny…I kinda dig the opening. The boom boom satellites probably help, but the style of the OP made me think that even with the 12 minute format, it would still be fairly well done.

    I was wrong. I'll still probably watch and make sure it's lame for a bit, but for all the hype it got this is really too bad. Trigger should be better than this – thank god we have series like BBB this season…

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