Our story opens in Japan's past. On his deathbed, the legendary ninja Yagyu Juubei makes his assistant swear the he will not rest until he finds Juubei's successor. Overcome with emotion, this disciple of one of Japan's great historical legends vows to fulfill his master's dying wish, and immediately wishes that he didn't. For his master has described his successor as "lovely and cute," and.. "bouncy." Is Juubei in his right mind? Cut to the present day. A girl named Jiyuu (nicknamed Juubei by her father) is doing her best to get to her new school, despite the weird antics of her bizarre father. On the way home after a trying day of classroom tomfoolery by her classmates, she bumps into Juubei's disciple, who has been wandering around Japan for over two centuries looking for the chosen one. When he sees this girl, he realizes that his task is at an end. Well, nearly, for he has a hard time convincing her of anything, let alone getting her to wear some dumb heart-shaped eyepatch. But when one of her teachers shows up and tries to kill her, she reluctantly agrees. A magical transformation takes place and she suddenly becomes Juubei-chan, ninja warrior! So now that she's Juubei-chan, of course suddenly people are coming out of the woodwork to try and kill her. But who are they? Are they spirits of long-defeated foes looking for vengeance? Are they mercenaries out for a kill? Or are they just dissatisfied substitute teachers?
Take the mystical ninja elements and cool fight scenes from Ninja Scroll, and add the strange characters and zaniness of Child's Toy, and you'd have the perfect description of Juubei-chan. The newest creation of Daichi Akitaro, whose numerous works include Akazukin Cha Cha, Hime-Chan no Ribbon, and Child's Toy (surprise surprise) Juubei-Chan really does seem to defy classifcation; it's a magical girl show, but not. It's a comedy, but not. There are elements of drama, really wacky comedy, and some fights that would make Kenshin envious. Usually, when a series tries to cover this many bases at once, they do a pretty poor job. This show seems to be the exception as it pulls all of it off with remarkable ease. Though the story is pretty "Ninja Of The Week", it still manages to please, full of action, comedy, and plenty of the insanity we'd come to expect from the man who thought up Sana Kurata. The character designs are very original, and the animation style is quite different than what we'd expect from the creator of Fairy Princess Ren and Kodocha (which is to say, cleaner and far more fluid). The music isn't exactly ground breaking, but it fits the show quite well and the opening and closing themes are quite easy on the ears. When i saw the first two episodes of Juubei-chan, I had heard the premise, and was fairly intriuged. but seeing the show itself left me stunned in a way that hasn't happened since I first saw Dragon Half. Like Ninja Mono and Adventures of Kotetsu before it, Juubei-chan seeks to add a lighthearted edge to the Mystical Ninja genre, and succeeds masterfully... though i'm still at a bit of a loss as to what types of otaku will like it. Heck, everybody should (read, WILL) like a show as much fun as this. If they don't, I'll sic Chaos on them.
Chaos: "Hai, Hai. If they don't you'll sic Cha--HEY!"
Available subbed or dubbed from Bandai.