Ninja training has proved fertile ground for shows and movies, animated and live action, for decades. Ninja Cadets (Ninja Mono) takes its inspiration from this as well, but unfortunately falls short, resulting in a rather lackluster presentation.
A group of young ninjas are off for their final exam: Go to Byakkuro Castle and retrieve a secret scroll. Kaoru leads the team, and is paired up with total non-violent Yume (who is totally in love with him), and the rest are teamed up in pairs as well. (One of them is the Byakkuro Princess, who was raised as a ninja for her own protection.) Some of them don't get along too well, and so sabotaging another team is permitted. Only one team will pass the exam.
But they're not the only ones after the scroll. A band of rogues is also after the scroll (and the princess that goes along with the castle), and put Kaoru under their mind control. Why, exactly, everyone is after the all-powerful scroll and what the Byakkuro Princess does, isn't really made clear.
Vague attempts at the standard slapstick humor adorn the OAV, but none are really successful. (I suppose the dubbing makes a few of them humorless...) The rest is just pointless fighting anime, and while well-animated, it just doesn't hold any interest. The characters aren't well developed, and so we don't really care what happens to them anyway.
Ninja Cadets just seems to fall into every pitfall of bad anime there is: Plentiful, pointless fights with large monsters, an obligatory hot springs scene, and total lack of character development. There's not much STORY development either. I suppose people who like the dreck out there like Grappler Baki might have some attraction, but the plot here is so thin that it makes Dragon Ball Z look like the work of Leo Tolstoy.
There ARE two nice things about this anime: The character designs are pretty nice. And there's a five-second shot of a really cute-looking owl.
This is the first released anime work dubbed by Bang Zoom! Productions, and it shows... It's obviously not a polished work, with some actors overacting and the mixing being really off (some ambient noise is just way too quiet in comparison to the voices, while other times not even the voices can be heard). It's still a halfway decent dub (the casting is perfect), and this seems like the sort of that would improve greatly with time, but since there are only two episodes...
I can't really recommend Ninja Cadets, not so much due to the dub, but due to the reletively mindless plot that really doesn't feel like it goes anywhere. This wouldn't be much fun subtitled either.
Overall (dub) : C-
+ Nice character design.
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