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Ninja Kamui
Episode 13

by Jairus Taylor,

How would you rate episode 13 of
Ninja Kamui ?
Community score: 3.1

Given how the last few episodes of this show have been a series of diminishing returns, my expectations for the finale weren't particularly high, and I'd given up on doing anything particularly interesting. Still, the show has maintained a decent sense of spectacle, if nothing else, so I was at least hoping to get something entertaining and over the top for the series to go out on. Against all odds, though, the finale managed to underwhelm in both writing and good action, and the result was pretty boring.

As Joseph continues to flee from the government, his plan for escape ends up stowing away on a freight plane filled with pigs to avoid detection. Despite all the comedic potential that would imply, it gets undercut when Mike crashes his car into Joseph's plane before it can take off, instead resulting in an incredibly dull chase scene between them before Joseph gets caught. Having finally run out of options, he is at the mercy of Mike, who ultimately decides to spare him and take him to prison. However, as Joseph points out, his expertise is sought out by those in power, meaning he'll be a free man before too long, so any moral victory here is pointless. Sure, Mike leaves him peeing his pants in fear. Still, there is no real reason to think Joseph won't just end up going back to doing exactly what he did before, and that feels like a pretty crummy way to end things with him, so it just makes me wish the show had followed through on having him get comedically stabbed by ninjas on an elevator while it had the chance.

Higan's final showdown with Yamaji doesn't fare much better as we learn that Yamaji's secret goal just more or less boils down to world domination. Specifically, he believes that using the power the ninjas possess to threaten the rest of the world into submission is the best way to bring about world peace. However, it's still pretty dull and certainly wasn't worth the show being so secretive with him for as long as it was. There is at least an implication that he might have been a survivor of the air raids on Japan during WWII, and that ended up shaping his current philosophy, but even then, it feels like something that would have been a lot better to know about him at literally any point other than the finale, so he still feels like a pretty forgettable villain.

Still, that disappointment is probably nothing compared to how the fight looks, as the poor background and color choices only draw attention to how clunky the 3DCG toku suits look. Even with some cool background music blaring, the fight feels like it has all the energy of a mid-'00s video game cutscene, and compared to the great 2D animated action showcases the show started with, it feels like such a massive letdown. Zai also shows up midway through the fight to side with Yamaji, as Zai has decided that it's too late for him to change his ways, but seeing Higan get nearly killed causes him to change his mind and turn on Yamaji at the last second, which works okay I guess, but didn't do anything for me. It never felt like his presence added much to the fight one way or the other.

Eventually, Yamaji uses his secret technique, Infinite Tskuyomi-err...."God's Will," to make Higan constantly relive the nightmare of watching his family get murdered, but a vision of Mari's final words to him gives him the strength to break through the illusion and use the power of friendship to use Zai's secret technique to bring an end to Yamaji once and for all. Sadly, none of this felt anywhere near as cool or silly as I'm describing it, and even having the theme song blaring as Higan delivered the final blow wasn't quite enough to get me hyped, despite me normally being the easiest mark in the world for that kind of trick. If there's anything cool or interesting here, it's in the post-credits scene where Zai decides that he has nothing to live for now that he's betrayed his chief, but gets stopped by Higan, who tells him how important it is for him to live for the sake of all the people who have helped him up to this point. It's a good culmination of Higan's character arc and a decent enough note for the show to go out on. Still, this exchange should have happened following Higan's big fight with Zai a couple of episodes ago, so even in its final moments, the execution still feels a little sloppy.

All in all, I didn't hate my time with Ninja Kamui, but I'd be lying if I said it's a show I'd be thinking much about later down the line since it never quite lived up to all its potential. It started fun, albeit pretty cliche, but it feels like the show was stuck between the over-the-top revenge movie aesthetic it started with and the more thoughtful exploration of rigid philosophies and the strength of human connections that it tried to aim for as it got further along, and didn't quite manage to nail either of those two things. It's certainly not a terrible action show and had its moments. For being Sunghoo Park's first big project after leaving MAPPA, I was hoping for something a little more substantial, and as it stands, it feels like it could become easily forgotten.

Rating: 2/5

Ninja Kamui airs on Adult Swim and streams on Max.

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