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The Kouga Ninja Scrolls
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Manufacturer: Del Rey
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 895.635
EAN: 9780345495105
ISBN: 0345495101
Label: Del Rey
Manufacturer: Del Rey
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 336
Publication Date: 2006-12-26
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: 2006-12-26
Studio: Del Rey

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Editorial Reviews:


To resolve a clash over succession, the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa has devised the ultimate contest. Two rival ninja clans, the Kouga and the Iga, will meet in a battle to the death. The victor will rule Japan for the next thousand years. But in the midst of this bloody war, an unlikely romance blooms between Gennosuke of the Kouga clan and Oboro of the Iga clan. Gennosuke and Oboro are the next leaders of their clans and their fates are inextricably bound with that of their families. In the colossal fight, the star-crossed lovers are faced with a fatal choice between true love and destiny. Can romance conquer a four-hundred-year-old rivalry? Or is their love fated to end in death?

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Great in some respects
Comment: I discovered Kouga Ninja Scrolls through the Wikipedia article on Ninja Scroll, the anime movie, which KNS inspired. I did really enjoy the book and recommend it highly to lovers of the fantasy/anime genre, excepting a few stylistic issues.

On the positive side, KNS exploits several smart plot devices which fascinate the reader. The story is about two shadowy, warring ninja clans whose members have perfected certain arcane arts to the degree that these seem as supernatural powers, similar to those wielded by the X-men, perhaps. There is some clever interplay of the ninjas' respective skills as the story unfolds, but not all the ninja powers seem as well-thought out and as neat as those depicted in Ninja Scroll. I suppose it must be granted that the writer of Ninja Scroll had the luxury to glean the best elements from the whole of Futaro Yamada's series.

Besides the obvious theme of the pointless, destructive nature of hatred, the book makes interesting observations about the importance of information in any struggle. For example, during a portion of the book, one of the opposing clans is unaware of the war, with catastrophic consequences, obviously. Another important element is that to learn a ninja's secret skill is to defeat that ninja, so much depends on suprise in such combat. These ingredients blend into a potent concoction.

On the down side, I feel the literary execution has some flaws. The language of the book is colloquial and even school-yardish at points, out of key with the stilted passions and deeds of the tale. For example, once a character is desribed to "whip out a sword". Such phraseology is more appropriate to a rap song than a fantasy novel. One does not know whether the translation or the original is to blame for this defect.

Altogether KNS is a worth-while read for lovers of fantasy, especially for those hungry for something fresh, outside the European menu. Hopefully, Del Rey, that most wonderful of publishing companies, will commision translations of the rest of Futaro Yamada's series in short order!!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: An exciting view of Japanese culture
Comment: This is a fast-moving, exciting story, beautifully told, that does what good writing always does--creating an imaginary world that's as vivid as real life! A great read.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Amazing story and great translation
Comment: I like supernatural novels, and "The Kouga Ninja Scrolls" is the best fantasy novel I have ever read. Frankly, I'm always cautious about reading translated books, because so many of them twist the meaning and style of the original version. Because I can read a little Japanese, I checked this translation against the original as I read it. I was incredibly impressed -- the translation is accurate, while also being smooth, beautifully written, and an authentic description of medieval Japan.

Before reading this book, I watched the movie ("Shinobi") and was touched by the story. Reading the book, however, was an even more powerful experience. By the end, I was hanging onto every word, and my heart was thumping with excitement. This is a great story and a great translation! It is a must-read book for everybody who enjoys fantasy novels or Japanese literature. Those of us who enjoy fantasy are lucky to have a translator like this, and even more lucky to have such an amazing novel available in English. I promise you that this novel will hit you emotionally, and leave you dreaming of ninja battles and lost love.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Comments from the translator
Comment: My name is Geoff Sant and I am the translator of this novel.

A previous commenter mistakenly claimed that "The Kouga Ninja Scrolls" is manga; he has confused this novel with the manga "Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls." Rather, "The Kouga Ninja Scrolls" is a translation of the novel by Yamada Futaro, which has been the direct basis of endless manga and movies, including "Basilisk," "Shinobi," and "The Ninja Scrolls." The influence of "The Kouga Ninja Scrolls" extends far beyond its immediate derivations, however. "The Kouga Ninja Scrolls" was the forerunner and inspiration for much of modern Japanese fantasy -- Yamada Futaro could be described as the granddaddy of Japanese fantasy.

Briefly, the novel tells the story of two clans of supernatural ninjas forced to fight each other by the ruler of Japan. Meanwhile, a young man and woman from the opposing clans have fallen in love and wish to put an end to the conflict.

Yamada Futaro's writing style is distinct from both Western fantasy authors -- and is even distinct from the novel's manga adaptations. Yamada Futaro based his ninja wars upon Japanese history, and quotes real historical documents about ninjas, warfare, and even poetry. Yamada Futaro -- who had attended medical school -- also uses physics and biology to "explain" the ninjas' supernatural powers. These explanations are fascinating, and go far beyond the simplistic "bitten by a radioactive spider" explanations that one finds in the West.

Yamada Futaro explores complex themes, such as: Does one blindly obey leaders or challenge them? What is the purpose of war? Is homogeneity dangerous? He explores these issues so subtly that the casual reader may miss them, too focused upon supernatural ninja battles. I suspect that every reader will have his or her favorite ninja -- perhaps the moss-covered master assassin Amayo, or the wild-haired Mino Nenki, who uses his hair to wield weapons or to swing through trees. I will say no more here, and leave the surprises to you.

To sum up, Yamada Futaro's style is unique -- it can not be accurately captured even by the manga adaptations of it. I can only hope that I have captured his spirit. This is the first Japanese fantasy novel Del Rey has published in English. If you would like to see more Japanese fantasy novels translated, please support their effort.

"Book of the Week"; "fast-moving entertainment... fresh and contemporary" -- The Gline (website interested in Japanese fantasy)

"Del Rey's translation ... is handled quite well... The prose comes at you in ... bursts and with a direct manner, much like the action" -- Anime on DVD (website)

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A non-Hollywood Japanese Harry Potter
Comment: Only with ninjas. In the 16th and 17th Centuries. And if that doesn't convince you, nothing will. I really loved this, as did my less Japanophile friend. This is an excellent excellent English version of the original Kouga Ninpocho novel. For any fans of Japanime or Japanese culture, this is a great addition.

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