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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Blogging from Japan right now. On my way over here I caught "The Last Samurai" on the little screen provided just for l'il ol me on the flight. Figured it was the least I could do, seeing as I was going to Japan and all. I never had any interest in it before - but that's because no one bothered to market the most important aspect of this movie. Ninjas! Why was this not advertised? Ninjas doing Ninja things: sneakin' around, throwing stars, bursting through walls (okay, they were paper walls but it was still cool).

A movie that finally answers the question of who wins when Ninja fights Samurai, and no one mentions this? Sacrilige.
Thank you for posting this topic, Ralphie.

I probably have a greater interest in Japanese history and culture than most. I spent a summer in Japan as an exchange student. This was in the 1980's, when intelligent people worried that Japan would surpass America as the world's economic superpower. Remember Michael Creighton's "The Rising Sun?" A thoroughly enjoyable fantasy based on crap, although it seemed plausible at the time.

I also consumed a lot of popular fiction in the early 1980's that spoke of Japan and the Japanese. My first foray into that genre was "Shibumi" by Trevanian. This is still one of my favorite books. The protagonist, Nicolai Hel, is a super-assassin influenced by a Japanese philosophy called - you guessed it - shibumi.

An honorable mention goes to Eric Van Lustbader's "The Ninja." In it, ninjas are supermen and Western-style warriors are woefully inept in comparison.

Probably the best-written of the Japanese-influenced novels I read is James Clavell's "Shogun." It's incredibly well-researched and detail-oriented. I won't bother giving a summary because I'm sure you all caught the miniseries with Richard Chamberlain, which was great by the way, but the novel was even better. I think this is what "The Last Samurai" aspired to be like.

Read Shibumi. Read Shogun. Die happy.
Oh, yeah? Well I saw all three pix in Sho Kosuji's American Ninja trilogy. And I used to watch Lee Van Cleef's Ninja series religiously.

This week I heard of a Lubavitch (Chabad) Ninja. I must seek him out and learn his ways.
"Wax on, wax off" you two.
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