Comics! Cartoons! Anime! Crisis Vol. 2, No. 13: Ninja, Ninja, RAP.

Greeting friends! Let's dispense with the secret handshakes and get right down to brass tacks, shall we?

Do keep those decoder rings at the ready, however. We will have a secret message for you to uncover by the end of this broadcast!

Small boy, small dagger, big action!

Kazan is a manga by Gaku Miyao (who also worked on a manga for one of my favorite old school anime, Devil Hunter Yohko), and is a story about, well... Kazan, a small boy on a quest to find the "Water Demon". The sole survivor of a nomadic desert tribe known as the Red Sand Tribe, Kazan prowls the deserts with his faithful hawk Kamushin.

However, its not really quite that simple. Kazan isn't your run of the mill 8-year old boy; within his small frame is a terrible burden, and the reason behind his hunt for the Water Demon. In his travels he meets various people, rights various wrongs, punishes various evils, and befriends Fawna, a young girl with a strange ability, Arbey, an old lady with a panache for bomb-making, and Litomo, a sneaky, sneaky thief.

Honestly, this series is really quite an adventure. It manages to cram a great story, excellent fights, compelling characters, and fantastic artwork into 7 volumes of manga. Kazan and the rest of the characters have multifaceted personalities, and the usual tropes are (for the most part) avoided.

I really can't recommend it enough. Go read it!

Four turtles, a giant rat, some guy in a hockey mask, and a hot chick. What more can you ask for?

Unless you've been living under a rock since the mid 80's, you've probably heard of, loved, and sworn your life for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... and if not, you're no friend of mine.

IDW is behind the latest comic reboot of the TMNT, and they certainly know how to handle the brothers, I'll give them that. From retooling their origin story (mutated in a lab, not from a canister off the back of a truck), tweaking the small things here and there (Casey and April are college students), everything is new but still feels right.

Old favorites return, like Baxter Stockman, Krang, and the Shredder, and new characters are introduced, like old Hob (a mutated alley cat with a raging hate on for Splinter and the bros), Alopex (a mutated fox who is not what she seems), and Chet Allen (a bumbling scientist/lab worker and then some).

Fun fact: They're not friends

The folks who are making the comic have a great art style, and they make good use of the already established personalities for the Turtles and others, while still managing to make them their own. Raph is still a hot head, Leo is still the leader, Don is the tech guy, and Mikey... well, he still loves pizza. But they all gained new aspects in this reboot, and its something that meshes well with the turtles we all love from our childhood (whether recent or ancient).

The nice thing is that a good number of the covers are done by Kevin Eastman, one of the original creators of the boys in green (as Peter Laird bought out his ownership in '08). So if you're like me, and flipping through the back of the trade (because who has time to collect individual issues?!), you'll get a nice surprise when you see all the various covers for the issues and come across something what is best described as an awesome throwback to the original run of the Turtles.

Indeed,what she says are the words of one who has never dirtied her hands.
However, if I were to compare the two, I like Kaoru-dono's idealism better than that true nature.

Based on Nobuhiro Watsuki's stellar manga (and, I suppose, that anime that came after), Rurouni Kenshin is set in the Meiji era of Japan, a time of the phasing out of samurai and phasing in of Western sensibility. Swords are banned from being worn in public, and the entire country is shifting towards becoming more modern, dragging the samurai along into the future whether they like it or not.

The titular character, Kenshin, is a wandering samurai who has forsaken killing. He stumbles upon Kaoru, the heir of a kendo dojo (and her #1 and only student, Yahiko), and is propelled into a plot which ends up gaining him a friend in Sano, a proud street fighter who gets hired to take him out, and an enemy in Kanryu, who hires the aforementioned ruffian (among others) to get in Kenshin's way.

Fun Fact: Not a good guy.

I really can't get over how much this movie got right... From the action sequences to the dialog, from the actors chosen to the locations, everything is like the manga come to life, and I loved every minute of it. A few things were changed from the original story, but not so much that it became something entirely different, and things weren't changed for no reason at all.

All in all, a great little slice of anime come to life that everyone who might happen to be a fan of samurai, anime, or those who just wants to appease me should watch as soon as humanly possible.

So there you have it... A comic (well, a manga), a cartoon (well, a comic), and an anime (well, a live action movie) for your approval.

And today's secret code is: DRINK MORE OVALTINE

Be careful, the encryption on this one is super crazy top-tier spy level, so enjoy!

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