Insider recently drafted in a real-life ninja to assess how realistic a variety of movies and TV shows were – ranging from Batman Begins, The Last Samurai, The Boys, and Mortal Kombat – to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Jinichi Kawakami, who is an expert practitioner of ninjutsu, also turned his eagle eyes to anime series Naruto: Shippuden, and he was less than impressed.
Kawakami began by tearing apart the hand gestures that the characters make in the Final Battle episode of Naruto. “The nine-letter self-defense that they do in the movie is wrong. It’s all absurd, it’s just tying up the shapes. The nine hand seals are to protect oneself from one’s enemies. It is one of the practices in Japanese religions such as Esoteric Buddhism and Shugendo.”
Kawakami also scoffs at the popular anime depicting ninjas as magical or superhero-like in their abilities. “Kuji self-defense is sorcery, magic. So it is witchcraft in Japanese. They (ninjas) cannot produce abilities beyond human beings. They are not different from ordinary people. I think there is a little bit of superiority, but not much different from the average person.”
Kawakami has a few words for the inclusion of the tailed beasts and other creatures; “People say that animals were used (by ninjas), but I don’t think they used them properly. I think it was very difficult to use them. It is said that when they met a dog, they would poison them. I would give Naruto: Shippuden a four out of ten for ninja accuracy.” Fair enough!
Kawakami’s favorite movie or show from the clips he was shown was Revenge of the Ninja (1983), although he was also pretty positive about The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise. So, Naruto doesn’t fare too well when met with a real-life ninja, we’re afraid.