Review - Shinobi Ninja Princess #1

"Looks like things just got a little more complicated."

Life as a teenage girl is hard. It's even harder when you're a ninja princess, with the expectations to lead and be the one making tough decisions daily. It can offer some rewards though, primarily in the way of getting praise for being genuinely good at what you were raised to do. That's a story for Shinobi Ninja Princess #1 from Action Lab Entertainment, written, illustrated and colored by Martheus Wade (color assists by Marvin Cheveallier) and lettered by Kevin Williams.

14 year-old ninja princess Shianndrea Toshigawa and her strike team have a new mission: spy on their rivals, the Azumi Ninja Clan, and discover what secret dealings they have with the evil Emperor of Japan. But when the plan goes awry and fellow ninja Hamasuke is captured, can Shianndrea overcome her lack of confidence and save him before it’s too late? And Shianndrea has to come to terms with the role of leader being thrust upon her, even against her wishes.

It's pretty clear in reading Shinobi Ninja Princess #1 that Wade is a fan of anime. The story in the first issue plays out like an episode of the famed genre, with two warring ninja families and a lot of hotheads prevailing all over. Shianndrea has the traits of a characteristic reluctant heroes; she's combat ready, reserved and not entirely convinced she's ready to be a leader. It's a dynamic that creates an automatic tension in the book, as the reader expects her to be fearful and to make hesitant decisions that will likely lead to more stress for her and the other characters. Beside the characterization, the story is pretty straightforward and doesn't rely on any overly complex plot points.

Wade also handles the illustration duties on the book and his style is also reminiscent of the anime style. The characters in the book have a style that falls somewhere between anime and cartoon, with designs that favor looks familiar to fans of either. Wade draws heavily on those influences, infusing the book with a Saturday morning cartoon feel that's god with most of the action. It does fall a little short when it comes to character facial expressions though, as there are some instances where the character doesn't quite demonstrate the emotion intended in the panels.

Shinobi Ninja Princess #1 is a pretty simple book that doesn't really take itself too seriously. It's definitely positioned as an all-ages book and will likely not appeal to everyone because of it's relatively simple plot. Wade's story is going to be very familiar to anime fans, especially those of some of those popular right now (i.e., Naruto). Wade's illustrations match up with this vibe as well, presenting characters and a rather simple color palette across the board. Shinobi Ninja Princess #1 is a pretty airy book that counts on certain tropes to keep the reader engaged and aware of the action.

Shinobi Ninja Princess #1 is in stores August 27.