- By Director Takashi Miike. Based on an immensely popular kids anime Rantaro the Ninja Boy, Ninja Kids is like a cross between Naruto and Harry Potter with a dash of Miike madness. Featuring an all star cast of veterans, Miike players, and a bus-load of incredible kids, the film is an odd gem of whacky absurd scenarios. The story centers on young Rantaro, played with quirky charm by Seishiro Kato, an aspiring ninja from a lower class ninja family who embarks during the opening credits to his first day of class as a first grade ninja. Training in ninja school includes such essential skills as ninja throwing, digging booby traps and ambushing your targets. As Rantaro navigates his way to the top of his class, he encounters a circus of colorful characters, each more absurd than the next. From a pair of ninjas who are masters at cutting people's hair to a villainous evil master whose head is so large he has trouble standing up. The story is less one coherent plot than a series of hijinks stitched together from episodes of the TV show but it works perfectly to showcase a school year of adventures. Miike definitely relies heavily on the source material, accentuating characters with facial prosthetics to enhance the live action cartoonish absurdity. The humor is definitely low grade, bathroom jokes mixed with extreme acts of hyper real violence that strangely enough feel appropriate for the genre. The heart of the film is in the right place, making kids confident in their abilities to succeed but Miike sometimes stumbles with the pacing of unraveling a large tapestry of elements. Still, there are some highly entertaining, well crafted scenes that have a great sense of atmosphere which keeps Ninja Kids from ever feeling dull. It's also great to see Miike have fun with a large budget that elevates the costume design, art direction, and the use of funny special effects, despite their cheesy quality, are well sustained throughout. Ninja Kids is an example of a Japanese mainstream product under the unique direction of one of the country's most peculiar cinematic export. If you enjoyed the Harry Potter movies but wanted to see something a bit more extreme and surreal, then this film will certainly deliver the goods. Takashi Miike, who continues to experiment in every genre imaginable, is in top form and seems re-invigorated with this film and his recent successes.