A long time ago, 1988 to be exact, Namco funded and released a sci-fi movie Mirai Ninja (roughly translated Future Ninja) across Japanese theaters. I'm afraid I can't find much info on its box office performance, video sales, etc. without having to sift through Japanese websites using Google's translator and trying to figure out that scrambled English. I'll just say that the movie did decent.
Around 1994, Orion Pictures teamed up with Mondo Pop to bring Mirai Ninja here in America. It wasn't released in theaters however, just direct-to-video as, obviously, Cyber Ninja. As it was the standard practice, the movie was dubbed in English with voices that...don't quite fit their characters. Which sometimes causes unintentional laughs. The dub was handled by Carl Macek who was famous (infamous?) for bring us Robotech and Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years. I don't know how faithful his script is since I've never seen the original Japanese dub.
The plot of the movie is something like this. It's the near-future and the Dark Overlord's Mechanical Army is attacking the Suwabeh Clan, trying to kidnap Princess Saki. In the heat of the battle, a man's brother dies. This man's body was taken by the villain Raimei and is transformed into the Cyber Ninja. Like the movie "Robocop" which came out one year earlier, the Cyber Ninja's memories are starting to surface and he wants to stop Reimei's plans. That plan, I should mention, is the spilling of Princess Saki's blood which will bring Dark Overlord back to life.
It sounded pretty cool when I read the plot, but again the dub kinda' ruins the feel of the movie. Some of the special effects can look silly at times such the Mecha Ninja troops running at double-playback speed. I'm willing to bet the costumes the villains wear looked great on paper. It just doesn't work well in real life. If you can look beyond some of these flaws, you might find the movie enjoyable. It's especially enjoyable if you invite your friends over and do your own version MST3K!
The movie can be found on out-of-print VHS or on cheapie DVD from VideoAsia under the title Ninja Collection Vol. 1: 10 Feature Film Set. The DVD is nothing more than a VHS transfer, complete with tracking errors. It is listed at Amazon for roughly $20, which is $15 too much. If you want to save your money, you could probably find a torrent of the movie somewhere. I can only hope that a different company, like Media Blasters or Discotek, give this movie the proper release it deserves.
It's only natural for Namco to make a video game based on this movie. It was an arcade game released only in Japan called "Mirai Ninja: Keigumo Kinin Gaiden". You can find the ROM just by looking up "Mirai Ninja". The game plays like "The Legend of Kage" or "Demon Sword" for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It's faithful to the movie, as faithful as a game can get, and it's pretty fun.
Finally, you can proudly display these awesome figures of the Cyber Ninja and Shoki next to your anime schoolgirl figurines! I don't know if there's a full Cyber Ninja manga or not. That's the only page I can find.
That wraps up this entry. I've probably forgotten to mention a few things, but I hope you found it enjoyable. See you next Tecmo!
Buy The Ninja Collection: 10 Feature Film Set @ Amazon.com
Cyber Ninja review @ BadMovies.org
Arcade screenshots courtesy of The Video Game Museum
All other images were found on internet and from the DVD.
Mirai Ninja (aka Cyber Ninja) © Namco Ltd.