Once upon a time I wrote a book about the ultimate showdown between pirates and ninjas. That book is called Ninjas of the 512, so as you may have guessed, I took up swords on the side of the ninjas.
After much polling and discussion with various people from all walks of life, however, it has come to my attention that this is simply WRONG.
“The pirates are supposed to be the good guys,” everybody complains.
I mean, pirates smell awful! They’ve got scurvy! They steal your money and your books!!
What, in darkness’s name, is there to love about pirates?
Okay, sure, they’ve got treasure. And booty (which may or may not be the same thing, depending on how well developed your sense of humor is). And rum. And sometimes, as with the Dread Pirate Roberts, they may be swashbuckling.
But I still think ninjas are way better than pirates, so in an attempt to explain myself, here’s my Top 10 Reasons Ninjas Will Always Beat Pirates:
10 — Ninjas are stealthy
That’s right: they lurk in the shadows. They blend into their surroundings. They’re shape-shifters, leaving no trace. And you’ll never see a ninja unless s/he wants to be seen.
9 — Ninjas are always plural
Technically, the plural of ninja is ninja. But, since most people in the western world don’t get that, I usually end up writing “ninjas” anyway. When you stop and think about it, however, that’s all part of their stealth: you’ll never really know if there’s only one ninja or several ninja waiting in the woods, will you? Kind of like the sand people walking single file to hide their numbers, ninja are always plural.
8 — Ninjas look cool
Dressed all in black, what’s not to love about the ninja uniform? It’s always in fashion, slimming, and there’s no worry about whether or not your pants match your shirt. Simplicity, yo.
7 — Ninjas have cool gear
Have you even read my list of 69 ways ninjas can kill you? It’s all there. From shuriken (throwing stars) to nunchaku to wakizashi (swords), you’ve undoubtedly seen some of these in action in your average martial arts film. But ninjas also come equipped with plenty of explosive devices and blinding powders, not to mention specialized equipment like the kusarigama – which is, basically, a sickle on a chain. And, if all else fails, they’ll beat you in taijutsu – unarmed combat. Compared to the pirate’s musket and cutlass, ninjas outclass these guys by a million to one.
6 — Ninjas are tricksters
Even without their gear, ninjas are dangerous. They love to hide in plain sight, and adore sneaking into places described as impenetrable. They love to play tricks on people, whether with misdirection, mind games, or straight-up explosives.
5 — Ninjas are strong
I mean this both physically and mentally. After all, someone who’s been waiting in silence to spring a sneak attack on an enemy for a week is pretty much the master of his or her domain. Where does this strength come from? Years of training.
4 — Ninjas are masters of disguise
Ninjas can imitate just about anyone, usually to infiltrate an organization, but sometimes to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. They’ve been known to impersonate traveling monks, in order to pass checkpoints in the forest, or homeless drunks, to avoid being messed with by would-be thieves. They can even swap gender, sneaking into harems and groups of geisha to access the rich and powerful at play. Wherever you are, the ninjas can find you. In fact, there’s probably at least one ninja in your group right now.
3 — Ninjas are spies
Ninjas were the original spies. Tasked with fun things considered “beneath” the snobby samurai with their code of conduct, ninjas engaged in espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination and even guerrilla warfare. You want to know who really inspired the covert operatives of today? NINJAS.
2 — Ninjas are mysterious
Ninjas may or may not engage in magical, mythical behaviors. Most of the stuff they purportedly do is the stuff of legend, but it still sounds pretty cool: walking on water, controlling nature, being able to turn invisible at will. If nothing else, these tales only add to their mystique, and build them up as the ultimate fighter in their enemies’ minds. What’s not to love?
1 — Ninjas are the good guys we need
Think of Batman in the Dark Knight movies: he’s a ninja, and yet he’s also the hero. Indeed, I cast ninjas as the good guys in my story for the same reason. While most people think of ninjas as nothing more than mobs of faceless assassins, this is simply an outdated version of the truth. Though they may not have adhered to a code of ethics like the samurai, they did believe in training. And what’s better when you’re in an unpredictable situation, training or codes of honor?
Hey, we can’t all be morally upright citizens all the time, and ninjas are built for adaptability in uncertain times. That’s why ninjas are the heroes in my story: they’re willing to do what others won’t. Does that make them confusing and occasionally very, very dangerous? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t have them any other way.
Life isn’t black and white. It’s NINJA.