Shonen manga tends to be based around the idea of following a young hero on a journey to be something more. They gather friends, earn new skills, come against a great opposition. Tale as old as time.
Ninja Express doesn’t settle for that. It decided to follow the adventures of a side character who wants to be that main character.
And I love it.
Ninja Express is an indie comic written by D.M. Charles with art by Drake Tinta and coloring/lettering by Osuja A. Newton. It follows Otaki, a high schooler who believes himself a side character in his own life. Otaki decides to join his school’s ninja club, with adventure ensuing.
An action-comedy, the comic is a love letter that every anime/manga fan will absolutely enjoy. Otaki is an otaku (a joke that I am embarrassed slipped past me for far too long, and I now feel dumb) and the comic has all kinds of fun with that. It gives shoutouts and nods to staples of any otaku’s list of enjoyed series while maintaining its own identity. Quite an accomplishment as a lot of media that tries to pay homage to what might have inspired it losses any uniqueness it might have had. But Ninja Express is its own story all right, made up of a cast of characters who live in a bizarre and action-packed world. It is what makes it so great!
Otaki’s not exactly… skilled? But the story still shows him trying his best. He aims to be a hero, a thing that I think everyone has felt in some way before.
It becomes even more relatable as Otaki becomes surrounded by the skilled ninjas of his school. An average guy in an extraordinary scenario, the comic is so well written and presented in such a fun art style. I highly suggest you check it out!