Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lego Ninjago: Episode 1, Way of the Ninja

Yes, yes, for those of you who are familiar with the series, you have every right to tell me I am a couple of years late. You are correct. But since the last topic was Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, I thought it would be nice to discuss another iconic toy-turned-series.

Legos. Some of you may remember them, before they got super-commercialized and over-marketed as a toy only for boys (I actually owned one of these blue buckets!!!!):

Back then, it was absolutely possible to buy a Lego set that wasn't from a television show:

Sadly, times are different. But, seeing as the Lego: Ninjago series has become such a cultural force, it would be best to confront it rather than run from it. Ninja-style!!!!

I know that the Ninjago series will be entering its third season, but I decided to start with the first episode of the first season, since I have only watched the series intermittently in the past.

The episode starts out ordinarily enough, with the as-yet unnamed Old Mysterious Asian Guy coming into a sword shop run by Kai, the blacksmith, and his sister, Nya. The Old Mysterious Asian guy says something pseudo-profound (like something from a fortune cookie), the sword shop gets attacked, and all heck breaks loose. Nya, the only female for miles around gets kidnapped by the bad guys (of course), Kai begins his ninja training with the Old Man, who now has a name (Master Wu), and so our story begins.

Innocuous-sounding enough, right? No sex, drugs, or violence (wait, no, there's violence!) But there are plenty of ninjas. Who doesn't love ninjas? Ninjas are fun. Like pirates or cowboys.

...except that, if you're going to talk about ninjas (I'm looking at you, Cartoon Network!) Please keep your cultural references straight!

In the opening sequence, Kai and the Old Man are talking about samurai and ninja. Both are names of different kinds of warriors from Japan. So obviously, one would think, the Land of Ninjago is based on a village from old Japan, if a village from old Japan were made out of Lego. So if Kai and Nya are Japanese, why is Nya wearing Chinese clothing? (See illustration below. Just pretend the blouse on the left is red).

Why does the ninja master from Ninjago (Master Wu), have the tenth most common Chinese name in Mainland China, according to Wikipedia?

Samurai met their official end in the late 1800s. If Ninjago is loosely based on late 1800s Japan (yes, yes, I know it's a television show, but still) could it be that Master Wu and Nya are just incredibly open-minded, or is it that the creators of the show don't know the different between China and Japan?

I'll let you decide, gentle reader. The only cool thing about the first episode for me, was when Nya helped her brother fight when their shop was under attack. Nya can kick butt! Now, if we could only get her in some culturally-correct clothing....

Coming soon, a new design for the blog, and a review of a vintage cartoon!!! Can't wait to see you there!

Photo Credits

All photos were used for illustration purposes only. No profit was made from them, nor am I associated with any of the web sites or companies listed below.

The original picture of the Lego CITY set can be found here.

And at the same web site, the Lego bucket.

The Chinese blouse was taken from here.

Here is the original picture of Nya

And lastly, Kai the Ninja!

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