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A Ninja (忍者, literal meaning: "enduring person") is a warrior and assassin, trained in the Japanese art of Ninjutsu (roughly art of stealth). The ninja do not obey a special code of honor, such as the bushido of the samurai. Their specialties are assassinations and sneak attacks rather than open battles. (The truth: The Ninja did obey a code of honor, it was called Ninpo[?]. The Ninja's specialty was not assassination, it was espionage; they were spies and only sometimes did they carry out assassinations.)

There are many myths and legends concerning the ninja and their special abilities, which are often exaggerated, such as becoming invisible, turning into animals, jumping over buildings, and the ability to fly and foresee the future. Many of these claims were made by the ninja themselves, others were added by story-telling and the film industry. (The truth: These myths came about after people witnessed the "Ninja's" feats, the "Ninja" they witnessed were usually Yamabushi[?] that would visit towns performing tricks for money.) In western popular culture, ninjas often depicted as simply supremely well trained martial artists who use many kinds of exotic equipment and skills to achieve their missions. This combined with the popular image of legendary costume of an all black suit and hood leaves only the eye area of the face exposed, often makes up the western take on the ninja as a popular foe of fictional spies (especially on missions in Pacific Asia[?]), superheroes and supervillains.

The ninja use several special weapons, the shuriken probably being the most famous. (The shuriken were used by Samurai also. The Ninja's weapons are best described as tools- They might use the cord of their sword scabbard to construct a hammock between tree branches; the shuriken they used were washers used by carpenters, the Ninja might use the hole in the center to remove nails. You get the idea, the Ninja's items were tools that could be used as a weapon if need be.)

The first major appearance of the Ninja in Western popular culture is in the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice[?] in which the Japanese Secret Service employs a top secret Ninja force to play a critical role in helping the British spy stop S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s grandest scheme. Sho Kosugi[?] was famous for his portrayals of ninja in several movies of varying quality.

Comic books have used ninjas extensively since the 1980s with various examples:

  • Although creators Bob Kane[?] and Bill Finger were not aware of ninjas, their creation, Batman has many elements of the type such as his dark colored caped costume, his mastery of martial arts and stealth and his variety of tools he carries in his utility belt.
  • In the Marvel Universe, a regular foe of superheroes like Daredevil and Wolverine is the ninja clan, The Hand
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a parody of Frank Miller's Daredevil stories which include a parody of The Hand, known as The Foot.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo there are several ninja clans, including the Neko who operate in the regular manner, the Komori, who are bats and attack from the air, and the Mogura, voles which attack from below the ground.
  • Ninjas appear also in Lone Wolf and Cub[?].

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