Ninja Mono ( NinjaŽÒ ) AIC/Youmex, 1996 AnimeWorks, 1999 Directed by Eiji Suganuma Rated 13-Up for graphic violence, slight nudity, mature situations and strong language. During Japan's feudal era, there is a war between two ninja clans: the Byakuro and the Kabusu. Then, one night, the Kabusu stage a fierce attack on the Byakuro castle in hopes of kidnapping the clan's infant princess. Their mission is foiled when a loyal ninja of the Byakuro flees the attack with the princess and disappears, eventually raising her to be a ninja. Several years later, six ninja trainees are given a mission to infiltrate the Kabusu-occupied Byakuro castle and retrieve a sacred scroll to complete their training. But their skills are put to the test when they encounter three members of the Kabusu, who use dark sorcery in an attempt to once again capture the princess - who happens to be one of the trainees. Story: C Ninja Mono's plot is very promising, but within a mere two episodes, it suffers from pacing that seems rushed and character development that's nearly non-existent. AIC (Tenchi Muyo!, Ah! My Goddess) and Youmex (Bubblegum Crisis, Hades Project Zeorymer) shoud've at least made this OAV run for 6 or more episodes. That would've given more emphasis on each of the ninja trainees - not just Sakura or Matsuri. But overall, it's still worth checking out as a rental. Animation: B+ The animation by AIC is very good; just not within the same level as the Tenchi Muyo! OAVs. Suganuma's character designs, however, take the whole spotlight in this OAV. Soundtrack: B There really isn't much to talk about the soundtrack composed by Takeo Miratsu (Battle Skipper), other than having a J-Pop feel mixed with music usually heard on ninja-oriented videogames. Sub vs. Dub Ninja Mono features Hiroko Konishi (Nene in Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, Sae in Magic User's Club) as Sakura, Mami Nakajima (Touko in Witch Hunter Robin) as Matsuri, Harunori Miyata (Joel in Neo-Ranga) as Pochi, Hitomi Miyajima as Yume, Kenichi Suzumura (Shin in Macross Zero, Kamui in X) as Kaoru, Katashi Ishizuka as Hayashi, Maria Kawamura (Jung-Freud in Gunbuster, Naga in Slayers) as Jame, Issei Futumata (Yusaku in Maison Ikkoku, Alan Gabriel in The Big O as Matsuzaka, Junichi Sugahara as Nikko, and Ikuya Sawaki (Dr. Nanbu in Gatchaman '94) as Yukinobu. Ugh! I can't believe this was Bang Zoom! Entertainment's first English dub. Leaves a bad taste to your mouth. Featured voices include Sandy Fox (Sumomo in Chobits, Risky in Omishi Magical Theater Risky Safety) as Sakura, Lia Sargent (Hand Maid May, Dorothy in The Big O) as Matsuri, Mona Marshall (Tsukikage Ran, Motoko in Love Hina) as Pochi, Georgette Rose (Chii in Chobits, Meow in Tsukikage Ran) as Yume, Jack Cox as Kaoru, Lex Lang (Gineas in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, Goemon in Lupin III) as Hayashi and Matsuzaka, Beth Wernick as Jame, David Umansky (Keitaro in Love Hina, Lin in Cowboy Bebop) as Nikko, and Steve Kramer (Sanders in Gundam 08th MS Team, Elder in A Little Snow Fairy Sugar) as Yukinobu. DVD Extras:C- You get an image gallery and some outtakes from the English dub that isn't even very funny. All this, plus menu narrations by Sandy Fox. The Bottom Line While so full of potential, Ninja Cadets! falls short due to a rushed storyline and character development that needs work. At least it's better than Ninja Resurrection. Strictly rental material.