Same concept, slightly different genre!

Jushichinin no ninja / 十七人の忍者 / Seventeen Ninja (1963)

Obiously, the other 11 aren't important enough for the cover

Jushichinin no ninja / 十七人の忍者 / Seventeen Ninja (1963)
Director: Hasegawa Yasuto
Cast: Kotaro Satomi, Otomo Ryutaro, Konoe Jushiro, Azuma Chiyonosuke, Matsukata Hiroki

Summary:
A band of ninja led by Jingoza (Otomo), must steal a scroll detailing Tokugawa Tadanaga’s plot to take the throne. However, they must deal with ninja master Saiga Magokuro (Konoe), who must protect the scroll, and Tadanaga, at all costs.

The Good Stuff:
– 17 + 1 ninja. The more ninjas the better?
– A bunch of cool ninja moves and gadgets, though not as many as the Shinobi no mono series
– Azuma plays a Tokugawa once again. I wonder why.

The Best Stuff:
– Otomo, Kotaro, Konoe. That’s a pretty cool lineup.
– Revisionist history / hypothetical possible history movies are always interesting

Ninjutsu gozen-jiai / 忍術御前試合 / Torawakamaru (1957)

They just really don't like spiders I guess

Ninjutsu gozen-jiai / 忍術御前試合 / Torawakamaru (1957)
Director: Sawashima Tadashi
Cast: Arima Koji, Fushimi Sentaro, Hori Masao, Ôkôchi Denjirô, Tsukigata Ryonosuke

Summary:
Ninja clans fight with each other. Yes, that’s about it. By the way, this is a kiddie film.

The Good Stuff:
– Magic? I guess some people like that

The Best Stuff:
– Some nice swordfights and creative ideas, that will later be realized in the sort of the same but not quite the same (actually I’ve no idea why I’m making this comparison other than the presence of a giant frog and snakedragonthing) movie, Kairyu daikessen
– You don’t need a brain or an attention span to enjoy this film yay!

Ninja hicho fukuro no shiro / オリジナルネーム / Castle of Owls (1963)

Oddly, there are more ninjas on this cover than on Jushichinin no ninja's.

Ninja hicho fukuro no shiro / 忍者秘著梟の城 / Castle of Owls (1963)
Director: Kudo Eiichi
Cast: Otomo Ryutaro, Ohki Minoru, Kawarazaki Choichiro, Takichiho Hizaru, Mishima Masao

Summary:
The Iga ninjas are a dying breed as Toyotomi’s rule allows Japan to experience some peace. Juzo, an Iga ninja who had vowed revenge for the death of his family, is hired by a rich weapons merchant to assassinate Toyotomi, restarting his quest for blood. In his way are rival ninja, and his once best friend who has decided to become a government vassal.

The Good Stuff:
– Lots of ninja action, with jumps, tumbling and lots of thrown sharpthingies

The Best Stuff:
– Kudo is known for having very well shot movies, and this is no exception
– Great use of depth of field in forests
– Distanced shots of fights
– That low angle with the candles in the temple–you’ll see

Ninja gari / 忍者狩り / Ninja Hunt (1964)

Konoe Jushiro: Born to play the villain. Except he doesn't in this one.

Ninja gari / 忍者狩り / Ninja Hunt (1964)
Director: Yamauchi Tetsuya
Cast: Konoe Jushiro, Yamashiro Shingo, Sato Kei, Tamura Takahiro

Summary:
The Gamo clan hire Wadakura, Shinzo, Hachi and Yajiro to protect their clan from the Koga ninja and their Shogunate masters. As the Gamo clan daimyo nears death, the Shogunate sends a letter to allow a legitimate heir to succeed him. The shogunate, however, also sends their ninjas to destroy the proclamation to allow them to abolish the clan. The four ninja hunters, who once belonged to clans that suffered similar fates, will stop at nothing to get revenge on the Koga and their leader, Yami-no-Kurando.

The Good Stuff:
– Konoe is so evil even as the protagonist
– Interesting and realistic (that is, not overly cool) final battle

The Best Stuff:
– Quite a bit of blood and brutality
– Cheezy synthy soundtrack surprisingly works!
– Lots of plots and counterplots

Yoja no maden / 妖蛇の魔殿 / Ninja's Weapon (1956)

Kataoka Chiezo as a 22 year old when he was 53. Seriously.

Yoja no maden / 妖蛇の魔殿 / Ninja’s Weapon (1956)
Director: Matsuda Sadatsugu
Cast: Kataoka Chiezo, Tsukigata Ryonosuke, Yamagata Isao, Hasegawa Yumiko

Summary:
Ogata Taromaru’s family is slain by the corrupt and evil Sarashina Danjo. For 10 years he trains to become a ninja, and finally sets out to extract his revenge on those that have harmed his family. On the way, he meets a youth named Tsukikage Hamanosuke, who also bears a grudge against Danjo. On their travel together they also meet Orochimaru, a mysterious ninja who seems interested in their affairs. They head for Kyoto, where Danjo now resides, to get revenge.

The Good Stuff:
– Matsuda Sadatsugu is a reliable name for chambara and action movies
– Straight up action film unencumbered by a complicated plot
– Fights are more samurai than ninja

The Best Stuff:
– A somewhat (I stress somewhat) youthful Kataoka Chiezo playing a 22 year old is HILARIOUS
– Possibly one of Yamagata Isao’s most hilarious death faces (he dies a lot you know)

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