A Springtime with Ninjas (花と忍び) is a shōjo, romance comedy, martial arts manga series written by Narumi Hasegaki and has four total volumes. I originally came upon the manga on My Anime List and laughed a little bit at the title as it sounded very silly to me. Yet, something about the title called out to me. Most of the manga that I’ve been reading lately have been dark and disturbing, or inherently serious. I think I was craving something fun and carefree without fully realising it. Also, anything with the word “springtime” has to be the perfect way to kick off this fresh new season, right?
A Springtime with Ninjas follows a fifteen-year-old girl named Benio who has never been permitted to step foot outside of her family’s compound. Her family is the wealthiest family in all of Japan and they have a peculiar tradition that dates back approximately 600 years. Benio must marry the dude who steals her first kiss! Feeling fed-up with being caged, she convinces her Uncle to allow her to attend a regular high school. The only catch is that she must be accompanied by a bodyguard at all times. Tamaki is that bodyguard, a guy her age who also happens to secretly be a ninja.
After reading the first volume, I can safely say that the story is as ridiculous as you’d expect it to be, not to mention super clichéd as a shōjo title. This girl who must be protected is of course protected by a cute boy who is luckily the same age as her. There is a lot of flirtatious banter, mostly with her being annoyed at his “playboy” tendencies and he harbours a secret that will blow her tiny mind later down the road. In terms of character design (personality), it’s about as unoriginal and typical as you can possibly get. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
The interactions between Benio and Tamaki are cute and occasionally hilarious. If you don’t get annoyed by adolescent romantic bickering, then you may like their exchanges. I think for me it really depends on my mood. If my goal is to have a good, carefree time, then I will do just that.
Tamaki is definitely charming and the way he pisses Benio off brought me a decent amount of pleasure. His commentary reminded me of an otome game that I used to play on my mobile phone years ago, which I believe was also ninja themed. Benio does portray the standard damsel-who-gets-into-far-too-much-distress tropes, but she’s also wholesome and naïve about the world outside of her home. I related to this a lot because I grew up in an extremely conservative and over-protective household. I didn’t learn about many parts of American/social culture and customs that most kids learned in elementary school until I was way past eighteen years of age. It’s a bit over-done here, but the sentiment connected with me and complemented my time reading.
The one shortcoming I found, story-wise, is how often Benio gets into trouble and it’s usually by falling for the same dumb tricks. This can get irritating quickly and I really hope that she will start to wise up more in the coming volumes. Also, I feel I should mention that the story can be a bit misogynistic, if that’s not obvious by the snippet. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take itself seriously and I don’t believe readers who go into the series should take this seriously either. It’s literally just about being casual and absurd.
The artwork is quite charming. It’s not overtly special, but it’s nice to look at and has a decent amount of detail work to it that really gives off a Springy vibe. Also, the panels aren’t always jam-packed to the point where certain things can become difficult to decipher.
Overall, A Springtime with Ninjas is an average, fluffy RomCom with teenage ninja in a modern setting. It is as cliché as you can possibly get, however, it does offer some mild charm and sweet, feel-good elements that I believe occasional readers of shōjo may appreciate. As it stands, I do plan on continuing with it because I like it for what it is, and if this sounds like a manga you may like, give it a try.