Created by: Adara Sanchez
Written by: Ricardo Sanchez
Art & Colours by: Arianna Florean
Lettering by: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: BiG, Humanoids
I’ve been reading a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lately, that’s kind of been my gimmick for 2021 so far. But when Shy Ninja came through from BiG and Humanoids the entire Bigger Than Capes team had the same response: it sounds amazing and adorable. So here we are a few days later, and I can confirm that our initial impression is backed up by the book itself.
Shy Ninja follows the story of Rena as her Mum, therapist, best friend Sidney and school teacher try to help her overcome her social anxiety. But little do they know that Master Dysart, the head of a local ninja school, has the intentions of recruiting Rena as he believes she has the potential to be ‘The Ghost’, a legendary ninja.
After some convincing, Rena agrees to try out ninja school but is determined it won’t stick. However, she quickly comes to realise that she’s pretty good at being invisible and there’s some skills that can be useful in her everyday life. Throwing her voice to get bullies in trouble is perhaps my favourite example. As the story evolves we see that Dysart and his protégé Antonia aren’t just training her to be a legendary ninja, but also for a special mission which Antonia herself wasn’t able to complete.
Honestly, I don’t want to give too much away about Shy Ninja, there’s a great sense of originality behind the story and I think that’s a real testament to Adara and Ricardo Sanchez’ work together in bringing Adara’s idea to life.
Arianna Florean’s artwork is a great addition to Adara and Ricardo’s storytelling, bringing all the characters to life with a great variety of facial expressions and personality. Her colouring also does plenty to add to the art, with a great varied colour palette that adds to the overall nice cartoon feel of the book. I also really appreciated the inclusion of Florean’s character designs and building layouts as back matter. I’m always a fan of seeing how a character has developed and it’s nice to get a glimpse at how some of the locations were planned out, especially when we have some complicated locations here, the obstacle courses come to mind immediately.
It’s also nice to get some information on what other stories inspired Shy Ninja with the inclusion of some great classic films. Some of which may have a more obvious influence than others, but a good selection either way.
I also wanted to make sure I mentioned that Tom Napolitano’s lettering greatly compliments the story, remaining consistent and simple throughout with some great sound effects worked in along the way.
Shy Ninja is a really fun read, Rena is a great relatable character, and I’m sure plenty of readers of all ages will appreciate the sentiment behind her story and the struggles she has to overcome with her anxiety. I’d definitely recommend checking this out.
Oh, and it’s provided a nice balance and a different look at ninja stories after my months of TMNT reading.
5 shuriken out of 5.
You can check out a preview of Shy Ninja here!