If you were a Toei produced ninja in the Showa Era you had a car; that’s just the way things were! Ninja Captor was really one of the forerunners of that trope, airing in 1976/77, which carried into future ninja series like Jiraiya and Ninja Sentai Kakuranger (alright, it’s a cat bus rather than a car but you take my meaning!)
The first episode begins with the kidnap of a little girl, the granddaughter of a Ministry of National Defense General. She is taken to the underground lair of a evil ninja group, Wind Demon Stealth Army, and is whipped profusely until one of the underlings with a conscience, Daisuke Izumo, steps in and fights her out to freedom. He is assisted along the way by an older gentleman, a student of Master Tendo who is putting together a group of ninjas: Ninja Captor. The team will eventually include the aforementioned older gent, a larger set man and a woman; a fairly diverse group for Showa Era Japan. Conversely, the programme features the gratuitous whipping of children and the Shocker combatman-esque footsoldiers have swastikas on their foreheads, so there’s that.
The man whom this first episode centred around, Daisuke Izumo, is played by Daisuke Ban, is well known to the tokusatsu genre having played Jiro in Kikaider and starred as the title character in Inazuman prior to Ninja Captor and going on to play Battle Cossack II in Battle Fever J. He’s very good; I can see why Toei used him in their shows as much as possible.
I went into this episode not knowing when it was produced and was shocked to learn that it was the seventies, airing alongside debut Sentai Series, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger. I feel like this show has held up a lot better than Gorenger but shares a lot of the same pitfalls. Ninja Captor is very Sentai-like, though, from the obvious of a team coming together to fight evil down to the team roll call and pose by the group. If you enjoy that in Super Sentai, there’s no reason you don’t love it here.
Overall, this is a very likeable show. It’s a fairly simple story but I, personally, don’t view that as a bad thing here. It follows the since tried and tested format of “bad guys do a bad thing, group rallies together to defeat them, everyone is happy” that we’ve become so used to in tokusatsu. We have plenty of characters to learn more about as the show progresses and the bad guys pull no punches; it’s nice to see an actually threatening group of antagonists in a toku – swastika mask grunts aside.
If you are one of the people massively disappointed that Gorenger isn’t on Toei Tokusatsu World Official because of the region locks then I’d recommend you give this a go instead.
You can watch the first two episodes of Ninja Captor now on the official Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel.