Hiroshi Kanno’s Mutant Turtles Gaiden manga series comes to an abrupt and all too early conclusion with this fourth and final chapter. I suppose I’m not shocked to see it end so quickly; coming out in 1996, the same year TV Tokyo canned the Japanese dub of the Fred Wolf animated series, the TMNT had just about run their course in Japan. The novelty wore off, the fans were moving on to other media (Neon Genesis Evangelion took their timeslot, believe it or not) and the ride was just about over.
Being released following the failure of the Super Turtles anime OVAs and manga to reignite Japanese interest in the brand, Gaiden made a last grasp for the spotlight with a total franchise reboot. It couldn’t pull it off, however, and after only a three-issue run, the manga was removed from Dengeki Super Famicom Special Edition (a weird magazine for it to be published in in the first place).
Luckily, Dengeki decided to not only collect the three published chapters, but they commissioned one final Ninja Turtle adventure from Kanno and that’s what we’ll be looking at here.
And believe me, Kanno saved his best stuff for last. (As always, you can read along if you want with a directory of links to translations of the manga at TMNT Entity)
Abruptly, Splinter tells the Turtles that they have to go to Japan ASAP. Why? We’ll find out. But first… racism!
The Japan which the Turtles visit is a fusion of every Japanese stereotype known to man, from geisha to samurai to Coke bottle-bespectacled, bucktoothed businessmen with abacuses in their pockets. All the taxis are rickshaws and even the airport has a pagoda for an air traffic control tower. This is the Japan every American thinks exists. And much to the surprise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… It’s true! All Japanese people really DO look the same!
Don’t yell at me, I’m just repeating what I’m reading!
Anyway, after some more social commentary, the Turtles go to visit an expo displaying the Muramasa Blade, a mystical artifact of untold power which Splinter fears the Shredder intends to steal (and he does!). Incidentally, April and Irma are covering the expo for Channel 6 because, hey, we’ll be needing one of them for fanservice in a couple of pages.
As an aside, Kanno appears to have inexplicably redesigned Bebop for this issue. He now has a bald head and his skull and bone necklace has been replaced by, I dunno, Buddhist beads? Is that what those are?
I’m not good at distinguishing Asians OR accessories, apparently.
Don’t give me any of that ‘doujinshi’ s--t. This was an officially licensed TMNT comic!
Irma comically chases Shredder off into the distance while the Turtles beat up Bebop and Rocksteady out of shear boredom (no, really). A gong sounds, the cast stares wistfully into the distance and Splinter informs them that Irma will not stop until the Shredder has been eliminated. True to the prophesy, the collection ends with Shredder swimming back to New York as Irma paddles after him with the sword.
Fanservice is for the honor of women everywhere, apparently.
Some of it can get a little creepy, though. Irma is most assuredly NOT my personal fetish.