Getting to Know … Pirates vs. Ninja

Photo courtesy of Pirates Vs. Ninjas

Last week, we ran a feature story on John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers, creators of International Talk Like A Pirate Day. One of the topics brought up during our interview with The Pirate Guys was one of the Internet’s most heated debates: “Who would win in a fight – pirates or ninjas?”

Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy added some fuel to the fire.

“For some reason, there is this whole pirate-ninja war that frankly I don’t understand,” John said. “I think we are all kind of working the same side of the street. We’re guys with swords that misbehave. I do think that perhaps the reason for all of this animosity is that ninjas are kind of jealous because pirates are so much cooler. Ninjas are supposed to be silent and invisible, so they should shut up and go away.”

“You’ve got to give ninjas a lot of credit for training,” Mark added, “but a pirate has a cannon. And, as far as fashion goes, a pirate wins every time. And really, wouldn’t you rather win the war on fashion?”

This week, in an effort to be fair and balanced, we gave Michael “Aeon” Fiegel, the creator of the Day of the Ninja, a chance to respond to The Pirate Guys comments.

Here is what Aeon had to say:

In recent years, the Internet has seen the growing popularity of a cultural meme pitting Ninja vs. Pirates. On the one hand you have ninja-related sites like Ask a Ninja, Real Ultimate Power and Ninja Burger, and on the other hand you have a pirate movement led by the Talk Like a Pirate and Flying Spaghetti Monster sites.

On its face the Ninja vs. Pirate conflict appears to be the same sort of thing as Cowboys vs. Indians, Cops vs. Robbers, Dogs vs. Cats, Autobots vs. Decepticons, G.I. Joe vs. Cobra, etc., but in reality the root of the conflict is not so clear cut.

If one were to seek a historical “starting point” for the conflict, one would probably have to go back to 1596, when two ninja clans were embroiled in a sort of civil war. On the side of the Tokugawa Shogunate were the loyalist Iga ninja, headed by the infamous Hattori “Devil” Hanzo. Squared off against them were the thuggish turncoat Fuma ninja, led by Fuma Kotaro. The Iga clan were protectors and bodyguards of the Shogun, but the Fuma turned to piracy, acting much like wakou (Japanese pirates, basically).

Hanzo pursued the Fuma onto their own ground – the sea – in large ships laden with heavy cannon, and nearly wiped out the Fuma fleet. However, in the ensuing battle the Fuma managed to disable the rudders of Hanzo’s fleet, and when the Iga ninja jumped into the water to swim after their foes, they discovered that the water was filled with oil, which was set alight by the surviving Fuma. Hanzo and his men were killed.

At this point it is worth mentioning that the “Pirates have cannon” argument is kind of moot, since as we just learned Hattori Hanzo and his ninja used cannon in 1596, at about the same time that Caribbean Piracy was coming into its own. That can hardly be considered a
Piratic advantage. Of course, if you really want to argue it, Japanese ninja were using gunpowder in the 1300s while European sailors were still arguing about whether the earth was flat. But
who’s counting?

I digress; the point is that after the Iga defeat, the Fuma faded into disrepute and Fuma Kotaro was forgotten, whereas Hattori Hanzo has been remembered. So we know who won the philosophical battle, don’t we? And that’s the point. In like fashion, the Ninja vs. Pirates
battle is really more of a philosophical dispute, rather than an actual one.

Ninja and Pirates are, in their most commonly depicted forms, diametric opposites, much like yin and yang. Consider:

  • Ninja wear black. Pirates wear flashy colors.
  • Ninja are quiet and sneaky. Pirates are loud and raucous.
  • Ninja are introverted and careful. Pirates are extroverted and reckless.

Photo courtesy of Pirates Vs. Ninjas

It is to this end that Ninja and Pirates both deserve separate, distinct days to celebrate their differences. The Pirates of course get Talk Like a Pirate Day, on which everyone can say “Arr Matey” and “Blow me down” and “Swab my poop deck” and act like pirates. Whereas the Ninja get the Day of the Ninja on December 5, when everyone can dress in black, sneak around and so on and so forth. Note that the key difference between the two days is that the Ninja holiday does not encourage talking; this is obviously because Ninja are known for being quiet and polite while they kill you.

Ultimately, the matter of whether Ninja or Pirates are superior is up for debate. There is no doubt that Pirates have traditionally been more popular, and that’s due to a mathematical advantage that can’t be disputed. Extroverts outnumber Introverts by about 3 to 1, and we all know who sides with who. But of course, quantity does not equal quality; in fact the two are often diametrically opposed. Macs vs. PCs. BMW vs Chevy. Firefly (14 episodes) vs. Full House (192 episodes). Etc.

It should also perhaps be pointed out that the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie was very bad, Batman is much cooler than Aquaman and Christian Bale could totally beat Johnny Depp in a fight. Just saying.

But really, Ninja bear Pirates no ill will. We do not see them as a threat and we hope they do not see us either. And as a gesture of goodwill, I would like to extend a hand to our Pirate brethren-in-arms, and encourage them to work with us, side-by-side, so that we might defeat our common enemy – Robots.

Then, once the Robots are defeated, perhaps we should pick a day to
air our grievances, a day that is approximately halfway between Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) and the Day of the Ninja (December 5), around about the end of October. We can call this new holiday
Ninja vs. Pirate Day.

How does October 31 sound?

-Michael “Aeon” Fiegel

Introduction written by Joel Murphy, September 2007. For more information on the Day of the Ninja, visit Ninja Burger. To see a pirate take on a ninja, visit Pirates Vs. Ninjas.

  1. P.J. September 24, 2009
  2. Crass May 7, 2010

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