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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Lizzie Lynn Lee

Behind the Black Veil~ The Ninja Art

When we hear the word ninja, one thing that crosses our mind is skilled assassins swathed in black, their faces obscured with veils and they are armed with deadly weapons such as nagato and shuriken, plus their uncanny ability to disappear before our eyes in puffs of white smoke. Hollywood had helped glorified the ninja's images to the western audiences and for a while, I thought of ninja as the stereotypes they portrayed until I read a manga series titled Path of the Assassin by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, both are world renowned manga artists. My curiosity piqued as I read more about these fascinating covert assassins.

In the medieval time, they were called shinobi, short for shinobi-no-mono, retainers of the Japanese feudal warlords who were trained in the unorthodox art of war, and the term ninja become popular with the westerners after World War II. Spies and assassins have existed throughout Japanese history, but the term shinobi wasn't glamorized until the 15th century where they were employed by warring Japanese feudal overlords. They spy, infiltrate, sabotage, and kill on order of their warlord. Unlike how they have been portrayed on many Hollywood movies, they didn't exclusively garb in black. They wore civilian clothes, peasant clothes, or priests' robes, or one of their favorite disguises was to dress as monks to make them easier to blend in with the general population.

Female shinobi, which was called kunoichi, often disguised themselves as entertainers, servants, or prostitutes in order to infiltrate the enemies' domain. They were adept with poisons, special survival skills and martial arts that are known in the present day as ninjutsu. They were often associated with having superhero abilities and they were fanatically loyal to their masters; they adopt a certain creed of die rather than live in humiliation if they fail to execute their lord's order. After reading many books about shinobi, I knew I had to write a story about them. I wrote Prince and the Assassin.

In Prince and the Assassin, my heroine Midori-no-Murakami is the last of her kin, bearer of the kitsune-bi that marked her as a true assassin with her otherworldly deadly skills. She kills without a blink, without feeling, and is loyal to the bone to her master, an enigmatic overlord named Buntaro. But all that changes when she meets a stranger named Fukuda who later on, she discovers was the Imperial prince who was on the top of her kill list.

I toyed with the premise if you find your soul mate, how far would you go to save and protect the one you loved, despite the oath you have sworn to, and the strict creed that demands you to do it or die. It wasn't easy for me to wrap this story as many traditional Japanese folklores always ended in tragedy, and in keeping to make this story realistic, I had to come up with a few twists. But deep down, I'm a hopeless romanticist and I'm a firm believer that love can conquer everything.

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