Upcoming Smartphone Game Casts Ninja as Rice Balls
The peaceful land of Inaho has vast territory, abundant natural resources, and all four seasons at once. Our hero’s hometown, O-hitsu, is home to many yuinin, talented ninja who serve the local lord faithfully. But when our hero leaves the village for training, the lord dies and the land is partitioned. What’s more, O-hitsu suffers an attack, and many of our hero’s friends disappear. Can he find them and save Inaho? It’s up to you — in the upcoming smartphone game Yui no Shinobi (“Bound Ninja”).
It may sound like a standard story, but there’s one crucial difference in this case: the characters are all rice balls. (Readers with advanced knowledge of Japanese may have picked up clues: inaho is the rice plant, o-hitsu is a wooden tub traditionally used for storing rice, and the character 結 yui, “bound,” is also used in o-musubi, “rice ball.”)
While further details about the game remain lacking, the website has introduced two characters: Mentaiko (marinated pollock roe), who is described as a cheerful, talkative type, and Konbu (kelp), a “virgin who wears glasses.” Other characters will include Sujiko (salted salmon roe), Okaka (bonito flakes) and Tuna-Mayo. The latter two are mentioned in a dialogue between Mentaiko and Konbu hidden in the website’s source code, in which they appear confused about being rice balls and claim that their names are actually ninja aliases. Since the website refers to the characters as ikemen, perhaps they also have attractive human forms.
Yui no Shinobi is taking reservations. Anthropomorphized food is not unusual in Japan; chewing gum, rice and ramen have all been reimagined as cute boys or girls of personalities that mimic their attributes.