[Editorial comments in boldface text.]
1. Tell us a little bit about the various Ninja Clans in Usagi Yojimbo, the Neko (Cat), Komori (Bat), and Mogura (Mole) Clans (if it's not secret, that is).
(WWW Board September 2000) The Neko and Komori work for a patron (they are both vying for Lord Hikiji's approval) but the Mogura are freelancers, giving their services to the highest bidders.
One thing that has not been revealed about the Komori is that they keep slaves.
(WWW Board July 2000) The Neko and Komori both vie for political power but the Mogura are freelance agents who hire their services.
2. Where in Japan do the various ninja clans live?
(WWW Board September 2000) I haven't decided definitely where the different ninja clans live. I believe historically the Iga and Koga Ninja clans lived in neighboring provinces. The Neko Ninja are my equivalent of the Iga Clan but I'm not sure who the "Koga" clan would be -- certainly the Komori (bat) ninja comes to mind.
3. Are the Mogura (Mole) Ninja in Grasscutter II?
(WWW Board July 2000) The Mogura (Mole) ninja clan will not be in Grasscutter II but the Neko (Cat) and Komori (Bat) clans will be.
4. Do the Mogura (Mole) Ninja use all of the other ninja weapons (swords, shuriken, etc.) besides their huge claws?
(WWW Board September 2000) That sounds about right though their claws are their best weapons. However, their limited eyesight may hinder their use of throwing weapons such as the shuriken.
5. Could the Mogura (Mole) Ninja quickly create a pit trap by digging underneath their target?
(WWW Board September 2000) Definitely.
6. If the Neko (Cat) Ninja live in villages, and the Komori (Bat) Ninja live in caves, does that mean the Mogura (Mole) Ninja live underground?
(WWW Board September 2000) They do live underground.
7. Are there any famous kunoichi (female ninja) that gave you the inspiration for Chizu (of the Neko Ninja Clan)?
(WWW Board June 2000) No. After Shingen, I wanted the leader of the Neko Clan to be a woman. Like many others, that character developed herself. She'll be put through the wringer later on.
(UY Vol 3, #6) There is no single Kunoichi that inspired Chizu. I wanted to create a strong female character whose motives were always uncertain to Usagi, hence the adversarial/flirtatious role she's taken on.
"Kunoichi" is taken from the Japanese character for onna (woman). If you separate the three strokes from onna, each stroke can be read as the characters "ku", "no", and "ichi." It was one of the secret ninja codes.
(WWW Board November 2000) She's not just a ninja she's the leader of the entire Neko Ninja clan and so feels an obligation to set the clan's welfare above her own.
(Comic Culture Vol 2 #2 Interview, Dec 1994) She's a kunoichi, which is a female ninja, it was a secret code word for a female ninja, back in the old days and she is the leader of the Neko Ninja clan. The Neko Ninja and Usagi have run into each other quite a few times. So she'll be popping up again, as will the Neko, or the Cat ninja, and there's Bat ninja and there's all kinds of ninja running around.
8. Why does Usagi always act so surprised when Chizu kisses him (three times now)?
(UY Vol 3, #16) Kissing was indeed a foreign custom, hence Usagi's further puzzlement when Chizu plants one on him. It was called seppun and was probably introduced by Portuguese traders.
9. Is it possible for Lord Hikiji to hire both the Neko Ninja and Komori Ninja clans at the same time?
(UY Vol 2, #5) Perhaps Lord Hikiji could employ both clans against Noriyuki. It's not unprecedented for a lord to hire rival ninja clans. The Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa at one time employed both the Koga and the Iga clans as his personal bodyguards when he moved Japan's capital from Kyoto to Edo (now present-day Tokyo).
10. Your ninja characters throw quite a lot of shuriken in their battles. Can you tell us a bit about shuriken?
(UY Vol 3, #16) According to my research, which is not definitive, the shuriken can be either a dart or throwing star. Its original shape was more like a knife used by monks and concealed under their robes. There are many shapes, such as the shiho (four-pronged), manji (swastika), bo (dart), and happo (eight-pronged, usually coated with poison).
11. Your pig ninja (Ninja of the Dark Light) in your "Space Ark" backup story were funny! How do they fit into Usagi's world, and do they have a clan name?
(WWW Board August 2000) No. But then, that was one of those fun projects that take place outside of regular continuity. I doubt I'll ever use pig ninja again.
12. At the end of the "Grasscutter II" saga, why didn't the Neko Ninja simply swipe the sacred sword from the temple after Usagi and friends left it there?
(WWW Board February 2001) Atsuta Shrine and the sword is considered sacred and off-limits. In the Prologue 3 - Yamato-Dake (USAGI YOJIMBO Volume 3, Number 13), [and USAGI YOJIMBO Book Twelve: Grasscutter], I told the story of the theft of the sword by a Korean and the wrath of the gods fell on him so severely that he returned the sword. I had wanted to include this incident in a prologue to GC II but did not have the space. I doubt anyone -- Neko Ninja or Lord Hikiji -- would want to face what that guy did.
What no one has yet touched on is that there are now two Grasscutting Swords housed at the shrine -- the original just delivered by Usagi and the replica that was there before. Makes you wonder if the story of the sword is really over.
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