What Does This Kanji Say in Kirby Squeak Squad?

John R. asked a question recently about Kirby Squeak Squad for the Nintendo DS:

Hello! I was playing Kirby: Squeak Squad and when I opened the weapon subscreen with the Ninja power, I noticed some kanji.

Nin-nin!

Could you please let me know what this kanji means, and if there is an equivilent in the Japanese version? Thanks!

Pretty simple – the kanji here is , which is the “nin” part of “ninja”.

To get into a little more depth, the character generally refers to stealthiness or concealment. The whole Japanese word for ninja is 忍者 – the second part, the “ja” part, usually means “person” or “one”. So a ninja is basically a stealthy person.

Incidentally, because Japanese kanji characters have multiple possible readings, by itself can also sometimes be read as “shinobi”. So if you’ve ever wondered why the words “ninja” and “shinobi” seem to have some strange connection in video games and such, this is why – different Japanese readings and phrases for the same character!

(Boring technical disclaimer: as “shinobi” does usually include a hiragana “bi” at the end to clarify things, but not always)

Anyway, if you ever see this character in Japanese games or movies or manga or what have you, now you know what is probably referring to!

As for whether or not it’s the same in Japanese – I can’t easily tell. I checked some videos online, but couldn’t find anyone who caught footage of this screen. I assume it’s the same, though, since it’s very common to see this character used in Japanese entertainment.

24 Comments
  1. Interesting. It’s always fun seeing things like this untrasnlated, I assume it’s to give a certain vibe, not knowing what it actually means but making it look cool nontheless.

    Whereas if you’re trying to learn these characters as a student, you might learn to hate it with a passion… Kanji is fun sometimes.

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    1. Yeah, in the context of martial arts leaving kanji stuff seems to add that unique bit of flair. I didn’t expect it to turn up in a Kirby game of all places, though 😛

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      1. Indeed, like Chun-Li’s Shichisei Senkuu Kyaku or Last Shot in SaGa Froniter.

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        1. Or like many of the ninja skill animations in Bravely Default. I should get pictures of those and send them in.

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  2. Yep, it’s the same in the Japanese version, as you can see here:
    http://puu.sh/6JcnM.png

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    1. Does the text at the top still say “ninja”?

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      1. Yes, it does. The “ya” isn’t small like it should be, but that’s probably due to technical font issues.

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  3. Thanks for answering my question. I was guessing that the kanji would mean something related to ninjas.

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  4. Huh, i remember being confused by the whole Ninja/Shinobi thing while watching Japanese Naruto sometimes. I can’t remember if it was the English subtitles saying Ninja while the Japanese voices clearly said Shinobi, or if it was the other way around, but i remember being confused by it.

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    1. I’ve always assumed they’re interchangeable really.

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  5. By the way, all of the screenshots in your recent FF4 localization update have weird random ad annotations on them.

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    1. Haha, yeah, I put those there 😛

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      1. Yeah, i figured that was just you messing with us.

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      2. Here I thought your site was getting invaded by ads or something.

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      3. I read every single one of them, becoming progressively more uncomfortable as the page went on. Even after it became clear that all the annotations were probably like that, I was still driven by habit and the thought that -one- of them might be something good. At the same time, my brain was subconsciously screaming at me that this site must be full of viruses and scam artists and I have to leave, even though I know better on a conscious scale. It created a weird cognitive dissonance…

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        1. Bwa ha ha. My plan has come to fruition. Now my viruses have taken full control of you! Bow down to me! I am mad with power!

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  6. I just know I’m going to sound like an uncultured heathen for this, but…

    What IS the difference between a ninja and a shinobi?

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    1. I’ve checked around myself and there doesn’t seem to be any agreed answer except that they’re more or less the same thing. Some people say one term “sounds” more specific to certain stories, but that seems to be the biggest difference, if one exists.

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  7. Nice to see you going out of your way to add such a detailed explanation.

    Also, you forgot to mention that び is the “bi” in “shinobi” for those who don’t know. 😉

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    1. Oh, I mentioned it in there, in the boring disclaimer 😛

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      1. Yeah, you did say “a hiragana び”, just not that that び is “bi”. 😛

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  8. Ninja Gaiden has “ninpo”(Ninja Points) that have the nin kanji on them as well

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