Finally getting the chance to read (and translate) Hiroshi Kanno’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles manga, Mutant Turtles Gaiden, was something of a dream come true for me. Though the feature is now defunct, back when ninjaturtles.com was still owned and operated by Mirage, it had a page dedicated strictly to the various TMNT manga that graced Japan’s shelves… albeit the page was full of incomplete information, vague credits and only a handful of low quality scans.
But, for all those who also felt intrigued by the mystery, and lunacy, of the vintage ‘90s Ninja Turtles comics, the whole run has been translated for your pleasure. You can find a directory of links to complete volume .cbr downloads at TMNT Entity on the off chance you’d like to follow along with this review. This stuff can get pretty weird.
On to Chapter 2!
Beat the Phony Turtles!
As this chapter begins, the Ninja Turtles have apparently gone rogue; looting jewelry stores and assaulting police officers. April O’Neil even reports the strange thefts on the Channel 6 news program, though what she should really be investigating are the strange bubbles that never cease hovering around her head for no discernible reason. The Turtles, now no longer wearing speedos, naturally feel betrayed, but April informs them that the news is the news. If they want to prove their innocence… then they gotta prove it!
Elsewhere, Shredder plots to steal a gem known as the Jewel of the Nile from the clutches of Michael Douglas. Actually, it’s being held at a facility operated by “High Pressure Curbon”. Presumably Kanno was going for “Carbon”, but you know. Engrish. Shredder orders Bebop and Rocksteady (who suddenly exists, now) to take the robotic False Turtles to the surface and steal the Jewel of the Nile.
If you haven’t guessed yet, “Beat the Phony Turtles!” is Kanno’s loose adaptation of the cartoon episode “Return of the Shredder”. That story had Shredder forming a group of imposters called the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang to frame the TMNT for various crimes.
While the cartoon portrayed the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang as a group of juveniles wearing paper bags over their heads:
Kanno reinvents them as lumbering robots alternately called the Mecha Turtles because, duh, he’s Japanese:
At least they sort of get Bebop’s “accent” right.
Anyway, the real Turtles are staking out High Pressure Engrish based on a hunch from April and they’re cornered by the police, who mistake them for the False Turtles. Things look bad until Bebop and Rocksteady show up with the False Turtles, who scare the police off and promptly attack the Ninja Turtles. The TMNT find they can’t make a dent in the False Turtles, as their armored hides bust all their weapons. Bowing their heads in shame, the Turtles admit defeat.
And when the odds are against them and all hope seems lost, there’s only one force the Japanese know of that can turn the tide:
Well, that’s just Japan’s answer for *everything*, now isn’t it?
So by utilizing the justice inside them, the Turtles trash the robots and win the day. Except they don’t win the day. The False Turtles were all a diversion orchestrated by the Shredder to keep them busy whilst he stole the Jewel of the Nile.
The Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady escape with the jewel and the Turtles lose. On the bright side, though, April clears their name by attributing the robberies to the robots and so all are rewarded with the most delicious pizza Michelangelo has ever made. All except Michelangelo, who has his slice eaten by Donatello, resulting in a corny comedy beat ending. Because not even the Japanese are immune to such lazy, eye-rolling conclusions.
While I can’t deny that juvenile delinquents with grocery bags on their faces are pretty hilarious, the False Turtles may have an edge over the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang just by virtue of being some pretty awesome robots. Sadly, they have one fatal design flaw: A vulnerability to complete bullshit.