Goemon (series)

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(Redirected from Ganbare Goemon)

What games do most people think of when they hear the name "Konami?" Castlevania? Metal Gear? Yu-Gi-Oh? How about Ganbare Goemon? No? Well, you're not alone.

Ganbare Goemon (known as Mystical Ninja in the West) is a long-running series of video games that began in 1986 with the release of Mr. Goemon for the arcade. The plots revolve around the chivalrous thief Goemon and his friends Ebisumaru, Sasuke, and Yae as they set out to defeat whatever zany villain is threatening Japan (or the universe) at the time. Surreal Humor ensues.

While Western gamers are largely unfamiliar with the series, it's actually one of Konami's oldest franchises in Japan, having spawned a great number of games (including some manga, a few anime, and loads of merchandise) since its debut. But if the games are so popular, then why aren't more of them released in English?

Cultural barriers, mostly. One of Ganbare Goemon's biggest draws - aside from the vibrant graphics, superb music, and great gameplay - is its bizarre brand of uniquely Japanese humor that makes translation difficult. Within you'll find many oddities such as time-traveling transvestite nuns, bunny-obssessed shoguns, and suicidal sportsmen. There's also a great deal of anachronistic elements (such as giant robots) that really have no place in Edo-period Japan. It's all so absurd that you'll just have to experience it for yourself.

Notable works in the franchise:

Video Games:

  • Mr. Goemon (1986, Arcade) was the first game, which flopped badly. When it was ported to home consoles, as Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Dōchū (1986, FC) (1987, MSX2), its popularity exploded, paving the way for a long-running franchise. It was ported to the GBA in 2004 as part of the Famicom Mini collection. It has a direct sequel improving the same gameplay style, called Ganbare Goemon 2 (1989, FC).
  • Two spin-off traditional RPG surfaced: Ganbare Goemon Gaiden: Kieta Ōgun Kiseru (1990, FC) and Ganbare Goemon Gaiden 2: Tenka no Zaihō (1992, FC) . They are notable for using special double-sized cartridges, and for ditching the original gameplay in favour of a more elaborate story. Yae, and Kurobe (the ninja cat) are introduced here, with some cameos from Simon Belmont and Twinbee.
  • Then there were the Super Famicom games, which returned to the original's gameplay improving upon it to make themselves the epitome of the series.
    • Ganbare Goemon: Yuki-hime Kyūshutsu Emaki (1991, SFC) was the first one, and the only of the SNES offering to have a release overseas as Legend of the Mystical Ninja (1992SNES).
    • There were three more Super Famicom offerings: the second had a case of Sequel Difficulty Drop, and the third was similar in many aspects to Zelda II, although with the best side-scrolling sections in the entire series. Both of them introduced Mode-7 mecha boss battles, after the castles bosses. These starred the famous Goemon Impact. The fourth one is the one with the best level-design, graphics and situations, although it is Nintendo Hard.
      • Ganbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shōgun Magginesu (1993, SFC)
      • Ganbare Goemon 3: Shishi Jūrokubē no Karakuri Manji-gatame (1994, SFC)
      • Ganbare Goemon 4: Kirakira Dōchū - Boku ga Dancer ni Natta Wake (1995, SFC)
      • Kessakusen! Ganbare Goemon: Yuki-hime to Magginesu (2005, GBA): A port of the two first SNES games.
  • Another puzzler spin-off, with prerendered graphics, starring Ebisamaru, has been released as Soreyuke Ebisumaru: Karakuri Meiro (1996, SFC), with Fake Difficulty due to awful isometric perspective controls.
  • Meanwhile, a plethora of Game Boy games have been released. Only two of them got released oversas:
    • Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru (1991, GB): Released in Europe as part of Konami GB Collection Vol.3 as Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (2000, GBC). It is available worldwide on the 3DS eShop.
    • Ganbare Goemon: Kuro Fune-tō no Nazo (1997, GB): a mediocre Zelda clone released as Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (1998, GB) in the west.
  • Other Japan-only Game Boy titles are:
    • Ganbare Goemon: Tengu-tō no Gyakushū (1999, GBC): an RPG like the Gaiden Famicom series.
    • Ganbare Goemon: Mononoke Dōchū - Tobidase Nabe Bugyō! (1999, GBC): Links with Mononoke Sugoroku. Tries to capitalize on the Pokémon success.
    • Ganbare Goemon: Seikūshi Dainamaittsu Arawaru!! (2000, GBC), the best Game Boy Color entry in the series: it plays like a port of Goemon 2 SFC.
  • The PlayStation opuses were not met with nearly as much success as the N64 games.
    • Ganbare Goemon: Uchū Kaizoku Akogingu (1996, PSX): a 2D sidescroller, inspired from Goemon 3 SFC. It ditches long-time PCs Yae and Sasuke for two Replacement Scrappy old men.
    • Ganbare Goemon: Kuru Nara Koi! Ayashige Ikka no Kuroi Kage (1998, PSX): a full 3D game. Hit the Polygon Ceiling pretty hard, and is widely considered the worst console Goemon game, save for its Goemon Impact sequences.
    • Ganbare Goemon: Ōedo Daikaiten (2001, PSX): where the series went back to its 2D roots, with a 2.5D sidescroller, inspired from (and bordering on ripping off) Goemon 2 SFC.
    • Goemon Shin Sedai Shūmei! (2001, PSX): A spinoff with a futuristic setting and a new cast, with a young spiky-haired Goemon. Fans didn't appreciate. It was ported (with many cuts) to the GBA as Goemon New Age Shutsudō! (2002, GBA).
  • The Nintendo64 games, notable for being localized more accurately:
    • Ganbare Goemon: Neo Momoyama Bakufu no Odori (1997, N64), released overseas as Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (1998, N64). A full-3D platformer, yet more successful than its PSX counterpart.
    • Goemon's Great Adventure, Released in Europe as Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon 2 (1998, N64): a 2.5 sidescroller. A highlight of the series.
    • Goemon Mononoke Sugoroku (1999, N64): A Japan-only spin-off board game, with Mons elements. Links with Mononoke Dōchū.
  • Bōken Jidai Katsugeki Goemon (2000, PS2): A slightly Darker and Edgier attempt at reimagining the series, with a kid Goemon with a pet white tiger, and a more serious tone. Has cameos from long-time PCs Yae, Sasuke, and Ebisamaru. Has a complete unreleased english localization by Working Designs.
  • Ganbare Goemon: Tōkai Dōchū - Ōedo Tengu-ri Kaeshi no Maki (2005, NDS): Marks the return of the series to its former glory, with a gameplay similar to the first N64 with better controls. Upon being linked to the GBA port of the two first SNES games, it unlocks various cameos from earlier games NPCs.
  • Pachislot Ganbare Goemon (2009, Arcade)

Hiroshi Obi's Manga:

  • Ganbare Goemon: Yuki-hime Kyūshutsu Emaki (1991): 3 volumes.
  • Ganbare Goemon Gaiden: Kieta Ōgun Kiseru + Ganbare Goemon Gaiden 2: Tenka no Zaihō (1992): 4 volumes.
  • Shin Ganbare Goemon: Jigoku-hen (1993): 2 volumes.
  • Ganbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shōgun Magginesu (1993): 2 volumes.
  • Ganbare Goemon 3: Shishi Jūrokubē no Karakuri Manji-gatame (1994): 3 volumes.
  • Ganbare Goemon 4: Kirakira Dōchū - Boku ga Dancer ni Natta Wake: (1995) 3 volumes, includes a side chapter based on Soreyuke Ebisumaru.
  • Ganbare Goemon: Uchū Kaizoku Akogingu (1996-1997): 1 volume.
  • Ganbare Goemon Fever (1997): 1 volume.
  • Ganbare Goemon: Neo Momoyama Bakufu no Odori (1997): 3 volumes, includes a side chapter based on Kuro Fune-tō no Nazo.


  • Ganbare Goemon: Jigen-jō no Akumu (1991, OVA)
  • Anime Ganbare Goemon (1997-1998, TV): 23 episodes.
    • Legend of the Mystical Ninja (2003, VHS/DVD): Released by ADV Films.
  • Ganbare Goemon: Chikyū Kyūshutsu Sakusen (1998, OVA)

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Goemon (series) franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.

Game-Related Tropes

  • All There in the Manual: How else could we learn about how Yae enjoys making sweet bean donuts and croissants?
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: When the first SNES game in the series, Ganbare Goemon: Yukihime Kyuushutsu Emaki got translated and brought over to America as Legend of the Mystical Ninja, it's boxart got redesigned to suit the more 'American Style'.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: In Goemon's Great Adventure and Tōkai Dōchū.
  • Attractive Bent Gender: Inversion. In the end of the second Famicom game, Ebisumaru reveals that he is actually a beautiful young girl who was transformed into an ugly man by a jealous feudal lord. For some reason, he reverts back to his "ugly man" form in subsequent games.
  • Big Badass Wolf: Dochuki's true form is a gigantic, horned wolf demon.
  • Boss Subtitles: Used in the later games.
  • Bowdlerise: References to Wise Man's perversions were censored in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and Goemon's Great Adventure, such as pornographic books being changed to car magazines.
  • Canon Discontinuity: An odd case occurs in Ganbare Goemon 2 for the Famicom. Certain events in Soreyuke Ebisumaru meant that the game did happen, but the issue of Ebisumaru actually being a woman was completely ignored. This led to the growth of many Epileptic Trees that were fertilized by the revelation of Ebisumaru's daughter Mao in Goemon's Great Adventure. (It also provided ammo to particularly creative shippers.)
  • Cel Shading: Tōkai Dōchū
  • Cherry Blossoms: Used for romantic symbolism in Kuru Nara Koi, when Dr. Yabu (revealed to be Mr. Ayashige) realizes he still loves his estranged wife and in the post-credits scene where Omitsu comes to forgive Goemon.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: One-shot characters make up a large number of the series' massive cast. The lucky ones are allowed to make a cameo appearance or two.
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation:
    • The instruction manual of Legend of the Mystical Ninja. On the one hand, it's humorous tone fits the game fairly well. On the other hand, it completely makes stuff up, including a completely fictional Big Bad (the "Dragonbeast", along with his henchman, the "Silver Serpent").
    • Two town-buildings included in the Japanese version of the game - one featured Ebisumaru splitting into four clones for a dance routine which ended with all four dropping their pants and farting and the other which had a peep-show in it, including a brief shot of a completely nude woman (albeit with all naughty bits covered) - were removed in the English translation and replaced by mini-game houses. Interestingly, the first scene was fully translated and is still on the cartridge, but was Dummied Out of the final release.
  • Discontinuity Nod: Tōkai Dōchū has a cameo by the "New Age" Goemon, who has been imprisoned for crimes against the franchise. The same title even has straw training dummies made in his likeness.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: EVERYTHING.
    • Actually, starting with Goemon 2 SFC, the townspeople would no longer harm Goemon in town, at least until he attacks someone, triggering an infinite swarm of furious cops, as a nod to previous NES-Era games... Played straight however in a town set within Goemon 2 Final Castle (which may be justifiable), and whith te platforming sections.
  • FemBot: While Yae Impact exhibits the typical "sleek and feminine" style of most cited examples, Miss Impact simply looks like Goemon Impact wearing a wig and kimono.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A fair amount. Because of Values Dissonance, many censors don't realize that there's anything that might be objectionable to Westerners. For example, the conspicuous genitalia of Tanukis are left intact.
    • Despite the game being somewhat censored on Western importation; the English version of Goemon's Great Adventure does contain the word, "damn."
  • Heart Container: The gold and silver Maneki Neko dolls.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Featured in a few games - tougher monsters appear at night, and some side quests are available only at certain times of day.
  • Ishikawa Goemon: Well, Duh...
  • It Can't Be Helped: The party's reaction to Goemon being forced into doing a certain sidequest in Goemon's Great Adventure, but only if you're playing with a friend.
  • Laugh Track: Used in both Ganbare Goemon 3 and Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon.
  • Level Goal: The tanuki statues, which break open to reveal a cache of coins or an entry pass.
  • Miyamoto Musashi: One of the bosses in the "New Age" games, except as a girl.
  • Mythology Gag : Early on the DS game, Goemon has to free the Wise Man from imprisonment by brainwashed village culltists. In one of the cells, Replacement Scrappy Neo Age Goemon (not depicted in the same Sumi-e art style as the rest of the NPCs) is held for copyright infringement.
    • The two Goemon games for the Famicom, and the first one on the SNES (the localized one) has a severe case of Everything Trying to Kill You, as all of the villagers, cops, fishermen (and the fish they're holding) trying to kill you. Starting with Goemon 2 SFC, this is no longer the case, but if you hit someone, you're likely to be raided by an infinite army of cops, in a nod to the earlier games. The DS game even summons more powerful cops every time you clear enough of them, some being end-game enemies. But the cops won't react if you attack a thief, or some grandmas/old men (who are much more dangerous then cops..)
  • No Export for You
  • No Swastikas: The star blocks in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and Goemon's Great Adventure were originally adorned with manji marks.
  • One-Winged Angel: Interestingly, Dochuki is the only villain to have done this in the series' 23-year run.
    • Technically, Kabuki did it as well.
  • Shout-Out: The obligatory references to other Konami games. Simon Belmont was even a Guest Star Party Member in Ganbare Goemon Gaiden 2.
  • Polygon Ceiling: Averted with the two first localized N64 games (the third, Goemon: Mononoke Sugoroku, being a Japanese-only version of Culcept), but played horribly straight in the 3D PS 1 and the Only PlayStation 2 outings. Futuristic Punk Kid Goemon, anyone? Rumours say it was the reason Sony would not allow these to be localized. The Only redeeming factors in those outings (infamous for a blue void as a background, and horrible game designs) are its FMVs, or the Impact Battles pushing those systems to their limits.
  • Skip of Innocence: Ebisumaru is a Rare Male Example. Some games (The Super Famicom ones mainly) have him skipping as a walking animation.
  • Stalked by the Bell
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Uchū Kaizoku Akogingu
  • Unwanted Rescue: From Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon - "The oh-so-beautiful song and dance of Dancin' and Lily... we won't be able to see them. Thanks to you! You little..."
  • Variable Mix: Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and Goemon's Great Adventure are notable for having this, with the background music in "castle" areas becoming more fleshed out as the player progresses. Not to mention Great Adventure having the music change in field stages as evening rolls in and vice versa.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: A swarm of angry guards will appear if you harm innocent civilians. They can be defeated in one hit, but will continue to appear until you either die or leave the area. In earlier games, attacking the roving "bonus characters" (which included Omitsu and Princess Yuki) would result in a monetary penalty.
  • Villain Song: Three words: Gorgeous My Stage.
  • Yagyu Jubei: Appears in Sarawareta Ebisumaru as "Yagi Jubei"; Yae's older sister Hitoe may be modeled after him.

Manga-Related Tropes

  • Adaptation Distillation: The games are already light on plot, so trimming the fat allowed Obi to expand upon some characters' roles - such as Omitsu in Legend of the Mystical Ninja and Impact in Ganbare Goemon 4 - and generally making things more interesting.
  • All Men Are Perverts: It's to be expected when Hiroshi Obi also produces Ecchi and Hentai...
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Goemon wets himself when he mistakes a food-engorged Ebisumaru for a monster.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: There have been a number of gag manga produced over the years, but Hiroshi Obi is by far the most well-known for having made an entire series based on the "major" games (along with two original stories).
  • Derailing Love Interests: Despite being initially described as Goemon's sweetheart, Omitsu quickly underwent Flanderization into an abusive and selfish harpy of a woman, making readers wonder why Goemon continued to keep her around long after it was made obvious that he preferred Yae.
  • Fourth Wall Mail Slot: A recurring segment in Ganbare Goemon Fever had Goemon and Ebisumaru "modify" Sasuke based on schematics sent from readers.
  • Indirect Kiss: Invoked in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. Ebisumaru states that he had his lips on Koryuta's Flute after Yae did, making it an indirect kiss. Goemon then assumes that kissing Ebisumaru would be like doing the same to Yae, and does so out of desperation.
  • Love Chart: Ganbare Goemon 3 has one.
  • Lust Object: Yae is Goemon's, though there's some hints of romantic attraction here and there.
  • Nosebleed: Described as happening but never actually shown in the games for some reason. The manga naturally has more than enough to make up for it.
  • Ret Canon: From the manga to the games, there's Yae's bazooka (Legend of the Mystical Ninja) and Ebisumaru Impact (Kiteretsu Shougun Magginesu). The concept of Obisumaru may have resulted from a panel in Legend of the Mystical Ninja in which Hiroshi Obi cosplays as Ebisumaru.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The fate of anyone who witnesses Ebisumaru's "Heroine Technique." Its first usage triggers a Vomit Chain Reaction from friend and foe alike!

Anime-Related Tropes

  • The Anime of the Game: One television series and two OVAs.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Chikyū Kyūshutsu Sakusen is a rare occasion in which Omitsu takes an active role in the plot instead of being a cheerleader or kidnapping victim. Nico Nico Douga commenter reactions were a mixture of confusion and annoyance.
  • Emotion Eater: The "Rage Gauge" in Anime is powered by negative emotions, which will allow Makuamuuge to enter the real world when enough is collected.
  • Green Aesop: The entirety of Chikyū Kyūshutsu Sakusen.
  • Happily Married: Yōko and Junichirō Ishikawa (Tsukasa's parents).
  • Love Hurts: Protein falls for an Oblivious to Love Sasuke, but they're on opposite sides of the conflict. Later, the same happens to Dr. Mudanashi with Tsukasa's mother.
  • Power-Up Food: Omitsu's ohagi in the TV anime only works for Goemon if it's made by her, thanks to The Power of Love.
  • Real World Episode: Goemon and company have the ability to freely go back and forth from the game world to the real world in Anime.
  • Rich Bastard: Noboru Mejirodai in Anime.
  • You Have Failed Me...: In Anime, Makuamuuge tires of Seppukumaru's constant screw-ups and sends him down a Trap Door to make way for newcomers Dr. Mudanashi and Mr. Protein.

Multi-Media Tropes

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Even the guys want Goemon, but they tend to be male versions of this trope. Kenzo especially stands out, repeatedly entering Goemon's house uninvited and claiming it to be their "love nest."
  • Alternate Continuity: The anime and Hiroshi Obi's manga. Game-wise, there's Bouken Jidai Katsugeki and the two "New Age" titles.
  • Biting the Handkerchief: Nyanko of the Four Tsujigiri does this on a near-constant basis.
  • City of Adventure: Hagure Town of Edo, variously translated as "Oedo Town" and "Lost'n Town."
  • Console Cameo: A Super Famicom is shown in Soreyuke Ebisumaru and Jigen-jō no Akumu.
  • Demoted to Extra: Koryuta made his debut as a permanent party member in Ganbare Goemon Gaiden 2. Nowadays he's just a mode of transportation, though the manga tried to expand his role a little.
  • Edo Is the Center of the Universe
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: If a villain has henchmen, chances are they'll be this.
  • Historical Domain Character and Public Domain Character: Due to many Japanese folk characters being based on real people, the series skirts between the two tropes. A few examples are Nezumi Kouzo, Sarutobi Sasuke, and (of course) Ishikawa Goemon.
  • Humongous Mecha: A staple of the series since Kiteretsu Shougun Magginesu.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Happens a few times to Omitsu, particularly in Kuru Nara Koi where the entire plot revolves around the spoiled son of the wealthy Ayashige family attempting to force her into marriage. (Said son is only a child...)
  • Implied Love Interest: Konami hasn't revealed the true nature of Goemon and Omitsu's relationship, but they're obviously very close. This is possibly for the best, considering how popular it is to pair off Goemon with someone who isn't Omitsu - making them explicitly an Official Couple would definitely piss off a lot of shippers.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Goemon's trademark weapon is a kiseru, a type of Japanese smoking pipe. Ebisumaru's arsenal varies from game to game, but he has had a few unusual weapons as well, including flutes, megaphones and paper fans.
  • Kabuki Sounds: The series is generously peppered with all manner of Kabuki influences, such as Goemon's kumadori face paint and tendency to make mie poses.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Goemon is revealed to be the ancestor of Shishi Jurokubei, the Big Bad of Ganbare Goemon 3. Jurokubei performs a Heel Face Turn immediately afterwards.
  • Meaningful Name: Many of the villains in the series have one, often overlapping with Punny Name.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Spring Breeze Dancin' in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon immediately gives Goemon and Ebisumaru the nicknames of "Fernandez" and "Antonio," respectively. In the manga, Sasuke recieves the less-dignified nickname of "Boingy."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Ganbare Goemon 4, the heroes' breaking of the barriers surrounding Planet Impact allowed the evil Harakiri Seppukumaru to escape. Whoops!
  • Ninja
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The series uses the names of the old provinces of Japan, but the locations therein are entirely fictional.
  • No Name Given: The majority of characters are only referred to by their first names, save for most villains. The few exceptions - Ishikawa Goemon, Ikeda Omitsu, and Momochi Monoshirinosuke - are never mentioned again after they're revealed.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: Hey, there weren't robots in Feudal Japan!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Harakiri Seppukumaru in Ganbare Goemon 4 and Dochuki in Goemon's Great Adventure.
  • Ship Sinking and Ship Tease: In Kuru Nara Koi, GoeYae fans are baited by an impending Medicine Kiss scenario, only for Yae to quickly pass the task on to an obliging Ebisumaru instead.
    • Also, the post-game phone conversation in Goemon's Great Adventure has a branch leading to Yae lamenting about how she didn't know that Goemon and Omitsu were together, and she even admits that it's too late to do anything about it.
      • Probably a reference to the fact that the Goemon/Omitsu couple was there before Yae came into existence, meaning it was too late for the creators to get them together even if they wanted to.
    • Goemon had nightmares in the manga to make it clear that any romantic feelings he had for Omitsu were eliminated by the time Kiteretsu Shougun Magginesu occured, perhaps even earlier if one takes the bonus chapter of Uchū Kaizoku Akogingu into account. There's another in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon in which Omitsu guilt-trips him for treating her disappearance with apathy (even whipping out the manga itself as proof when he denies it). Ironically, the real Omitsu thanks Goemon for his concern when they meet again later on.
  • Takarazuka: The Peach Mountain Shoguns from Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon are a nod to this. The four Miracle Items are based on four of the five troupes - the last referencing their outer space origins. Also, the henchmen are modeled after otokoyaku, making them men dressed as women who dress as men but still behave in an effeminate manner. Try wrapping your brain around that one!
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Omitsu (Child), Princess Yuki (Mother), and Yae (Seductress).
  • Vague Age: Everyone except for Wise Man (98 years old as of Ganbare Goemon 4) and General Magginesu (39 years old).
  • Verbal Tic: A lot of characters have them, mostly villains. The Four Tsujigiri even have different verbal tics between the games and anime.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: This series just loves them.
    • This provides another example of Bowdlerizing. In Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on the N64, Goemon routinely calls the villains "weirdos." In Japan, however, it's "faggots."
  • Widget Series