In the film The Last Samurai, there is a scene where the samurai get attacked by ninjas. It's a cool scene, but as far as I could tell it was never explained.

Where did the ninjas come from? Were they hired by the emperor? For someone trying to become more Westernized, hiring ninjas didn't match his style. Plus, if the ninjas found the samurai, why wouldn't they send the army next? On the other hand, if they weren't hired by the emperor, then why were they attacking the samurai? What did they hope to gain? Shouldn't they be on the side of preserving Japanese culture, just like the samurai are?

Has there been any explanation (in the film or elsewhere) as to what the ninjas were doing in this movie, other than looking cool and randomly killing people?

  • 4
    The whole point of ninjas is that you DON'T know where they came from. =P – Steve-O Mar 9 '17 at 3:53
  • I agree with @Steve-O. Think of the ninjas as a pack of assassins. Now said assassins wouldn't be so effective if everybody knew when and where they came from. Their whole operation is based on stealth. – Sayan Mar 9 '17 at 7:50
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    When a mummy ninja and a daddy ninja love each other very much.... – Cearon O'Flynn Mar 9 '17 at 9:16
  • @cearon mummy ninjas? Ruh oh shaggy. – cde Mar 9 '17 at 19:26

The ninjas are not an organized group like the samurai. They do not adhere to a strict tradition. They are mercenaries and assassins working at the whim of the highest bidder. Unlike the samurai who will be lost to western ways, the ninja can work with western ways to keep getting paid.

They were not sent by the Emperor, who despite being young and a puppet, still does not want the samurai killed. They were sent by the Japanese business man who is the real antagonist of the film, Omura. He is trying to push the westernization and modernization of Japan by any means possible and see the samurai refusal as a barrier. He attempts to send the untrained army that Tom Cruise is supposed to train to attack the Samurai when the samurai attacked his train line. He also controls the emperor.

  • Indeed, in fact, as a little boy I actually held a copy of a book about the very last ninja on the planet, who was a Japanese businessman, I don't think he killed anyone for a living, but the tradition was passed down to him, which shows it did adapt to Westernization. – Daniel Nov 7 '18 at 3:20

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