With the success of the American-directed and showrun “House of Ninjas” on Netflix, the issue of cultural appropriation was brought to attention. However, the show, created by Kento Kaku and his team, emerged as a blend of East and West, becoming the top non-English show in 16 countries and reaching the top ten list in 92 countries. Director Dave Boyle explained in an interview with Variety that he joined the project when Kaku and his team approached Netflix with a proposal for a ninja family revival show.

Boyle was tasked with developing the core concept of the show and creating something new in the well-trodden ninja genre. Despite the genre becoming somewhat self-parody, Boyle saw a potential in bringing the old values of ninjas into modern times. The show focuses on a ninja family living by ancient rules and struggling to fit into the modern world, much like how Boyle saw his own family’s strict Mormon background reflected in the ninja family’s lifestyle.

Concerns of cultural appropriation were addressed by Boyle as he acknowledged the importance of being the right person to tell the story. He emphasized that his involvement in the project was more of a collaboration rather than appropriation, as he was the only westerner on set and the show was entirely conducted in Japanese. Boyle’s interest in Japanese culture stemmed from his time in Australia, where he learned the language and became fascinated by the culture, leading him to work on projects related to Japan.

The transition from film to series production was a new experience for Boyle, who found it challenging but rewarding. He aimed to create a real family story with characters that viewers could connect with, set in the world of ninjas. Looking ahead, Boyle is focused on catching his breath after the three-year marathon of “House of Ninjas” and is working on other projects in Tokyo, including writing features that he hopes to bring to the screen. Despite the challenges, Boyle remains dedicated to bringing unique and culturally rich stories to audiences around the world.

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