Ninja the Wonder Boy started out life in 1979 on the Japanese Tokyo Channel 12 as Manga Sarutobi Sasuke. Set in Feudal Japan each week the brave but buffoonish young trainee ninja Sasuke would fight to defend his region and friends from the evil intentions of Master Ninja Hanzo and the rival Iga Clan.
Inspired by a novel by Kazuo Den which had already been animated into a TV series in 1968 titled Sasuke. The novel follows the same basic premise but in a far more serious and realistic tone, following the life of young Sasuke who is sent away by his father to learn the ways of the ninja and defend the country from the oppressive Shogunate.
Manga Sarutobi Sasuke's lead was a comedic take on a popular character of childrens literature made famous in the early 1900's. This character is believed to have been based on Kozuki Sasuke, a ninja legend from the Meiji era of Japanese history.