Ninja with guitar

Screengrab via Robert Hamburger/YouTube

Ever wonder where the whole 'Pirates vs. Ninjas' debate started?

The legendary ninjas of ancient Japan. They were mysterious. They were deadly. They were also mammals. 

Back in 2002, a man created a website dedicated to these masters of stealth and claimed it was “The Official Ninja Webpage.” The site was RealUltimatePower.net, and boy did it piss a lot of people off.The site's creator remains anonymous to this day, but he claimed to be a 13-year-old boy named Robert Hamburger (not to be confused with equally hilarious and satirical comedian Neil Hamburger) who was obsessed with ninjas. He was also woefully uninformed. 

Here’s an example from the home page:

Ninjas can kill anyone they want!  Ninjas cut off heads ALL the time and don't even think twice about it.  These guys are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time.  I heard that there was this ninja who was eating at a diner.  And when some dude dropped a spoon the ninja killed the whole town.  My friend Mark said that he saw a ninja totally uppercut some kid just because the kid opened a window.

And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The site also had educational images of Ninja “Weapons and gear”

And even a helpful section about how to commit Seppuku (ritual japanese suicide) with a frisbee. Although it seems blatantly satirical now, many people believed Real Ultimate Power to be serious, and it received quite a bit of hate mail, which Hamburger gleefully published for all to read:
You must be the stupidest piece of shit on this damn planet. You make a site about 'REAL NINJAS' because they are 'TOTALLY SWEET' when in fact you dont know bullshit about them, you make this shit up off of the top of your deformed head, and you even tell ppl damn screwed up lies. you call this shit factual? damnit you probably have no fuckin idea what a shuriken is. ninjas don't flip out. they dont play guitars. they dont use crap like lasers. you have no idea what a pirate is. go look it up in a fuckin book, i mean a REAL book. how the hell can you publish this sort of shit? ninjas CANT FLY. they CANT USE MAGIC. they dont kill whoever they want. they are really peasants trained to use stealth and to kill, using REAL weapons, such as shurikens, darts, etc. their targets were NOT pirates, they were usually important political or military figures, often they killed high ranking samurai and the like. go learn something REAL about REAL NINJAS, then you can publish that.

from anynomous
I recently visited your site by accident.  Once I was there i realized that this was possibly the worst site ive ever been to in my whole human existance.  I dont know if you just forgot to take your riddelin or somthing, but removing you from the net would be a service to humanity and all of posterity from here to the end of "time and space." I sugest that you go to anger managment classes.  I also suggest that you stop talking about kicking dogs in the balls and "porking" hot babes(that is if being out of puberty is "braggable"). Next year when you turn 9 you should ask mommy and daddy if you can get a life for your birthday.

from Jason

Hamburger later admitted he composed some of these messages himself, but he claimed others were real—and never said which were which. He also created a fake news site and managed to convince people that he was being sued by a woman named Margerie Evans. That site is sadly gone now, but the “facts” of the case are still available in various places around the web.

Margerie Evans, a single mother of three, filed charges on Monday against Robert Hamburger, a 10-year-old Los Angelean, for his portrayal of ninjas in a popular website. "This young man is encouraging the youth to physically act out violence. Doesn't [Robert] remember Columbine? Where was he on September 11th?" said Ms. Evans in a statement to Reuters. In a preliminary trial, Ms. Evans stated that because of realultimatepower.net, her children have been climbing on the furniture, beating on cats, and "spitting up all over the damn place." The website Ms. Evans is talking about is www.realultiamtepower.net, a passionate, but slanted, exposé on the ways of the ninja. In it, Robert Hamburger details various facts about ninjas such as: 1. Ninjas are mammals. 2. Ninjas flip out all the time. 3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people. and the like. Ms. Evans reports that it is Robert's authoritative tone that makes the site so convincing to children.

"Ms. Evans is a hard working Christian mother who is just trying raise her kids right. How can she do that when you've got demented little boys filling the internet with violent lies? People believe anything if it's presented on the internet. It's a dangerous medium that must be carefully controlled " said Ms. Evans' attorney on Monday. When asked about the lawsuit, Robert Hamburger replied "Ms. Evans is a frigg'n idiot. She needs to shut her mouth right now or I'm going to take a skinny dump on her scalp." Despite the lawsuit, Robert says he will continue to tell people how sweet ninjas are "no matter what" and pork as many hot babes as it takes.

Real Ultimate Power became so popular that it inspired its own parodies. More than a hundred have surfaced since “The Official Ninja Website” made its debut in 2002. Including:

And even...Hamburger was actually the first one to parody his own page. Clicking on a hyperlink labeled “Alternate Ending” took you to “The Official Hippo Webpage,” which is still around, albeit with missing images.

Looking back fourteen years, it’s hard to believe that anyone took Real Ultimate Power seriously, but this was a time before sarcasm became the official language of the Internet, before fake news websites were commonplace, and before we all suspected everyone of trying to trick us every time we logged on. In short, a lot more people were sending money to Nigerian princes back then. 

We probably have Robert Hamburger, at least in part, to thank (or blame) for much of the Web satire that came later, and even our online skepticism. Was it Hamburger's site and fake lawsuit that made us all question the legitimacy of things like the Zola story? When we talk about the Internet, and the lessons we’ve learned from it, no one source is going to be definitive, but the popularity of Real Ultimate Power can’t be denied, and the kids it inspired are the ones creating content on platforms like Twitter and YouTube now. Perhaps most importantly, it kicked off the Pirates vs. Ninjas debate that rages to this day.

Hamburger went on to write a few books, including Real Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Book and Ghost/Aliens, supposedly written by Robert’s cousin Trey. He also directed and starred in a number of YouTube videos, so we actually know what he looks like, even if his real name remains a closely guarded secret. 

But the last video was published over a year ago, so what Hamburger's doing now—and who he really is—remains as mysterious at the badass ninjas he loved so well.


Promoted Stories Powered by Sharethrough
Unclick
15 years later, the viral legacy of Hyakugojyuuichi lives on
Before YouTube, before Facebook or Twitter, and even before Myspace, not just anyone could upload video of their vacuum cleaner scaring their cat for the world to see. In fact, most of us were even a little hazy on what “upload” meant. The Internet was for checking your email and downloading (the opposite of uploading) the occasional .jpeg of boobs.
From Our VICE Partners
Group

Pure, uncut internet. Straight to your inbox.

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter!