I’m still dredging up the words to sum up my current anime review for The Escapist, so I thought I would backtrack and take a look at one of my guilty pleasure anime titles now that the four separate volumes are combined into two compilations at a cheaper price. From the yesteryear between 2006 and 2009, Adult Swim aired the Funimation dub of its anime acquisition Crayon Shin-Chan. The original Crayon Shin-Chan was Yoshito Usui’s long running manga series that lasted 20 years and its anime counterpart is still ongoing despite his death from a hiking accident on September 11th, 2009. The original Japanese was about a little boy named Shin whose mischievous behavior, constant confusion with the Japanese language, crude actions, and other bizarre acts often drove his family and the neighborhood crazy. He might be equated to Bart Simpson except Shin’s actions were more of a childlike innocence and ignorance.
Meanwhile, the Funimation adaptation decided to push the adult humor beyond The Simpsons into Family Guy and South Park levels. Some changes are made into the format to accommodate American pop culture humor into a Japanese setting. So now expect to see staunch Republicans, a Paris Hilton knock-off, random jabs at each other, and of course the abundant sex and toilet humor prevalent in modern comedy.
Each half-hour episode is about three or four vignettes showing off Shin and his friends having some every day adventure. Each episode manages to deliver a rapid fire of insults and jokes. Unlike Family Guy, the jokes rarely cut away from the vignette and actually is related to the story. The toilet humor is a bit too frequent for my taste, but the rest of the material is good. Each character is written to emphasize a variety of humor sources like nymphomaniacs, precocious babies, pets who are smarter than their masters, and the occasional straight man to be the foil for the comics.
The 26 episodes of the first season were when Shin-Chan was at its best. The second season was more willing to experiment but yielded a few episodes that were not as noteworthy. Nevertheless, for an American adaptation of anime, Shin-Chan is rude, crude, and I could not stop laughing throughout the series.
And come on, the original Shin-Chan managed to pull off a Star Wars parody before Family Guy, Robot Chicken, and the Star Wars prequels. They were definitely ahead of its time despite the rough animation.