Ah, the beautiful bond of youthful friendship!
Troublemaking tyke Shin returns in Season Three, Part One of the anime series that is the Japanese scat-humor happy brother to The Simpsons and South Park. For those new to ShinChan, this 1990’s slapstick anime began its US release in 2006, and follows the antics of kindergartener Crayon Shin-chan and his equally dysfunctional family. Two years have passed since the events of season two, which parallels the real time gap of the series’ syndication. Our butt-obsessed hero is back to recall an oddly long summer break, start the school year and continue tormenting those around him. In two years, some dirt has emerged about Shin-chan’s teachers, his rich Republican schoolmate is hiding a financial secret, a coach bent on ethnic cleansing has moved into town, and Mitzi (Shin’s mom) has a visit from her newly drug addicted sister. With the lack of western airing for season three, the writers have indulged in newer, harder drug references and edgier jokes of the racial, political, fecal and sexual.
Fans of ShinChan should enjoy the crazy new characters, ever-present US pop culture references and ballsy-er topics of humor. It is obvious that the original Japanese script has been more-or-less completely rewritten, thus the sheer effort of the American dubbing and writing team to match the visuals to new story dialogue is admirable. The shame is the lack of the Japanese track with English subtitles to further appreciate the changes and experience a different cultural humor. As it stands, ShinChan: Season Three, Part One advances the anime through its fearless fun with the taboo, but is likely better appreciated by those who are already die-hard fans of the series –it’s not a stand-alone feature.
Excluding the addition of new characters and small references to prior events, the slapstick humor, series simplicity and tons of one-liners allow for viewing the anime episodes out of sequence with little confusion. Those episodes listed below are composed of shorter episodes (as with all of the ShinChan series). All are noted for especially amusing moments and shocking themes:
· E54 The Balls Have Left the Crotchy. Shin’s snooty friend Georgie arranges a group date with three little “slutty republican” girls. More innuendos than anyone could be comfortable with ensue. And Georgie’s gay cohort Maso discusses his Lady Gaga fandom.
· E56 I Will Not Let You Hurt Hitler. Despite Shin being grounded for hacking Mitzi’s Netflix account and watching an R-rated movie, his mom dresses as a double-double agent and they play an amusing round of Inglorious Basterds.
· E58 Running Out of Adult Diapers. Shin’s kinky neighbors ask the family for help with an addiction to adult-baby and nanny roleplay, and punishment with cucumbers. It’s clear the US script writers really ran with this episode’s bold dialogue.
· E59 Vaginoplasty and a Stepladder. A neighbor has fibromyalgia and generously gives Mitzi some of her medical shroom supply. While slicing the mushroom, Shin’s mom is interrupted by a phone call and he sneaks a piece…or two or three. As he’s tripping and spouting gibberish, among the great references is the viral, “Is this real life?” Shin’s hallucinations are amusing and surreal by his description. However, if the episode had shown the world through Shin’s influenced eyes it would have been much more entertaining. The second half of the episode features Shin getting his teacher drunk and the two playing a Pocky eating game that Dateline would have happily aired.
· E61 Food Sex is Not Your Friend. Shin’s teacher Polly confronts her sex addiction and rage problem through a support group. Certainly not your average twenty step program.
· E63 The Upside of Prison Showers. Mitzi’s younger sister Bitzi pays the family a visit to escape her case of lice, despite there being a warrant out for her arrest for selling illegal firearms. She then casually reveals her addiction to brown-brown (a mixture of coke and gun powder) at the dinner table. Antics with Bitzi’s brown-brown withdrawal follow in the second half of the episode. The addled aunt and kids draw on the wall while discussing prison, then set off fireworks. Mitzi forgives her sister because, according to Celebrity Rehab, Dr. Drew says there will be good days and bad days.
Sadly skimpy extras here. They are merely trailers from the prior ShinChan seasons, plus a selection of ads for additional Funimation titles and the company website.
A big disappointment for this collection and the entire US release of the ShinChan series is that there is no subtitled Japanese audio track. Lost are the original cultural references that, while they might often go over the American audience fan-base heads, are nonetheless interesting and fun for comparison to the US script. Further, having seen an episode or two of ShinChan in Japanese before the US release, the original voice of Shin is far less annoying and even has an element of cuteness that adds to how disturbing the adult themes of the series can become. Shin’s voice for this release continues to be overly nasal and grating. That said, the parents’ voices are tolerable and a great deal of effort was put into the script as far as keeping up with US cultural references and taboos to match the Japanese version. The acting overall is decent, making the series at least watchable but it would have been wonderful with a subtitled option.
ShinChan is not a visually focused series, which is apparent from the first season onward. The character designs are simple, even for a gag anime, and the animation style and movement is basic. Backgrounds are also line-drawing and watercolor sparse. Clearly, the crazy characters, dialogue and themes are the backbone of the show.
ShinChan: Season Three, Part One carries the anime’s tradition of butt-mania, is chockfull of US pop culture references, and pushes its controversial subjects further than ever before. Where else in anime is Christian Bale’s latest violent outburst discussed alongside a musical consisting only of Ace of Base songs? Lovers of naughty, random humor will adore Shin-chan and all the messed up members of their small town. Viewers hoping for the original audio and Japanese references, and tons of juicy extras, will unfortunately not find them here. So, if you’ve enjoyed Funimation’s release of ShinChan on DVD so far, get ready for edgier fun. For purists waiting for a complete ShinChan anime …let’s keep our fingers crossed.
ComicsOnline gives ShinChan: Season Three, Part One 3.5 out of 5 ass dances.
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