Crayon Shin Chan has been an extremely popular anime series in Japan since 1992. In fact, it seems it has been released in every country on the planet *but* America. At least until last week. For those of you in the UK, you might recognize a previous edited Shin Chan dub done a few years back, featuring the likes of Kath Soucie as Shin-himself. Well, this dub never made it to America (despite being produced in this country) so Shin Chan is all-together new to (some of) us.
Shin Chan is a rather controversial anime series featuring a naÃ¯ve and foul 5 year-old boy named Shin. Shin is a bit ignorant due to his age about what is and what isnâ€™t appropriate, so heâ€™ll say just about anything whenever he feels like it. This attitude got him expelled from regular Japanese elementary school and now he goes to the â€œSuper Happy Fun-Timeâ€ school run by Americans. The plot revolves around Shin, his family and his schoolyard chums having â€œadventuresâ€ which range from the wacky and the absurd (Shinâ€™s Principal, Mr. Ench, being a superhero in his free-time named Ench Man) to the just plain weird (Shinâ€™s mother buying 30 cartons of milk, requiring the family to find unique ways to dispose of it without wasting it), to adventures that are just WRONG (Shin outwitting a pedophile trying to trick him into coming back to his apartment alone).
The dub that premiered in America last week on Cartoon Networkâ€™s Adult Swim block was not the edited dub from a few years back. Itâ€™s a brand new one done by the folks at Funimation and it is far from kid-friendly. The jokes are just as crass and inappropriate as in the original Japanese version, if not more-so. The real humor of Shin Chan comes from the quality of the writing combined with the very strange plots. Characters will say what you least expect them to and the things they say are justâ€¦wow. Like, in one episode, Shinâ€™s mother is angrily chasing Shinâ€™s baby sister around the house and one of the things she yells is â€œIf this were China youâ€™d be in a dumpster right now!â€ Damn!
The original Japanese scripts for Shin Chan were completely incomprehensible to an audience outside of the country, with many of the jokes stemming from wordplay that would not translate into any other language, as well as lots of pop-culture references nobody outside Japan would get. The American dub makes up its own wordplay similar to the original intent or just adds completely new jokes that are just as funny, if not more offensive.
The visual gags in Shin Chan are a great deal more creative than most anime slapstick. One thing Iâ€™ve never liked in anime is the recycling of tired old gags, like characters falling over whenever someone says something unexpected. Itâ€™s especially annoying in shows like Full Metal Alchemist or Trigun, where the plot is dark and youâ€™re supposed to be taking things seriously, but every 5 seconds the characters morph into midgets with gigantic heads and run around in circles screaming at each other. Shin Chan does that every now and then, but itâ€™s usually a parody at the expense of tired old anime clichÃ©s the Japanese just wonâ€™t stop using.
The humor in the English dub of Shin Chan is extremely crass and offensive but never lazy. Itâ€™s always creative-enough to get a laugh out of you, and when coupled with the wacky Japanese plots and animation, make for a *really* funny show. I look forward to it every night (Monday through Thursday at 12:30).