Reviewby Theron Martin,
Dub.DVD - Season 3 Part 1
The ass-dancing titular kindergarten student, along with his friends, family, and teachers, is back for a new round of bawdy adventures with the distinctive Funimation twist. While Shin and his classmates have fun at the beach, pool, theater, and a country club, Hiro must face the prospect of throwing out his collection of porn mags and Mitzi makes a trip to a seemingly sexy dentist and almost gets involved in a cult. Principal Encho must face a health screening with an unpleasant side effect, while other teachers struggle with their addictions and love lives (or lack thereof), including potential romantic encounters with some shady characters. Twice Shin's school tries to hire a new P.E. teacher, but only the second one - a man who can literally catch fire and regards himself as superhuman - takes, while Mitzi's drug-addicted younger sister stops by to stay for a while after running out of money. And when all is said and done, Penny must fear the wrath of her Happiness Bunny.
More than two years have passed since the release of Season 2 of Shin-chan, and that is hardly overlooked by the series content; on several occasions the script makes references to that missing time and cracks jokes about it, including a suggestion that all of the school staff was in quarantine for those two years. That is just one of the clever bits of lunacy which populates this mostly-successful continuation of Funimation's twisted take on one of Japan's longest-running and most popular family shows.
Like with the previous two seasons, Funimation's “reversioning” of the source material, which seems to have advanced to drawing from mid-2000s episodes, is anything but family fare. In fact, this newest batch arguably cranks up what was already a rude and crude adaptation to an even higher level. No topic is sacred, as Funimation's script equally slams both sides of the American political scene, with sharp jabs at Obama and liberals on the one hand (“legs, thighs, breasts. . . Republican women have everything that liberals and chickens have, except chlamydia") and scathing parodies of Republicans on the other. (“We're McCain Republicans. We're just like regular Republicans except we're sluts.”) References have been updated to include more timely developments, such as Georgie trying to cover for his family having lost their money by claiming that they invested in gold to ride out the recession and mentions of the antics of certain celebrities. The expected sexual references also flow freely, such as continuing to play up Miss Polly's rather extreme sexual perversions (she even participates in a sex addicts support group that, of course, goes really wrong), shaping Maso's latent homosexuality further, implying that Penny is more than a little sado-masochistic, and doing a seriously twisted interpretation of what Action Bastard is actually doing in one scene in his movie. At times the content even gets seriously edgy, such as one sequence that flirts with making jokes about genocide. For the most part, though, the content is simply hilariously wrong.
The overall story, such as it is, does see some progression. Doyel's lack of appearance through this span is explained off as him having gotten sent to prison, Georgie's family secretly loses their fortune, and Ai briefly returns to get involved in a rather funny play. Two new recurring characters also make their first appearances in this span. One, Mitzi's younger sister Bitzi, is portrayed as an ex-photographer and recovering drug addict who has run out of money and comes to live with the Nohara household for a while - which, naturally, leads to Hiro's ribbing from his coworkers about potential threesomes. The other, a young man who is often depicted with a flame aura and is thus called “Flamer” in the English dub, is a self-styled mutant who talks about eliminating the weak but can't figure out that Shin's boasts about having invisible clones merely represent a vivid imagination rather than a super-power. Naturally, he gets hired as a recess teacher/coach. The other notable development is that the narration appears far less often through this stretch, mostly being limited to an explanation at the beginning of the season and a mid-block bit where the narrator must explain that a certain character was brainwashed in a cave in Afghanistan.
The biggest appeal of Shin-chan is, of course, the way the series can take (mostly) seemingly innocent episode content and turn it into something dirty but fun. This the third season does quite well, with only a couple of notable stumbles; one bit about a lovey-dovey neighbor couple getting obsessively wrapped up in baby role-playing simply doesn't work, for instance. Not everything was heavily altered, though, as the bit about Hiro having to dump his porn mags seems to have been played almost straight, as does another bit where Ai blackmails her chauffeur. In other places it would be very interesting to see what the original Japanese version was actually saying, so that one could see how much did get altered, but like previous releases this one has only the English dub (and not even subtitles to go with that). Funimation also may have tweaked some on-screen text in places, as one sign in a mobile health care lab which instructs nurses not to use an x-ray machine for birth control surely can't have been worded that way in the original version.
The art style remains the same as ever, with new characters conforming to existing standards; saying that the fantastically ugly character designs are an “acquired taste” is putting it in the most diplomatic possible light. The animation, though fairly basic, is sufficient for the task. Shin-chan has never been a series to watch to get bowled over by technical merits, however, and that does not change here. Nor do the very brief opening and full, lively closer, which both remain constant.
While the content remains strong, Funimation's physical production is a downgrade. The only Extras included this time are a set of trailers for various releases in the series. The English dub is as sharp as ever in both writing and performances, however, with the only vocal miss being the first attempt at a recess teacher. In general, the English voice actors were clearly having fun with these roles, and that enthusiasm carries through to the audience. Perhaps the biggest surprise is hearing deep-voiced Clarine Harp, who voices Miss Katz, so smoothly talking crudely, as that is well out of character with the kind of roles that she normally plays and her status as Funimation's main anime DVD producer.
The former ADV may have set the standard for twisting child-friendly material into something raunchy with its Ghost Stories, but with Shin-chan Funimation has refined that gimmick to a science. If you can tolerate the artistry and aren't easily offended, this block of 13 episodes can be loads of fun. The only downside is that material like this is not very conducive to marathoning; it is best appreciated in small doses.
Overall (dub) : B
Story : B
Animation : C+
Art : D
Music : C+
+ Often extremely funny, very creative in twisting innocent content into something perverse.
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