Reviewby Theron Martin, May 20th 2009
Dub.DVD - Season 2 - Part 1
Roughly three dozen more stories about Shin Nohara, his family, and friends unfold as the daily life of the butt-obsessed kindergartener continues. In “Shin Wars,” the cast of Shin Chan take on the roles of characters from the original trilogy of Star Wars movies as they make their own twisted version. In more mundane stories, Hiro represents at Parent's Day at Shin's school and briefly contemplates a work-related affair, while Mitzi gets sucked in by a beauty cream of questionable origin. A school ski trip turns into snow and bath hijinks, and Penny continues her nefarious intimidation and/or bribing techniques to drag the others into her play-acting. Visitors from the Noharas' days at the Falling Apartments drop by, while Georgie tries to swing a deal to get a certain set of action figurines. The series even contemplates what the kids might be like in their high school days.
Meanwhile, in “Action Bastard Extravaganza Special! Lucky Bastard Fever!” (Shin's favorite TV show), Action Bastard and sidekick Lollipop must confront the Flying Pecker, one of Lollipop's old flames, who has become the brainwashed servant of the diabolical Hitler's Clone.
Funimation's rendition of one of the most popular and long-running of all anime series may not be the prettiest anime series available in the U.S. but it is one of the funniest. It proves this repeatedly through the run of what Funimation calls episodes 27-39, which compose the first half of what they call Season 2. (In actuality the episodes are composed of shorts collected from over a span of dozens of original Japanese episodes.) The mix of parody sketch pieces, slice-of-life moments, and Shin's obsession with his butt would probably strike at least some comedy gold even without Funimation juicing up the English dub with all manner of adult-oriented jokes and topical references, but the TV-MA-rated dialogue practically makes it a must-watch for those who are not easily offended. South Park and the ADV dub of Ghost Stories have already established that having little kids behave like dirty-minded adults, with appropriate adult foibles, can be endlessly funny, and it works again here.
These episodes are all about the fun factor, too, since plot is virtually nonexistent beyond the five-part “Action Bastard” storyline, whose segments appear in episodes 31-35. Unlike in the previous episode set, this one has no story advancement, and in fact it revisits the Noharas' Falling Apartments days in episodes 35 and 36. Presumably this was done to explain the circumstances surrounding the reappearance of one of the Nohara's apartment neighbors in one of the second disk's later episodes, because otherwise the backtracking makes little sense.
The series otherwise just meanders merrily through all its toilet humor, sex jokes, parodies, romantic foibles, weird dreams, and play-acting, with even Shin's dog Whitey occasionally taking the spotlight. With episode titles like “It's Actually Better For Anal” and inventive movie parody titles like “Wet Dreams May Come,” A good opportunity for a joke is rarely missed, and political correctness be damned. (The one exception is an overlooked golden opportunity to make a reference to the Lil' Wayne song “Lick Me Like a Lollipop” in the “Action Bastard” bits, although perhaps copyright issues were involved and Lollipop gets treated crudely enough already for a character who's apparently supposed to be a preteen girl.)
The comedy value of the content certainly compensates for the artistry. Some people apparently appreciate the unique artistic style for the contrast it makes with typical anime stylistic standards, while others will just call the character designs and rough, shaky lines ugly; this reviewer leans heavily towards the latter viewpoint, but mileage will vary. The animation is actually not that bad, standing up fairly well in the few true action scenes.
The musical score provides little of note except for the insert songs; the first one, involving the dancing at the school Parents' Day, is a riot if one listens to the lyrics closely. As with the first season, the regular openers have been replaced with much briefer intros, although the dubbed version of the spirited fifth closer remains.
As with the Season One releases, Season Two comes with no Japanese dub or subtitles, but these are the fully unedited versions of the episodes that aired on Adult Swim. Those at least tolerant of dubs do get to enjoy the quality work which is Funimation's Shin Chan dub; it was widely-considered to be one of the best English dubs in 2008 and will continue to lay claim to that honor in 2009. Not a single vocal style fails to hit the mark, and Christopher R. Sabat proves once again that he is the go-to guy when comical narration is required. (He also narrated Negima!?.)
The Extras in this volume are split between the two disks. On the first is an English audio commentary track for episode 28, which is not worth listening to since those involved (Laura “Shin” Bailey, ADR Director Zach Bolton, and head writer Jared Hedges) are clearly struggling to find things worthwhile to say. The second disk has both karaoke and sing-along versions of the closer, storyboards for the “Shin Wars” episode, and the newest installment of “From The Bowels of the Booth,” which includes alternate dialogue takes that are even nastier than the originals, bloopers, and full versions of the in-episode songs used throughout this volume.
Not all of the jokes work, and some of the routines are more purely crude than actually funny, but the hits come plenty often enough that nearly every viewer should find something to laugh at in nearly every episode. Even Shin's regular Ass Dance can be terribly amusing with the right timing and context. Regardless of whether you have seen previous installments or not, give this one a try and it may surprise you with its entertainment value.
Overall (dub) : B
Story : B+
Animation : C+
Art : C-
Music : B-
+ Plenty of funny moments, great English dub.
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