Reviewby Theron Martin, Jan 5th 2009
DVD - Season 1 - Part 2
Shin and the rest of the Nohara clan endure the eccentricities of their neighbors, as well as Shin's butt-obsessed behavior, as they try to survive in their crappy apartment while their house is repaired. When they finally do get back into their refurbished and repaired house, the fun isn't over, as a race of alien dogs kidnaps Shin over his treatment of his dog and a visit to Mitzi's parents ends up involving Hiroshi's rascal of a father, too. Along the way Shin must deal with two girls warring over his affections and Shin's teachers, neighbors, classmates, and friends' parents must deal with both Shin and their own warped issues and problems.
First, a clarification: what Funimation refers to as “Season 1 Part 2” (aka episodes 14-26) is actually speaking entirely in terms of their own Adult Swim broadcasts and DVD releases of the title, and thus has no bearing whatsoever on the actual original episode count. In fact, as explained in the commentary track for Funi's episode 17, the episodes for the American Season One were actually culled together from the better (or more workable) segments scattered throughout the first hundred or so episodes. The Funimation production does generally follow the broad swath of story developments, such as Shin and his family spending considerable time in the crappy apartment until their house gets repaired or the introduction of the two cops on stake-out who become neighbors for a while, but also skips over a lot. Given that this is a series built around 3-7 minute stand-alone vignettes, though, a viewer not already familiar with the franchise is unlikely to notice the shuffling and skipping around.
And that's fine, because “story development” only applies to Shin-chan in a very broad sense. It is, instead, almost entirely about having fun and being a little crude in the process, which makes it ripe for the same kind of parody treatment that ADV has previously given Ghost Stories and Super Milk-chan. The base series content gives the Funimation writers a lot to work with, since it is already loaded with butt-related jokes and the kind of bathroom humor popular with young kids while throwing out enough bones for parents to appreciate, too. Many of the original plots through this stretch of episodes are funny enough to remain mostly intact; not much can be done to tweak up a vignette already heavily centered on bathroom play that already includes underwater farting and stretching out one's penis, for instance.
Major changes did have to be made in places, however, since a significant portion of the original humor is either hard to follow or outright loses its meaning when translated into English. As with ADV and Ghost Stories, Funimation also clearly intended to tweak the production towards older audiences anyway. The result is a juiced-up effort much more topical to the late 2000s which frequently gets adult-level crude, is thoroughly un-PC, and can be quite raunchy; a reference to a “syphilitic crack whore” in one episode is actually on the mild side as the “reversioning” goes. The Funi writers also had a fun time messing around with some character dynamics, such as changing the father/son dynamic two detectives use while on a stake-out in the apartments into a whole flaming gay thing, complete with the expected barrage of crude jokes and sexual references. It works so smoothly that viewers who don't know better might think it was originally written that way.
Most importantly, it is funny this way, sometimes uproariously so. Granted, many of the jokes are hit-or-miss, and someone with a low tolerance for ribald humor will not appreciate this content, but jokes hit the mark plenty often enough to make up for having to endure what may be some of the ugliest character designs ever to grace an anime series. The only place where the humor consistently falls flat is in the incessant suicide-related jokes rattled off by Mitzi's mother in the volume's last episode. Purists will doubtless take issue with the wholesale changes, though the lack of attention this title has gotten from American otaku over the years, despite its great popularity in Japan, insures that the objections will be few and far between.
Whatever reasons you may have for watching this series, it will not be for its artistry. Watching several episodes in a row can gradually inure you to its unusual look, but that effect will only last until you watch a better-looking series – which is basically any other anime series available in the American market. The animation is actually not that bad by comparison, but the unattractive look drags it down, too.
The musical score, though generally innocuous, is more tolerable. Each episode in this volume skips the opener and uses the fifth of the original closers, the catchy song “Party Join Us” done capably in English by Brina Palencia, the voice of Georgie. The English cast, which is mostly composed of long-time Funimation and ADV regulars, uniformly does a fine job in milking the material and character speaking styles for laughs, though there is no Japanese language track or subtitles included for comparison. (The latter in particular is a disappointment, since viewers have no way to compare to find out which bits of humor were in the original content and which ones weren't.)
Funimation has printed these 13 episodes on two disks housed in a trifold case and slip cover. Each disk has one significant Extra: the first disk has the audio commentary by the English ADR director and one of the writers, while the second has a collection of bloopers and alternate dialogue outtakes under the fitting title “From the Bowels of the Booth.” This content is, if anything, even more explicit and profanity-laden than the regular episodes.
As difficult as the artistic style may be to deal with, this long-running series does reward its viewers with plenty of laughs and dirty-minded fun. If you have skipped it in the past because of the look or impression that it is a kiddie show, consider giving it a try. It may surprise you.
Overall (dub) : B-
Story : B
Animation : C+
Art : D-
Music : B-
+ Often very funny, fine English vocal work.
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