In 2006, FUNimation introduced America to Crayon Shin-chan. However, the show’s western debut was far from what many expected. The twisted minds on the company’s writing team tossed the original script, and used the existing animation to craft an experience was vulgar, perverted, and delightfully weird. While the title was a hit with viewers, it went on hiatus in 2009. Two years later, Shin’s back, and he’s more vulgar than ever.
Much like two years passed since the last volume, the show is set two years in the future after an unusually long summer vacation. In that period, the fine citizens of Kasukabe managed to go on with their lives. Penny’s father had a change of heart, and stopped beating his wife and child. Georgie’s family went from top crust of the Republican elite to bottom of the social (and financial) ladder. The teachers of the Super Happy Fun Time American School spent two years quarantined, during which Ms. Polly’s love of angry, kinky sex came out in the open, and Action Bastard managed to get a film where he finally utters the “C” word (I’ll let the reader figure this one out).
The new season benefits greatly from its freedom from syndication. The humor is pushed further, and the writing is far sharper than that found in the previous two seasons. Snaps about the recession, masochism, and politics are still common, and the fourth wall is still frequently shattered. However, without the cold, omnipresent glare of network censors, the creative staff simply went wild. Profanity, double-entendres, and dark humor are more prominent, as are more taboo subjects like drug use and ethnic cleansing.
Many of the drug jokes are driven by a new entry to the staff: Bitzi. Bitzi is Mitzi’s free-wheeling, world-wandering sister, whose job as a photographer led her across Africa and Asia. Unfortunately, in her travels, Bitzi fell into a nasty addiction to brown-brown (Google it). Episodes revolving around Bitzi tend to focus on her addiction, and the hilarious withdrawals that come of it, not to mention her ability to be infuenced by Shin in what she calls a “vulnerable state.”
Of the shorts in this batch of episode, the three stand-outs are “Fibromyalgical Mystery Tour”, “Bringing Up Man-Baby”, and “An Itsy Bitzi Drug Problem.” In Fibromyalgical Mystery Tour, the Noharas’ fibromyalgic neighbor gives Mitzi a gift of hallucinogenic mushrooms. One thing leads to another, and Shin winds up eating the shrooms before Mitzi and Hiro can take their trip to Mars. An awkward drug trip (from the outsider’s perspective) ensues, in which Shin believes he tastes like clouds, and sees a purple hippo with it skull outside its face, among other hallucinations. The surreal nature of the episode and clever dialogue really sell the episode, and bring life to Shin’s crazy visions, despite the fact that the viewer can’t actually see them.
In “Bringing Up Man-Baby”, long-time Nohara annoyances Micchi and Yoshirin are faced with a crisis when a weekend of man-baby role playing (again, Google it) goes awry and Yoshirin is trapped in his “baby” persona. Micchi, in a fit of desperation, leaves fixing her Yoshirin to Shin and his father. The episode is particularly notable by how far the subject matter goes into “just plain wrong” territory while still managing to deliver a solid laugh. The Nohara family plays the role of the straight man, giving straight-forward rebukes and flat-out calls for Yoshirin to shut the hell up when he starts calling for increasingly lewd sexual acts.
In “An Itsy Bitzi Drug Problem,” Bitzi is found crashing at Shin’s house again after she blew a wad of cash from her sister on brown-brown. Bitzi is currently going through withdrawal, but Mitzi still leaves her to watch Shin and Hima. After getting loaded on cheap booze, Bitzi sets off on her drug-free afternoon. Unfortunately, this involves drawing on the walls, firing off expired fireworks, and having withdrawal fits in which she begs the kids to buy cocaine. The episode has a semi-sweet finish, that pushes Bitzi’s character beyond that of a comical two-dimensional addict.
The newest season of Shin Chan is shaping up to be the best yet. Despite a two year hiatus, Shin-chan feels as if it’s never stopped. The humor and writing haven’t skipped a beat, and the acting is as strong as it was in 2009. The only glaring issue is that the thirteen episodes feel like they end far too quickly.
Thanks to FUNimation for providing a review copy!