Karutomaru's blog

4:28 PM on 01.14.2014

Karutomaru Recommends Bobobo-bo-bo-bobo

No anime fan is a stranger to the bizarre and strange. Sometimes its simply cultural differences, but anime has some of the most wacked-out, creative, and sometimes supposedly drug-induced images and concepts none of us could come up with ourselves. You need only look at such anime as Panty & Stocking, Lucky Star, or even the aptly titled Jojos Bizarre Adventure to see why it has such a strong presence and fandom.

But when I watch a strange anime, I catch myself thinking the same thing every time: That was weird as hell, but it wasnt Bobobo. No matter how weird anime may get, I have yet to see anything more outlandish and mind-warping than Yoshio Sawais Bobobo-bo-bo-bobo.
The title alone should tell you its a weird one, but it goes far deeper than that. Bobobo isnt just weird and wasnt just made on narcotics. Bobobo-bo-bo-bobo is itself a narcotic; one you do not snort or inject. This drug is taken just by watching it. It is considered one of the most dangerous known to man, so much so that street drug dealers dont dare stock it. Watching it for too long at one time turns even the most intelligent human being into a babbling, head-banging psychopath.

That is the power of Bobobo.

Please do not click out of this page before you finish reading the shows premise.
Bobobo-bo-bo-bobo tells the story of a group of rebels led by the titular hero, who is one of the last remaining people of the Hair Kingdom, which was wiped out by the evil Chrome Dome Empire. The Chrome Dome Empire, led by Czar Baldy Bald the Fourth, seeks to take over the world and make anyone under his rule bald.

Being a parody of shonen, the overall structure is simple. Bobobo and his ever-increasing posse of allies fight villain after villain using their ridiculous abilities and reality-warping randomness. On the heroes side, there are characters such as Hatenko, who uses keys as weapons, Gasser, who manipulates his super-powerful flatulence, and Serviceman, whose only method of attack is flashing the enemy.

Bobobo himself, being of the Hair Kingdom, uses the Super Fist of the Nose Hair, which basically lets him do anything he wants when he calls for it Anything! As the name of the technique implies, many of Bobobos attacks use his nose hair as well as his giant blonde afro.

Dont you close out of this! This is serious!

Theres also Beauty, who just kind of tags along and questions things. Silly girl. There are no answers, and there are no rules. There is only Bobobo.

On the villains side there are many many characters, such as Halekulani, who weaponizes money, Nunchuck Nick, who weaponizes tape, and Lambada, who manipulates polygons.

The insanity of when these superpowers clash is the main appeal of the show. Every fight contains many puns, many parodies, tons of nonsense, and more than enough mindfuckery to go around. You can pretty much choose any random episode and enjoy it. That or just watch the entirety of this video.

Or this.

Thats what your brain feels like when youre watching Bobobo, and it is glorious. Theres no deep message to discuss or even characters to describe a whole lot other than everyone is insane (except Beauty and the villains)! It is the epitome of the surreal action comedy.

Much of the entertainment value can be attributed to the nigh-perfect English version, written by some of the best writers in anime, including Jeff Nimoy and Bob Buchholz, best known for their work on Digimon and the greatest anime ever made, Viewtiful Joe. Like Digimon and Viewtiful Joe though, the English version was aired on TV and had to be censored, but Nimoy and Buchholz know everything about working around those.

Its a good thing they had control of this one, because I dont think anyone less could pull off this kind of translation. While the original manga and anime are enjoyably weird, there are a lot of Japanese cultural references and especially puns that could never be translated into the English language.

This image makes sense in context. You see, the heroes are playing an evil board game where money is taken out of their souls with every wrong move, and Bobobo first rolled a rhinoceros, so now hes rolling an elephant.

The English writers made the best decision by using the animation they had to make one big gag dub. They remained faithful to the plot, but Japanese puns were replaced with English ones, the copious Japanese text was referenced as illegible, and the narrator was given a humongous role upgrade.

Even when not technically necessary, the English version makes something even funnier than it already was.

The English version of Bobobo has the chattiest narrator in any work, and with the hammy voice of Michael McConnohie pointing out stupidity, complaining about production and talking about his own life in the middle of the show, hes one of the best parts of the show.

The rest of the voice actors are also perfectly cast. Fans of Digimon and the Viewtiful Joe anime will no doubt recognize many of the English versions voice talent. The main character Bobobo is voiced by Richard Epcar (Myotismon, Ansem after Billy Zane), second main character Don Patch is voiced by Kirk Thorton (Rotten Jack, Saix), Jelly Jiggler has the voice of Jameson Price (Commander Samson in Data Squad & Iron Tager in Blazblue), and Beauty is voiced by Philece Sampler (Mimi, Silvia). Several other great actors include Jeff Nimoy (Viewtiful Joe) himself as Hatenko and the ever-underrated David Lodge as Giga and Czar Baldy Bald the Third, two of the best villains in the series. All of them deliver their lines with as much enthusiasm as they can muster. They have to speak, scream, change tones in an instant, and do everything in between. Theyre perfect for a series all about ridiculous and overblown fighting.

Youd think a series thats just nothing but idiots battling evil by being as random as possible would get stale, but like so many shonen series, there are enough set pieces and ideas to keep it interesting. In one episode, Bobobos gang fights a group of villains on the rim of a giant toilet bowl, and anyone who falls in swells up like a balloon. In another, they must fight a group of villains on bungee cords, and another on top of a train. The fun never stops until the rather disappointing ending.

The Bobobo anime was cut short and wasnt able to finish the entire run of the manga its based on. In fact, in the final episode, the narrator outright says weve run out of episodes. They make a joke out of it in their usual self-referential way, but it still comes out of nowhere and leaves you wanting more.

But Im content with the 79 episodes we got, because they are outrageous works of art, and not in that stupid Gainax way, where they resort to sexuality and make failing attempts to take themselves seriously. Bobobobo is like one good long joke.

Its an anime that needs to be seen to be believed, so I highly recommend getting it on DVD. The entire series is available in two box sets by Smore entertainment. These DVD versions keep the English version, but add small commercial interludes, the second Japanese opening, and the Japanese closing songs, none of which were in the version broadcasted on TV.

The DVD also seems to have added unaired scenes later in the show, in which the episode is given another recap and a second title. I assume these were recorded, but cut from the original broadcast, likely due to its redundancy, but it does give the narrator even more lines, which is always a good thing.

Disappointingly, the Japanese version itself doesnt come with subtitles in the DVD release, not that it matters. The English version is the best version, but it would have been great to see how the puns played out in Japanese (you can still make some of such puns and the original names out if you can read the Japanese text present in the English version, however).

The Japanese text reads "psycho ball," but in English it's called "lightning ball," probably to avoid lawsuits from Athena Asamiya.

Because of its surreal nature and very shonen roots, Bobobo-bo-bo-bobo isnt for everyone, but considering its popularity, there are a lot of people who can love it. I am one of those people. I give it an 8 out of 10.

I would like to end this review with a note from Mr. Nimoy himself.

Its an easy show to write. All you have to do is take three hits of acid and then you just [zoom].   read

6:17 AM on 12.28.2013

Viewtiful Joe DVDs now $2 each!

Ah Viewtiful Joe. The greatest game and anime franchise ever created. No other series has ever passed it before or since, and the second season of its anime, the greatest of all time, is being so carefully adapted into English it has taken over 7 years to finish and they're still not done!

For the longest time, getting the first season on DVD has been rather expensive ($15 each for all 8, in my case), but now they're practically free! The Viewtiful Joe anime is now in the bargain bin of distributor RightStuf Entertainment for $2 per DVD! At that price, there is officially no reason not to buy this absolute masterpiece of animation! Sure you can watch it for free on Crunchyroll, but nothing beats seeing the hi-res artwork on your HD screen and hearing the glorious music come out of your giant speakers!
The DVDs also have concept art galleries, most, but not all, of which are also shown in the game based off the anime: Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble.
One of the DVDs even comes with a figure. One that I do not have, so it looks like I may end up having two copies of volume 3.

It's times like this that make me cry with happiness.


12:26 PM on 01.09.2013

Check This Out: The King of Fighters

There are many people who know nothing about the King of Fighters series of fighting games, and many aren't even interested in fighters. I was much like them until I played the good King of Fighters games for myself, and fell in love.

As a project to get people to play these awesome shonen action fighters, I am writing retrospectives on every single King of Fighters game in the main series, as well as writing a rundown on each game's epic finale (which are the most plot-critical parts) to show its grand scale plot of clones, deities, and metahumans. As you can imagine, that's a lot to write, which is part of the reason I'm not posting them on Japanator directly (spamming rules and all that). Instead, you can read it on my own blog, the Shonen Otaku corner, and tell me what you think of it. The link is here:

Please leave a comment. Nobody does.
I'd write a better introductory post, but... well... There's already one there.


7:01 PM on 03.19.2012

Karutomaru Recommends Yu Yu Hakusho: Season 2

I noticed Japanator has done its own review of the first season of Yu-Yu Hakusho already. I know they liked it, but in my experience, no anime has ever truly hit their stride until a number of episodes in. I like the first season of Yu Yu Hakusho too, but it didn’t quite reach its first high point until the Dark Tournament arc, widely remembered by just about all Yu Yu Hakusho fans. Since this particular shonen arc is one that begs for acknowledgement, I’ll give it the recognition it deserves with this review of the digitally remastered (but not blu-ray) release of Yu Yu Hakusho: Season 2.

I think I should point out that I am in no way blinded by nostalgia here. I did not watch Yu Yu Hakusho when it was on TV. I only remember seeing a couple of episodes by chance when I woke up really early, and I only distinctly remember one because I saw Karasu blow up a guy by touching him, and I didn’t even know what the show was called at the time. Knowing this should emphasize how much I genuinely like this anime.

Looks like he's been... Disarmed! *self-slap*

First, I should give some backstory for context. In the last few episodes of the first season, Yusuke defeated a powerful gang leader named Toguro to rescue an ice apparition named Yukina. As it turns out, Toguro threw the match, and he came back later to confront Yusuke and show him his real, overwhelming power. There, Toguro told Yusuke that he wants him to compete in an upcoming demon world fighting competition called the Dark Tournament, and said if he doesn’t, he’ll kill Yusuke and his friends. Speaking of friends, Toguro gave the same invitation to Hiei and Kurama, who helped Yusuke fight the Saint Beasts before, and, in need of one more teammate after Kuwabara, Yusuke enlists the aid of a masked fighter, whose true identity is not yet known.

The second season of Yu Yu Hakusho isn’t exactly the entirety of the Dark Tournament arc, unfortunately. It starts halfway through the first match with Kuwabara fighting the yo-yo wielder Rinku, and ends with the conclusion of the first round of the finals with the battle between Kurama and Karasu, leading to a feeling of a lack of self-containment. Still, while it doesn’t get everything, it does get the real meat of the arc, i.e. the epic fights with a variety of colorful opponents. It just feels a little anticlimactic to not end with the finale.

Speaking of colorful opponents...

If you thought Yu Yu Hakusho was a fighting anime before, you have not seen anything yet. This is the tournament arc common to shonen series, and that means there is an even bigger focus on the fights. Tournament arcs don’t always exactly work, as they can generate a sense of repetition if all it is is a series of fights that play by the same rules under the same circumstances with little time put aside for character development (the World Tournament Arc in the Yu-Gi-Oh anime comes to mind), but Yu Yu Hakusho is able to avoid all of that.

None of the matches in the Dark Tournament play the same. At the beginning of each round, the team captains decide on the victory conditions. It can be best 3 out of 5, elimination matches, or, for one match, a 3 on 3 battle royale. That combined with the various specialties and powers of the combatants themselves ensure none of the matches feel the same.
The best part of any shonen action series’ fight is the way the protagonists use their skills and their brains to come up with a way to win, be it using the enemy’s power against them, finding their weakness, or using what they know in new and creative ways. Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the best examples of this. In almost none of the fights in the Dark Tournament do conventional tactics work, and even when they use new and special tricks to beat one opponent, there are later fighters that anticipate them and are ready for it, meaning even more new ideas need to be made for the heroes to win. The resulting provision of new moves, techniques, strategies, and powers only further keeps the episodes fresh and unpredictable.

A lot goes on outside the fights as well for extra character development and breaks from the normally tourney-structured action. There are corrupt tournament committees, chatty announcers, and Yusuke’s friends in the stands along with Koenma and a blue ogre providing observation and commentary to keep the fights from getting stale. The characters in the fights themselves are also fairly well-established with their own reasons for entering the tournament. Some of the fighters are actually decent people that even Yusuke takes a liking to, and I guarantee there will be a favorite character for any viewer among this ensemble of combatants. For me, that'd be Shishiwakamaru, because he knows showmanship.

They look so huggable.

For something that’s apparently Funimation’s second big dub job ever, the voice acting is very good. Justin Cook shows off his range in a number of situations and characters, and the supporting cast is just as well-acted as the main characters. Above all else, they’re just fun to listen to. Of particular note are the characters of Chu and Jin, who are both given distinct foreign accents to spice up the diversity even further. Since they got a lot of experience from dubbing Dragon Ball Z, there’s also a lot of rather hammy acting when things get really intense, but if you weren’t expecting some screaming, you clearly don’t know shonen. Ham takes up half the menu.

But as good as the voice acting is, it’s not nearly as good as the script they’re reading off of. The English version of Yu Yu Hakusho is vastly different in its dialogue from the Japanese version. While the Japanese version has a lot of average, predictable dialogue, the English version turns a lot of the main characters into smarmy, sarcastic teenagers… Which is exactly what they are. The fruitier adapted script makes them all sound much more natural as well as more fun to listen to. There are several lines that are just an average piece of dialogue in Japanese that the English version changes into some kind of smart-ass remark.
For example, after an opponent purposely uses Hiei’s sword to badly cut himself, Japanese Kuwabara says “Is this guy an idiot?”, while the English Kuwarbara says “These guys are making it a little easy for us to beat ‘em.” Much earlier, Kurama is ready to kill a scumbag that tried holding his mother hostage through an explosion of flowers. In the Japanese version, the guy makes excuses to save his own sorry life before Kurama just says “Die”, and he dies. In English, the guy’s last words are “You believe in mercy, don’t you?” And Kurama says “No”. It’s those kinds of flavorful adjustments that make the English version superior to the original Japanese. Even the English openings and credit songs are better than the Japanese openings, and with this DVD release, they sound even better than before.

Yes, the digitally remastered frames are nice and sharp, and the animation and artwork is easy enough on the eyes, but I was more impressed with how great it sounded. I don’t normally give notice to a DVDs’ audio quality, but it bears mentioning here. No anime I own has come out of our HDTV’s speakers sounding so good and so clear. Sometimes I almost felt as though the characters were in the same room. No matter how loud the music and sound effects get, the sound mixing is always spot-on, and there is no kind of crackle or hiccup to be heard. This first came to my attention with probably the loudest, most destructive attack in the season, the Dragon of the Darkness Flame, which was probably the peak of the season’s volume. Don’t be afraid to play it loud.


As much as I love this season of Yu Yu Hakusho, and as much as I recommend it, I can’t quite call it, or the series as a whole, a masterpiece. It falls for some of the writing hitches that other shonen series have stumbled on, like plot or character-critical details and weapons never alluded to or given any foreshadowing, or powerful weapons and techniques that are only used once and then never again with no explanation. There’s also Hiei, who’s a bit of a Marty Stu, so much so that he only fights a few times in this season, but those are some minor gripes. If you want a written masterpiece from Yoshihiro Togashi, watch Hunter X Hunter or Level E. If you just want something fun to watch with a respectable amount of heart and thought put into it, Yu Yu Hakusho will definitely fits the bill.

If I haven’t made it clear enough yet, Yu Yu Hakusho Season 2 is well worth having. It’s even better than the first season, and although it doesn’t quite cover its entire story arc, it still gives several episodes of action-packed, well-paced, character-driven shonen goodness. At the 20 dollars I found it for, it is an absolute steal. Even if you haven’t seen the first season, the second season is well worth your money all on its own, if only for the fight scenes. I give Yu Yu Hakusho: Season 2 an 8.5 out of 10.


And yes, I have played the PS2 game Yu Yu Hakusho: The Dark Tournament. It sucks.   read

8:56 PM on 03.11.2012

Karutomaru's Introduction

Greetings people of Japanator. I am Karutomaru, the king of cards and Viewtiful Joe's #1 fan, best known for my blog on Destructoid. As some of you may have noticed, my blog there seems to have disappeared. This is because of a slight conflict with Destructoid's community, but I assure you I am doing everything I can to get my blog there up and running again and I will not stop until it is. In the meantime, I can try my hand at my second favorite hobby: anime.

In the same way most of the games I have are Japanese, just about all of my DVDs are anime. The two intertwine regularly. I don't have a single DVD of Naruto, but I have Clash of Ninja Revolution 3, which is a very good game, and I have Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2 without owning and DBZ DVDs. My favorite anime of all time is the Viewtiful Joe anime, and the Sengoku Basara game and anime are on equal levels of awesome. Of course, we can't forget the single greatest Nintendo DS game ever made: Jump Ultimate Stars! Now that I'm actually taking Japanese as my language course in college, I can understand more of it, which is great. I even wrote a series of articles going over different games based on shonen series.

If anything I've said haven't tipped you off as to what my tastes in anime are, here are two more.

That's right. SHONEN!

In the same way I am an action gamer I am a shonen otaku. Shonen series have always been my forte, focusing on conflict and wit as well as skill.
Even if there's a series I don't own much of, I often have a favorite character. At home I have a plushie of Naruto's Kankuro under a little keychain of Mayuri Kurotsuchi hanging on the wall. Next I should get one of Cell.

As for my collection, it's actually kind of wimpy compared to the nerds on here. I watch quite a bit of anime on both the Funimation Channel and Toonzaki, but I do have some manga volumes here and there.

My sister owns a number of volumes of Law of Ueki, the greatest manga of all time, while I have 4 volumes of both Yu-Gi-Oh and Hunter X Hunter and 1 volume of the Yu-Gi-Oh GX Manga, Bobobo, and Yu Yu Hakusho.
On the anime front, I have all 8 volumes of the Viewtiful Joe anime, the greatest anime ever made, 3 seasons of Case Closed with 2 movies, and one season of Yu Yu Hakusho. I also have the second volume of the original Comic Party anime, because I found it at an old store for 3 dollars and I love collecting rare and cheap Japanese stuff.

Mind you, this is before I got volume 3.

Let me conclude this with some of my principles you'd be wise to know.
First of all, I am not picky when it comes to animation. Like manga, I believe the most important thing when it comes to anime is the writing and the artwork. Even if there were an anime that was just a bunch of still frames, good artwork and writing could save it. Then it would just be a manga in anime format, but at least it would be a good manga.
Second, I follow the golden rule. I am a very nice person, and I believe in what is right more than anything else (like most shonen heroes). I never troll, and if I'm making you angry, I assure you it is not intentional. Sometimes I'll say something silly to be funny, but never to troll.
However, there is one exception.
Smokers. There is absolutely nothing I hate more on this earth than a smoker. I'd write a long-winded hate speech all about smokers, but that's not what this blog is about. The point is, I will never treat a smoker with any ounce of respect, nor show them pity, sympathy, or compassion. I do not treat smokers like people. I treat smokers like the filth they spew, and there is nothing they can do to change that save for growing a brain cell. There is nothing more I will say about that.

Anyway, I'm glad to be here, and I hope we can all get along. I've written a ton of reviews on games on my other blog, so now I can take a crack at reviewing some anime.

Also, I'm afraid that the website hosting the comments here will send me spam. Can any comment on that?   read

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