Old-School Sunday: Crayon Shin-Chan

There are currently a little over 800 episodes of Crayon Shin-Chan. Granted, they're short, but that's still a pretty prolific amount of anime on the table. Funimation brought Shin-chan to the States with a really excellent dub, the jokes all work really well, giving a Japanese feel while still being pretty understandable to the average American.

The whole gag for Shin-chan is the idea that five-year olds are making horribly inappropriate jokes, not too far from South Park, usually relying on either fart/poop jokes or on some actually pretty clever wordplay jokes. That's where the similarities end, however, because around that gag is a surprisingly heart-warming show about two young parents trying to survive in Japan, while enduring their hellish children and their weirdly mature peers, as well as a wide variety of insane neighbors. The show has plenty of room to develop deep, round characters that feel very authentic. It also pokes fun at popular tropes, including super hero shows, magical girl shows, and doesn't hesitate to take jabs at the culture of machismo in Japan. The mother Mitsi, for example, wears the pants in the family, handles their finances, and also raises the truly horrid brat Shin can be at times.

Funimation brought 52 episodes stateside, usually with three mini-stories inside each, barring a few larger episodes that span the full thirty minutes.

Shin-chan was an early anime series for me, running for roughly a month in 2007 on Adult Swim in the middle of the night. A very young Mr. Empty was enamored with this uncouth youth and his devil-may-care approach to the world, and the bounty of innuendos within. Despite its mostly spare and simple art style, the content makes it well worth the time.

Witch Craft Works: Don't Google WCW Expecting Cute Witch Girls

Wait, that's not quite right....
Witch Craft Works is a new title from the always impeccable J.C. Staff studio. It revolves around a boy named Takamiya, who goes to school with an unapproachable, perfect girl named Kagari. Kagari is the daughter of the Principal/Headmistress of the school that they both attend, and as per the ritual, she has a slave-like following of fans in the other students. In fact, much of Takamiya's time is spent falling victim to the hordes of people constantly surrounding her, getting elbowed in the face and the like.
Suck it up, Takamiya. Take that 'bow like a man.

Note: anything past here will probably spoil the pilot, and this is actually a good series, so stop here if you want to watch it first. Mmmmkay?

 However, the show takes a pleasant turn for the weird, very quickly. Takamiya finds out that Kagari is a witch, and she is protecting him from another faction of witches. Pretty much every episode showcases Kagari's magical powers thus far, and they are among the coolest scenes you can find in anime. She's a fire witch, and in this case, she is actually made of fire, and is pretty much a hardcore invincible badass. She blows people and buildings and enemies and pretty much her entire environment into charred bits. It's awesome. It's totally awesome.

So, her identity revealed, Kagari is now free to protect Takamiya throughout the day, taking a more active role in his life, much to the chagrin of her fanclub. Her fanclub comes pretty close to being turned into barbeque several times, after harassing her princess. And she does refer to Takamiya as her princess.

Good boys don't swallow, Takamiya.

As the episodes progress, Takamiya gets frustrated that he poses a constant risk, mostly due to being a helpless little bitch all the time, and he starts to train with Kagari to learn to use magic himself. So, Kagari gives him his wardrobe....which is a nice capelet and hat with a big bow. Insert middle school snickering here.

Look at your pretty bow!

Kagari is a HUGE pervert for Takamiya.

You know you love it, Kagari. Don't even play.

I've watched the first five episodes now and I'm really excited to keep watching. It seems like the story has a lot of depth, they've brought up a ton of concepts without resolving them, and the characters are both amusing and endearing, a rare mix. It's too early to call it the best anime of 2014, but if continues in this way, it will certainly be a strong contender.

Pupa: A Monster Frustration

If I ended the review right now, it would be comparable to the length of this show.

Each episode of Pupa is about four minutes long, if you include the title sequence, which is a solid minute. A whole QUARTER of every episode is the freaking title sequence. I've watched the first five episodes, which took up less than half an hour of my life, but it was a hell of a frustrating hour.

The show actually has excellent artwork, and it probably has an interesting story. (It's about monsters and it has some implied gore) However, three minutes doesn't do shit to tell you about that story, and it makes insanely huge jumps between episodes. Sometimes there are flashbacks, or something? It's just really really difficult to follow, even if you watch it in sequential order, it has the most disjointed feeling.

Until it gets about thirty episodes and some intrepid Internetite takes it upon themselves to cut out the title sequences and throw it into a single comprehensive piece, Pupa is probably not worth the effort required to try and follow the story. Just rewatch Neon Genesis for the hundredth time instead.

Pupa and neglect made him cry.