The Best Show You’re Not Watching, Part I

A few years ago, I showed up home from an extra-long day at work running inventory to find my fiancee very excited about some strange anime show that was just on Adult Swim.

“Anime?” I said. “Man, you know I don’t like anime!” (This is true, and I apologize. I’ve tried; really.)

“No, but this is different, somehow,” she said. “The animation is, like, all weird and crappy, but the writing is hilarious.”

The show was called “Shin Chan,” a dubbed adaptation of the Japanese manga turned anime series called “Crayon Shin Chan.” I wasn’t able to see my first episode until a few days later, but when I did, I found odd, and creepy-faced characters with horrifying finger (five, for some reason).

Seriously, what was I watching? The animation had all the strange movements of anime, but with a budget smaller than my childhood allowance. The characters were jagged beasts walking on two legs, yet referred to as human. Backgrounds were drawn carefully, but the odd surplus of poop and fart jokes coming from this small character’s mouth left me wondering what my fiancee had ever seen in this. And I hated it.

This went on for months; my fiancee would beg me to give another shot, but I refused. I would watch a few moments of its main character, Shin Chan, then beg to turn the channel, or simply walk away. You see, Shin Chan is a five-year-old Japanese boy with a floating demeanor and foul mouth; his obsessions: his “Mr. Elephant” and his butt.

On Adult Swim this show was easily avoidable, but eventually “Shin Chan” made its way onto Hulu Plus, which my fiancee and I are subscribers and obsessors to. I had to carefully hide “Shin Chan” from her, so as not to give myself a headache.

This mean-spirited plan, of course, failed, and one day “Shin Chan” was discovered in two full seasons (now all three) and our viewing spree was inevitable.

Each moment I watched was more odd and deterring than the last. But then I realized I wasn’t supposed to ‘watch’ Shin Chan at all, I was supposed to listen.

As I was multi-tasking with the show on I began to hear a series of sentences I never thought I’d here on television. A mixture between breaking the fourth wall and lighting children on fire. Suddenly, shock had grabbed my attention.

In the end, it was hilarity that kept my attention. Suddenly clever and uproarious lines were flooding my apartment and filling my dark-humored soul with indescribable joy.

“Shin Chan” soon became one of my most favorite shows, and I can only hope to prove that it could be one of yours too. The odd nature behind its creation may seem too ridiculous to bear, but this diamond is worth every moment.

As it turns out, the American dubbed “Shin Chan” is a very different show than its original. FUNimation acquired the rights to re-cut and dub “Crayon Shin Chan” into short episodes edited into 22 minutes of side-splitting television, writing additional lines to plots that are darker than any other show on television.

“South Park” had long held this title, but now “Shin Chan” had moved in to make horrid jokes with five-year-olds getting into trouble that “South Park” simply can’t. Why can’t they? Because Cartman is evil, and Shin, is very good (sort of). I mean to point out that Shin no more misbehaves than your own kindergarten class clown, and, well, Cartman fed his own father to his half-brother Scott, because Scott embarrassed him.

Is “Scott Tenorman Must Die” a classic episode of “South Park”? Of course it is. But Shin Chan’s dark comedy is much darker and more hilarious due to the innocent nature of its children, Shin, Boo, Georgie, Masao, and Penny.

Enough of these theories for now, and if you don’t already know it, allow me to attempt to explain this oddly complex show.

The story of “Shin Chan” follows the Nohara family, a modern day middle-class Japanese family living in Kasukabe, Japan. Shin’s mother, Mitzi, is a tiny-boobed, exhausted mother obsessed with Sky Mall magazine and free samples. His father is Hiro (pronounced just like hero), a lazy, failed American silverware salesman whose invention, the Knork, just never took off. Shin’s sister, Hima, is a Maggie-esque speechless baby who loves her brother, but only when he stays out of the way of what she wants (occasionally juice). Finally there’s the boy of the hour, Shin-Chan Nohara.

As mentioned before, Shin-Chan is obsessed with his butt and all of its products, constantly whipping it out for an “ass-dance” or “Pop-Fart” (pastry scented fart, of course). Shin is only five years old, and despite his clever and continuous questioning of his parents’ logic and parenting skills, all he really cares about is his favorite TV-show (Action Bastard), his Bastard Juice, babes, boobies, and his Bare-Ass-Godzilla (aside from his butt and Mr. Elephant).

Shin attends an American school in Japan (as it is referred), which is run by Principle Ench, a has-been panda-genocidal failed magician/ninja and part-time superhero. It is at school Shin deals with the likes of his awful sex-deprived, gambling-addicted teachers and ill-witted classmates. Of course there’s Georgie, a Reaganite political know-it-all, but my favorite of Shin’s friends is Penny.

Poor Penny. Penny has grown accustom to the “ouchies” she receives from her father (who is never seen on the show), mostly due to the massive beatings she gives to her personified Happiness Bunny (this poor stuffed animal is now suicidal and depressed from Penny’s beatings).

Penny is always making references to her problems at home but is terribly content with her situation none-the-less. Her phrases are so horrible that you can’t help but laugh, but don’t take my word for it and go see for yourselves.

As the show progresses we discover Shin as an unnaturally early attraction to women, which takes the show to odd places and usually runs each episode. But past all of its awful and naturally distasteful jokes, “Shin Chan” follows the Nohara family in a kind light, teaching us the normalcy in insanity.

In the past two years I’ve watched “Shin Chan” religiously with my now very happy fiancee. The show met its end after lower ratings on Adult Swim, which could no longer fork out the extra dollar it took to re-dub and re-animate the show.

With a proper and depressing finale after 76 wonderful episodes, “Shin Chan” ended on a promise; that, if enough DVDs were sold, the show would try to return. Funimation loved making the show as much as we loved watching it, but, in America, “Shin Chan” lies in his dug-too-early grave.

Personally, I would give any number of my other favorite shows for a few more seasons of this glorious experiment.

Unfortunately, that may never happen. But at the time being, the entire re-dubbed series is on Hulu for free, or even Netflix, if commercials aren’t your bag.

So if it is indeed true that you have not seen or, worse, even heard of “Shin Chan,” than I implore you to give it the old college try and see if this show’s dark humor is for you. I promise, you won’t be wasting your time. And even if you’re not a fan of anime, bear in mind my change of heart (in this case only, comment below if you wish to convince me of others!)