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Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Animation’

(Left to Right): Guano, Lily, Mitsuki, Gonard (in the back), Mikey, Ozu, and Yes Man

Don’t you see the man is Kappa Mikey?

 

This show has nothing to do with anime or furry or tokusatsu.  Okay it has a little to do with anime.  If you’re not familiar with the series, it was a parody series that ran on NickToons Network from 2006-2008 about a young American kid named Mikey Simon who is having bad luck trying to become an actor.  He finds a the winning ticket (or whatever the object was) to a Japanese series called LilyMu and the show’s all about him living in Japan and being the star of LilyMu.  The premise is simple enough, but the execution is atrocious.  And nearly everyone who’s seen the show can agree on that.  Low brow, gross out humor and terrible Flash animation is really all the series had going for it.  As much as I consider this series to be one of my guilty pleasures, this show was bad.  And that disappoints me…

 

I think the show had something.  It had a decent premise as a parody series.  The problem is that the series was targeted for the wrong audience and made by the wrong people.  Most people will only insult Kappa Mikey as I did in the first paragraph.  Bad humor, horrendous animation, so on and so forth.  No one fails to mention how much fun the premise of this show could have been if in the hands of the right people.  Perhaps no one cares.  Everyone’s quite content with the fact the show’s been canceled for years now.  I’m not willing to let it go so easily…

 

While watching a countdown of the top 11 American made anime series by Suede the “That Guy with the Glasses” site, he mentions (using video and not so much talking about it) Kappa Mikey as a horrible example of American anime.  Well, I agree.  It’s a horrible anime series…if were actually trying to be an anime series.  The deal with Kappa Mikey is that it’s a parody show.  Or rather it’s supposed to be one.  But Suede’s right for listing it as an American anime because it’s attempting to cash in on the growing popularity and appeal of Japanese animated media in the US…but it does it horribly.  The problem with the show is that it doesn’t do what it sets out to do.  You can clearly tell it’s supposed to be a parody of the differences between Japanese animation and American animation.  That gets across just by looking at the style differences.  Since the majority of the characters are from Japan, they’re drawn looking like stereotypical anime cliches (thin lines, less “stylized” anatomy, big eyes).  Mikey’s drawn according to American animation cliches (thicker lines, more stylization with anatomy, etc.).  But that’s as far as the parody goes.  It tries to do silly things like adding in characters that look like anime characters either in the background or as a main character.  But they don’t push the concept far enough.  Here’s what the show should have been…

 

Kappa Mikey should have been a series that parodied the differences and similarities between Japanese animation and Western (American) animation in story and style.  The basic premise can remain.  But do something more with the LilyMu series.  If it’s going to parody a specific series or genre, make it parody that series or genre.  Currently it’s all over the place and other that it being a parody of the entire shounen genre, I can’t pin point a specific series it’s trying to parody.  At times it could be a mech series.  Others it seems very DragonBall Z like.  It even got into parodying Yugioh and other such series that uses cards as a motif.  This should have been a show made by people who know exactly what they’re parodying for people who’ll understand the references.  It tried to do that but it only stuck to things that every person in America has seen and it did the references way too obviously.  Their driver was a Speed Racer parody.  Guano’s a Pokemon parody.  The episode dealing with cards is a Yugioh parody.  The rarest the references got were Yubaba from Spirited Away or a persocom from Chobits.  Sticking to popular/common series isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But it’s just boring when it’s everything you expect and nothing new or clever.

 

The key to success for this series is quite simple.  1) Better animation and art.  None of this Flash stuff.  While it can be good, most times Flash products are stiff and lifeless.  They don’t move like people or creatures should move.  Redo the show with regular 2D, hand-drawn animation.  Flash is cheaper, but better to have a quality looking show than something quickly thrown out there for profit (especially when it clearly wasn’t going to make much anyways).  2) Have the humor pertain to the subject at hand and not focus on gross out humor.  Toilet humor is cheap comedy.  Cheap, disgusting, unfunny comedy.  It’s for little kids who are easily amused and adults who just never grew out of that liking toilet humor phase (the only series I’ll allow for gratuitous toilet humor aside from South Park is Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt…the title tells you what you’re getting pretty much).  Plus the show had a topic at hand.  Use that for the humor.  And in case you don’t know anyone who knows how to properly parody anime (due to a lack of knowledge about Japanese animated series/movies), find people who do.  It’s not that difficult.  For example…the theme song for Kappa Mikey was sung by the Beat Crusaders.  Even though the reference would be obscure, do some sort of nod to them in the show.  Or just in the theme animation.  If a nod to Puffy Ami Yumi (at least the cartoon they had for a while) could be made, why not one for the people that made something for your show?

 

For what it’s worth, the small parody elements that they did have were fun.  For example the title of the series is a play off of “Kappamaki” which is a type of sushi and the show is set in Japan and had that dancing sushi bit.  Apparently the “kappa” part of the title is also supposed to be referencing that Mikey’s like a fish out of water but that doesn’t really work considering what a kappa is.  Regardless, I’m well aware that people hate this show so I’ll just open it up to discussion.  Even if you don’t like what Kappa Mikey was, what did you think about the basic parody premise (the mixing of the art styles and the concept of making a parody of Japanese and American animation)?  If better people made something similar but really thought about what they were doing, would you give the show a shot or dismiss it as exactly like Kappa Mikey?

 

(Side note:  I have nothing against using Flash as a medium for animation.  When people put in the effort in Flash it can really pay off.  But many of these animated series on TV done in Flash have little to no effort put into them and make Flash look like a cheap product which it really isn’t.  I’ve seen some independently made Flash works that are incredible.)

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