In 10 Words or Less
Things return to normal...which is anything but
Loves: Animation, good sitcoms
Dislikes: gross-out comedy
The Story So Far...
The star of the show is the titular Shin Chan, an odd little 6-year-old with an obsession with his own backside, an aggressive personality, a love for superhero Action Bastard and some weird thoughts about how the world works. His traditional family, with mom Mitzy, Dad Hiro and little sister Hima, is a boiling cauldron of resentment, frustration and oddness, though they still love each other (sorta.) his school life brings more friends and freaks into his life, including uptight conservative Georgie and Penny, whose home life is far from storybook. The first half of Season One was released on DVD in May of 2008. DVDTalk has a review of the set.
The general concept of the second half of the first season of "Shin Chan" isn't all that different from the first half, with the exception of the resolution of the family's housing storyline. How it wraps up points out a problem with this set of shows: suddenly, money isn't as big a concern for them, but there's no reason given. I realize, this is a nonsensical comedy about a kid who loves to show his butt, but the family's struggles are part of the humor and taking that aspect out of the show doesn't seem necessary.
The financial status of Shin's family isn't the only thing to change in this series in the second half of Season One, as the show has a very different feel, even dipping into oddity and parody episodes, like the ridiculous two-part "Planet of the Dogs." Getting the chance to see Shin's dog Whitey walk around like some waif out of Oliver Twist is rather funny, as is seeing Shin play the part of the pet. Anime fans will especially enjoy the "Lupin the Third" take-off "Pupin the Turd," though its so over the top that you don't need to know a scrap of that show to get laughs out of Shin as a secret agent. Similarly, the "Page One Rewrite!" episode, which recasts the show as a superhero series, and "Whiteface Charcoalpants," where Shin meets a demon who grants his wishes, are both bizarre visions of the show.
Though there were some dark spots in the first set, it's like a comedy eclipse here, with moments that are genuinely shocking, including the disturbing "Girls Just Wanna Have Husbands." Penny and Ai fight for the love of Shin, resulting in fake pregnancy and creepy vendettas. The return of the Happiness Bunny, this time animating in front of Whitey, is equally as creepy. On the lighter side, there seems to be an increased focus on Shin's schoolyard pals, which is fine, because school is the scene of some of the funniest episodes. Whether it's Penny training effeminate Maso to stand up to Ai or Principal Ench teaching the kids kanji, any time you've got the young ones on screen, it's going to be a good time (especially if it's the lovable, snot-nosed Boo.)
The storylines are actually a bit stronger this time around, with shows about the family prepping for a typhoon, Penny's mom running away to become a whore, the introduction of a pair of stakeout cops posing as a gay couple and the kids' war against the second-graders. None of them were as entertaining though as the season finale, which brought Shin's grandparents into the picture. Hiro's dad tags along as they visit Mitzi's parents, and the clash between the Shin-like paternal grandpa and Mitzi's proper dad makes for some very funny moments (while Mitzi's suicidal mom adds in the traditional "Shin Chan" darkness.) After a good run in the first half, this collection show's the series hitting its stride.
Note: unlike last time, this collection has uncensored audio tracks, so all the cursing is audible.
Like the previous set, the 13 episodes of the second half of Season One are spread over two DVDs, with seven episodes on the first disc and six on the other. The discs, which are amusingly (and appropriately) named Number One and Number Two, are packed in a three-panel, two-tray digipak, which is held in a solid slipcase. The discs feature static full-frame menus with options to play all episodes, select shows, and check out the extras. There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning.
Taken from a show that's been on the air since 1992, the full-frame animation can look old in places, so the video is a bit dull color-wise, and there's some obvious dirt in places. Other than that, it's rather solid, with a clean image that has no issues with pixelation or digital artifacts.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is the standard for a TV comedy, delivering clean dialogue, but there's nothing about it that stands out, as it comes at you right down the middle.
The bonus material takes a dip on this set, with just two in total, starting with an audio commentary on episode 17 by ADR director Zach Bolton and writer Jared Hedges. The track is friendly, providing a good deal of info on the production effort on the show, without any dead spots. The guys never get caught just watching the show, which makes for an energetic track. If only they had a few more.
Back from the previous set is "From the Bowels of the Booth," this time offering up over eight minutes of alternate audio, bloopers and outtakes, which are a lot of fun to check out, as some of the cut dialogue is even better (but less socially acceptable) than what made it into the show.
A selection of trailers is also included on Disc Two.
The Bottom Line
The first half of the first season of this version of "Shin Chan" was good, but here is where it all came together, with more out-there episodes and more defined and entertaining stories about the characters and their strange little lives. The DVDs look and sound good, but there's less bonus content to check out, though what's included is good. If you liked the first half of Season One, you should enjoy this even more, and if you didn't like Shin Chan, this is your chance to see if it's more your speed now.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.