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Papuwa, Vol. 1: Wild Things

ADV Films // PG // August 8, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted October 17, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

It seems that in order for an anime to succeed as a comedy it has to be outrageous in every regard and offer jokes that make you scratch your head. From Excel Saga and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi to Hare + Guu these shows go out of their way to slap you across the face with oddities and quirks. Papuwa is no different.

In the past 14 years or so there have actually been two different Papuwa series. The first had a decent run but for some reason has not been picked up for release here in the States as of yet. Therefore this Papuwa series that we're talking about today is the sequel series produced in 2003 and recently released by ADV. Having not seen any of the first show I can't make comparisons between the two nor can I tell you whether this one is better than the original. The best I (or anyone else) can do is look at this volume of Papuwa for what it presents and be as objective as possible.

It may just be me or it may merely be the show in general, but I just couldn't wrap my brain around what was happening in Papuwa. The basic concept of the show revolves around a bunch of characters that live on an island called Papuwa. Since this is the second series for Papuwa it's safe to assume that this is the second island; which is a fact that is reiterated in the first episode.

The series revolves around two young boys named Kotaro and Papuwa who are rivals of sorts and have a history spanning both shows. Accompanying them on the island is an ex-soldier of the Ganma Army named Liquid, talking fish with legs, a slew of talking animals and a pushy mushroom who wants to be eaten. To say the cast is eclectic would be an understatement but it gets even weirder once you get into the story.

It would seem that Kotaro is a super-powered being capable of destroying islands and the like with hardly a thought. For four years (since the destruction of the first Papuwa Island) he has been asleep in the custody of the Ganma Army. In the first episode on this set the young boy awakens and is driven to the ocean where he gets swallowed up inside of a vortex and lands on this new Papuwa. Naturally the inhabitants are less than thrilled to see the boy show up but since he has amnesia they use it as an opportunity to keep him from remembering the past.

In the meantime the Ganma forces are compiling their efforts to search for Kotaro. His older brother is out on a trip but since his father is left in charge of Ganma he organizes some of the finest warriors to form a search party. One of these soldiers arrives on Papuwa only to be attacked (kind of) by that creepy mushroom guy. The result is pretty funny but pretty messed up when you get right down to it. His arrival causes problems for Liquid and the gang who don't want Kotaro to find out who he truly is.

From there the volume continues to assault with one random bit of insanity right after another. The only problem is that most of the humor just didn't connect with me. I found myself chuckling every now and then but each episode's presentation of oddities just didn't strike me as amusing. Papuwa spends most of its time relying on visual gags rather than intelligent humor and it's really a downfall in my opinion.

The story that is here isn't given a lot of time to flourish amidst the lunacy but it is easy to pick out and understand. I guess we'll see if Papuwa grows in time as more episodes are released but for right now the series feels like an amalgamation of all of the popular comedy shows rolled into one. The only problem is that it lacks the substance and charm required to make it a must watch.

The DVD:


Airing in 2003 Papuwa comes to DVD with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The image quality is fair with some sharp video and vibrant colors. There was some grain in parts as well as a tad bit of aliasing but neither of these were enough to ruin the experience. The animation for Papuwa is minimal thanks to a seemingly small budget. This could have just been a design that was carried over from the original series but since I haven't seen it I can't really attest to that.


With 2.0 stereo tracks for English and Japanese Papuwa sounds pretty much like you'd expect it to. The soundstage isn't very diverse and with all of the insanity happening on screen the volume pitches wildly. For what it's worth though there is no dropout or distortion to complain about and both dubs do a fairly decent job. I thought the Japanese track was better suited to the material but the English cast did a fine job as well. Optional English subtitles are included.


Let's break out our checklist shall way? ADV Previews? Check. Clean opening and closing animations? Check. Character Art Gallery? Check. The only interesting feature included here is some Translator Note pages that discuss various topics and words plus their meaning in Japanese culture. In other words there's nothing too groundbreaking to be found on this disc but it's a little more than some series ever get.

Final Thoughts:

If you're looking for an offbeat comedy anime then you may want to check out Papuwa. The concept is out there and in many ways it's best compared to Hare + Guu, mostly thanks to the island theme. There is a plot running through the show too but the two natures of the serious and comical sides just seem to clash with each other. I've sat through many comedy series before and the jokes in Papuwa just didn't win me over as quickly as I would have liked. The humor in this show is more visual than spoken but seemed to be quirky rather than funny. For now we'll go with a rent it until we see what future volumes hold.

Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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