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Papuwa 2: Zombie Samba
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 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.
In the first volume we were introduced to Papuwa and the gang of misfits. Kotaro escaped the clutches of the Ganma Army only to find himself stranded on the island with a bunch of freaks. Random crap continued to happen as Ganma sent assassins out to retrieve Kotaro. We also learned a little bit about the story behind the series but amidst all of the insanity it didn't really have time to flourish or become interesting. With that in mind we move into the second volume.
This time around things pick up essentially right where they left off. More people have come to the island in search of Kotaro and several of them have a lot to do with Liquid's past. Kotaro's older brother is one of them and he lets us in on a little bit of the mystery surrounding the red and blue spheres of power that destroyed the first Papuwa Island. Before we can get too far into things though, a ritual takes place and brings the dead ancestors of the talking animals to life.
This is the trend that Papuwa has begun following; just as things start to get interesting from a plot standpoint something random happens and everything goes to hell. Some more of Ganma's troops arrive and one of them is equipped with a magic paintbrush of sorts. With it he paints "Kotaro" on Kotaro's stomach and alleviates his amnesia. His power comes to the surface but luckily for Papuwa and friends some water erases the marks and brings back the memory loss.
In the episodes that follow even more people who up on Papuwa Island. On the more bizarre side of things Liquid finds himself in a bit of a bind when a beastly woman named Umako comes around professing her love for him. Some of these bits were even a little too much for me and once again Papuwa crosses the line between funny and just plain weird.
For the life of me I just can't get into this show. Every episode I watch (at this point there have been ten) is one strange and borderline creepy adventure after another. There is plenty of continuity here but the random insanity just doesn't do the plot any justice. The humor just doesn't do it for me as much as it should, because in all honesty this series is trying really hard to get a laugh. In fact, it may be trying too hard.
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.
Once again we get some previews, clean animations, an art gallery and a few pages of translator notes. It would seem that these features are going to be making their way onto each volume of this show.
The first volume of Papuwa left me perplexed with its bizarre nature and out-there sense of humor. The second one unfortunately left me out in the dark. This show is so weird that only a select few will really be able to enjoy it. It would appear that the developers of the show had one too many bites of Mr. Poisonous Mushroom that lives on the island. I can't help but feel that if the show focused more on its story surrounding Kotaro instead of trying to get a laugh out of viewers it would be better.