Monday, June 20, 2011

Video Backlog: "Let’s Go! Inachu Ping Pong Club"

Publisher: Software Sculptures (Central Park Media, USA)
Format: Region Free DVD (Vols 4 and 5), Region 1 DVD (Vols 1 to 3), NTSC, Japanese Dialogue with optional English dub and English Subtitles
Length: 26 Episodes x 25 minutes
Production Date: 1995
Currently in Print (as of writing): No

I first saw a snippet of this show at somebody’s house about 15 years ago. They were showing me their Hong Kong VCD set of the show. It was Chinese subtitled with the optional original Japanese track in one audio channel, and the Cantonese dub in the other. Urg, glad we’ve come a long way since then. It’s funny, but I’ve had the show in the back of my memory since that time. It was only a couple of years back when I decided to scoop up the remaining CPM titles that I hadn't yet got that I actually bought this show.

What the show boils down to is that it is essentially a show for perverted teenage boys (isn’t that ALL teenage boys?). The core plot is a bunch of 14 year old high school students goofing off in their club, the Ping Pong Club. As you'd expect, very little of this series is about Ping Pong. You have two sets of people in the club, those who sort of take the club seriously and those who are the sex obsessed perverts. Initial episodes really didn’t impress me at all. The show was all about being perverted and disgusting. However for me, I just felt it all was a bit strange and wasn’t disgusted at all by the antics of the pervert trio; Maeno, Izawa and Tanaka (call me jaded). The sudden addition of a “manager”, Kyoko, a delinquent girl who smokes and was forced into position by the club’s supervising teacher, changes things for the better. A tentative burgeoning relationship begins to develop between the rather straight laced (well, for this show at least) Takeda. There seems to a bit of a back story between the two of them, but it’s sidelined in this version. I bet the manga tells that side of the story. There's also the mid season inclusion of a shy girl Chiyoko Kamiya, who has an eye on the club's pretty boy Yuusuke Kinoshita. However Izawa somehow becomes her mentor in love (though this is soon forgotten in terms of the story).

Apart from the rather weird fetishes in this show, such as Tanaka getting a bunch of dogs to lick him whist naked, or Maeno and Izawa playing “Lupin and Fujiko”, what got me is how this show pretty much constantly depicts sexual assault on girls. That’s pretty much all you get with this show really. Oh, and voyeurism. I’ve never seen so many breast, nipples, and unfortunately uncircumcised penises, in one show. It amuses me how a section of moralistic fandom goes nuts over certain shows currently screening on Japanese TV late at night, yet this show outdoes them all. Ever seen a guy suck on his girlfriend’s nipple in a current anime TV show? No? Well it happens in this show. The second opening animation is pretty much a orgy scene with tons of nudity (though it's meant to be a humorous fantasy). And remember it was screened uncut on TBS at around 1:30am in the morning. Take that you modern day anime fan wusses! Seeing as every fucking thing now days is somehow related to child porn, methinks the paedophiles-are-everywhere-and-in-everything brigade would also consider this show to be child porn. Cause you know, poorly drawn and animated characters from a 16 year old anime that everyone has forgotten about, need as much protection as a real flesh and blood child (apparently. No, it isn’t a piss weak excuse to ban stuff they don’t like. Really. Just ask Melinda Tankard Reist).

Though the show is so obscene, as well as crudely animated and drawn, that it often just becomes surreal, it does manage to hit the right spot between perversion and being devastatingly funny. Every review I read seems to compare this show with “South Park”, which is absurd. The only similarities are that they’re crude and animated (and crudely animated). CPM’s release is bizarre. The last 14 episodes were released first on DVD, then a few years down the track they issued the first 12. Also despite the various cultural oddities and references in this show which would require some liner notes (such as Izawa’s similarities and jokes in reference to the title character from “Tomorrow’s Joe”), CPM in their infinite wisdom wasted god knows how much money on a “hilarious” commentary by the “characters” for half an episode. “Characters” means the English dub cast, if you didn’t figure that out already. Do these guys really think they’re funny? Look pal, you’re doing voiceovers for some obscure Asian cartoon. If you had the talent to make people laugh you’d be elsewhere. I also note that the dub director is listed as “Agent Zero” which sounds like the anime dub director version of Alan Smithee. So overall, it was a fun show, but there were numerous flat spots. I’ll give it 6.5 out of 10

Remaining Backlog: 25 months (it's much easier this way than listing the number of discs).

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