Friday, January 31, 2014

Kochikame Kessaku Selection DVD: Bakushou!! Ryo-san Oabare-hen: Ryo-san Enters the Digital Age

It's the end of Jump January, and with that comes the last Kochikame DVD that came to retail shelves. This last "Masterpiece DVD", subtitled Bakushou!! Ryo-san Oabare-hen/Roaring Laughter!! Ryo-san Rampage Chapter, is interesting for one main reason.

You see, the original 32-volume retail VHS release of this anime, from late-2003 to early-2005, only covered the first 128 episodes (or 1996-1999), and every DVD I've reviewed so far has featured episodes from within that stretch of the show; one of the really early Pony Canyon-released VHS tapes from 1999 did feature episode 131, though. This last DVD, released in January 2012, went in the opposite direction & features episodes from the last few years of the anime's run, specifically 2001 & one episode from 2003. So, as a neat way to finish, we've seen how the early days of the show were like, but what about the other half?

Episode ~225: Ryo-san Becomes a Millionaire (Aired 6/3/2001)
While helping an old woman with some digging at her home, Ryo-san finds a hidden cachet of koban (not to be confused with koban). Unfortunately, Ohara spoils Ryo-san's attempt at sneaking it away & the old woman becomes a multi-millionaire. Luckily, the woman gives Ryo-san $1 million-worth of yen as a "thank you". Can Ryo-san keep a hold of that much money without wasting it? Hell, can he even spend $100 million-worth in as many ways possible?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kochikame Kessaku Selection DVD: Dai Panic!! Tokushu Keiji Shutsudou-hen: "Everybody Can Do!" What These Guys Can... But Would You?

The Bandai Visual "Selection" releases were made for Kochikame's 30th Anniversary, but they are still in print from what I can tell, according to Amazon Japan. Five years later, Shueisha & ADK (the show's major sponsor & license holder) decided to release some Kochikame on their own, utilizing their "Jump Super Heroes" label, which I covered last year with the Jump Super Heroes Special Collection DVD series. These two releases, made to celebrate the manga's 35th Anniversary, were labeled the Kessaku/Masterpiece Selection DVDs, meaning that these should be some of the absolute best episodes in the entire series... So are they?

Kankichi Ryotsu: So Lazy He Sleeps on His Series' Logo

The first DVD, released in December 2011, has a distinct theme to it that's obvious from it's subtitle: Dai Panic!! Tokushu Keiji Shutsudou-hen, or Big Panic!! Special Detectives March Out Chapter. Remember in the review for Dotabata-hen there was an episode involving Katsushika's so-called Special Detective Squad? Well every episode on this DVD is all about them, so now we can take a look at possibly the most bizarre group of police officers in the history of anime & manga... And that's definitely saying something!

[NOTE: These DVDs don't list episode numbers like the previous DVDs did, so I'll be using the numbers used over at ANN & Wikipedia Japan, with a "~" to indicate that they aren't exact #s, but rather a rough estimate.]

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kochikame Selection 3: Dotabata-hen: Why Isn't the Police Station the Main Character?!

All right, so we've been shown that Kochikame can do serious stories & we've seen the introductions to some of its recurring characters... So how about comedy? I mean, that's the biggest reason why the manga has been running for so long, after all.

Help! The title splash has been taken over!!

The character roster essentially writes the comedy itself: A bumbling cop with a heart of gold, his partner who's also the son of a Zaibatsu head, the beautiful female cop who comes from a rich family, a pre-op transsexual officer who's in love with said bumbling cop, a motorcycle cop with a split personality, and a (relatively) normal station manager who has to deal with these people in one way or another... And, trust me, the characters only get more & more ridiculous as we go on. Fittingly, the last "Selection" by Bandai Visual has the perfect subtitle: Dotabata-hen, or Slapstick Chapter.

Episode 72: Burning Camp Spirit! (Aired 2/22/1998)
After viewing some ads for RVs, Ryo-san thinks about going out on a camping trip with his co-workers. Unfortunately, after local rich-man Reiji Shiratori comes by with a Porsche RV (do they even make those?) in an attempt to woo Reiko on a camping trip, and doesn't invite the others, Ryo-san gets Nakagawa to get a Ferrari RV (seriously, do they even make these?!). The two RVs race their way to the camp, & then up the mountain, but after Ryo-san & Shiratori up their energy usage and drain both RVs batteries everyone gets stuck on the mountain at night... And a strong storm is coming.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kochikame Selection 2: Toujou-hen: Who Are These Police Officers, Anyway?

Even when something has been running non-stop for just over 37 years it usually is best for newcomers to have something to start off with. Sure, you can go right into something long-running & enjoy it (that's essentially how what new Japanese readers of Shonen Jump do with this series), but for others they prefer to be properly introduced to the characters housed within these stories. 

"Selection 2" of Bandai Visual's 30th Anniversary DVD release of the Kochikame TV anime series, subtitled "Toujou-hen/Entrance Chapter", does just that, showcasing four of the anime's earliest episodes that introduce some of the most iconic & well-known characters that live in Katsushika, Tokyo.

Episode 1: The XX Policeman Ryotsu Appears!? (Aired 6/16/1996)
At first glace, Kankichi Ryotsu looks like the wrong (wait, make the "double wrong") kind of cop, what with his habit of being late to work, general destruction of public property while rushing to work, and overall irritating of his station's manager, Daichiro Ohara. While today is payday, Ryo-san immediately is forced to pay back all of the damages he incurred, leaving him with nothing... And since he didn't pack a lunch he has nothing to eat, as well. Unfortunately, a hungry Ryo-san is a desperate Ryo-san.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Kochikame Selection 1: Ninjou-hen: If Not Comedy... Then Dramedy!

It's a new year, but let's start off this year like we did last year. That's right, this is the second Jump January at The Land of Obscusion! Unlike last year, though, I won't be looking at 30 different Shonen Jump properties; instead, the focus will be on one specific property. This month, let's look at the "everyday life" of Jump's elder statesman, Kankichi Ryotsu (that's Ryo-san to you!).

There have been many iconic "faces" of Weekly Shonen Jump, but only one face has been around long enough to exist alongside almost all of them... And that face has a giant set of McDonalds Arch-esque, bushy eyebrows. Debuting in 1976 & still running to this very day, making it the longest-running manga in history (in terms of length; Golgo 13 & a couple others are still older), Kankichi "Ryo-san" Ryotsu's antics in Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kouen-mae Hashutsujo/This is the Police Station in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward (Kochikame for short) have run alongside the likes of Ring ni Kakero, Kinnikuman, Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya, Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, Rurouni Kenshin, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Toriko, & Gintama, with no end in sight. Hell, the very title of the series is so iconic in Japan that even when the term "hashutsujo/police station" officially went back to the original, & more widely-used, term "koban" in 1994, creator Osamu Akimoto didn't bother updating the title. Unfortunately, the series' laid-back nature, not to mention its episodic style & insane length (it's over 180 volumes!), means that in North America it is essentially nothing more than a trivia question of anime fandom, with no real means of checking it out in English. A couple of volumes of the manga have been scanlated, one episode of the TV anime (ep 313) was fansubbed, and the first movie was released on R2 DVD with official English subs, but outside of that we have nothing.

Still, every time I check out the world of Kochikame I have a fun time doing so. That one fansubbed episode was an fun body swap story, the first movie mixed together seriousness & comedy extremely well, and the second movie was better than the first in every way. Unfortunately, getting any episodes of the 1996-2004 TV anime, which ran for 373 episodes, in good quality is kind of hard because said TV series has never been released in full on home video. Okay, technically the show did seem to get a complete release in the rental market, but on the retail side all that's been released are some TV specials on VHS, about the first third of the show on VHS, and some themed DVD releases... And for Jump January I'll be looking at these themed DVD releases. First up are a trio of DVDs released by Bandai Visual back in 2006 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the series, each of which carry a certain theme. "Selection 1" goes under the subtitle Ninjou-hen/Humanity Chapter, with the focus being on serious episodes that deal with relationships & people's pasts. Oddly enough, while this is the first DVD for this series in terms of release schedule it's also the last in terms of episode chronology; go figure. Regardless, though, are these episodes good, even if there aren't any subtitles to them?
[NOTE: I'm using the episode # listed on the back cover of the DVDs; ANN's episode listing features different episode #s, due to there being multiple TV specials that may or may not count.]