Monday, March 7, 2016

RR Samurai Pizza Cats

Who do you call when you want some pepperoni?
Ooh~wan, wan, wan, Ooh~jin, jin, jin. Yatta, yatta, yatta... Let's review TATSUNOKO series!

Name: Samurai Pizza Cats: Complete English Language TV Series Collection originally titled Kyatto Ninden Teyandee
Created by Kunitoshi Okajima for Tatsunoko Production & Sotsu Agency
Original run 1990-1991 (US run: 1994)
Genre Action/Comedy/Mecha/Parody anime series

Who doesn't get the theme song immediately stuck in his hand upon reading these three words: Samurai Pizza Cats. Anyone? No, really, anyone else besides me?

Well in case you either forgot about this series, or are to young to remember this, Samurai Pizza Cats was a pretty funny anime produced by the legendary animation studios Tatsunoko Production. The ones responsible for such worldwide classic animes as Yatterman, Science Ninja Team which you might know under the name Gatchaman or Battle of the Planets or also, G-Force), Adventures of Pinocchio, The Genie Family/Hakushon Daimaō, Mach Go Go Go/Speed Racer or also Casshan for example. (A lot of former Tatsunoko animators would go on to open their own animation studios like Pierrot, Production IG or also Xebec)

Coincidentally, as you might guess from above, their series have a long history of being adapted and completely reimagined for the western audience. And Samurai Pizza Cats is no different.

Samurai Pizza Cats was originally an anime series by the title Kyatto Ninden Teyandee (which would actually translate to Cat Ninja Legend "Teyandee").

The original Japanese anime aired in Japan on TV Tokyo from February 1990 to February 1991 for a total of 54 episodes.

Saban would pick the anime and adapted it (kind of like they did with Super Sentai into Power Rangers). After airing in Canada, this American adaptation would finally air in the USA in 1994!

First up let's look at the show the way all of us 90s kid saw it back then, from the Americanization of the anime.

Our story is set in the town of Little Tokyo. A sort of crazy mechanical take on feudal Japan actually populated by robot animals - for some reason!

That's right, all citizens of Little Tokyo are part-robot and part-animal, and this world is full of silly anachronistic elements! While you might think the Emperor is the one in charge of Little Tokyo, it really is his daughter Princess Violet that tries to keep things in check with a close council. But wouldn't you know, there's a villain pinning for the head of state, prime minister Seymour Cheese. With the help of his acolytes the old Jerry Atric and the leader of the ninja crows Bad Bird, they try to overtake Little Tokyo every week!

That's why the council has enlisted the help from Samurai Pizza Cats! To bring justice to the town, when they're not busy delivering pizzas! We can always count on Speedy Ceviche, Polly Esther, Guido Anchovy and Francine! Three robot-samurai cats who work from a local pizzeria parlor.

Speedy's sort of the leader of the trio. Guido only thinks about this girl Lucille. And Polly Esther and Francine do their best to do all the actual work and keep the guys in check. They get into all sorts of trouble, fight villains and giant mechas to keep the town in check!And when they get too much trouble (which is quite often actually), they can always call some help from the additional Samurai Pizza Cats backup members, the Rescue Team!

In pure Tatsunoko Production fashion, the show is really fun, frantic and a loving tribute to all sorts of animes that came before it.

It's mostly a parody of these type of action/mecha anime series. The giant robots are always completely ridiculous and hilarious! The schemes of the villain are completely stupid and doomed to fail from the start. And even our SPC are barely able to handle fights and never get big epic combats like they would want to.

When Saban acquired the rights for the show they actually wanted to do a good job, but they couldn't get decent enough translations of the original Japanese scripts. So they decided to write their own stories. But unlike previous Tatsunoko franchise like Speed Racer, they tried actually sticking close to the general storylines and episode orders.

All they really did was coming up with their own dialogues and following more or less the plot of the actual episodes.

They really went for an Animaniacs-type of comedy, which was easily the most popular cartoon at the time.

Some of the most notable changes simply helped the children understand things a little bit better, really.

Like turning our cats from ninjas into samurais.

Saban didn't really do much edits all things said. Although a few episodes ended up censored. Out of the 54 episodes, only 52 episodes were translated, and those two scrapped episodes were actually "clip shows"!

But not all dubbed episodes aired in the US originally...

Samurai Pizza Cats was a really funny series, mixing Japanese culture, pop culture, cartoony animals and mechas! What's not to like?

Despite the US "Samurai Pizza Cats" retooling for the American audience, it didn't lose any impact or fun thanks to a great job from the crew at Saban and the funny scripts.

Either way, the series remained a screwball comedy. They just added a ton more pop culture and references while keeping the heart intact.

Both versions following a similar premise: 3 fun robot cats working out a pizza restaurant and fighting crime whenever someone ordered a "special order", blasting off into the face of these giant robots.

The show has a great episodic nature. Jumping all over the place, fast-paced and hilarious.

It plays off various popular cartoons and animes at the time. The American dub simply added a lot more nods towards western cartoons.

A lot of over-the-top fights and villains.

With really lovely colorful art and well done animation that brought these characters to life despite the completely odd premise of talking-samurai-robot-animals. It's really imaginative!

A 2nd season was planned, but never made. The crew behind the show had a lot of plans and ideas to explore, like bringing some of the secondary characters to the forefront and even plans for a spinoff, "Kyattou Keisatsu Beranmee" ("Cat Police Beranmee")...

The American adaptation is easily the most popular aspect of the show, since it's the one that all releases of the show across the world and other countries were based upon. It became a big hit thanks to its hilarious stories and dialogues, as well as the constant use of pop culture jokes and 4th wall-breaking humor.

Let's not forget to mention the fantastic music on the show! The original music by Kenji Kawai was pretty fun and funky. But the US version got rescored by noneother than cartoon legend Shuki Levy and Haim Saban. They did a great job at playing of the original score and doing their own thing with it. It also included a brand new theme song that is perhaps as much part of our pop culture now as the show itself. Impressive, considering it was mostly improvised by a writer on the series that came up with it and sang the whole thing (which, the story goes, was notably kind of drunk when recording..).

Overall, Samurai Pizza Cats is a childhood classic and an hilarious series I Highly Recommend for anyone to check out! Anyone can enjoy this, if you like western cartoons, Japanese animes, robot series, parodies children and adult alike - you're bound to have a laugh with the Samurai Pizza Cats!

More recently Discotek Media and Madman Entertainment finally took upon themselves to try getting the rights behind the series to re-release the show for the first time on home video. Two DVD collection sets were released containing the entire series, one for the US version of the show, "Samurai Pizza Cats: Complete English Language TV Series Collection", and a second one titled "Kyatto-Ninden Teyandee: Complete Uncut Japanese Language Collection" - both comprised of 8 discs each!

And it's fantastic to finally have the entire series with a proper official release - both the American and the Japanese version! It's mostly the same series, the cats have pretty similar personalities after all. The most notable differences are that the adventures of Yattaro (Speedy), Pururun (Polly Esther) and Sukashi /Guido) now take place in the city of Edoropolis instead (a pun on "Edo" and metropolis). A town inhabited by "animaloids" and run by Shogun Iei-Iei Tokugawa's daughter Tokugawa Usako while the ambitious prime minister Kitsunezuka Koon-no-Kami pins for the control of the city. Oh, and the Samurai Pizza Cats are actually "Nyankī" Ninja Cats in this version.

Personally I'm really happy both versions are finally available to all fans after all these years!

The series was a really huge hit and it spawned several toys and model kits across Japan, American and Europe (although those are pretty rare nowadays). There even was a video game for the NES back in 1991, a platformer developed by Tecmo. Sadly that would be the cats' last appearance in a video game, for a very long time they were almost set to appear in the Wii fighting game Tatsunoko vs. Capcom...

If you wanna check out the series, I'm pleased to tell you the show's now finally available on Crunchyroll!

I give it:
3 / 3 DonPatchis!

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