Hey hey, you you out on the streets. Don’t you see the man is Kappa K. So I am going to try to keep this intro brief, but today we are reviewing the 2006 series Kappa Mikey which is an American cartoon that heavily parodies a bunch of anime. I know a bit of anime so I thought maybe it would be fun to do a retrospective on this cartoon and see how it holds up to today. However if playing a weekly game of Anime Music Quiz has taught me anything, I clearly have not seen as many series as some of my compatriots, so I thought it would be a fun idea to have them join me in a series where we watch an episode of Kappa Mikey and then I get their thoughts on the episode and a series as a whole. Without further ado, let’s take a look at who will be joining us today!
Hello, how are you?
Hello, K. I’m doing pretty good. Somewhat tired, but I don’t feel that burnt out or anything. A definite plus considering how the state of the world is right now and all that.
Would you like to quickly introduce yourself, or how would you like me to introduce you?
Oh yes, I will introduce myself. Hello K’s audience and random strangers on the internet who search this. My name is Scott and I run this little blog called Mechanical Anime Reviews. Ok, maybe little isn’t the word for it but it’s small when compared to other media sites.
My forte in blogging seems to be writing about Mecha Anime that I can’t shut up about with some filler anime series and other posts that aren’t mecha related in between. At least, that’s how it feels to me. I don’t just watch mecha series, but I feel like mecha anime is where my heart and soul is if that makes sense.
So how familiar were you with the Kappa before I forced you to watch an episode?
I think I might have heard about Kappa Mikey back in the mid 2000’s when I was in high school, but I am not sure that at all. Otherwise, I am not at all familiar with Kappa Mikey at all. So yeah, this was a lot of fun.
A Christmas Mikey
In short we watched “A Christmas Mikey”, the holiday special. The first season of Lily Mu wraps, Mikey needs a new contract but Ozu is in a fowl mood during the holidays. After the contract meeting Ozu follows the events of A Christmas Carol visited by X-mas Shogun, while Mikey is thrust into A Wonderful Life where an angel shows him the cast of Lily Mu had Mikey never came to Japan.
When we talk about how well this episode was written, it was pretty great. I mean, the episode is a Christmas episode right? You usually know how those go with the three ghosts of different times dragging people to fix their bad attitude towards Christmas. Twisting around that formula in general with a very self aware sort of attitude with Ozu and even pushing some of that plot element on Mikey instead of the rich person in question was pretty great way to go about it.
I did kind of enjoy the mis-mashing of these two X-mas classics it helped this particular episode feel refreshing despite doing the same tired bits. This episode has one of the stronger inciting incidences I’ve seen as Mikey has a genuinely good reason to feel unwanted and it was nice to see Ozu get some character development.
It’s sort of ironic that I brought in anime experts, only for me to comment on all the film references littered throughout this episode. It’s odd because it seems like it is just reference for reference sake. Throughout the episode we get:
Buster Keaton house falling around him gag
The angel Lawrence is clearly supposed to be Peter O’ Toole (Lawrence of Arabia)
Mitsuki becomes Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard.
I do yearn for a little bit more creativity behind these gags. It’s not for children, it’s not for anime fans and they’re not re-contextualized to fit into anime or compare with anime or to contrast these characters it’s just apparent. I feel that’s something that even Teen Titans Go kind of gets, when they have references they usually treat these titans as irritating nuisances. If you’re going to have O’Toole a great actor be Mikey’s angel then shouldn’t that play into the dynamic in a way.
That and I had an interesting time learning who the side characters were and how Mikey was attached to them versus his own selfish nature of just wanting things vs how him doing things for his own selfish reasons changed the lives of the characters around them. Even if Mikey seems very selfish, their time around them did have an effect on him. Something that was superficial changed with Ozu who knows his son is going to show up.
I just want to bring up that I think everyone has at one point brought up how selfish and self-centered Mikey is. While I think it’s more tolerable in this episode as I can see an immature goof getting carried away while negotiating his first big contract. It’s got plenty of comedic potential and it plays more into Mikey just being childish than really harming others. That said, Mikey being selfish is the catalyst of every single episode I reviewed so it was either a really poor sample size or that is Mikey’s defining trait.
Art and Animation wise, the show took a lot of getting used to. I liked how Mikey’s character is very American compared to the other characters being generic anime style, but the way everything was handled was bad and basic. Almost too cheap and focusing on how anime does it’s styling without really understanding it. So, a bad copy of a style the animators don’t understand that well. Plus, you can just see the shortcuts in animation with singular framing of characters put in display when one talks. It all just distracted me too much.
Overall, it’s a fine X-Mas episode a little underwhelming considering I heard this episode was somewhat of a fan favorite. Kappa Mikey really isn’t much of an ambitious show it seems like a nice little gag based comedy and I think there’s better out there but I can see some charm to the show. I still thing Kappa Mikey is a Newgrounds animation with a network budget and that’s something.
How do you feel about Kappa Mikey’s portrayal of anime/anime culture?
I feel like the show does a kind of interesting adults general look at how anime and anime culture works from a generic outsider’s point of view without digging into the real nature of the culture itself. Like seeing the ground from an airplane high up in the air if you catch my drift.
There were the robots, girls with strange hair in uniforms, the chibis, and the humor, but they just felt a little off and fake I suppose. It’s not offensive because Ozu’s accent, because the character writing is more than just stereotypical writing because they are their own people. So on and off I suppose.
Since Kappa Mikey aired in 2006, what since then do you think would be parodied or referenced if it was made today?
It feels like Kappa Mikey was going for a 90’s art, animation, and references, so I can see it having references and art from the late 2000’s and early 2010’s anime today. The Big Three shonen series would show up, FMA, HunterXHunter, and things like that.
Oh geez Naruto and One Piece feel extremely M.I.A. in this series from what I’ve seen. In terms of a Christmas special I feel that there’s been a lot of slice of life X-Mas specials so it would be nice if some of the background elements could have held some Easter eggs of maybe the Lucky Star girls enjoying the holidays. I don’t know they had a Christmas party it would be fun to maybe see Gonard and Guano do a similar performance to Taiga and Ami in Toradora. I don’t think you can utter anime and Christmas in the same sentence and not bring up the incredible Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya which I feel would get referenced in the title or show somewhere.
Also I’m sure Scott will enjoy it if everyone’s favorite Christmas movie: Gundam Wing Endless Waltz got some recognition!
Do you think anime reviewers such as yourself should give Western animation more of a chance?
Yes. While we love culture from another country and seeing a lot of value in them, we should also watch a lot of things from our own culture too. There are good and bad Western animated shows just like there are good and bad anime series. Experiment and find series that you like from both sides.
What would you do to most improve Kappa Mikey?
A bigger budget, using programs that aren’t just a step up from free programs to animate the show, and the show going for it’s own unique blend of anime characters like Teen Titans or Avatar instead of going for basic designs from how to draw anime character books and having mikey thrown in. The show would be much more defined that way.
Everything that I think this show has to the potential to be: a fun assortment of reference based satire with a colorful cast of characters and a vibrant assortment of different animation styles… already exists. It’s called The Amazing World of Gumball and it’s pretty freaking cool. It’s so clever and creative and it’s parodies and stories tend to have a little more depth than Kappa Mikey. It references pop culture, anime, and memes and is a fun time. I think this is one that more people need to give a chance.
Was there anything unexpected or surprising upon viewing or revisiting Kappa Mikey?
Not especially, it felt like something that would come out in the mid 2000’s when anime culture was strongly affecting western culture in a lot of ways.
For many kids this was something that introduced them to the concept of anime, or at least established that distinction, Do you think this is a good introduction? Why or why not?
It wouldn’t be a bad one. It still is a very westernized point of view of anime in general, but it is enough to get a kid interested in anime. Possibly trying to figure out what this odd animation style is and look deeper into it. Hopefully not too addicted though. That can be very dangerous. I mean, look at me.
Is there any Western animation series you’d recommend to someone who loves anime?
Things like the latest Voltron series, Castlevania, Sym-Bionic Titan, possibly Dragon Prince, Over The Garden Wall, and probably some others that came out recently I need to watch still. You know, besides the obvious Megas XLR, Teen Titans, Samurai Jack, and the Avatar series. Almost everyone would mention those.
All good choices, while you mostly covered action I think I’ll offer some choices for some fans of some slice of life. I think Regular Show has a really strong creative vision that it has almost become the anthem of slackers with 90s Nostalgia. Similar is the wholesome We Bare Bears which follows a band of bear brothers as they figure out how to survive in the modern world. While I can’t say I’ve seen it, I have heard good things about Daria which I think has a really prominent female voice to it that it is a unique and interesting piece of animation.
Also because I guess nobody else is going to say it….Adventure Time? I really don’t know how the anime demographic feels about AT but there’s a lot of overlap. A lot of cosplay, Waifu Wars, really imaginative storytelling that has a good dose of action, adventure, and comedy.
Favorite character, or one that stands out to you?
Guano seems like a pretty fun mascot character who loves what he is doing, but Gonard is voiced by Goku (Sean Schemmel) and is a himbo so obviously Gonard. I’m sorry, those are the rules.
Mikey won the chance to be the star of his own anime, how would you fair as an anime protagonist?
It depends on the genre. I am a very shy, impatient, and very worrying person. Unless it was a sort of series where that changes like Gundam or explored like Eva, no one would want to watch me at all. I don’t have that strong of self confidence as Mikey or general shonen jump characters have unfortunately.
As my panel of experts it is up to decide is Kappa Mikey GOOD or BAD?
From the one singular episode I watched, I think Kappa Mikey is alright or at least passable. See my too long explanations above for my reasons.
Thanks for stopping by, please plug something. Any reviews, or things coming up, and future tour days or merch you want to promote please do!
Thank you for having me here! :). This was a lot of fun. Exactly what I expected from a K collab. Unusual and fun in the right ways.
I suppose I do have some things to announce and/or look forward to. I am running #TheJCS during the month of June. Be sure to look for or look at my announcement post to see how you can contribute.
Also, I am planning another blog tour in August that will look at time/isekai travel. If you want to get involved in that, an announcement post will appear in early July. I’m still in the planning stages for that right now. I hope it’s going to be fun though.
I suppose my Mamoru Oshii themed month in October isn’t as interesting as those, but I am going to look at 8 Oshii anime movies from across his career. I guess I had a lot to announce though.
Look forward to all that and more. One of the smartest and coolest guys around, it was my pleasure to have you around, at the movies!
Scott’s Site: https://ko-fi.com/mechan ( I’m such an idiot and I linked his Ko-fi page instead, well it is definitely sort of already too late in the editing process to change that, but while you’re there maybe consider buying him a coffee and leaving a nice message.