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?
Would you like to quickly introduce yourself, or how would you like me to introduce you?
I’ll introduce myself. Hiya, I’m MagicConan14, more commonly known as “Aria” around these parts (although that’s not my real name). I run the Animanga Spellbook, an anime/manga blog which…probably should push that fantasy theme more, but doesn’t.
So how familiar were you with the Kappa before I forced you to watch an episode?
Kappa Mikey? Welp, I watched some episodes ages ago (maybe 2008 or so…?) because the library had some discs of it (probably season 1, after asking people who remember watching with me). It’s a pretty good parody of anime, although it’s better to compare it to Avatar: the Last Airbender in that it’s Western animation that’s mostly family-friendly. (Key word being “mostly”.)
Okay, Aria likes to do this thing where she translates things for here audience’s understanding so she’ll probably appreciate me doing that for my audience. So a library is this place where before tablets you would have to go and get physical copies of each book you’d want. Sometimes they would have discs or “DVDs” which before streaming you would have to get a circle that played certain movies or televisions shows if you wanted to watch them at your home. Glad I could clear that up.
Episode Review: Battle of the Bands
Mikey and the Lily Mu crew start a rock band, despite them all being not so talented. However, when they begin practicing Ozu overhears Mikey’s cellphone ringtone and mistakes it for the band playing. The gang trick their way to stardom having everyone fooled, except for popular pop duo Yori and Ori. After Mitsuki drops out of the band feeling guilty about deceiving people Mikey ends up confessing to the crowd. While it seems that Lily Mu is to be canceled, Yori and Ori stick up for them saying they love Lily Mu and their sweet moves.
Oh man, this opening song takes me back. I could probably recite the lyrics off by heart, except for the very first bit where I can’t quite figure out what the lyrics are.
I forgot how janky the CGI is though. It’s probably on par with Tsukigakirei’s (my go-to example for bad CGI).
Ah, the dancing sushi! Someone I asked remembered them and it reminded me of their little eyecatch dance. *swings arms around in a small arc like a pendulum*
So this posts fun fact is that Mikey’s voice actor is Michael Sinterniklaas who actually has been the English dub actor for some recognizable characters including : Taki Tachibana – Your Name, Vinny – Promare, Takayanagi – Your Lie in April.
Were “your mom” jokes this bad in 2006…?
Oh…they even ripped off Puffy Ami Yumi…who’d have thought?
Chibi reactions were much more in style in 2006…I don’t really like them these days, unless it’s the norm like Hetalia (which is from 2008 or so, come to think of it).
In terms of American animation I’m glad that the whip sound effects is no longer as abundant in a similar vain. I think it’s most prevalent in early flash as it’s a way to cover up more snappy animation as presenting the movements as quick and dramatic instead of less fluid with less in betweens. If anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about Johnny Test turned it into a meme with how much it abused this sound effect.
That cross-mouth thing certainly didn’t carry over in these 14 or so years…
Also I’m kind of realizing that for this show the abundance of Chibi transformations seems like a bit like a trick to constantly be off-model. We don’t have to worry about being consistent in our art because… we’re being quirky.
The one annoying thing about learning Japanese in the years since watching this is that you auto-translate the text in your head…it seems to be fairly useless in this case, so I’m gonna cut those translations out of these notes.
How did they get away with the Spirited Away, Kimba/Simba and Yu-Gi-Oh parodies…?
There’s a real Shibuya 109 with that logo (the 106 you can see in one scene). It’s a department store…so maybe this scene is at the Scramble? Or at the very least, in Shibuya somewhere?
The whole ringtone aspect in this episode just reminded me of Bo Burnham’s MTV show Zach Stone is going to be Famous where he also found the best way to make it in the music industry while having no talent was to be a ringtone artist. Bo Burnham actually recorded his ringtone songs and as you can hear even before Eighth Grade and Make Happy Burnham was as cynical as ever.
Since Kappa Mikey aired in 2006, what since then do you think would be parodied or referenced if it was made today?
Isekai. Gd men did a hilarious take on it and I wish I could see that in Western animation…plus maybe the grimdark magical girl genre spearheaded by Madoka Magica? That would really push the boundaries of Western animation.
All good choices, It makes me sad because I imagine that if done now, the Puffy AmiYumi parody would totally be the K-On! girls and something about Ho-Kago Tea Time being these sort of bullies seems greatly amusing to me. It would have been interesting if this episode had more of an anime slant and did more of an idols twist I think that would be a fun update to this story in particular.
Do you think anime reviewers such as yourself should give Western animation more of a chance?
Well, as the name states, my blog’s mission is only to tackle anime and manga (plus things associated with those, such as light novels, although I haven’t talked about those much), so not me specifically…However, for someone who feels burnout who feels they need to branch out and they haven’t found that perfect niche yet, they might want to try something anime-esque like Kappa Mikey.
Note: In past blogging endeavours, I tried incorporating non-anime/manga talk, but it was mostly anime/manga-related anyway, which is where the focus comes from.
What would you do to most improve Kappa Mikey?
They throw in a lot of randomness “for funsies”. Certainly, throwing in some randomness can make things fun, but sparingly. I think a lot of Western animation does this in comparison to anime, by the way – I think why Teen Titans Go irks me so much is that they turned the randomness factor up to 11 on a scale of 10.
I think that’s a fair critique, I don’t know Teen Titans Go likes to do this thing where they clap back at all the critics in a very defensive way. They recently did a “damage control” cross-over with the painful Thundercats reboot and it’s weird the extent they’ll go to sacrifice their child audience to respond to angry tweets. I think Kappa Mikey really could improve with a little more substance in its story telling.
Was there anything unexpected or surprising upon viewing or revisiting Kappa Mikey?
That 106. Blatant parodies and bars-over-eyes are nothing new in Western animation and the background Japanese was so simple anyone who’s only learnt Japanese in passing could do it, but the fact they parodied the Shibuya 109 so well was a bit of a shocker.
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?
For comedies, you need to know what is being parodied before you enjoy a parody to its fullest, so start with an anime that plays most of Kappa Mikey’s tropes straight (it seems to be parodying 90s – early 2000s anime mostly, so something from that period), then come back if you need to.
Is there any Western animation series you’d recommend to someone who loves anime?
Avatar, as stated previously. OG Teen Titans too.
I will try to recommend in line with the band theme. I think the Scooby Doo rivals/knockoffs The Archie Show and Josie and the Pussycats are a nice time-capsule piece going back to the bubblegum pop era. While I don’t think it is anything spectacular I do think Class of 3000 has a decent stylist flair that goes across many musical styles with some fun animations.
Favorite character, or one that stands out to you?
Mitsuki. With childhood shows, I tend to sympathize with the female characters more – not the social butterflies, but the ones that are more bookish or shy (to bring Teen Titans back into the conversation, I like Raven more than Starfire).
Mikey won the chance to be the star of his own anime, how would you fare as an anime protagonist?
Unless it’s a slice of life anime…I wouldn’t fare so well. (Yes, even in comedy anime I’d be the straight man (…?), so my pride or something would still be hurt.)
I mean who doesn’t love a good comedic straight man, and with your infinite animanga wisdom I’m sure you’d make for one heck of an interesting character. I on the other hand probably would be somewhat of a Mikey Simon (It wasn’t just for the graphic) and asking everyone’s favorite character is a fun way to find out that everyone hates you…
As my panel of experts it is up to you to decide is Kappa Mikey GOOD or BAD?
A nostalgia trip is always good, even if it gets a bit cringeworthy at times.
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!
I guess I’ll plug OWLS
(LOL, I only just realised while linking this post, but it’s the post K helped with). We’re about to do something special for July 2020 which fellow collab member Scott was one of the proponents for, so please keep an eye out for us in the future.
Shh…. best to keep quiet about that I have sort of a reputation as a jerk to uphold. Check out Aria as she dabbles in all kinds of stuff, and excels at everything!
Site: Animanga Spellbook
Thanks for stopping by, and I will see you at the movies!