Milk-chan is a drooling, potty-mouthed baby who lives in an apartment with an obsolete robot named Tetsuko, a slug named Hanage, and an uncontrollable pet named Robodog. Whenever the President calls, Milk-chan and the gang rush to the scene to solve any type of problem - whether it's stopping a money counterfeiter hungry for Belgian waffles or counselling a school of drunk fish. At the same time, they have to avoid a nagging landlord, as they're six months behind their rent.
This show sucked. From the teasers it sounded like it would be funny. It certainly is different, I'll say that, but just being different doesn't necessarily mean good. It's not funny, it's just stupid. It's about a potty-mouthed baby who lives with a robot. There's no real plot, it's just joke after joke. But the jokes are stupid and the comic situations just repeat themselves after awhile. I actually couldn't finish it.
Just so I'm not a total bringdown, the art was well done and the production was OK. It just wasn't funny.
Back in the early 2000s when anime actually still aired on American TV, the Adult Swim program block on Cartoon Network was by far the most succesful in terms of viewer ratings for anime. Other channels like Syfy tried, but weren't able to really find an audience. Adult Swim for the most part stuck with very generic and safe shonen series like Naruto, Inuyasha, Code Geass, and other shows that they knew had no chance of failing. If you wonder why Adult Swim never went further out on a limb and tried airing less conventional anime like Spice and Wolf or Mushishi. The answer is
that they tried...once....with a bizarre title called Super Milk Chan. This show bombed so hard that Adult Swim got even more conservative and although they love to air random American cartoons like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Tim and Eric, they never again tried with an anime that wasn't extremely mainstream (at least as much as anime can be mainstream in the US). This is a review of that bomb of bombs (besides Reign the Conquerer, but I already reviewed that putrid piece of shit).
The show is about a preschool aged girl that is a superhero and answers calls from an inept mayor to save the day. She was created in a laboratory by a mad scientist called Dr. Eyepatch. This was the year 1998 and earlier that year an American cartoon called The Powerpuff Girls had become rather popular in Japan. Milk Chan stole the plot of that show, but rather than being a direct parody/spoof, it relied on random pop culture references like Family Guy and bizarre humor that veers between absurdist humor ala Aqua teen and anti-humor ala Tim and Eric. Somewhat understandably, Cartoon Network figured they couldn't go wrong with a comedy that was a smash hit in Japan, and essentially followed the formula and style of many American cartoons. The problem with this is that pop culture references for country A aren't funny to country B that doesn't understand the references. Another problem is that Adult Swim had random American cartoons on Sunday and anime on Saturday, but very few people were fans of both anime and the American shows like Tim and Eric or Aqua Teen. People were usually either a Saturday viewer or a Sunday viewer. This left Milk Chan with a very small target audience of people that both liked anime and extremely random humor, and didn't mind that 1/2 the jokes were going to be lost on them.
Adult Swim tried salvaging their investment by redubbing the show again to feature American pop culture references, but it didn't do any better.
The art is intentionally very childish and tries to be humorous, but many viewers complained about the ultra bright color palate saying it hurt their eyes. The music...is very Japanese. That's about all I have to say about it.
This is NOT a good show by any means. However, it isn't actually as bad as many on Adult Swim message boards in the early 2000s made it out to be. I at least laughed a few times, which is more than I can say for Panty Stalking and Garterbelt, and that piece of shit actually has fans somehow!!! I think if Milk Chan had been made by Gainax and aired in the US maybe 2 or 3 years later, the Gainax fanboys would have eaten it up. It is funnier and much more cleverly written than Panty and Stalking afterall!
I was very unsure about this version of Super Milk-Chan. I had enjoyed the original series more than I expected to but could this show really transition to a full 25 minute episode format and have it's charm remain in tact? The shorter running time had been a crucial piece of what made the original series appealing to me because it meant the show never outstayed it's welcome. Well the answer for whether this series feels like overtime everytime in a longer format is mostly a yes but also no. Definitive huh? No? Well lets get into it.
Oh! Super Milk-Chan is the same format as
the previous series, we have 5 year old Superhero 'Milk-Chan' with no superpowers to speak of, her robotic flatulent maid 'Tetsuko', her slightly less pointless this time round pet slug 'Hanage' and the never will not bring a grin to my face the man who I'm told is most definitely The 'President'. Much like before the setup of each episode is the same with some gags from Milk-Chan and Tetsuko in the early going followed by eventually a call from the President with a mission that rarely amounts to anything but so long as the objective is completed it still calls for Sushi or something to celebrate.
It's fair to say the formula was pretty much copy and pasted over, just everything takes longer to occur and more jokes and oddity's are thrown inbetween. So while the general structure hasn't changed some extra elements have been thrown in to help fill the running time, primarily of which is the Landlord gag as he tries to obtain rent from Milk-Chan which now occurs every episode just with a different joke each time to make sure the rent doesn't get paid for another week. There is also the ongoing family drama of the Ants in the garden which leads to a few good laughs as the father ant suspects his 'wife' is having an affair and his paranoia continues to get the best of him and only drive a bigger hole between him and his family. Finally a trip to Dr.Eyepatch's lab for some item to aid them in their given mission is in each episode and this is normally worth it for the reoccurring mutterings of Tetsuko who dreams of meeting her founder and remains desperately ignorant of the truth, "I Hope He's Not My Daddy".
As previously mentioned despite the additions the transition to a longer episode format is not without it's issues. The major of which is each episode makes 25 minutes feel so much longer than it is as the show hasn't changed the format at all, instead everything is just paced much slower, each scene lasts longer and the show seldom makes it worthwhile. That is until it does, you see the scenes involving the 'President' are still an absolute joy and continued for me to be absolutely hilarious, and the simple fact they ran longer just made them all the more enjoyable. The President is possibly one of the funniest characters in all of Anime and as such having more of him is a huge positive. It's also worth mentioning that this show likes to employ what are basically catchphrases or repeated gags that occur each time in the show without fail. If it's not Milk-Chan proclaiming 'You Dumbass' then it's Tetsuko feeling 'Dreamy' about the possibility of meeting her creator. It's the President insisting he is in fact the President just incase we still are understandably not convinced. These running jokes lead to a comfortable experience with each episode that can't really be overlooked. I found myself looking forward to hanging around with these characters and that is the hook of the series more than anything else. It may take some time and even too much time for some but these characters are charming and funny even if there is a vibe of pointless to anything that is actually happening, so long as that nothingness involves these characters interacting and being them then that ultimately proved enough for me.
The animation has a much more vibrant and cleaner look to it compared to before but is perhaps less daring and interesting as a result. That's not to say it's worse as it functions just fine and there is some funny uses of it throughout but it's much more uniform than the previous series. Episode 1 looks like Episode 12 and for a show like this thats both good and bad. As for the Soundtrack it's something I don't remember at all beyond the ear worm like opening and ending themes. I did enjoy the Episode title jingle though.
So much like the last series I think one of the most crucial elements for whether or not you find yourself being suckered into the show is the characters and simply whether you like them or not? Because there is no story and the humor can be hit and miss but I found that much like the first series once I was suckered in by these characters and became entrapped by the show through to it's end. Oh! Super Milk-Chan is in summary a bad show occasionally bordering on mediocre thanks to some great albeit 1 dimensional characters. To say it's a hard sell is an understatement but it's worth a try as I think there is a decent chance these characters will burrow themselves into your heart.
I think it's worth noting that this show was probably never meant to click with western audiences, Super Milk-chan is a show that prides itself on referencing as much 60s-70s anime, manga and general Japanese pop culture from that time period in its twenty-four minute running time as possible, but I'm pretty sure that most of it's audience in Japan didn't get it either as it's a show that's nonsensical to a T (or an N, in this case...).
To explain this show would take forever, to explain why this show is one of my favourites? Even longer than that. While I myself have no idea
what is going on as I have barely any knowledge on Japanese pop culture, I think that this show has a unique, quirky charm to it that is why it fits so well in Adult Swim's own absurdity. Everything about this show is confusing and by the end of any episode you decide to re-watch, you will have barely any clue as to the first viewing. The character's conflicts, their notions as to why they do what they decide to do and why they do it is also shrouded in absurdity, confusion and genuine disbelief.
One of the series' strong points is it's art, which I doubt this series would have it's cult following if it weren't for it. It's an art style reminiscent of a Japanese character franchise and is stylized in such a way that mirrors the show's bizarre nature. The character designs are fresh and unique and the world they live in is as pleasant on the eyes. Aesthetically pleasing? Definitely. Does this ease the show's weirdness? No. Not at all.
I may be hamming this up just a little, but note that what makes this show so mediocre, so terribly incomprehensible is what I think is what makes it watchable. Yes, it's bad, but it's those aspects of its badness which turns it into something actually fun to watch.
Super Milk is a show which earns it's title among stoners as, "No, dude, you need to watch this absolutely baked to the bone and THEN it'll be funny." Because for everything this show is - pop-culture-reference-rammed, viewer-alienating-absurd and confusion-chock-full-crammed, it's still entertaining, and it's fans will tell you that you don't need to know what's going on to have a good time.
Watch it because it's weird and confusing - because making sense of this little enigma of a show will just melt your brain into milk.