Patarillo! is set in a society much like ours in most ways, with one decided twist. The manga on which it is based is one of the much-read works produced for adolescent Japanese girls that features a healthy proportion of gay men and beautiful teenagers aka bishounen (beautiful boys). Most of the action takes place in Marinera, the land of eternal spring, located somewhere in the South Seas. The country is a major producer of diamonds; they provide much of the basis of conflict in the anime series. They come from one of the most prolific mines in the world, owned by the king of Marinera, the vertically challenged but horizontally endowed boy-king Patarillo himself. The International Diamond Syndicate - a huge semi- criminal organization/ secret society dedicated to taking over the world`s entire diamond supply- wants that mine and will stop at nothing to get it. In the early episodes they send off a number of bishounen assassins to do in Patarillo, which necessitates his having a bodyguard, the English MI6 agent, Major Jack (`Bishounen-Killer`) Bancoran. Bancoran`s nickname doesn`t mean he shoots bishounen in cold blood. The soubriquet comes from the fact that no male under the age of 17 can resist his sexual fascination. This, to Bancoran`s eternal disgust, includes Patarillo himself. The action switches often from Marinera to MI6 headquarters in London (London seems to be an easy two hour`s flight from the South Seas) or Bancoran`s palatial condo in the suburbs of same. (MI6, be it noted, looks a lot like Fritz Lang`s Metropolis, while Jack`s `apartment` bears a passing resemblance to Randolph Hearst`s spread.) The action also goes into the past and future and out into space. Patarillo evidently gets around.
Mineo Maya's PATALLIRO, about the adventures of a young but hyperactive monarch, is one of the longest-running manga comics in history, having started in 1978. The series, released in 1982, adapts only a few of the adventures of the comic, but captures fully their psychedelic and vibrant tone.
The show has a surreal blend of drama and humour, to the point where debate is on about whether it's a comedy or espionage series. I would call it the former, since the show belongs to Patalliro. There is danger, drama, intrigue... and then Patalliro, this chubby goblin- like infant, drops in like a spanner in the
works, shocking and exasperating all around him. It could appear jarring and jerky, but Maya possesses wonderful comic timing: whenever Patalliro appears he makes sparks fly and laughs flow. However, Maya also gives him dramatic stories where he reveals his great heart and wisdom. Indeed, Patalliro is the heart and soul of the story; without him it would most probably feel very generic.
The show also boasts a wonderfully baroque aesthetic, featuring wonderfully ornate and elegant designs, as well as a rich instrumental score. This aesthetic includes bishonen (boys with feminine looks); in fact, the show is one of the first ever to introduce bishonen. Thus there is a wide cast of men with female characteristics, a gallery of scenes filled with roses and love, and some implied coitus scenes... It's tastefully done though and for the most part it only serves to accentuate the uniqueness and surrealism of the show.
It's definitely a unique piece of work. Beautiful, bizarre and berserker-level funny. It's a must for an anime fan.
I will forever recommend this to anyone who is into a good laugh, pretty boys, has a long hair fetish or wants to have some good fun with something easy to watch.
You might look at the year it has first aired, the episode count and the fact that it has shounen-ai listed as a genre and think this is not a show for you. To be honest, I had the exact same thoughts when I first discovered it. I haven't really watched old anime (at that time I think the oldest series in my list was Sailor Moon) but I wanted to give it a
try, and stumbling upon Patalliro! I decided to give it a chance and let me tell you, I was hooked in by the time I finished the first episode and I binge watched all the episodes available.
Patarillo! is essentially about a ten year old boy, Patalliro, who happens to be the monarch of a very rich kingdom, Marinera, a major producer of diamonds. The conflict is triggered by the involvement of the Diamond Syndicate, a criminal organisations that wants to control the entire diamond supply of the world, a goal to which Patalliro does not comply with. Mix in a very handsome, eye shadow wearing, MI6 agent that has the power to seduce pretty boys with his eyes and their adventure begins.
Of course, Patalliro! isn't all about a kid and a gay agent running around trying not to get themselves killed by some shady organisation, but so much more. We have time travelling and fortune tellers and cursed diamonds from the Middle East and so much more. What makes this show so great is the fact that Maya Mineo combined all of this so perfectly and so fluidly that despite its randomness, the show manages to stay constant and not lose its seriousness when it is needed. Patalliro as a character is a joke and you can see that with all of the tasteless puns he makes, all the random costumes he pulls out at the worst times and his memorable cock Robin dance. He simply drives everyone crazy with his randomness and apparent stupidity, so much that you wish someone'll punch him (it happens eventually, don't worry) but all this gives the show great comedic value and makes it enjoyable.
Now, the gay is there and it is not subtle at all. Major Bancoran is gay, Patalliro weirdly tries to flirt with him and each episode features an amazingly good looking boy that either falls for the agent or crosses paths with a solitary MC. This might make you cringe or satisfy you, depending what you're into. A great thing about the gay themes this show has it that it can be easily taken as a joke or as an extremely serious topic. What I advise you is to try and overlook it when starting to watch Patalliro. Just forget it's even there if it bothers you, and eventually, when it happens, it will seem pretty humorous and natural.
I'd now like to point out some aspects I did enjoy about Patalliro and some that I think the average watcher might not.
The good: Great humor. Amazingly pretty boys with great hair. Fast paced story with very few boring parts or episodes. Gorgeous backgrounds and scenery. Great voice acting and catchy music (even nostalgic at times). Gays.
The bad: The animation and character design is very odd, and not odd like oh this is 80's anime what do you expect, but like, truly odd with amazingly cringy profiles and extra sparkly eyes, but you'll eventually get used to it.
You can't find the whole series with English subtitles (I presume it has to do with the lack of popularity it has).
The presence of gay characters and themes might not be for everyone.