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.