Ta-chan is the king of jungle. He was abandoned in savanna, and has been raised by a chimpanzee, Etekichi. He has a dearest wife, Jane who used to be a top model in New York, but now she looks... Anyway, to protect animals from poachers, Ta-chan is fighting against them with his disciple, Pedro, and a master of Chinese martial arts, Ryo.
This anime is based on the manga with the same title; it begins as a comical parody of Tarzan. The first several episodes are comedies, but the rest of the series consists of (rather) serious episodes.
I'm surprised there's not a review for this already, given how despite how obscure it is, this series is still within the top 2000 on this site.
Tar-chan is an obscure battle Shonen that barely receives any notice within not just the anime community, but even in Japan, with it's sole appearance outside of it's own anime/manga being it's titular protagonist being playable in two Jump crossover games. This lack of popularity would have you thinking this series isn't that good at all, wouldn't it? Well, you'd be wrong.
Tar-chan's plot, like many Jump series, is one that transitions from a comedic series into a battle series with constantly stronger foes. Whilst this would make many shout "Yet another Battle Shonen", this contains a lot more than the previous sentence would give at face value.
The plot of Tar-chan changes with each arc, though as an entirety, it follows the story of a Tarzan parody known as Tar-chan, a man raised in the African Savannah by a chimp named Eikichi and a Gorilla named Gori-san, as he protects his homeland from Poachers along with his friends the African Tribal warrior Anabebe, the French Karate expert Pedro and the Chinese martial arts Ki master Ryo Shihan. This isn't the only struggle he faces, with him also maintaining his rocky relationship with his overweight wife Jane, with him constantly pushing the line by looking at other women.
The early episodes have an episodic setup and are used to introduce and flesh out the cast. When the China Arc starts, the series then shifts into an action series focused on 1 on 1 Tournament battles, with Tar-chan and his friends facing Ki using Kung-Fu experts, Cyborgs, Vampires and finally, a clone of Tar-chan. The previous sentence alone shows how much the series constantly changes, with this ability to keep it's plot fresh being what should keep you wanting to watch it.
The set up of each arc itself is that of a standard Shonen, with the direction each series of battles in the arc shall go through being very straightforward. The series also relied on a lot of resolve power ups for Tar-chan, something unfortunately rampant in most Shonen series. What allows this plot to be good, however, is the drama found in the series. Whilst seeming like a silly series at first glance, it's in fact one with quite good settings and twists for each arc, with it's character writing for them being a point I'll elaborate on now.
Story - 7/10
This is one of the major pros to this series, as whilst many of the characters seem single-minded in their goals, they at least present enough emphasis on this to allow their personality to be fully established. The protagonist, Tar-chan, is in fact one of the most interesting Jump protagonists of the 90s due to him being a manly pacifist. His unique mix of honour, power and kindness is on a level comparable to such revered characters as Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin. The side characters of the series such as Tar-chan's brothers or the 5 strongest Vampires aren't too interesting, though they at least have the pro of presenting a good deal of manliness in their actions. Tar-chan's clone in the final arc, Iron Mask, presents perhaps the best use of character writing in this entire series, with him being a man with the psychology of a child, who's innocence and morals are twisted by his corrupt "mother". Many of the other enemies are tragic villains as well, though he was without a doubt the best written.
Characters - 7/10
The sound for the series is OK. Tar-chan's seiyuu is unfortunately, not a good choice, since he was a DJ with no experience in voice acting, which was critical in ruining some of the more emotional scenes. The other voices are fine, however. As for the soundtrack, it isn't too outstanding, though many of the tracks, particularly the instrumental renditions of the openings, are diamonds in the ruff. The openings and endings are pretty good too, with the 2nd opening being, in my opinion, one of the most catchy openings of the 90s, on par with any of the heavily praised openings of that decade.
Sound - 7/10
As for the art, this is one of the series flaws. Whilst it does an excellent job in the body proportions of both male and female characters, with great attention to showing muscular physiques, the facial designs are quite poor by comparison.
Art - 5/10
For the reasons I mentioned, ranging from it's creativity in changing the plot's settings, the character writing and it being a manly series, I found it to be a fairly enjoyable watch, though it would be a lot better if there were more reliable subs for it. Hopefully, it will get licenced by Discotek or another good official subber of non-mainstream anime.
Enjoyment - 7/10
Overall, Tar-chan is an obscure, yet creative series that deserves far more attention. If you enjoy battle Shonen, high variation in settings or simply series of the MANLY genre, this is one to give consideration to. read more