Apr 11, 2021
Super Shiro might be the best thing Masaaki Yuasa has worked on since ping pong. In the past half a decade the man has worked on a ton of interesting projects, yet I don’t remember giving any of them anything but a seven. It feels like every anime he works on just coincidentally happens to not be my thing, which makes me feel left out when everyone around me manages to pick out an anime or two from his recent works to weave into their ever-growing favourites lists. Still, despite me being left out of a party that’s going on right next door, I believed
steadfast that one day a show would come along to break the chain of sevens. Man, I should have guessed it was going to be god damn Shin-Chan.
I’ve vaguely known about Yuasa’s involvement with the Shin-Chan anime since forever, but it’s never really turned into coherent thought until this anime started airing. The nonsensical and experimental nature of the Shin-Chan TV anime and movies don’t surprise me to have been the playing ground for a director as eccentric as Yuasa, but I am surprised the producers of Shin-Chan have the gall to haunt the man for the rest of his years, even after he’s seemingly ‘made it big’. You can’t dispute the amount of love and attention that’s gone into this project, though. Despite having only managed to find an audience in the west just barely large enough for it to get subtitled, the show feels like a spirit bomb comprised of the love and devotion of millions of world-wide fans, with how much lovely animation and creative, wacky stuff the show manages to pack. This show doesn’t feel like a cash grab. It feels like a project that was conceptualized at the hands of skilled and passionate creators and brought into physical being only because the passion of its creators and a lick of common sense dictated that it had to be made. The official reason for its creation, that being the 60th anniversary of an old tv station, feels only secondary to this, like the ‘casus belli’ that poetically justifies a war declared to satisfy a medieval monarch’s greed. This anime is a work of passion, through and through, and despite me initially being somewhat concerned over its consistency, it managed to keep my attention all the way through.
Despite this being a very eccentric show, the start of every episode seems very intent on convincing you that the dog of the very normal Nohara family itself is extraordinarily normal, just to reveal that the creature is in fact a super hero who protects the world. An artefact of unknown origin has been left behind somewhere in the world and whomever possesses it may use it to let others do their bidding and, potentially, take over the world. This bone-shaped doomsday device can be found somewhere in or around the city Shiro lives in and (get this. This is my favourite part) can be distinguished only by its ‘gorgeous’, ‘elegant’ and ‘wild’ fragrance. They say these three words in English, like kids would have any idea what they mean, yet it perfectly fits in with the silliness of the show and the fact that all the characters are dogs with very good noses.
Every episode starts with Shiro being told of the new location of the legendary artefact known simply as ‘Bo-bo Bo-bo Bone’. A loveable antagonist named ‘Degapoo’ follows him there and the entire episode basically consists of the two of them trying to foil each other’s attempts to take off with it. Every episode has a new setting where they can get into each other’s way in a variety of different ways. One episode they’re both in lines for the swing, but because Shiro keeps getting through his line faster, Degapoo goes over to him to push him out, forcing them both to re-enter the line at the back. Another episode, they’re taking turns trying to descend down a bridge with a rope unto a small island in the river, but the one that’s left behind keeps making the other fall in the river, forcing them to continuously repeat the same spiel. As you can see, the two of them repeating what they’re doing is a common thing in Super Shiro and there are definitely times when they repeat the same action or animation a few too many times, but every time the show does get a little repetitive it’s back to doing something interesting in no time.
These are some of the more normal settings for an episode, but there are definitely episodes that get a little more creative with their conflicts. Such as the episode where, instead of trying to get the Bo-bo Bo-bo Bone before the other does, they try to trick each other into going into a lake full of piranhas to go get it for them. At the end of this episode they both have lost all their fur, but are inexplicably unwounded. There’s also an episode where the two of them are in a cornfield and try to shoot each other with popcorn-machine-guns, all the while some western music is playing. There’s also an episode where they go into a library and a librarian dog uses philosophy to get their brains to overheat. Shiro eventually uses the super power of ‘turning your brain off’ to win the day. At the start of the show I was afraid the show might be too repetitive and might not stay fun for 48 whole episodes. Not only did this turn out not to be a problem, I even found that some of the most creative stuff in the show was near the end. There was an episode in the final stretch where all the music and sound effects had been replaced with á Capella, and it made me really impressed with the team behind this show that they were still pulling tricks out of their bag this far into it. Episodes like that really make me want there to be a season 2, but alas, I don’t believe we will get one.
A major way the show brings variety to its conflicts, is through the introduction of a small but effective set of side-characters. The first side character introduced in the show is a big, muscled, hard-ass of a dog, who’s role is mainly to put a lid on the two main characters whenever they annoy him. He adds an element of danger to every episode he’s in, and the show then subverts that when he’s rudely notified, he’s breaking the rules and he politely apologizes. Turns out, this dangerous hard-ass is really just a stickler for the rules, who doesn’t appreciate other dogs acting like public nuisances. The other major recurring side character is called Kyan-Kyan. She’s the pet dog of a ludicrously wealthy bourgeois lady, who’s constantly away on expensive party trips across the globe. Kyan-Kyan is able to obtain any object she wants in the world, but the real thing she wants is to go along with her owner to these expensive parties and obtain the affection of all the other partygoers and the only way she knows to do this is through the power of the mysterious and odorous ‘Bo-bo Bo-bo bone’. She absolutely does not do this by getting her own paws dirty. Her feminine wiles are all she needs and are able to move the mountains, as Shiro and Degapoo and any other dog for that matter are almost completely incapable of refusing any of her requests. The thing about her character that most impresses me and the quality of the show that she is the best at exemplifying is her great character design. Even from the slightest glance at her character you can get a pretty good idea of what her deal is. You don’t need the characters in the show to say anything for you to know dogs find her beautiful, she is beautiful. Lots of characters in the show can be understood at a glance, yet they all turn out being just a little more loveable than you had initially predicted.
The three main characters are of course the true stars of the show, that being our awkward but well-meaning hero Shiro, the intelligible, but certainly not intelligent, villain Degapoo and the narrator, who’s voicing of Shiro is a great cherry on top of this wonderful anime. Shiro and Degapoo are constantly fighting, throughout every episode and their back and forth is the bulk of what makes up the intrigue of the episode. However, after a while the way they go about doing this starts diversifying. There is a genre of episode where Shiro is trying to undo all the bad that Degapoo does in trying to find the B’Bone. Think of catching the things that he throws on the ground and putting them back in their place, or closing products that he opened in a factory. Sometimes Degapoo does these misdeeds not because they are efficient, but because they are evil. However, if Degapoo ends up in a bad situation near the end of the episode Shiro will be there to help him out. More interestingly so, Degapoo starts doing the same thing for Shiro after a while. Not just that, as the show goes on there are more and more episodes where Degapoo gets completely distracted by something else and forgets about the B’Bone. In one such episodes he becomes the hero of a colony of ants, by introducing social democratic policies and successfully demanding better working conditions through peaceful protests. If I haven’t convinced you of how charming this show is at this point, I don’t think I can help you.
The aspect of the show that I love the most, has to be the visual presentation. The show stands out by having simple but very well-made character designs and it shows in the animation department too. There’s such a wealth of goofy animation that really makes the characters stand out and that wouldn’t be possible if the designs didn’t lend themselves so well to erratic motion. Yuasa is a master of creating interesting motion and therefore is a perfect fit for a show whose main appeal lies in watching two characters trying to pull each other down in a variety of different and interesting ways. The show never stops giving you great images and creative motions and is overall a blast to watch, though it does occasionally falter, in that it sometimes plays the same bit of animation a few too many times. But always when the show falters a little, it is back to being fun in no time and I always feel good about the episode by the time the lovely and adorable ending theme plays, charming me one last time before the episode ends.
And that, I would have to say, is the main appeal of Super Shiro: Charm. I just can’t get over how much I love the cute characters, both heroic and villainous, the lovely art, the adorable ending theme and the narrator, who dictates an idealized story of what Shiro as a hero should be, often to Shiro’s chagrin. But he goes through with it anyways! Cause he’s a good boy! I watched Shiro a couple episodes a day and it would always brighten my day with how fun and adorable it was. I recommend this show to anyone who needs something bright and colorful in their lives and who is into cute and fun kid shows. I can’t guarantee you’ll think it’s as consistently great as I did, but you’ll definitely have a fun time. The exactly six-minute episode length allows for a super easy view, so an episode never feels like a significant time investment. Also, be sure to take your time with the show. There really isn’t any reason to rush to the end, especially considering the ending isn’t very definitive. If you were as charmed by Shiro as I was and you want more, I would recommend shows like Pokémon Sun and Moon, Ojamajo Doremi, Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki, aikatsu stars or the wacky and insane 100% pascal-sensei, the most underrated show on the interwebs. Other than that, regardless of whether you like this show or not, regardless of whether you’re a human or a soulless, android, zombified lizard demon baby, you should watch the lovely 9th Chin-Chan movie, which is impossibly good for a TV-anime tie-in movie and is a beautiful love letter to the nation of Japan and a counter argument to the nostalgia that many of its denizens withdrew into after the post-war bubble economy burst. It is the best piece of Shin-Chan media out there. Definitely go watch that movie. It is one of anime’s best.
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