Pucca is the young daughter of a Chinese noodle house owner and she is hopelessly in love with the ninja Garu. He tries desperately to avoid Pucca's advances and usually does not return her affection. This results in many comical situations as Pucca goes to great lengths just to steal a kiss from Garu. Expect to see lots of "funny love" antics involving everything from noodles to deadly ninjas.
Ninjas, noodles and kisses. It sounds like the formula for a run-of-the-mill shouo anime where all the characters have twinkly or flowery backgrounds and stare doe-eyed at each other until the next bout of melodrama.
Thankfully, Pucca is nothing like that.
Originally created between 2000 and 2004 by the South Korean production studio Vooz Co. as a series of internet flash animation, the show proved to be insanely popular not only in South Korea, but also in Japan and China, and the series gained a dedicated cult following across the world, even going so far as to spawn lines of stationary, greeting cards, keyrings, and a horde of other merchandise. It may even be the case that the franchise is second only to the mighty Sanrio (Hello Kitty), in terms of merchandising revenue.
The tale is a very simple little "romance" about an 11 year old girl called Pucca, who lives with her three uncles in a noodle restaurant. She has a crush on local ninja-in-training Garu, and will do almost anything to give him kisses.
Cue the madness.
Pucca is essentially an episodic tale that has no real plot aside from the lead character trying to express her love for her extremely reluctant beau. Now normally this would be a problem, however this show works surprisingly well with that handicap for one very important reason - the premise is only there to give the comedy something to stand on. The important thing to remember when watching this show is that it never takes itself or the viewer seriously, and this in itself makes a refreshing change as while the series has no real conclusion, the viewer will find themselves wanting more without realising it.
Given that the comedy is the most important aspect of this show, it's important that it's done well, and in this respect Pucca really delivers. There's very little in the way of speech, however the visual comedy is amongst the best in anime, and many gags last only a few seconds before the show moves onto the next one. In truth, one of the reasons I like this show is because there's a certain "Pythonesque" quality to the humour, and some of the jokes are very clearly aimed at a more "mature" audience.
Unlike the original series, Pucca (2006) was specifically made for TV, and the difference in quality shows in both the sound and the visuals. While I've only seen the English dub of the show, the fact that it has very little speech means it is easily transferrable into any language, something which has proven a boon for the franchise as it now airs in numerous countries across the planet. That said, the acting is very well done for the most part, and the spoken comedy is often just as good as the visual slapstick. The effects are actually pretty diverse, and their execution is pretty good for what many people consider to be a "kids show".
One of the bigger plusses for the show is the music. The theme tune is dangerously simple and catchy, and one viewing will make it stick in your mind for quite a while. The mixture of fast paced guitar music and techno dance tracks also add to the show's eccentric take on "romance".
Where Pucca really struts its stuff though, is with the visuals. As I've mentioned, much of the comedy is seen rather than heard, and because of this the characters are designed in a particularly "cartoony" manner. This decision works extremely well with the humour, and also allows for a certain freedom with the animation that the series relies on. The show retains the "flash-like" feel of the original series, but has improved in almost every aspect in terms of looks and movement.
As for the characters, well, what can I say? Pucca is adorable, and her antics are sometimes hilarious. Garu is far too serious for his own good, and his attempts to escape Pucca's affections often lead him into more trouble.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Pucca has a host of characters who take part in the show at one time or another, and almost every single one contributes to the comedy content in some way. From Garu's arch-enemy Tobe to Master Soo, from Pucca's best friend Ching to Santa Claus, there isn't a single wasted character in the whole show. Granted there's no development, but when the comedy's this good, who cares?
Now, it's a fairly well established fact that I love shows that are quirky, oddball, off the wall, or just plain wrong when it comes to comedy, and to be honest, Pucca didn't disappoint. There's plenty of laughs on offer here, and the humour is designed to cater for just about anyone who fancie a chuckle. Granted the show may not be on a par with the likes of Gintama et al, but given that each epsiode is only around 7 minutes long, this series is definitely worth checking out if you want something short to brighten your day a little (before you go to work on a Monday morning for example).
Sometimes it's nice to watch an uncomplicated show that has the simple goal of making you laugh :)