Samurai Pizza Cats
Both pizza delivery-men and samurai (as their name suggests), the Samurai Pizza Cats - consisting of feisty leader Speedy Cerviche, headstrong female Polly Esther, and suave "ladies man" Quito Anchovy - protect their town of Little Tokyo from the attacks of an evil robot fox (mouse in the dub) called The Big Cheese, who also has a clan of evil birds known as the Ninja Crows working for him.
Watching anime on T.V. in the 1990's wasn't easy for someone living in North America. Unless you had money to burn, good relations, or traded digital sources with others for free, you were stuck with whatever was dubbed for North American release, with uneven results - watchable at best, banal at worst.
When I was 12 in 1996, though, I didn't care for that. I just liked watching cartoons. At the time I thought Samurai Pizza Cats was a breath of fresh air amongst all the comic book cartoons that bored me to tears then. The fact that it was on five times a week was great, too. I didn't even care that we lost several episodes when it aired in Philadelphia from its original, 1990 syndicated run.
Part of the reason I dug Samurai Pizza Cats so much was the show's silly, fun atmosphere. Some anime have great translations. Some try to follow he spirit of the original while adding their own flair to adapt better to English-speaking audiences. Samurai Pizza Cats didn't even attempt to translate the original source material. (Rumor has it that they didn't even translated scripts, so Saban had to make their own scripts through ad-libbing. Somehow I suspect this to be truth.) Instead, they just try to throw in as many jokes, puns, and odd names as possible. The result is one of the oddest, most haphazard, and yet charming dubs of any anime I've ever seen.
Granted, it doesn't always work. For one, like most Saban dubs, the characters never stop talking. The music is always going on as well, which plays basically nonstop from beginning to end in every episode. Thankfully it's not that bad, but still.
Another problem has to do with the show itself; the recycling of scenes. I know I shouldn't be judgmental, since it's a kid's show and all, but there's only 18 minutes of actual episode, so it's annoying when 15-20% of one is wasted on re-done scenes every episode. Examples include the Pizza Cats taking off from their restaurant (in a giant gun, none the less), their pre-battle poses, Speedy's sword attack, their post-batlle poses, and a mother and her son commenting on the Pizza Cats every time they launch. A few of the jokes get stale after a while, too. For example, Speedy and Quito's love interest Lucelle has a habit of launching missiles from her head whenever she gets upset. The Big Cheese, the villain of the series, is also prone to exploding when upset as well. The constant fourth-wall breaking sometimes gets a little annoying at well.
That doesn't stop the the show from being great fun, though. The very idea of ninja cat heroes who also work as pizza delivery-men is something only the Japanese could cook up. The setting of Little Tokyo is quite colorful, with uniquely designed characters and decent animation for a both a show of its time and as a kids' series. This can be attributed to Tatsunoko Production, one of Japan's biggest animation companies. This was a company that proved that kids entertainment didn't have to hokey, low-budget fare, and it shows even here.
The characters, as this is a glorified parody, are shallow, too. Speedy is mainly the energetic lead with a chip on his shoulder, more concerned with food at times than fighting. Polly is the temperamental female, not afraid to scratch her partners when irritated. Quito Anchovy is a ladies man who for some reason talks like a beatnik. And then there's the narrator, who points out everything going on as if this series was made for the blind. Though typically funny, his dialogue, much like everyone else's, is inconsistent at best.
For villains we have The Big Cheese, a robot fox of some kind who talks with a lisp and sounds more than just a little like a stereotypical gay man. His partner is Jerry Atric, an aging crow who acts as the responsible one to the Cheese's lack of sensibility. The one other recurring villain is Bad Bird, leader of the Ninja Crows and a rival of Speedy. (And also a spewer of some of the dumbest dialogue in the dub. Watch a few episodes and you'll see why.)
All in all, Samurai Pizza Cats is not something you can really review. You'll either love its inane, off-the-fly, colorful dialogue, or loathe every minute of it. Its long length and repetitive scenarios are made up for by colorful characters and fun animation. I am so glad that Discotek Media picked this up for DVD release.
Sometimes hilarious, sometimes stupid as hell, Samurai Pizza Cats is something every anime fan should see at least once. Add a star if you like parodies. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Animated slapstick, mainly. Lots of explosions and beams and such, though rarely do the characters get anything other than bruised / temporarily hurt.
Version(s) Viewed: Broadcast (syndication), English dub
Review Status: Partial (30/54)
Samurai Pizza Cats © 1990 Sotsu Agency / Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd.
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