Crayon Shin-chan Movie 9: The Adult Empire Strikes Back
Shinnosuke and his family go to the 20th century museum, replicant of the 1970s World Expo in Osaka. His parents are exposed to nostalgia of their younger days, and are treated to the prospect of realizing their childhood fantasies once more. Unfortunately the curators of the museum have other plans of putting the future to an end, and living in the past century forever in their project "Yesterday Once More." This plan causes all the adults to lose their memories of adulthood, and live in the 20th century forever! What will happen to all the children if their parents refuse to grow up?
I couldn't believe my ears when Kei-kun told me he cried when seeing this movie. When I think Crayon Shin-chan, I think of the crudely-drawn anime and manga titles that fall back on cheap humor and sitcom-esque gags. While the characters are enjoyable and genuinely funny, there is hardly any room for sentimentality in the half-hour episodes.
Additionally, Crayon Shin-chan is quite episodic, and seldom contains any plotlines that carry over into the next episode. So how does such a series stretch an episode over 90 minutes?
I can't speak for other movies, but in this case, it is done brilliantly. Here's the formula: get a family we all know and love (and after 15-plus years on the air, it's easy to see that Shin-chan is loved), add a current trend in Japanese society (longing for the "simpler, good ol' days), and toss in some sneaky, clever social commentary, with just the right amount of typical Shin-chan humor. What you get is a multi-layered, deep animated film with a great message--which falls back on laughs before it ever gets too preachy.
The main incredient of course is the title character. Often I hear people dub Shinnosuke as the "Japanese Bart Simpson". I beg your pardon, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Simpsons' signature character is cold, rude, and cynical. Shin-chan, on the other hand, would find more in common with Dennis the Menace. His innocence and naivete makes him timeless and eternally young, and his comical outbursts often serve as truthfully revealing double entendres--which at first make us laugh--then think--and in the case of The Adult Empire Strikes Back, even get a little misty-eyed. If there ever was an anime example of "from the mouths of babes," this is it.
Even more than the Disney family films in their hey-day, The Adult Empire Strikes Back serves two audiences at once. Children love the misadventures of Shin-chan and his buddies get into, not to mention the visual gags and occassional potty humor (Shrek still puts it to shame, folks). Adults love the puns, parodies, and deep family messages that are tucked away within the plot.
So why isn't Crayon Shin-chan more popular in North America, even though Europe and Asia eat this stuff up? Quite simple. The North American anime audience, generally speaking, is still hung up on aesthetics. It's all about the pretty pictures, plot be damned! And Crayon Shin-chan boasts some of the overall ugliest character designs in animation--rivaled only by the likes of Reign the Conqueror and Beavis and Butthead. But I just cannot imagine the story being told any other way. It is easy to adjust to, and the story is so rich, having animation to match would turn it into an artsy-fartsy Miyazaki film, when what we want is a comedy.
Oddly enough, for all its artistic simplicity, the animation is great. Bodily maneuvers and stunts are done fully and realistically. Nothing about the music stands out, though the "nostalgia" is captured well through proper shading, color tones, and background music.
What more can I say about this movie? It is quality entertainment that will make you feel good about watching it. It isn't trying to be a work of art. It's just trying to be a fun movie where everyone can be in on the joke. The joke's on you if you pass this one up.
It helps to have a little info on the 70s Expo in Osaka, but it isn't necessary to enjoy. Unless you are some shallow pitiful fool that must have pretty pictures moving to deem it considerable viewing material, I see absolutely no reason for anyone to remove a star. This movie is greatness. The perfect blend of hilarity and sweetness. — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: There is one scene where Shin-chan drops his drawers and his tiny willy shows--but it's so cartoony, it can hardly be seen as inappropriate. Also Shin-chan declares at one point that he was so scared "his balls shrank back!" which might throw parents off. Typical boy humor. Highly recommended for thoughtful young adults, especially Calvin and Hobbes fans.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Crayon Shin-chan Movie 9: The Adult Empire Strikes Back © 2001 Toho Productions
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