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Crayon Shinchan - Getting In Trouble Has Never Been This Much Fun

Whoever pegged Shinchan as the Bart Simpson of Japan wasn't kidding. Shinchan is a hyperactive little kid with an over-active imagination and a mentality that sure doesn't match his shoe size. If some parents think they have it bad when their kids start acting up, then their problems will pale in comparison to those of the folks who cross Shinchan's path.

Crayon Shinchan is the best-selling manga series from Yoshito Usui that features simplistic artwork and loads of raunchy humor that'll leave the reader laughing out loud with dirty glee. Beginning in 1992 as a serial in the weekly Action Magazine, Shinchan quickly gained a large following that spawned a tremendously successful anime series and garnered considerable flack from the media at large for its content. Though the anime was toned down considerably from the manga, it still retained the raunchy edge of the characters.

Ten years after its appearance in print form, the manga has finally seeped into North American bookstores thanks to ComicsOne. Scheduled as a 32 volume series with an average volume count of 120 pages, the misadventures of Shinchan are slowly beginning to capture the hearts of manga fans everywhere.

Crayon Shinchan is a comedy series consisting of three-page mini-adventures. The general look is a cross between a four-panel manga like Heartbroken Angels and the seven-page installments of the Super Manga Blast! series What's Michael?. The first volume begins with a series of colored pages that literally look they were colored with a crayon before proceeding into the main black and white portions.

Interestingly enough, the series is set up in such a way that the reader can pick up any section of the series and instantly know what's going on. This gives the series a comic strip feel and helps to give it a longer shelf life as any of the adventures can be read again and they still retain their same comical kick.

An average day-in-the-life of Shinchan involves being woken up, going back to sleep, being woken up again, going back to sleep, being pulled out of his futon, and going to sleep again. If he manages to wake up, it's generally because his mom's going to go out shopping or his kindergarten class is going swimming. Both of those instances cause a considerable amount of headache for Shinchan's mom as they almost always involve Shinchan taking off his clothes or wearing his mom's panties on his head.

No, it's not that predictable. In fact, Shinchan is anything but predictable. The things that Shinchan asks or blurts out in public would have driven a sane person to suicide long ago, and that says quite a bit about Misae's commitment to her son. Though she is married, her husband, Hiroshi, works some seriously long hours at the office and is rarely seen at home during the day. This leaves Misae the sole person responsible for shopping, cleaning, cooking, and initiating sexual relations with her partner. As readers will find out, Shinchan's view of his mom is something along the lines of that "moustache crotch monster."

Don't think Shinchan gets to have his way all the time though, at least not without get a few licks first. Yep, the Nohara's aren't against punishing their child, because Shinchan sure needs to learn some discipline. He may be five years old, but he sure has an overactive libido for a kid his age. He goes around hitting on women and he even looks at the nudie magazines when at the bookstore (must get that from his father).

Heck, Shinchan even causes problems for his teachers and principal at school. For one, Principal Enchiyou scares the kids by just being in the same room with them. He looks like a yakuza (Japanese mobster) and Shinchan takes great joy in putting the guy in his place. Why, in one adventure, Shinchan hid in Enchiyou's car and screamed out the window that he'd been kidnapped -- right in front of a policeman! And lets not even get started on Shinchan's dumb mutt, Shiryo. That dog is good for one thing and one thing only -- pooping.

ComicsOne's English adaptation does take a few liberties with the jokes in order to make them funny for North American readers. Before the lynch mob starts a-knocking, the adaptation does help make the book instantly accessible to readers without having to dilute the jokes with tons of footnotes. Remember, if a joke has to be explained to you, then it's not funny.

Crayon Shinchan keeps this point in mind and makes changes when necessary. More recognizable adult magazine titles have been used to draw out the humor in Shinchan's rather 'unique' taste in picture books. At the same time Oreos cookies have become Shinchan's snack food of choice, familiar toy names have been used, and familiar 'American' stars have been used. Plus, for a book over ten years old, some of the jokes need to have some new life breathed into them. After all, the title has a long way to go before it'll be completely in English.

Vulgar, dirty, and loads of fun. It's no wonder Crayon Shinchan ranks right up there with such Japanese icons as Doraemon. Make sure you bring the paddle along the next time you're out, because Shinchan sure needs a good spanking.

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