Newest Reviews
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
  Doctor Slump and Arale-Chan The world will know his genius
Year: 1981
Director: Minori Okazaki, Yoshiki Shibata
Stars: Kenji Utsomi, Mami Koyama, Hiroshi Otake, Isamu Tanonaka, Kazuhiko Sugiyama, Keichi Noda, Mariko Mukai, Masaharu Sato, Mitsuko Horie, Nachi Nozawa, Naomi Jinbo, Seiko Nakano, Toshio Furakawa, Shigeru Chiba
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, Weirdo, Fantasy, TV SeriesBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Life is already pretty strange in Penguin Village but then genius inventor Senbe 'Slump' Norimaki (voiced by Kenji Utsomi) creates a little robot girl named Arale-Chan (Mami Koyama). Amassing data from a stack of pop idol photos and porno mags, Slump planned to create the 'perfect' woman. What he gets instead is a bespectacled, hyperactive, inquisitive little tyke with superhuman strength and a knack for trouble. Pretending Arale is his sister, Slump enrolls her at the local school where beautiful blonde teacher Midori Yamabuki (Mitsuko Horie) becomes the object of his prurient fantasies. Meanwhile Arale-Chan befriends mischievous Akane (Kazuhiko Sugiyama), would-be cool kid Taro (Toshio Furakawa) and pint-sized Piisuke (Naomi Jinbo). Madcap adventures ensue involving time machines, quantum cloning devices, an invisible gun and X-ray spectacles.

In Japan and much of Asia Doctor Slump and Arale-Chan is justly considered a children's comedy classic. Among the most beloved anime of all time its original incarnation on television in the early Eighties drew huge ratings that dwarf many more heralded genre outings today and spawned eleven movies to date. Creator Akira Toriyama went on to create the equally popular Dragonball franchise that might have a higher international profile but pales by comparison in terms of creativity. While later Dragonball films devolved into repetitive, videogame-style fight-fests Doctor Slump remained throughout its varied incarnations (including a TV revival in the late Nineties) a hilarious, surreal sci-romp rife with verbal and visual wit and no small amount of charm.

Set in a surreal pastel coloured fantasy world of anthropomorphic animals, inanimate objects that come to life, folkloric characters, aliens and bizarre pop culture cameos from the likes of Ultraman, the Frankenstein Monster, Gamera and Bjorn Borg (!), Doctor Slump parodies and subverts motifs from classic Seventies anime. From Osamu Tezuka's seminal Tetsuwan Atom a.k.a. Astro Boy (1963) to stoic superheroes from Tatsunoko Studios like Casshan: Robot Hunter (1973), the mad genius that invents the robot crimefighter was an anime staple. Here however the crackpot inventor has far less noble intentions. Shortly after being brought to life Arale-Chan excitedly asks whether she was created to fight bad guys. To which Doctor Slump replies that is ridiculous. His main goal in inventing a robot girl seems to be to show off although, in an amusing running gag extended throughout the series, the residents of Penguin Village take his amazing inventions for granted. By contrast with the angst-ridden anime adventure yarns of the Seventies, Doctor Slump reflects the Eighties preference for domestic farce with a fantastical twist not too different from another long-running anime franchise that began the same year: Urusei Yatsura.

The show centres on an unorthodox family dynamic between put-upon, sexually frustrated bachelor Senbe 'Slump' Norimaki and wide-eyed innocent (if inadvertently destructive) robot child Arale. It is a family that only grows more eccentric later with the arrival of Gachan, a green-haired fairy-like baby hatched from a prehistoric egg whom Arale adopts as her kid sister. Seemingly modeled on Toriyama himself, the titular hapless mad scientist is a lovable, accident prone goofball whose face morphs hilariously from cartoon doofus to handsome, debonair hero during his many self-aggrandizing speeches. Slump's priceless facial expressions sell many a gag but it was the adorable Arale-Chan who endeared herself to generations of children and spawned a merchandising behemoth the equal of Dragonball's Son Goku. In a dynamic similar to the early Dragonball stories clueless innocent Arale relies on other, more worldly characters to teach her about life while causing endless mayhem with her super strength. Much like Tezuka's Goku's Great Adventure (1967) and Nagai's Shameless High School (1969) the show was dogged with controversy over the main character's, entirely innocent sexual curiosity. In this instance however Toriyama's stories deftly turn the tables on the Parent-Teacher's Association with a number of preemptive satirical gags. For example when Arale asks Slump why she has no genitalia, the good doctor clamps her mouth shut declaring all this racy talk will outrage their viewers. At various points bizarre non-sequitor characters pop up waving banners with inane child-friendly morals like "Don't play with fire, kids" as a jokey sop to the P.T.A. Although many of Osamu Tezuka's works had a unique postmodern component, Doctor Slump stands among the earliest 'meta' anime and constantly draws attention to itself as a work of animated fiction. When comely waitress Aoi (Naomi Jinbo) notices Arale has no nostrils, Slump explodes that neither does she because this is a manga. No-one has nostrils. Along with the meta element Toriyama combines Monty Python-style surrealism with social embarrassment humor and Carry On-style sex farce, all ingredients likely to resonate as strongly with a western audience as they do with the Japanese. For all its wild and wacky weirdness there is a heartwarming aspect to Doctor Slump that suggests, despite cultural differences, deep down we laugh at the same things.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1137 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith


Last Updated: