A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Friday, June 08, 2007

That potato-head kid

Despite the cultural grudge against the Japanese that is bred into many Korean kids, it could never keep them from watching Japanese cartoons. No amount of indoctrination can keep kids from cartoons of any persuasion. That would be like dropping a steaming plate of Yaki soba in front of a starving Korean patriot and expecting them not to swallow it— pride and all.

The most popular are the omnipresent Yu-Gi-Oh! (with accompanying card game), Keroro Gunso (think Invader Zim meets Keroppi, where alien frogs who intended to overthrow the Earth are instead foiled by an average family) and of course, the squealing, bulbous-headed Crayon Shin-Chan, known to the Koreans only as Jjangu:

This character drives me nuts.

The fact that he is everywhere, and that I have no way to judge him but by how he looks and sounds, makes it that much worse. I'm sure like most Japanese cartoons, it's well-scripted, story-boarded, and squirming with cultural quirks like a unagi buffet. But given the fact that its obviously not broadcast with English subtitles, it takes on the more unfortunate qualities of a mosquito in the ear.

The Korean name Jjangu (짱구) apparently means "protruding forehead" so the kids always lose it when I refer to him, in Peanuts fashion, as "that potato-head kid."

It assumes the "Dr. Katz Professional Therapist" quality of animation that is irritating because it is bad on purpose. The fact that Jjangu himself seems like a weiner, dubbed by a voice actor who is whiny-like-only-Koreans-know-how, doesn't help.

Shane understands the pain.

I can't really go into much detail about why I find this creature so annoying. Maybe this is the same sensation felt by the parents of our generation who thought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the stupidest thing they had ever heard of, and were forced to endure their toothy figure-8 smirks on toys, Halloween masks, pajamas, lunch boxes, action figures et al. for the better part of a childhood.

Apparently Adult Swim in the US airs a more adult-oriented English version, which takes advantage of frequent fecal plot-lines and Jjangu's tendency to drop his pants and wave his arse about.

Cultural grudges aside, these are things we can all share. If so, Paul is preaching the gospel.

1 comment:

Shane said...

I was unlucky enough to see an episode that was all about Jjangu trying to stop his baby sister/brother/whatever from crying continuously in its crib. His brilliant idea: waving, wagging, and gyrating his ass infront of the infant's head for several minutes.

I do my best not to kick in television screens.