April 7, 2009
Now, here’s the thing about this series: I think it is a special kind of genius. I mentioned this when I talked about the one-shot volume that came out a couple years ago, but a Shounen Jump series where literally no event connects to another and the fights are entirely nonsequitor after nonsequitor, with the characters making two or three jokes a panel, is really amazing, and I’m so glad it exists. It’s gag after gag after gag, with a very, very loose plot tying it all together. I also can appreciate it because, after all the random Shounen Jump series I’ve read lately, I can appreciate the fact that it literally doesn’t matter what happens when the main characters of any series fight a villain, that bad guy will be defeated and the story will advance to the next bad guy. Here, it literally does not matter, because the point of the series is the endless nonsense gags.
The problem with reviewing a volume of this is that this series, more than any other, really needs to be enjoyed a chapter at a time, in the magazine. Reading a volume of it is a little overwhelming. Especially since the jokes aren’t actually all that funny. Or at least they aren’t for me, a 24-year-old female, but maybe they are to a 10- or 12-year-old kid. One of the things that ruined a lot of the gags for me was the fact that Beauty explained many of them immediately after they happened, which indicates that I’m probably too old for this series. I did laugh at a few of the jokes though, mostly the ones where clearly the situation was supposed to be funny, but no joke was made, and it was really more awkward than anything else. One of my favorite gags in the entire book comes after Bobobo pulls out Poppa Rocks’ spikes for a gag that lasts 2 or 3 pages, then while Bobobo is yelling at the opponent in one panel, Poppa Rocks is quietly weeping and collecting his spikes from the ground in the corner. I don’t know why I thought that was so funny, but there you go.
And I’ll be honest: I love the characters. I don’t know why. I love every single one of them. Especially Poppa Rocks. Like I said, they mostly didn’t strike me as funny, but I loved them anyway. Perhaps it was because they were so upbeat and positive all the time.
Also, the fact that the villain of the series is called Smoothie IV, and is a person who hunts hair, struck me as pretty hilarious. Excellent choice of English name. The other thing I realized while I was reading this volume was that this is probably one of the hardest series to translate, ever. The puns, the extensive cultural references, and trying to figure out what it is the characters may or may not be saying, with more text per page than most other series… I imagine it being a challenge.
Also: bonus points for the next volume preview, which simply says “In a world gone mad, only the mad can make it sane again!” Because, really… summarizing the plot sort of misses the point. Apparently this series only comes out at a rate of about one volume every 10 months or so, which seems about right.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.
July 1, 2006
I loved this volume. I loved it so hard. It made me realize that if you’re funny enough, you can make up things on the spot that are entirely unrelated and it will make for one of the most popular manga in Japan. Papa Rocks! Jelly Jiggler! BOBOBO!
I love the fact that there’s a loose plot, but after that anything goes. Moves are made up on the spot. The way the characters fight is entirely subjective and based on absolutely nothing. I thought that perhaps there were some rules, but no. About the only constand seemed to be that Beauty was not to be messed with. After that, we get things like little kid Papa Rocks firing tommy guns at people, Yugi popping out of afros, grandpa goldfish guy, the man bathing in money, or whatever happened here that was hilarious.
The very fact that this series stars a sunshine, gumby, and a man with an afro who fights with nose hair is just… brilliant.
I don’t know if I could read more than one volume of it, honestly. Perhaps if it were in shorter doses, it would be better since it is so nonsensical and hard to follow in long stretches. I’ll have to keep buying it if Viz decides to begin from the beginning, because my roommate had some moments of zen reading it, but I don’t know if it’s something that will remain funny for more than a few volumes for me. One volume though… that’s enough for me to know the genius of Bobobo.