After a recent spate of terrible anime shows that suffered my wrath when it came to reviewing, I decided to re-watch one of my all-time favourite shows Jungle wa Itsumo Halé Nochi Guu. Although people seem to enjoy reading my rants, I wanted to prove I am not just a venomous one trick pony.
Guy lives in jungle. Guy meets girl who can swallow anything and let it live in her stomach. Girl causes no-end of misfortune for said guy. With a crazy overall plot, there is so much more uncharacteristic depth to this bizarre comedy. The underlying story of Halé’s (the guy) relationship with his lovable booze-hound mother, Weda, and their whole reason for living in the jungle is episodic and actually quite touching; especially with the introduction of an unlikely father-figure. Like a new parent in a family, this relationship is handled with kid gloves and disguised with numerous laughs. However, there is a carefully presented moral tale that permeates, regardless of the slapstick surrounding it.
Much of the humour relies on Halé’s worrisome monologues that apparently only Guu can hear; her subsequent dead-pan reactions further worsen the situation and apply delicious comedy icing to the tasty situational humour cake. Despite her pretence of naivety, there is a hint of mischief that gives the impression that she knows exactly what she’s doing. This dark comedy pervades every episode of the series, never failing to make the viewer laugh out loud – from Guu’s acquisition of the village chief’s chest rug to make an afro wig, to her consumption and subsequent regurgitation of the entire class, sarcasm drips from Halé and Guu like jam from a freshly squeezed Manda.
It’s difficult to review the story part of an episodic show, where any semblance of plot is constantly changing and evolving. All I can say is this presentation suits the story down to the ground. It gives the feel of a day by day roundup of “the life of Halé”, giving more reason to empathise with a pathetic main protagonist. The ability to pick up Halé and Guu one episode at a time makes for extremely easy watching, although the addictive humour means you run the risk of an obsessive marathon.
The weakest point of the show is also one of its strengths – the bold simplicity of the artwork does nothing to detract from the non-stop humour being fed to the viewer intravenously. The artists are able to take great liberties with the characters expressions and give them highly amusing caricatures to fit the current joke. For example, one scene sees Waji teaching Guu to laugh and the insane girls’ head vibrates on static shoulders with her distinctive frown still engrained in place.
Making full use of the colour spectrum, vivid oranges and reds are splashed over a leafy green backdrop and questionable costumes are drenched in striking yellows and pinks. Although not the best looking visuals by any stretch, it fits the show perfectly – giving a cutesy child-like feel to a show with some dark adult humour.
An amigo, whose dazzling posture,
Is mucho dangerous to children
Echoing the childish charm of the show, the music is catchy and the lyrics nonsensically puerile – in a good way of course. Verging on a perfect score for the audio, the opening and ending tracks for every season of Halé and Guu are outstanding, not just the first 26 episodes. I have lost count of the number of times I have been yelled at for humming the various soul permeating jingles and bogling* along without even realising it. Also, listen out for the theme for Guu’s high jinks – just hearing a few notes of the bizarre tune had me giggling at some highly inopportune moments.
The Japanese seiyuu are superb. From the sexy tones of the MILF Weda, to Guu’s robotic and complex mannerisms, the native tongue fits the personalities perfectly. If only the same could be said for FUNimation’s bastardisation of the characters’ vocal spirit. Halé is turned into a whiny brat, and his mother transforms from an alcoholic babe into a nasal-sounding fruitcake. If you had the misfortune of seeing this show dubbed, please give it a second chance with the original soundtrack.
Most of the standout comedy moments come from the pan-faced Guu and her torment of the naive Halé. Her dark humour is what makes the series so attractive; the constant barrage of new and inventive ways to terrorise her poor victim are frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Although the origins of this bizarre pink haired girl remain a mystery, this also adds to the love/hate charm of the character. Is she an alien? A freakish science experiment? And what is going on in her stomach? Frequently playing naive and innocent, she certainly understands a lot more than she lets on, much to the chagrin of Halé and delight of the viewer.
Luckily, around 90% of the episodes focus on the main protagonists, whilst the supporting cast are exactly that – occasionally used to prop up the main comedy storyline. Extremely diverse, each face adds his or her own dimension to the off-the-wall humour. From Dr Clive’s dry perversion, to the romantic implications between the innocent Mari (until she is transformed into a buxom babe by Guu) and Halé; each character is treated to screen time in which to shine, then fading into the background before he or she can become stagnant and boring.
Close to animated perfection for me, I quite simply adore Halé and Guu. It’s stupid, it’s silly and it’s fun. Victims of my recommendations have also agreed with this one, sharing the jokes and numerous screenshots with anyone who would look or listen. As Guu grows on you like Chouji's chest hair and makes you laugh like a retarded Waji, I'm surprised there are not more people championing the series' universal appeal.
*A very special dance reserved only for the musical legend Aswad – urbandictionary.com
Haré and his mother live peacefully in the jungle, until one day the boy is overtaken by a omnipotent shadow. Later, he awakens to find Guu, a strange girl with even stranger abilities - notably, the ability to switch from a cute, lovable Guu, to a menacing delinquent who eats everything. Now Haré must live with Guu, and lead a normal life, despite her oddities.
As a not-so-closet perv, I love watching anything involving panty-shots, handfuls of cleavage and an innuendo fuelled plot. Although most of my reviews will err on the risque, I also love the obscure, the twisted and things that make you think - drop me a line if you want to discuss any of them!