The Tokyo Pig anime series, which debuted on the ABC Family Channel on Saturday September 14 at 10 a.m. ET/PT (see 'Tokyo Pig Anime on ABC Family'), features a ten-year-old protagonist with a pet pig, but this is one 'kid's' anime that may find favor with both children and older anime/manga fans. We've seen the first two episodes of this series, which was produced by SME (Sony Music Entertainment) in Japan and adapted for U.S. distribution by Hollywood powerhouse Miramax, and feel that it has both the style and imagination to make it of interest to older fans.
Fast-paced and brash, Tokyo Pig mixes traditional character design -- the noseless, orb-eyed hero Spencer (in the American version) hearkens back to the classic designs of Osamu Tezuka, the founding father of modern manga and anime -- with traditional manga line work, sweat beads, etc., the kind of visual exclamation points that will certainly endear the show to fans already familiar with the conventions of anime and (especially) manga. The weather lady, who comments on the proceedings like a one-woman Greek chorus, ties the show's disparate storylines together, while providing some eye candy for older viewers.
But the best thing about Tokyo Pig is not its flashy style or breathless narrative pace; it's the way in which the show harnesses the imagination of a ten-year-old for narrative purposes. Whatever Spencer imagines (or writes in his diary) appears to come true until he can reverse the effects of his over-stimulated brain and restore order. Like Bill Waterson's Calvin & Hobbes, in which Calvin's vivid imaginings as 'Spaceman Spiff' are tied by the most tenuous (and humorous) of devices to the real world of school and home, so Tokyo Pig allows us to experience a world where pigs rain down like a pink monsoon or a giant porcine Godzilla stalks the streets of Tokyo. No news yet on the American rights to the DVDs, manga, or other merchandise.