(sometimes known as Bo x 7 or Bo-bobo) is a manga by Yoshio Sawai, published by Shueisha in Japan and serialized in the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is a comedy influenced by Japanese manzai humor that uses puns, double-talk, breaking of the fourth wall, non-sexualized cross-dressing, visual gags, and satirical and pop-culture references, which makes its non sequitur humor very specific to Japanese audiences. The manga series lasted from 2001 through 2007, divided into two separate sections with a distinct difference in humor and plotting.
In the year 300X, the entire world is under the tyrannical rule of the Maruhage Empire, and their ruler, Tsuru Tsurulina IV. His Hair Hunt troop captures innocent bystanders' hair, leaving the people bald and their villages in ruins. Standing against this evil regime is the heroic, but bizarre, rebel, Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo, fights the Hair Hunt Troop with his powerful Hanage Shinken (Fist of the Nose Hair) His team consists of the normal teen girl Beauty, the smelly teen warrior Heppokomaru (Gasser) and the Hajike leader Don Patch (Poppa Rocks), Bo-Bobo is on an exciting, gag-filled quest to deliver his own hairy brand of justice to evildoers everywhere.
The show's comedy is driven by its insanity and bizarre nature. Although fighting a rebellion against evil forces, none of the heroic characters take their job too seriously (nor do they seem to care for each other), drawing their power from their spontaneity with a special "Hajike" (dub: Wiggin) style to create attacks that either parody what they are up against or have nothing to do with anything going on. The more serious characters break the fourth wall to comment on this to the readers.
List of main characters
For other characters see List of characters in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
The story focuses on the nine heroes who gather to fight against Czar Baldy Bald the IV and the evil forces of the Maruhage Empire. At the center of this team is Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, master of "Hanage Shinken" (Fist of the Nosehair) and Hajikelist who will do anything and everything for victory. Through his journey to defeat the forces of baldness, he gathers a team of allies and former enemies who become attached to his cause in one way or another:
- Beauty: The teen female who does not understand why all the strange stuff is happening.
- Don Patch: (A.K.A Don Patch or Poppa Rocks) The egotistical former leader of a group of Hajikelists whose power comes from his own insanity; he believes he is the main character.
- Softon: A warrior with the power of the mysterious God of Babylon, and a head that is made out of either ice cream or something smellier.
- Heppokomaru: (A.K.A Gasser) A teen boy with the stinky abilities of "Onara Shinken" (Fist of the Backwind) and with as little knowledge of what is going on as Beauty has. He has a crush on Beauty (though they both like each other they have yet to admit their true feelings).
- Tokoro Tennosuke: (A.K.A General Jelly Jiggler) A gelatinous being who is as powerful as he is the consistent target of his allies' attacks.
- Hatenko: A warrior from Bo-bobo's Hair Kingdom with the power of keys and an obsession with Don Patch.
- Dengaku Man: A cute little dog who is frequently ignored or left behind (or more often beaten senseless by his comrades).
- Gyorai Girl: (A.K.A Torpedo Girl) The transformed state of a former enemy, with a short temper and an obsession for teaching her "students" who's boss.
While these eight are the main warriors of the series, others assist in fighting against the evil in this world, including:
- King Nosehair: A nosehair that used to live in Bo-bobo and takes part in the nonsense of "Bo-bobo World".
- Serviceman: A covered being that makes everyone see things that shouldn't be seen. His name could be a play on the term "Fan Service."
- Suzu: A girl with psychokinetic powers.
- Rice: Master of "Kome Shinken" (Fist of Rice) and powerful Hajikelist.
- Hanpen/General Lee Fishcake: A walking fishcake who fights with his fists or by jumping a lot.
- Despair-kun/Sad Sack/Emo boy: A guy with a bag over his head and serious emotional issues, though he can go from depressed to enraged within an instant.
- Kancho-kun: A tiny being with fingers of fury.
- Halekulani: One of Bo-bobo's greatest enemies with a power and obsession tied to his greed.
- Bebebe-be Be-bebe: One of Bo-bobo's older brothers and the master of "Sunege Shinken" (Fist of Leghair).
- Bububu-bu Bu-bubu: Bo-bobo's sister, master of "Wakige Shinken" (Fist of Armpit Hair) and bearer of a strong resemblance to one of Bo-bobo's fused forms. She also has a crush on Don Patch.
- Land Mine Dandy: A skillful Hajikelist and teacher, he is the master of "Emban Shinken" (Fist of the Disc), and is Torpedo Girl's father.
- Gunkan/Captain Battleship: User of "self-taught fist of the nose hair" and Bo-bobo's childhood friend
Fusions and transformations
Due to Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo being both a part and parody of the shōnen manga genre, it takes advantage of various classic traits in the genre and places its own bizarre spin on them. One of these traits is the usage of character transformation, a well-known cliché where a character gets an amazing power-up by unleashing either a dormant power within or a new power taken from elsewhere. The unpredictability of many characters causes them to go through all sorts of weird transformations, either as part of the parody/homage process (like turning into a demonic being or "turning golden") or merely as part of a huge joke (such as turning into a vegetable, a yen or an immense fortress). However, even with the many nonsense or one-shot changes, certain power-ups and transformations are consistently used by the main characters. Some of these more common transformations include:
- Baby Heppokomaru: A transformation undertaken by Heppokomaru whenever his neck belt comes off. Although it vastly increases his "Onara Shinken" abilities, it also reverts his mind to that of an infant. Fortunately for many opponents, this form is no more in Shinsetsu because Heppokomaru fully masters the Onara Shinken and no longer has a problem controlling the infantile personality.
- Super Bo-bobo: A stronger form of Bo-bobo who is unleashed when he wears a black jacket with flames on the bottom that cost 582 yen ($27.50 in the English version of the anime) at a supermarket. The "Super" power comes from the hopes and wishes of the supermarket employees absorbed within, which powers Bo-bobo when active.
- Don Patch / Super/Ikarin/Angry/Professional Patch: A powered-up form of Don Patch which is unleashed when his anger is at his peak and can be consistently powered up, particularly with the assistance of the KoPatch of the Hajike Gang.
Similar to the transformations, Bo-bobo and his allies also use various fusion abilities, combining together to form more powerful beings. But once again, these beings are slightly different: no fusions are like the original bases and no two are the same. These beings range in personality from the heroic BoboPatch, the manipulative BoboPatchnosuke (BoboPatchiggler), and the cheerful female Denbo to the impatient PatchBobo, the violently peaceful TenBobo (Mr. Bojiggler), the reckless Kintenbo and the mature Yokohama Junko. With each being comes new surprises in attacks and in what they unleash, adding to the weirdness of these already weird characters.
The villains of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo are a varied group of evil ranging from the serious to some being as crazy or insane as Bo-bobo's group. The initial threat comes from the force of the Maruhage Empire under Tsuru Tsurulina IV, going from minor Hair Hunters and their block leaders to the most powerful warriors who work for their own desires as well as the emperor's. As Bo-bobo and his rebels take apart the Maruhage forces, new threats start to emerge more powerful than the original enemies, including Hair Hunters from one-hundred years ago and an underground empire lead by former topside warriors. Eventually, the threat turns towards Bo-bobo's home of the Hair Kingdom, where he must settle an old score and free it from a familiar threat.
The series mocks existing manga and anime conventions, making fun of more than a few fairly specifically. While the series' main concept is a warped version of Weekly Shōnen Jump
series Fist of the North Star
, series as varied as Doraemon
, Sailor Moon
(and the whole magical girl
genre in general), Pokémon
, the Dragon Ball
series, Air Gear
, Serial Experiments Lain
, Wolf's Rain
and many others are used as humor fodder. The result is usually nothing short of sheer nonsense. The series also operates as a mockery of stereotypes
in Japanese literature
(for instance, the ideal of noble self-sacrifice) and Western popular culture (such as action films
). While Bo-bobo is ostensibly the hero, his behavior is frequently self-important, childish, arbitrary, and incomprehensible. However, this is also often how he deals with his enemies — by confusing them into submission. At various points the top of Bo-bobo's head pops open, revealing a scene that is either an allegory
for the state of Bo-bobo's own mind (e.g., when his powers fail him, the viewer sees a pair of boy-and-girl cartoon
squirrels going through a painful separation), or to unleash weapons. Bo-bobo even turns into a giant robot
(or at least emulates its functions) a number of times. Bo-bobo's afro also opens up to reveal something meant to drive the opponent mad, such as Game Boy Pig or the cat throwing churros (chikuwa
, a Japanese dish, in the original version).
The manga version of Bo-bobo has an easier time getting away with parodying and paying homage to various other manga, past and present, from Weekly Shōnen Jump, the manga anthology book it is published in. Other manga authors have assisted in the parodies and paying homage as well. The most famous being a cameo by Yugi Mutou from Kazuki Takahashi's Yu-Gi-Oh! in chapter 104, where Bo-bobo summons him from his afro and he summons the Egyptian god Saint Dragon - God of Osiris (Slifer the Sky Dragon in the English version) to take out an enemy (a scene that is re-enacted in the video game Jump Superstars). About the same time as this, Takahashi returned the favor by sneaking in Tokoro Tennosuke's "Nu handkerchief" in a panel of his manga. The anime could not get away with many of these homages and tributes.
There were two special chapters of Bo-bobo that parodied chapter 18 of Death Note (Takeshi Obata, the artist for Death Note, drew Bo-bobo chp. 153 in the style of that current series) as well as another special chapter based on the fight between Son Goku and Vegeta in Dragon Ball. Various Japanese fairy tales have been parodied.
Throughout the Bo-bobo series, there are several running gags that continue to pop up every now and then. Each character has certain traits that end up with the gag being used, with some of the gags showing up like clockwork (such as Beauty freaking out over many of Bo-bobo's actions or various "toilet jokes" connected with Softon) while others appear at the most random or unexpected times (such as Bo-bobo or Don Patch appearing in drag or Jelly Jiggler using some "Nu"[Lucky hanky in English version]-based artifact connected to his obsession) Generally each of the main characters, as well as several of the more minor characters, has one of these weird unique traits that is shown occasionally, adding to the humor and unexpected nature of this show. One of the strange gags is that Bo-bobo is always using Jelly jigler as a shield when he is attacked. There is also the show's "rock paper scissors fortune telling" featured in some episodes, in which you get different (and wacky) fortunes depending on whether you win, lose, or get a tie.
Release and Distribution
Shueisha published the manga of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo and serialized it in Weekly Shōnen Jump. The original manga story ended in 2005, and in January, 2006 a sequel manga replaced it in Weekly Shōnen Jump, now entitled Shinsetsu Bobobō-bo Bō-bobo (True Theory : Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo) which has ended in July, 2007. The anime was directed by Hiroki Shibata, produced by Toei Animation and ran for 76 episodes from November 8, 2003 to October 29, 2005 on TV Asahi.
In North America, the manga is licensed by Viz Media and was published in a one shot graphic novel form in October 2005 and is now published monthly in Shonen Jump. A recent report by Viz at the New York Anime festival reported that graphic novels would be released sometime in 2008, the first (covering volume 11[The one-shot covers volume 9.] yet stated as "Volume 1", having been released on August 5th, 2008. When asked about why the previous volumes were not being published at Anime Expo 2008, Viz said it was due to the "content". However, a fan in the panel interjected with hearsay that the author was not fond of the previous volumes. The anime, licensed by Toei Animation, first aired as a sneak peek on Cartoon Network's Fridays block on September 30, and then aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block Saturdays at 10:00PM(EST). The show returned to the United States on February 17 2007 at 8:30 PM. It has been shown on Jetix UK since April 14 2007 at 7:00PM, and has been seen on Cartoon Network's broadband service Toonami Jetstream since November 5. The anime is dubbed by Phuuz Entertainment Inc., the studio that dubbed the second Lupin the 3rd series, the original 1994 Shin Chan dub, and the Viewtiful Joe anime. The dub was censored at some points in order to receive a lower TV-rating, allowing it to be broadcast to a younger audience demographic.
Despite its limitations, the American dubs of the anime and manga manage to preserve the spirit of the show; the translators and adaptation writers were forced to rewrite several of the jokes due to the differences between the Japanese and English languages. At several points in the dub, the American version makes fun of the fact that it is a translation of a Japanese product (for example, when Bo-bobo is filling out an application card in one episode, he botches it because the application is in Japanese and he cannot read it, instead drawing "little doodles" for answers; in the original Japanese version he messes up the application for a completely different reason, and the "little doodles" are his honest answers written in hiragana). This style of self-referential humor can also be seen in the American version of Kyatto Ninden Teyande (Samurai Pizza Cats). Additionally, with the exception of the opening credits, all other on-screen Japanese text is intentionally kept in the English dub (most likely as a part of the retaining the show's surreal humor). The series only had 2 volumes on DVD, before Illumitoon fell out of the distribution from a fallout with Westlake, and all further volumes were canceled. It is currently unknown whether or not another company will release the series on DVD.
Shinsetsu Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
After the end of the initial Bo-bobo series, the series rebooted into a second part known as Shinsetsu Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo in December, 2005. Picking up one year after the end of the first part, the Maruhage Empire is reformed by former emperor Tsuru Tsurulina III into the Neo-Maruhage Empire, where the Hair Hunts resume and a new generation of powerful Hair Hunt generals are created. Bo-bobo, powering the abilities of his "Fist of the Nosehair" into its Shinsetsu (True Theory) form, rejoins Beauty and the Hajike allies to take on the renewed Maruhage threat. Many of the rebels from the original series, including Don Patch, Jelly Jiggler, Hatenko, Softon and even General Lee Fishcake return to assist in the new rebellion. Yet in the midst of this, one of their former allies joins the Neo-Maruhage forces, forced to turn to the dark side for his own personal reasons. Yet even with one of their own gone bad, Bo-bobo's team is now joined or assisted by several new allies in their battle to save the world (or drive it crazy!):
- Gaoh: A small koala Hajikelist with a bone-breaking battle style and ties to the emperor.
- Yononaka Namerō: A schoolboy trained by the Neo-Maruhage with a tongue-manipulating Fist and a horrible secret within him.
- Pokomi: Gasser's sweet little sister and manipulator of a "magical girl"-style Fist ability.
Even the world of Shinsetsu is no longer the same as prior: while Bo-bobo's team continues to fight in strange landscapes and amusement parks, the bizarre barren wastelands of the former series is replaced by a bizarre rendition of Japan, from the castles of Nagoya to a school on Mount Fuji to fighting in and around the wards of Tokyo.
Unfortunately, although the series remained as bizarre and unpredictable as ever, Shinsetsu never caught on with the Japanese Jump fans, having moved on to other series and showing Bo-bobo was past its prime, as well as complaining in the move to a more plot-oriented story as opposed to a gag-oriented one. While comedy was still a major factor in Bo-bobo, the series relied less on gags and more on parodies of other series, Jump or otherwise. After a year and a half of publication, the series ended with its final chapter in July, 2007, bringing the series back to its roots and bringing an end to the Bo-bobo story.
Common Bo-bobo terms
- Hajike (ハジケ): This word is taken from the Japanese verb hajikeru (弾ける), which means "to burst open" or, in more appropriate terms, "to wig out or go crazy". In the world of Bo-bobo, the ability to "hajike" (or dub terms, Wig Out), is a useful ability used by many of the weird warriors of the world such as Bo-bobo or Don Patch. These Hajikelists (Wigging specialists in the dub) are able to fight opponents or each other using random, silly tactics in order to either confuse or outdo their opponents to the point of insanity. Also, perhaps not coincidentally, "hajike" rhymes with "majide" (see below).
- Shinken (真拳): This term is basically True Fist (but translated as "Super Fist" in the English dub of the anime), this is a reference to Fist of the North Star, where the main character Kenshiro uses "Hokuto Shinken" (北斗神拳; Divine Fist of the North Star). Hence, the "Shinken" (真拳) in Bo-bobo is a Japanese pun on "Shinken" (神拳) in Fist. Besides Bo-bobo with his Hanage Shinken (鼻毛真拳; True Fist of the Nose Hair) technique, many other characters also have some type of "Shinken" technique, each one using various attacks based upon the thing they have mastered. The Shinken mastery can vary towards a wide range of things, from body parts (Bo-bobo and his siblings use Shinken connected with hair on a certain part of their body, a villain who's Shinken is the mastery of the soles of his feet) or an attribute connected to them (Tennosuke using a "wobbling" Shinken, Heppokomaru using an ability based on farting) to mastery of an object (including keys, rice, bubbles, polygon constructs, etc), a specific Martial Arts style (including the styles of "Babylon" and "Black Sun") and even general concepts. (including fists for murder and killing, "art", "sleeping", "stopping" and even acting like a Moé girl!)
- Ōgi (奥義): One of the Japanese words for Secret, it is used in conjunction with many of the special attacks, particularly in conjunction with the "shinken" attacks, as a special fighting technique of the practiced art. In the Bo-bobo dub, these secret techniques are emphasized instead by the prefix word Super prior to the attacking style and the subsequent attack (e.g.: "Super Fist of Nose Hair", or "Super Snot Fo-You"). The term is also used to identify the chapters in the original Japanese manga (Ōgi 1, Ōgi 2, etc).
- Oyabin (おやびん): A mispronunciation of the word oyabun (親分), meaning boss in Japanese, this is the title called for Don Patch by members of the "Hajike Gang." Those who call Don Patch this include the KoPatch, a young man who works with Don Patch when he is first introduced and Hatenko. The dub replaces "oyabin" with these characters calling him Boss or, in Hatenko's case, The Don.
- Majide (マジで): Connected to the words maji (マジ), or "serious" and majime (真面目), "honest or serious", it is an exclamation that could be taken as meaning either Are you serious!? or Seriously!?. Although some characters exclaim this word due to the weird and wild circumstances of this series, it’s best used in conjunction with BoboPatchnosuke's Majide Time, a time-space dimension where BoboPatchnosuke performs some truly bizarre attacks, leading to those trapped inside to constantly yell out this exclamation and make BoboPatchnosuke stronger. Also, perhaps not coincidentally, "majide" rhymes with "hajike" (see first entry).
- Nu (ぬ): A common character of hiragana. When introduced, the character of "nu" is found all over Tokoro Tennosuke handkerchief (which is seen and used many times). However, later in the series, "nu" starts to become Tokoro Tennosuke's obsession and is seen and used in more ways than just a handkerchief (starting with “nu” pajamas). While the translated manga goes along with the "nu" joke, the dub avoids all matters of Japanese language with "nu", making it a symbol of his "lucky hanky" on everything he adorns it with.
- Sangaria (３狩リア→アニメでは３狩りヤ): A combination of san, the Japanese pronunciation for the number 3 and Karu, the verb To Hunt(Sangariya=Japanese soda name). First used in battles against the former Hair Hunters of one-hundred years ago, it is a specific rule set up determining how many fighters can take part in a showdown, usually in a 3X3 fight, but can be whatever number the opponents choose. The actual word is perhaps a pun to sangria.
- Yamiken (闇拳): Translating into Dark Fist (dub term: Shadow Fist), this is similar to Shinken, but used by warriors from the Reverse Maruhage Empire (dub: Shadow Chrome Dome Empire). Like Shinken, these techniques are a mastery of the object or concept of their choosing. But while Shinken are merely techniques, a Yamiken master can fuse with the element through a process that transforms them into a more powerful being!
- Ganeme (ガネメ): While this word seems like gibberish, it is actually a modification of the Japanese word Megane (メガネ), which stands for Glasses, with the first kana moved to the end creating this new word. This term originally appeared during a match between Bo-bobo and Z-Block Vice-Leader Kibahage, where Bo-bobo uses it to further confuse his opponent. However, it returns with a force against Bo-bobo's brother Bebebe-be Be-bebe, when the afro warrior uses the term while flipping his glasses over to unleash a furious glasses-filled final attack!
- Shigeki (シゲキ): Standing for Excitement in English, this word is connected to Hair Kingdom general Shigeki X, who, like Don Patch (whom he looks a lot like) with his Hajike abilities, fights and inspires people to do things with Shigekiteki. (Excitingly)
- Shinsetsu (真説): The translation of the word comes out as True Theory, and is the tying factor for Bo-bobo, his abilities, and even the name in the second part of the manga.