Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is a 76 episode Shōnen animé series starring a bizarre cast of characters in an equally bizarre setting. That is, essentially, the appeal of Bobobo. If bizarre, random shows aren't what you want to see, then Bobobo probably isn't for you. You can probably tell by the show's name exactly what kind of show it is, that being a completely random one. But if you enjoy these kinds of shows and think Bobobo might be a good show for you, it's highly recommended. Despite the craziness and complete lack of logic, Bobobo almost never fails to deliver outrageous laughs – it will constantly go to lengths to tell a joke that most shows would deem “too far” while still never coming off as annoying.
...Most of the time.
Well, to start off, what's the story? In the year 300X, the Chrome Dome Empire rules over the world, ruled by Czar Baldy Bald IV. His troops, known as the Hair Hunters, are a constant harassment to the world, shaving innocent people's hair from their heads and leaving them bald. One particular village, home of a very major character named Beauty, is invaded, and everyone meets the cruel fate of being hairless. Beauty is about to meet this fate, before being rescued by our main title character, Bobobo. The two, as well as a large, quirky cast of characters, stand up to the Chrome Dome Empire and fight for the hair safety of mankind.
The story in Bobobo, as expected, is strange, silly, and not one to be taken seriously. It isn't quite a show where you need to metaphorically turn off your brain to enjoy it, though – Bobobo's biggest strength is that there is almost always something happening, or a joke being set up – it always keeps you aware, and you're constantly wondering what is going to happen next. Even when you know that a scenario makes little to no sense, there's still fun to be had with seeing events unravel, and how as time passes, said events tend to make even less sense. The show calls the nonsensical actions “wigging out”, which is a style of fighting that involves the user confusing their opponents into submission. Which sounds about right.
The characters do a great job of further strengthening the story. Bobobo himself is wacky, unpredictable, and very... err... immature? He freaks out and shouts over little things all of the time, and is always causing confusion for others. His main style of fighting, or as the show calls it, his Super Fist, is the Super Fist of the Nose Hair – Bobobo uses his nose hairs in various ways to defeat his opponent. It's weird and nonsensical, just like Bobobo himself. On the flipside, Beauty plays the role of the straight man, constantly questioning her surroundings and lampshading how weird everything is. She can be seen as the most insane character for being the only one “out of the loop”, and many people have made many different theories about her possible Sanity Slippage, or if she even had any to begin with. Things like that do help elevate Bobobo above other sillier shows like this.
The rest of the characters are where the true highlight of this series shine. Memorable characters include Gasser, a slightly less serious Beauty who attacks with his Fist of the Back Wind (...farting, yes); Softon, a man with strawberry ice cream for a head and a habit of being the comically stoic type; Dengaku Man, a cute little... thing (think of the Chao from Sonic Adventure, that's basically what he looks like) who loves tofu and is always ignored; heck, even the villains are memorable, and while it's hard to pick one specific one as the best, the villains during the OVER arc (of course including OVER himself) deserve special mention.
The two best characters, though, are the ones that get abused the most and are made fun of more frequently than any others: Don Patch and Jelly Jiggler. These two are so full of themselves, despite being rather incompetent (well, Jelly is, at least; Don Patch changes between super powerful and Butt Monkey of the Day whenever he feels like it), and seeing them maimed in various ways and still thinking that they're the best when all is said and done is hilarious every time. Characters like these are the best for a silly slapstick series like this one, and they fulfill their roles outstandingly. They will probably make you laugh more than any other character.
If there was an issue with the story, it would be the beginning and the end. The ending shall not be spoiled here, in a (hopefully) spoiler free review, but it's very unsatisfying and far from the best way a series like this could have ended. The beginning, rather, is... good, if not a bit awkward and slow. The main issue is that the show hadn't really found a style that worked for it, so things like the pacing, the setups and jokes, and (this is a major one in some cases) the actors weren't in a comfort zone yet, and looking back, they're definitely worse than the rest. As an estimate, the series gets better at around Episode 12, although an episode or two before it aren't bad by any means. From ~Episode 12 onward, though, it's a nonstop barrage of laughs. Just get past the first dozen or so episodes and you're all set!
With such a zany premise with so much going on, the show should be well animated, right? Thankfully, Bobobo is a very well animated show, managing to look different from most Shōnen shows, despite being an obvious, loving parody to that very genre. Toei Animation were the animators, and they did a wonderful job. Character designs and linework resembles typical Shōnen, yes, but the way characters move and react to things is much more akin to a Saturday morning cartoon. This style works outstandingly well for Bobobo, giving it a feel of its own in the animé world. Many shows have been inspired by these kinds of shows in the past (Panty and Stocking being a very notable one), but Bobobo still manages to feel fresh, even among those.
I think the category that the series is weakest in would be its soundtrack. The music for Bobobo is... good, and definitely fits the series well. The problem is just that isn't memorable. The music itself is fine, but it doesn't really stick out and get you excited for what's going on. To be fair, the show by itself does such a good job of doing that, which kind of makes the music redundant. But it does its job fine as being background music, saving the show from feeling emptier. There are even some really good tracks, too – both openings (yes, the DVDs have the second opening for the dub, so I can talk that one) are amazing and really convey that crazy world of Bobobo, and the music that plays when Bobobo is about to deal the “final blow” with his Super Fist of the Nose Hair is jazzy, fast paced, and exciting.
In the sound department, though, no area shines quite like the dub does. Words cannot convey how genius this dub is. Gag dubs are always fun and the best ones are especially energetic, but... Bobobo is in a league of its own. The actors do an absolutely flawless job conveying their characters, and every single one of them feels perfectly suited for the role. The best dub performance, no doubt, is Kirk Thornton as Don Patch. He is part of what makes the character so endearing, no doubt, as well being part of the reason why he's so much fun to make fun of. Don Patch is a character of many emotions, and Kirk Thornton does a perfect job with all of them. Jamieson Price as Jelly Jiggler is also a standout, if only because hearing such a deep voiced man convincingly playing a crying blob of jelly is an amazing idea.
And the writing? The jokes are fast, too much time is never spent on one joke, and the lines fit the characters that they're given to. Brilliant writing, on top of a brilliant dub, make this one of the greatest dubs of all time. It's truly something else. The folks at S'more Entertainment, the company that released the full series on DVD, agreed with the above statement, as the official, full series DVD lacks an English subtitle track for the Japanese version.
As a whole, Bobobo is one of the funniest animé out there... If it's your style of humor. This review has been overwhelmingly positive, but only because the reviewer loves the humor it presents. While Bobobo can be enjoyed as more than just a random parody/homage of Shōnen, it is still random, nonsensical, and a parody, meaning that you would probably need knowledge of the topic it's parodying. While Bobobo does a good job of being easy to understand by any general audience, it does have alienating factors to it, which may harm its mass appeal. And, of course, like all comedies, the humor is subjective, so even people who like this style of humor might not like it.
As a whole, though, Bobobo is worth it. The characters are endearing, the animation is very well done, it's fun, and more importantly, it's consistent. The jokes, while subjective as stated earlier, will bring many smiles due to, if nothing else, the energy and effort behind them. The dub is a masterpiece, widening the appeal in the West, and the full series is even available to watch legally or here on JustDubs! Bobobo is an all time great and should not be missed.
Overall, Bobobo gets a Highly Recommended rating. JustDubs, as mentioned, has the entire series ready for download. It is a long one, but as stated many times, is worth it. Thanks for reading!