Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Susumu Pirates

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Susume! Pirates, vol. 1, by Hisashi Eguchi, Grade: C to A
Ok, now here's a gag series that is just downright off the wall.  Eguchi, born in 1956, debuted as a manga artist in 1977 with Susumu! Pirates (Advance! Pirates) in Weekly Shonen Jump. There's virtually nothing on him in the wiki entry, although his later series, Stop! Hibari-kun!, is much better documented.  The jokes are very similar to what showed up 5 years later in Akira Toriyama's Dr. Slump, with very similar artwork (although the character designs here are much cruder).  He's actually a very talented artist; ANN lists over 30 credits, including key animator on several Dragonball, Lupin III and Naruto movies, plus Paprika.


The basic story in Pirates starts out with a newly rich old businessman telling a reporter that he's been able to buy everything that he's ever desired, except for one thing - a baseball team.  But, today, that changes as he signs the deal for the Chiba Pirates.  As he talks, he suddenly starts hacking, and a maid quickly appears with a spittoon for him to hawk into.  The woman is so good at her job, the owner gives her a stack of bills each time.



Jump forward ten years.  The owner ended up giving his fortune to his maid because every time he spit, he'd hand over several thousand dollars.  Now, he's virtually broke, with just the team in his possession, and the players are all goofballs.  Chiba is at the bottom of the rankings, with little chance of ever moving up.  As he talks to the team, he starts hacking, and since the maid is long gone, he quickly grabs his coach's hat to spit into, rather than spit on the floor.



One day, during a game, one of the players decides to go on vacation, leaving the team unable to play at only 8 men.  The owner arranges to bring in a new member and he goes to the airport to await his arrival.  Sylvester Stallone is the first one off the plane, followed by Gene Hackman.  The team is surprised to learn that their replacement is Geronimo, a Navajo Indian from the U.S.  He's a great batter, and he uses his mohawk as a boomerang to knock pop flies out of the air.



Unfortunately, during the next game, the Giant's coach decides to counter Geronimo's threat by bringing out two of his own ringers - white guys from the U.S.  Geronimo panics in the presence of White Man, rushes to the lockers to get his horse, and then proceeds to shoot everyone with arrows.  This pretty much sets the tone for the entire series, where the Pirates try to do something new to improve their play (like hiring a gung-ho pitcher) and their plans fall apart on the last page.  Lots of toilet humor and silly gags.  Definitely recommended if you like Dr. Slump, but it's really not for the highbrow set.  I doubt Pirates will ever be commercially translated for the U.S. market, but if you can find a copy, it'd be an interesting experience for you.

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