Dream (Level 20)

Time for crap to fly again. Shall reveal what I've got in store in two weeks.
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The Super Milk-Chan Show was actually an effort from the title's American licensor, ADV Films, to combine two TV anime seasons of the series together for both televised and physical media releases. The first season of Milk-Chan, known as Super Milk-Chan, was televised in 14 8-minute shorts on Japanese TV from June 17 to September 16 of 1998 and animated by Genco. The second season, known as Oh! Super Milk-Chan, aired 12 24-minute episodes that were broadcasted in Japan from January 27 to April 13 of 2000 and animated by Studio Pierrot.

ADV Films acquired both seasons of Super Milk-chan in 2002 for North American broadcast and video distribution. The company created two different English dubs for both seasons. One version closely followed the translated script of the original Japanese version. The other one was an Americanized dub that altered many of the jokes from the original version to have them appeal to American audiences and replaced the live-action segments of the Japanese version with comedic live-action skits featuring ADV's voice-acting cast and production crew for the series.

The closely adapted version of The Super-Milk Chan Show was broadcast on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block from November 8, 2004 to February 27, 2005. ADV released both versions of the series on DVD in four individual volumes throughout the second half of 2004 and early 2005. Each volume of the series contained two discs that contained both the original version of Super Milk-Chan and ADV's Americanized dub for the series. Both seasons of Milk-Chan are currently out of print here in America. However, ADV's Americanized dub of the series is available for legal streaming via Hulu.

The Plot

Never knew the KKK were closet anime fans.
Never knew the KKK were closet anime fans.

Milk-Chan is a rude and foul-mouthed little girl who lives as a supposed superhero and gets enjoyment out of tormenting her robotic maid Tetsuko and the President of Everything. She regularly receives missions from the President that she will or will not complete depending on either her mood or any other predicaments that come along to occupy her and her comrades.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Milk-Chan- A foul-mouthed and rude five-year old girl who is an apparent superhero who normally torments Tetsuko and the President, as well as choosing whether or not to follow the latter's orders.
  • Tetsuko- An outdated robot maid serving Milk-Chan who normally suffers from the verbal abuse of her master. She desires a stable family life and serves as the voice of reason among the group.
  • Hanage- Milk-Chan's drunken pet middle-aged slug. While incapable of speech, he usually expresses his thoughts directly to the audience in the form of soliloquy known as “the voice of Hanage's heart.”
  • The President of Everything- A fat, bald man who appears to run the country that the series takes place in and serves as Milk-Chan's boss in assigning her missions. Despite his position, the President is quite incompetent with his job and indulges in activities not befitting his status such as enjoying cheap wine and loose women.
  • Dr. Eyepatch- An eccentric scientist who runs the King's Idea Laboratories who normally loans his inventions to Milk-Chan for her missions in the second season. He is the creator of Tetsuko, yet normally berates her for being an obsolete robotic model.
  • The Landlord- Milk-Chan's landlord of her rooftop home who is seen in every episode of the second series trying to get payment from her (which she is months behind on) before Milk-Chan shocks or fools him into leaving. He is gay and shown to have an anxious personality.

Why It Sucks

Both seasons of Super Milk-Chan are shown to be lacking heavily for a quality comedy title and serves as a nice example of the pitfalls ADV had as a distributor that led the company to its closure later in the 2000s.

Run for it. The kid's packin' heat.
Run for it. The kid's packin' heat.

The series follows a repetitive structure for many episodes with its comedy as it shows Milk-Chan berating Tetsuko for whatever reason, receiving a call from the President that involves Milk berating the President and receiving her mission she may or may not accept, Milk-Chan's group attempting said mission, said mission resolving itself with or without Milk-Chan's involvement and Milk-Chan taking credit for resolving it. The second season of the series adds on additional elements to its episodic structure such as the deterioration of an ant family's stability, the President indulging in random predicaments and Milk-Chan's group visiting Dr. Eyepatch for a random robotic invention to aid in their missions.

Both seasons are shown to satirize major issues and elements to Japanese culture such as divorce, drug possession, economic corruption and compensated dating. While this idea would seem like a fun approach to a comedy on paper, the flat and blatant delivery of the title's comedy and the repetitive structure of its episodes cripple much of the potential this could have had at ripping apart elements of Japanese culture. The visual presentation to this is also lacking with the simple and crude details of the characters and the many animation shortcuts that are employed throughout the runs of both seasons to Milk-Chan.

ADV's handling of both seasons of Milk-Chan also deserve mention as to the issues they add onto this series. One of the biggest pitfalls that ADV had that led to their closure in 2009 was the heavy amount of licensing they committed to, a decent number of their titles being questionable in any marketability and appeal they would have to a Western audience. In the case of Milk-Chan, the title's humor made nods to current events and issues that were often unique to Japan itself and would very likely fly over the heads of much of the American anime fanbase.

A rather macabre birthday gift, isn't it?
A rather macabre birthday gift, isn't it?

It looked like ADV became aware of this issue after they licensed Milk-Chan and decided to remedy the cultural divide problem with their Americanized dub. The effort they chose to put into both the more faithful and Americanized versions of the series showed what priority they had in marketing the series in America. While the more faithful version did indeed more closely follow the translated script of the original Japanese version, the voice acting delivery was flat and lacked much range of emotion. However for the Americanized dub, there is more effort from the voice cast in line delivery, energy and emotion.

Seems even drunken fish need counseling.
Seems even drunken fish need counseling.

ADV's Americanized dub adds in worst crass humor than the original version and makes frequent pop culture nods. On the one hand, this approach makes Milk-Chan's character more believably rude as her character's rudeness seemed more reserved in the Japanese and more faithful English dub of the series. On the other hand, the add-ons that ADV makes for the series script often don't match up to the intended context of the scenes that the series attempts to play out and it looked like the company got too giddy with what it was trying to pull with its comedy by adding as much offensive humor and pop culture nods as they could. The live-action skits added to the series were a bad addition as well since the voice actors didn't seem convincing in many instances with the comedy they attempted to pull and had the bad habit of abruptly cutting in during the animated episodes of Super Milk-Chan being shown.

Adding more to the questionable decision-making of ADV licensing this series was that they gave broadcast rights of the series to Cartoon Network for their Adult Swim block in 2004. Airing Milk-Chan was a bold move at the time as many anime titles on Adult Swim were action-oriented and it had the potential to allow more comedy anime to air on the block if it did well ratings-wise and make for a decent promotion of the DVD release, assuming this was ADV's Americanized dub. Instead, ADV gave Cartoon Network the rights to the dubbed version featuring Milk-Chan's original script. The series bombed in ratings and was quite unpopular for many Adult Swim viewers who had mostly been used to the title's airing of action anime titles up to that point and were not getting hooked on the title's niche style of comedy.

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