Jungle de Ikou
Mike Toole rates it:
Natsumi is a normal 10-year-old girl with normal 10-year-old girl hobbies– they mainly consist of weaseling out of school early and savagely beating her playmate, Takuma. Her life changes when her archaeologist father comes home from an expedition in New Guinea with an interesting new artifact– it’s a statue, and quite possibly the ugliest thing she’s ever seen. However, there are a couple of pretty green gemstones inlaid in it, so Natsumi makes the best of things and pries the stones out, fashioning them into earrings.
Ahem, great God of Earth, appears before her in a dream that night, and tells her that the artifact in her room has given her special powers– powers she’ll need to fight and defeat Ongo, the great god of darkness who’ll be threatening the world again very shortly (the artifact also kept him sealed away, but was weakening…). The problem is, in order to activate her powers, Natsumi is obliged to do an extremely silly-looking, rather suggestive dance routine.
Chaos erupts soon enough– when Natsumi wakes up the next morning, Ongo is sitting on the bed, waiting for her. Fortunately, for some reason he’s not a city-smashing demon– instead, he’s a tiny, clueless little guy wearing a loincloth and clutching a spear. By a typically disjointed sequence of events, Ongo gets a taste for whale meat, and decides he wants some more. Therefore, he summons a blue whale (that’s right, the REALLY BIG one) to Natsumi’s neighborhood, complete with the millions of gallons of seawater that the creature needs to survive.
This leaves our heroine with no choice but to activate her powers. So she does the goofy, sexualized dance, and transforms before our eyes into Mii, the flower goddess! Not only is Mii the fed-up estranged wife of Ahem, she’s incredibly powerful on her own. Since this is a Yuji Moriyama series (he of Geobreeders and Adventures of Kotetsu), however, the only way Mii can use her powers is to dance and gyrate seductively. And man, her breasts are enormous, making even silicone-enhanced porn stars look underdeveloped in comparison.
That’s essentially the entire point of Jungle de Ikou (lit: “Let’s go in the jungle!”): to give Natsumi some reason to transform into Mii, and then jump up and down a lot, causing her pendulous breasts to start poinging enthusiastically. This is softened somewhat by liberal dosages of toilet humor and a reasonably interesting plot, but Jungle de Ikou is weighed down heavily by two problems. The first of them is the fan service. Now, longtime readers of Anime Jump know that I have no problem with fan service, but Jungle de Ikou is filled mostly with creepy, little-girl fan service. Yeah, I know that the whole lolita complex thing isn’t that uncommon in Japan. It’s still fucking creepy, particularly when Natsumi’s nearly catatonic friend, Nami, gets a stomach-turningly suggestive transformation dance of her own. This problem is mitigated a little by the fact that most of the other onscreen characters are just as exasperated and irritated with this foolishness as the viewer is. But still, no gyrating little girls. Please.
The second problem is… man, I dunno, but after seeing how Ahem and Ongo are portrayed, I think that the entire population of New Guinea should be able to sue for defamation. Ahem is portrayed as an emaciated, googly-eyed dirty old man, with only a rhino horn phallically covering up his privates. Ongo is somewhat less offensive, but the fact that both he and Ahem are dark-skinned, along with Ongo’s weapon of choice, kept making me think uncomfortably of a certain racial ephitet related to spears. Eugh. A friend once told me that he found some Japanese people to be kind of racist, but not in a malicious way– just in a kind of clueless, embarrassing fashion. Jungle de Ikou is prime proof of that– don’t watch it if you can’t stand racial stereotypes.
It’s kind of a shame, because without these problems, Jungle de Ikou would be reliably entertaining, a good companion volume to Moriyama’s Geobreeders. Believe it or not, I actually haven’t seen the dub, but the Japanese version is quite nice, with none other than Megumi Hayasibara as Ongo, and Kappei Yamaguchi (known for his performance as Daisaku in Giant Robo and Zenki in the anime of the same name; has quite possibly the most annoying little-kid screech ever) as Takuma. The character designs, which are also by Moriyama if I’m not mistaken, are also pretty cute. But in the end, Jungle de Ikou is just alternately amusing and excruciating. I kept laughing at physical comedy, then having to cover my eyes when Ahem appeared, a pair of Natsumi’s panties draped over his head. Jungle de Ikou is kind of fun, but it’s just not right.
Added: Sunday, October 12, 2003
Related Link: Media Blasters