Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Chuck Shimezou

I'm really fond of the Young Animators' Training Project (which has had various name, according to the Wikipedia article) and its OVAs. The shows vary widely in themes, art style, writing, etc.; they're rarely routine and never repetitious. Orphan has done a few, and I'm always hoping to do more. A few months ago, the team released Captain Bal, from the 2019 edition, known as Anime Tamago. Now, here is Chuck Shimezou, one of two unsubtitled episodes from that year. (Toe! Space Attendant Aoi has been subbed by another group.)

Chuck Shimezou posits the existence of small mythical creatures called Zipper Yokai. Their purpose is to close open zippers, thereby sparing humans from loss or embarrassment. Shimezou is a young Zipper Yokai, still in training. While his mother and father are skilled professionals, he has yet to close a zipper successfully. 

Worse yet, he is seen (and captured) by a human child, Hiroki; a terrible fate for creatures that are supposed to be, and stay, invisible. 

He and Hiroki have several small adventures together, along with Hiroki's little sister Chie. Eventually, Shimezou achieves a milestone: his first successful zipper closing.

If the premise sounds crazy, the show itself is utterly charming. The opening sequence shows Mama Yokai daringly closing zippers in a crowded train, transporting herself from zipper to zipper with Mission: Impossible style moves, before triumphantly exiting the train car in the morning rush. 

The parallels between Shimezou, nagged by his mother to learn his craft, and Hiroki, nagged by his mother to watch his little sister, are drawn clearly but not overbearingly. 

Shimezou and Hiroki rescue each other from a few predicaments, as buddies should. 

And the ending, in which both receive long-sought praise from their mothers, is suitably heart-warming.

The voice cast include, some notable names, including Kugimiya Rie as the main human character.

  • Kaneda Tomoko (Shimezou) played Chiyo in Azumanga Daioh, Fuku in Techni Muyou! GXP, Cynthia/Grace in the Hanaukyo Maid Tai properties, Aoito in the Lime-iro Senkaiten series, Miss Badger in Shirokuma Cafe, and the twins In and You in Cosprayers. The last two are Orphan releases.
  • Kuno Misaki (Chie) starred in the title role in Aharen-san wa Hakarenai and as Touko in Hikari no Ou. She played Xialon in Kusuriya no Hitorigoto, Shiori in the Non Non Biyori franchise, and Hawk in the Nanatsu no Taizai franchise.
  • Kugimiya Rie (Hiroki), the lengenday KugiRie, starred in the title roles for Lotte no Omocha, Sahkugan no Shana, Rizel in Rizelmine, and the Hidan no Aria franchise. She also starred as Koto in Kyousougiga, Nagi in Hayate no Gotoku!, Aisaka Taiga in Toradora! and Louise in the Zero no Tsukaima franchise. She played Alphonse Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist (both versions), Hina in Guardian Hearts, Daisuke in Major, Rose in Dragon Crisis, Momo in the Shokugeki no Souma franchise, Atsumi in Recorder to Ransel, Yukimura in Hyakka Ryouran, Cure Ace in the Precure franchise, Happy in Fairy Tail, and Kagura in Gintama. She also appeared as Techni in Waza no Tabibito and Rena in Hand Maid May, both Orphan releases.
  • Horikoshi Mami (Kobayashi-san,the next-door neighbor) had featured roles in Fortune Dogs, From North Field, Hero Hero-kun, and Weiss Kruez. She played Onaka in Hidamari no Ki and appeared in Aoi Hitomi no Onna no Ko no Ohanashi and Wild 7, all Orphan releases.
  • Shouji Umeka (Hiroki's Mother) played Camilla in the Spy x Family franchise, Sara in Bihada Ichizoku, and Neko Musume in GeGeGe no Kitarou (2018). She had featured roles in Reikenzan, World Trigger, and Kusuriya no Hitorigoto.
  • Hirano Fumi (Shimezou's Mama) starred as Lum in the Urusei Yatsura franchise, Koiko in Koiko no Mainichi, and Princess Kahm in Outlanders. She also played the title role in Choujikuu Romanesque Samy: MISSING 99,La Midin Dimida in Tobira o Akete, Lihua in the two Sangokushi TV specials and Tsugumi in Stop!! Hibari-kun!, all Orphan releases.
  • Uoken (Shimezou's Papa) had featured roles in the Ultraman OVAs, Ayakashi Triangle, Bullbuster, and Basilisk.
  • Shindou Naomi (Hiroki's Grandmother) had featured roles in Mai Hime, No Game, No Life, Appleseed XIII, Asobi ni Ikuyo, Driland, Gaiking, and Kingdom of Chaos. She played Rappi in Minna Atsumare! Falcom Gakuen, an Orphan release.

This show is Nishiyama Eiichirou's only directing credit to date.

Perevodildo translated and timed. I edited and typeset. Nemesis and Uchuu QCed. Skr captured the show from HDTV, and an anonymous friend encoded it. A few notes:

  1. Perevodildo transliterates long Japanese vowels as their English counterparts; so yokai rather than youkai. However, Shimezou has its trailing 'u' in all major databases, so it has been included. Consistency, hobgoblin, etc.
  2. "Chakku" (Chuck) is the Japanese word for zipper. "Shime" means closer or closing. Chuck frequently adds "zou" to the end of his sentences. So Chuck Shimezou is his name and his function.
  3. Many of the signs are repeated in the ending credits. However, they are often under the scrolling credits. I have no way of masking them for the credits, so they have not been typeset.
If you can't tell, I really liked Chuck Shimezou. It has some wonderful animation sequences, notably the opening, and a heart-warming story. You can get the show from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net

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