Friday, May 30, 2008

Trade Secrets: Crayon Shinchan Vol. 1

So tell the truth. You love Shinchan, right? I mean, what's not to love? He's a five-year-old obsessed with, well, pretty much exactly the same thing that obsesses most guys whose ages end in the number five (15, 25, 35, you get the point): what happens under people's clothes.

OK, maybe I should back up for a second. For anyone who hasn't turned on Cartoon Network lately, Crayon Shinchan (or Crayon Shin-chan, or simply Shin-Chan) is an anime series based on the manga of the same name by Yoshito Usui. The show (and the manga) centers around the antics of five-year-old Shinnosuke Nohara, an adorable little creep who makes life hell for his poor parents (as well as anyone in the immediate vicinity). Shin-chan is always doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, whether it's drawing an elephant face on his crotch (I don't really need to explain this one, do I?) or hiding in his principal's car, then threatening to claim attempted kidnapping.

Often, the anime gets you to laugh (in disbelief, if nothing else) simply at the absurdity of Shin's sheer audacity, and the manga functions in much the same way. This inaugural volume consists of short 3-page chapters, most of which are standalone "stories, all united under the title "Mom and I Are Best Friends." Understandably, most of the hijinks here revolve around Shin torturing his poor mother, Misae, though another cycle of stories, "Kindergarten Is Paradise," begins toward the end of this volume.

The black and white artwork is crude (though there are 8 pages of color), but that crudity is very much in keeping with the vulgarity of Shin himself. A more refined style probably wouldn't make this nearly half as well.

A warning note: Crayon Shinchan may look as if it's a book about a kid drawn for a kid, but it's absolutely not. CMX clearly labels the book with a parental advisory sticker, and the advisory is warranted. Crayon Shinchan features nudity, sexual humor, and adult language. This one's decidedly NOT FOR KIDS!


In addition to the comics material here, there's the standard "you're-reading-this-book-the-wrong-way" page, as well as two short text features, one on the manga itself and one introducing the Nohara family.


All in all, if you're looking for a little lighthearted (but naughty) fix of Shinchan, it's hard to go too far wrong with this title. This certainly won't be to all tastes, but if it's even remotely up your alley, I'd recommend picking this one up.

  • Yoshito Usui

  • Crayon Shinchan Vol. 1

  • DC Comics' CMX imprint, 2008

  • 122 pp.

  • 7.99 (paper)

  • ISBN 978-1-4012-1715-0

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