From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma-Rays, No. 195
‘Ello all, and welcome back to our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we are back with an interesting title, because it is a special case where both the manga and the anime are being published here at the same time, and it is not a Shonen Jump title. It is actually an all-ages manga, a little gem called Shonen Ashibe Go! Go! Goma-chan!
Now, you are not crazy. Unlike the cult of Doraemon or the like, this family friendly manga has never been brought here before, nor talked about, and so there hasn’t been a real fan base calling for it, despite its roots for years now in Japan. Running as a manga from 1988 until 1994, the original manga Shonen Ashibe was a popular creation from female manga-ka Hiromi Morishita, which gained even more popularity with its anime adaptation in 1991, followed by a second anime series from 1992 to 1993.
The formula that worked in the original, which is what also works in this new version, is it tells the story of young first grader, Ashibe, who finds a baby spotted harbor seal, that his parents let him keep, which he names Goma-chan. From there the two find themselves in endless situational comedic scenarios as Ashibe brings Goma-chan to school, the bath house, and more. Now, yes, parents letting a child keep a baby seal, I know is unrealistic, but it is a comedy, logic doesn’t apply here. Does your dog really speak English like in Family Guy? That minor set-up detail aside, the formula works like magic, and the relationship is priceless. Even more priceless are the antics and reactions of Goma-chan as he gets into trouble, providing plenty of laughs. Also, like some of the best animated TV comedies out there, from Japanese to American, there is a strong cast of supporting characters with different personality traits that under the right mix brings endless weekly joy on these misadventures.
During the anime’s original run in Japan, apparently there was a big spotted seal craze across the nation. This came about and is credited to the anime’s popularity on TV, and for years the manga and anime have been widely regarded and loved. Even manga-ka western fans will be far more familiar with, like Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro of Shonen Jump’s Toriko fame, have written about and held it in high regard.
This year, Japan decided to hit the nostalgia button for its population, and has rebooted the franchise with the new Shonen Ashibe Go! Go! Goma-chan, telling the story from the start with all new gags! This time around, though, Crunchyroll exists in North America, unlike the 90s (don’t miss fansub tape trading, you kids don’t know how good you have it), and has decided not only to simulcast the weekly anime, but to simulpublish the monthly tie-in manga, as well!
The new anime is fantastic and hysterical, and at an average of seven minutes an episode, is more than worth mixing into your weekly viewing as it goes up every Tuesday. The new manga, as well, is an enjoyable work of art. Original manga-ka Morishita only returned for writing duties, but new female artist Junko Ogino has more than adequately filled in, nailing the original art style’s feel while keeping things fresh.
As mentioned, it is becoming a little more common to see a title in Shonen Jump, like One-Punch Man or My Hero Academia, be released here day and date with Japan, but for an all-ages title to get this treatment is rare, and actually Shonen Ashibe Go! Go! Goma-chan is the first to receive that honor!
Shonen Ashibe Go! Go! Goma-chan is highly recommended all-ages fun, and you should check out Crunchyroll to get in on the action!
That’s it for this week, see you next!