It would be hard to find a kid who grew up in the 90s who doesn’t know of the Samurai Pizza Cats. It’s an English adaptation of the Anime series Kyatto Ninden Teyandee aka Legendary Ninja Cats. Story goes that the Japanese scripts were either lost, were of very poor quality or deliberately withheld so that the writers had to make up the story-lines.
Prior to viewing Madman’s release, I hadn’t seen this show for nearly 20 years so when I heard they were releasing it I was super excited and it made me love them just that little bit more. Did it hold up? Hell yes it did! What makes it so great is that it’s loaded with rapid-fire pop-culture and political references and it appeals to both children and adults.
As a kid I loved pizza and cats and that’s why it was awesome to me at the time, but as an adult I appreciate it on a whole other level. Like Pee-wee’s Playhouse there’s so many gags and a bit of inappropriate humour that will go right over the heads of children.
Onto the premise of the show for all you SPC virgins.
Our anthropomorphic (and rather cute) feline heroes are: the feisty and food obsessed Speedy Cerviche, ladies man Guido Anchovy, and feisty (female) Polly Esther. They work at ‘Pizza Cats’ pizzeria in Little Tokyo but they’re really crime fighters. The villain is a cross-dressing weird robot rat/fox-like creature called Seymour “The Big” Cheese. Big Cheese is always scheming to get control of Little Tokyo and he does so with the help of Jerry Atric and his crew of evil ninja crows.
From the names of the characters alone you can see how pun-ridden the show is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is extremely goofy. The plots become a bit formulaic as the cats defeat Cheese’s robots but the spoofs, black humour and sarcasm of the narrator never tire.
I will put it out there that I am not a fan of modern day anime. I just can not get into it. I love the older (cuter/goofier) stuff so visually it may look dated to a modern audience, but if you like simplistic, bright and colorful animation over more slick modern anime then this is something you should check out if you happened to miss out on this show during your childhood.
Collection One is a 4 disc box-set consisting of episodes 1-26. Only 50 episodes every aired so I’m eagerly awaiting Collection 2 which is due out in December. Lets hope Madman release the original Japanese series too.
Samurai Pizza Cats is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.