I think when I’m asked to name my favorite anime, I usually come up with a group of titles that I’d think would make me give a good impression to the person who’s asking. So maybe I’ll rattle off Rahxephon, Twelve Kingdoms, Fate/Zero, One Piece… those are solid titles, well-known enough, and firmly establishes my otaku cred.
But I’m not going to write about those anime today. Because the anime that first came to mind when I saw the announcement for this year’s Remembering Love project is Konjiki no Gash Bell.
I was introduced to Gash Bell by my friend/then-roommate T. She told me it was funny and that the little demon kid Gash was cute. Initially, checking out the images for show, I was half-inclined to question her taste. I mean, look at it!? The character designs look rough, and I don’t think Gash was cute. What’s with the crazy eyes?
So, it wasn’t love at first sight. Very few things are.
It took me actually watching the episode and literally laughing my head off to firmly cement this show as one of the titles that I reliably watch and re-watch each time I’m down.
The appeal of Konjiki no Gash Bell primarily had elementary kids in mind, the same kids who would laugh at penises and breasts because they’re funny and you’re supposed to laugh at them at that age. There’s nothing sexual or perverted about Gash. He’s too young to think of penises or boobs that way. He’s a polite little kid who found himself partnered with this sullen teenage boy. The highlights of Gash’s day revolve around playing with Vulcan, his toy made out of a Pretz box, and maybe eating yellowtail.
And oh yeah, he has to battle other demon children in a tournament to become king of the demon world.
In contrast to Gash, his human partner, Kiyomaro is a teenager with an attitude. He’s smart — maybe too smart — and he’s not afraid to call out insanity when he sees it. In a way, he’s almost unfit to play the tournament. He relies too much on logic and sense, and in this game, that’s not necessarily going to give him an edge. What he needed to do was to accept it, learn how to play, and be the best partner that he could be with Gash to win. Eventually, he and Gash get in sync and start playing well as a team, but when they first start out, their growing pains as a fighting combo made for some of the best comedic moments of any series that I’ve seen.
Kiyomaro and Gash work as a team because they’re the missing parts of each other; Kiyomaro needs Gash’s playfulness and innocence, while Gash needs Kiyomaro’s good sense and discipline. When they’re out of sync, one of two things could happen: it could make for comedic gold (with Gash doing something he thinks is innocuous yet it would make Kiyomaro flip out), or they would get themselves in trouble. I think that’s why I prefer Konjiki no Gash Bell‘s team dynamics a lot more than Pokemon, for instance. Gash is as equal of a partner in their team. He can (and does) disagree with Kiyomaro, he’s not just a fighting animal battling for his master’s fame and honor. In the end, actually, it’s Gash who will benefit when they win, so his stake in the tournament is just as big.
I also can’t end this post without talking about “Chichi wo Moge,” the theme song of Parco Folgore, one of the other masters. If you’re not as weaboo as I am, the title translates to “Groping Breasts.” Yes, a kid’s anime featuring a song that talks about the pleasures of groping breasts. It’s funny because it’s not dirty; it’s innocent and cute and it’s something that you’d expect a six-year to think is the most hilarious thing in the world. For me, on my worst days, I would just play a clip of the song and instantly feel better. It’s just so silly that I can’t stay grumpy for too long.
And that’s why I, even if it’s not the coolest show, still love Konjiki no Gash Bell.