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I admit it, I watch a lot of cartoons. And, before you start judging me – they are no less mature than reality tv, so there. The other night, I was trying to convince my kids to watch “Doomsday: the Death of Superman” (again) and they moaned and whined – “we just wanna watch regular cartoons.” OK, OK, lets see what’s on Tivo. Surprise, surprise, there were a couple of new episodes of “Chop Socky Chooks.” (does the period go before or after the closing quotation mark? I never get that right. In this case, common sense tells me that it should go after the quotation mark, unlike a sentence of dialogue where it would go before the quotation mark. But, grammar doesn’t make any sense, it’s just a bunch of rules my cruel 7th grade teacher, Miss Fulcomer, forced me to learn.)

Chop Socky Chooks is one of the rare cartoons that everyone in the family truly enjoys. Why? What makes a “quality” cartoon?

  1. Opening Sequence/Theme Song
    I won’t watch a show unless the theme song is worthy of being added to my iTunes (a la Teen Titans or Spiderman) or the opening sequence inspires me to acts of super heroic do-gooding and/or acrobatic feats of violence (a la Justice League or Avatar)
  2. Animation Style
    The Chooks have that sick computer generated style that makes them look like real live claymation (think Rankin & Bass classics). Jimmy Neutron the TV show tried to pull this off but kinda failed – but, props to them for including a robot dog with a visible brain!
  3. Multiple Levels of Meaning (including the subversive)
    Ya, I know “Super Friends: Challenge of the Super Friends” worked on one level and one level only but it still kicks ass! It’s Ione’s favorite. Anyways… and, here we get to the meat of this post:

The subversive messages in Chop Socky Chooks
FIRST, the bad guy owns a MALL! Dr. Wasabi’s evil empire is a shopping mall!!! Secondly, none of the heroes are white males. Thirdly, Chuckie Chan’s study and devotion to the martial art of “Kung Pao” compels him to fight for the oppressed and against injustice. And, finally, Karmagatchas!

In the last episode I watched, the evil Dr. Wasabi had created the had-to-have-Christmas-time-cute-furry-craze: the Karmagatchas. Sadly, Chuckie was reduced to taking a job as one of Santa’s elves selling the Karmagatchas because “being the sensei of the dojo is fully rewarding in all ways except monetarily” (ohhhh, the call to ministry). Turns out the Karmagatchas are evil little toys that suck out a persons good karma by hugging them. How’s that for a subversive anti-consumerist message?

Naturally, my kids missed this message because they were busy trying to work out a trade for Ione’s new Pok√©mon card which is so damn cute (and shiny!) that Thelonious is nearly willing to trade a level EX card just to get his grimy lil hands on it. I missed the message because I was obsessing over how to get my collection of Justice League Unlimited figures to actually stand up [see the future post: Damn You, Skinny Ankled Action Figures!!! (or, Why Unbalanced Action Figures Are From the Devil)]. And, poor Erika. She missed the message because she had passed out from a hard day’s work of making money so the other three of us could spend it on cute-furry-gotta-have-its.

PS: I realize that Chop Sooky Chooks has come under criticism for over-simplifying and stereotyping Asian culture. To any reader whom I have offended, I sincerely apologize

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