Samurai Pizza Cats Explored – Most Hilarious 80’s Anime That Exposed The Brilliance Of Anime In US

    Samurai Pizza Cats was preceded by Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, which is short for Cat Ninja Legend. It was an anime from the 1990s that ran for 54 episodes, from February 1990 to February 1991.

    After the series was a hit in Japan, Saban Entertainment purchased the rights to produce an Americanized version of it. Samurai Pizza Cats was created as a result. The series, which has fifty episodes, premiered in the United Kingdom and Canada in 1991 before coming to the United States in 1996.

    The original show delighted in its allusions to Japanese popular culture, humor, puns, and its breaching of the fourth wall. Samurai Pizza Cats differs when it comes to the dialogue while sharing a very similar premise, subject, and narrative style with Samurai Pizza Cats due to a number of factors that prevented a thorough Japanese to English translation from working out for the show.

    We will discuss the similarities and differences as well as what makes Samurai Pizza Cats unique in today’s video.

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    What The Cartoon Television Series Is All About

    What The Cartoon Television Series Is All About

    Just like its Japanese counterpart, Samurai Pizza Cats is set in a fictional town known as Little Tokyo. The world is a mixture of feudal Japan and a futuristic and technologically advanced society. Animals take up the centre stage when it comes to the cast of the show. But these animals are actually anthropomorphic technologically enhanced creatures. Basically, they are like cybernetic androids.

    The Prime Minister of Little Tokyo, that is the bipedal rat known as Big Cheese, wants to overthrow Emperor Fred. Al Dente, the Palace Guard Commander learns of the Prime Minister’s plotting but cannot do anything to get him arrested since he lacks evidence. So he seeks help from three catty androids who run a pizza parlor in the city. These three felines are the Samurai Pizza Cats, namely Speedy Cerviche, Polly Esther, and Guido Anchovy. They can cook up a mean pizza but they are also skilled samurais. Get you a cat that can do both.

    The first episode, ‘Stop Dragon My Cat Around’ refers to the Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty Song ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’. While Speedy tries to deliver Lucille (a sheep) the pizza, Guido steals it to give it to her. The two cats keep stealing the pizza from one another to make the delivery since the both of them want to impress her.

    Later, they fight a giant robotic dragon sent by Big Cheese’s henchman Bad Bird as it wreaks havoc across Little Tokyo. This episode has another pop culture moment with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference.

    While the dragon laid waste to Little Tokyo, the narrator said, “An entire city block is flattened in the blink of an eye, including a retirement home for aging ninja turtles”. This was soon followed by the old turtle in the frame exclaiming with a ‘Cowabunga’, which is Michaelangelo’s iconic catchphrase.

    For the continued narrative of Samurai Pizza Cats, the show follows the same pattern used by several 90s anime such as Sailor Moon where the so-called heroes go against one of the henchmen of the big bad guy. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers used the same formula and so did the other power rangers from the 2000s, most notably Power Rangers S.P.D.

    The villains do not necessarily have to be similar. It can be a monster, a delinquent who does the dirty work, a mechanical creature, a magical creature, or anything of the same sort. But with reference to Samurai Pizza Cats, Speedy, Polly, and Guido, generally go against giant mecha robots. And Bad Bird is often the one piloting these mechas.

    When the cats cannot handle the adversary, they ask their friends for help. And this can be seen in the episode known as ‘The Great Golden Cluck’.

    Here, Bad Bird sends another flying demon that is the Golden Cluck to Little Tokyo while working as its pilot. The demon claims to be able to foretell the future and grant wishes in exchange for a price and even succeeds at doing so for the sake of Mrs. Bonehead who ends up making a comment too sexual for a kid’s show.

    However, Mrs. Bonehead had been paid off by the Ninja Crows to act along with their plan. Seeing their success while being oblivious to the truth, everyone began to give the robot their money for their wishes.

    With Big Cheese now swimming in money, the demon that is the Golden Cluck reached out to a rich man to invest the money. However, the Pizza Cats arrived soon to battle the Ninja Crows, who released a violent octopus as their retaliation. Despite being put in a position of disadvantage, the cats  emerged victorious after gaining help from the Rescue Team Reinforcements.

    Apart from the pop culture references to other 90s cartoons, popular music, and the likes, the show also makes it apparent that the characters are aware of being characters in television. Neither Japan nor the United States are strangers to this method but it always adds the extra entertainment to media.

    To understand the story better, let’s get into the primary characters who take centre stage in the show.

    Speedy Cerviche, originally known as Yattaro in Japanese, is the leader of the Samurai Pizza Cats. He was voiced by Rick Jones for the English adaptation, who has also worked in ‘Saban’s Adventures Of Pinocchio’ and ‘Saban’s Adventures Of Peter Pan’.

    Speedy stays loyal to his name as he is shown to be quick and nimble, both as a crime fighter and a pizza delivery guy. He is confident in himself, loves to pose for the camera after a victory, and has great comic timing. In fact, his name is a food pun with Cerviche being a pun on the seafood dish known as ceviche, where the meat is not cooked but instead, treated via the usage of citrus.

    As a samurai, his weapon of choice is his magical Ginzu sword or the Masamasa. He unleashes its power when he uses his special move known as the Cat’s Eye Slash.

    As a main character, he has a crush on the sheep Lucille. Later, he develops a crush on his fellow samurai pizza cat Polly.

    Which brings us to the female lead of the show, Polly Esther, also known as Pururun in the Japanese version. Her English voice actor was Sonja Ball, who later went on to work in Pinocchio 3000 and Heavy Metal 2000. Polly Esther’s name makes a pun out of the word polyester.

    Despite Speedy being the leader of the Samurai Pizza Cats, Polly often did the leading and the bossing around. She has somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Speedy and sports a violent temper, even though she actually has romantic feelings for him, in typical tsundere fashion.

    She is quite independent and has a cool signature move where she uses the power of love to fight evil. She also plays a flute as she heads to her fights and uses heart shaped projectiles in battles. Her sword Kirakira has a heart on the handle with Heart Breaker as the hidden power. She can also create a gravity field which magnetically draws her opponents closer to her range after which she commences her attack using her razor sharp claws. Anyone who has a pet cat knows how lethal those claws can be.

    Finally, there’s Guido Anchovy, also known as Sukashi in Japanese. His English voice actor, Terrence Scammell, has worked in several live action and animation projects with ‘Tripping The Rift’ being one of his most notable ones.

    Guido’s surname Anchovy refers to the anchovy fish while his name is a slang used to refer to an Italian-American young male in New York. With pizza being important to the plot, the show obviously makes several Italian references, Guido aside. Even Al Dente (which is the name of the Palace Guard Commander) is a type of pasta.

    Guido is a super cool and smooth. He is often chasing after girls, which kind of defeats the purpose of him being cool because that way the girls should chase after him. His romantic life does not fare him well though.

    He wields the Samurai Sunspot Umbrella, using it to fire heat beams, rings, and for hypnosis. He can also use it as a shield when open and as a club when closed. Concealed within its handle is Pikapika, a sword that unleashes the Ichimonji’s Fire.

    On the antagonistic end there is Seymour ‘The Big’ Cheese, also known as Kitsunezuka Ko’on-no-Kami. He is a fox in the Japanese show but a rat in the English adaptation. Dean Hagopian is the English voice actor who also works as a music producer.

    He is Little Tokyo’s Prime Minister and the Supreme Commander of the Ninja Crow Clan. He often makes his ninja crows carry out his dirty duties as he wants to take over Little Tokyo. But he is not competent enough to do so and as a rat, falls to the cats. He also comes from a family of crime with his relatives all across the world being involved in criminal activites.

    Everytime he fails, he explodes with anger. He is also super flashy and likes to flirt with his male subordinates.

    Big Cheese is supported by his Ninja Crows, with Bad Bird doing most of his dirty work as Speedy’s arch nemesis.

    In an episode known as ‘Underground, Underwater, Undercooked’, Bad Bird learnt of hidden gold underneath the castle in Little Tokyo. He soon got the Ninja Crows to hijack a train to make the passengers dig for the gold.

    Despite Bad Bird’s rivalry with Speedy, he ended up helping the Pizza Cat out in the end.

    There’s also Jerry Atric who works as Big Cheese’s advisor and keeps his explosive nature in check.

    Other Interesting Facts About The Cartoon

    Other Interesting Facts About The Cartoon

    When Samurai Pizza Cats aired, many people assumed the intro song was sung by Fred Schneider, who is the lead singer of B-52s. However, it was actually sung by the one who wrote the English dub, Michael Airington. While he sung, he attempted to imitate a drunk version of the comedian Paul Lynde for the perfect comedic element.

    Even though comedy plays an important role in the show, the United States experienced Samurai Pizza Cats almost five years after its dubbing. So by the time it went on air, several of its jokes had become stale.

    In fact, the script used in Samurai Pizza Cats was completely different compared to Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, mainly because the original script was lost. But rumor has it that the script was intentionally withheld so that the writing team could get more creative as they adapted the series.

    But this gave rise to a whole new world of problems.

    What Happened To Samurai Pizza Cats?

    What Happened To Samurai Pizza Cats

    Samurai Pizza Cats tried to compete against heavyweight cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even though the original Japanese version was a success, the English adaptation got the shorter end of the stick.

    Japanese as a language relies heavily on context and Japanese customs. This combined with the syntax of the language being very different when compared to English, poses a huge problem. Japanese cannot easily be translated into English.

    This is a huge reason why you might find certain romantic pairings in battle shonen anime being popular in Japan while the West frowns upon its lack of development. Things just get lost in translation.

    The anime Attack on Titan is originally titled ‘Shingeki no Kyojin’ which means ‘Attack Titan’ and not ‘Attack on Titan’. If you’ve read the manga or are up to date with the anime, you’ll know the show is a lot more about the Attack Titan that is Eren Yaeger than about humans fighting Titans. Japanese translations aside, you might be aware of the Spanish television series ‘La Casa de Papel’ which translates to Money Heist in English. The Spanish title actually means ‘House of Paper’ which describes the first two seasons of the show much better than the title ‘Money Heist’.

    So the magnitude of Japanese to English translations often faltering is quite high. In fact, the word ‘Teyandee’ from Kyatto Ninden Teyandee does not even have an English equivalent.

    Saban Entertainment, that is the company that licensed the show, often tends to change the show to appeal to a Western audience, which can be seen with Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers versus its japanese counterpart Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger.

    Various episodes would be sampled and rearranged. There would be new scripts that would be derived from the information packages that came from Japan. It would give away the premise and plot but the Japanese comic elements would not translate well to English. As a result, the showrunners would interpret the show in their own way, get a feel of it, and write a new script.

    Will We Get A Samurai Pizza Cats Movie?

    Will We Get A Samurai Pizza Cats Movie

    Sonic The Hedgehog got another live-action CG animation movie this year. Love Death Robots has proved how well the West can do with several forms of animation. And Detective Pikachu is proof that a combination of live-action and CGI animation can be a huge success.

    With older media being revived for a retelling using newer technology, a Samurai Pizza Cats movie may very well work out. The pizza cats can find themselves in the mainstream universe or our world with the help of this combination between live action and CGI. They can also find themselves in a CGI world, this time with fresher puns and fourth wall-breaking moments that can rival the likes of Fleabag.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is set to get a live action reboot as well. Might as well heighten the competition by bringing in Samurai Pizza Cats.

    Rewatching Samurai Pizza Cats today can make one realize how good the animation and art of the show is. These are things that we often tend to miss as kids but appreciate as adults. This only adds to the fact that not only is the show great because of the nostalgia it provides us but despite the sentimental crutches, Samurai Pizza Cats still stands tall and mighty in the world of animation.

    And with that, today’s video comes to an end. What did you think of Samurai Pizza Cats? Did you enjoy this video? If yes, then don’t forget to like and comment on this video. Till then, goodbye. And have a nice one!

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