Shiftylook’s “Wonder Momo” Anime is Straight Out of the 90s

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As part of a move to briefly revive some of their old and beloved properties, Bandai Namco commissioned a comic based on the old Wonder Momo franchise, which was subsequently adapted into a short anime. At five episodes total and seven minutes per episode, it’s not much of a time commitment so even though it didn’t impress me at first I decided to just watch through the whole thing.

Here’s my verdict: The show looks fine, the actors (aside from Akihabara idol legend Momoi Halko) are clearly inexperienced. Overall, Wonder Momo is like a 90s OVA adaptation of a 90s anime fanfic. Let me explain that last point.

In the 80s and 90s, anime had a curious reputation in the United States. Aside from the idea that it was mostly porn and gore, the fact that a lot of the anime that came out were more long commercials for existing manga or video games resulted in the notion that anime was big on visuals but short on narrative. Stories didn’t make sense (and I don’t meant that they were boring, I mean they felt like nonsense), series ended at odd moments, and details like “who are these people” were glossed over readily because they expected you the fan to fill in the blanks. The Wonder Momo anime feels very similar in this regard, in that everything is a bit rushed and there’s no real sense of conflict.

The other thing is that a lot of the humor feels like it came straight out of 90s US anime fandom, like someone had taken inspiration from all of those Ranma 1/2 fanfics of the era and said, “Yes! This is what comedy is, you bakas!!!” While  the Wonder Momo anime is done in Japanese and so there’s no Janglish to speak of, it’s kind of surprising that it doesn’t devolve into a flurry of sweatdrops and chibis. I suspect it has to do with its webcomic source material, but I haven’t read enough of it to judge.

In a sense, Wonder Momo answers a long-standing question: what would it look like if the 90s US fandom’s idea of anime got made into an actual anime? In that regard, I find it to be more a proof-of-concept than anything else.

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2 thoughts on “Shiftylook’s “Wonder Momo” Anime is Straight Out of the 90s

  1. RWBY is interesting if you want to see 2000s-era American fans try to recreate anime from memory. I thought it did a good job of covering for their weaknesses (being unable to produce animation better than a solo Japanese MMD-P project) by doing more to appeal to American audiences (native English script, jokes, etc).

    That said, I think it had that American SF/comic thing where every line out of every character’s mouth has to be a snarky one-liner. My diet of nothing but anime where everything is taken extremely seriously means I just can’t stand to watch it, but I wonder if that’s the kind of thing Americans “want” from anime but don’t get?

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    • That reminds me, one of the gripes about the dub preview for Attack on Titan was that the main trio lost diversity and they all seemed to spout snarky one-liners. It seems epidemic.

      I think part of it has to do with some people being unable to lower their defenses and just have a good time. They need to insert that snark to assure the audience that ‘yeah, we’re just playing at serious, but its all a big joke.’

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