Samurai Pizza Cats

Few things on Earth, short of a direct hit from a thermonuclear warhead, are capable of getting me out of bed at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Yet despite this, I’ve recently been leaping downstairs (well, stumbling, anyway), with an enthusiasm not seen since the early days of ‘Multi‑Coloured Swap Shop’, to watch a cartoon show.

‘Samurai Pizza Cats’ is a freeform translation of a Japanese animated series. 13 episodes have been shown in the UK, with another 13 to go, but there are at least fifty original programs. Being Japanese, it’s had to undergo surgery before getting here. However, while most such programmes died on the operating table – see ‘G‑Force’, aka ‘Battle of the Planets’, for perhaps the worst case of malpractice – SPC survived the treatment remarkably well, mostly because it was done with a sense of humour and the content was not toned down to anaemic levels (personally, I blame this for the rise of the American serial killer ‑ here, where we grew up with real cartoons like Tom & Jerry, there’s no such problem). The overall impression with SPC is that a bunch of guys with a VCR got together on a wet weekend and made up their own story. At least, I assume that the characters in the original didn’t discuss their lack of eyebrows with each otherI suspect the conversion may have been done in Canada, but this is based purely on the odd reference to Quebec, and the fact that no Americans seem to have heard of it!

Samurai Pizza Cats Opening Lyrics

Samurai Pizza Cats – who do you call when you want some pepperoni?
Samurai Pizza Cats – they’re fighting crime, and you know that ain’t baloney!
There’s Speedy Cevichi, the leader of the bunch.
A heck of a fighter, makes a heck of a lunch!
And little Polly Ester, who’s never afraid,
Of going into battle when the bad guys invade.
Plus Guido Anchovy, a wild romantic rover,
This cat gets down, down with a love hangover…
Here come the Pizza Cats – they’re so bad .
They’ve got more fur than any turtle ever had!
They’re stronger than old cheese (stronger than old cheese!),
They’re stronger than dirt (stronger than dirt!).
If you step on their tails (don’t hurt me now!),
Then you’re gonna get hurt!
Samurai Pizza Cats…

It’s about, you will not be surprised to hear, some restaurant running felines with sword skills. The hero is Speedy Cevichi, a distinctly un‑neutered tom who regularly falls in lust with any female, of any species, who crosses his path, just as long as she possesses those ‘anime eyes’, the size of footballs (and in SPC, these are taken to ridiculous extremes). He possesses a wonderful Ginzu sword, capable of slicing in two almost anything (including a deep‑pan pepperoni pizza) with a display of background pyrotechnics unrivalled since the last Jean‑Michel Jarre concert. Together with his colleagues Polly Ester and Guido Anchovy, they strive to defend Little Tokyo, their home, from the machinations of the Big
Cheese, an evil rat with a penchant for cross‑dressing (more on this later), and a band of his own henchmen.

The plots have a comforting similarity, being variations on the theme of “Big Cheese plots to destroy Little Tokyo, but is foiled”. However, that’s like describing Tom & Jerry as “cat fails to catch mouse”. The use of the same animation in different shows (the Pizza Cat launching sequence appears with a relentless regularity) becomes like the chorus to a song, and careful observation reveals the accompanying dialogue subtly varies.

Japanese kid’s shows are known for including plot devices that’d make the BBC blanch. In the original version of the aforementioned G‑Force, chief villain Zoltar was actually a hermaphrodite. Needless to say, there’s no trace of this left in the “sanitised for our protection” version broadcast in Britain. One episode of SPC was similar: it revolved around the head villain being seen wearing women’s clothes, and sending out his henchmen to kill the witness before she could reveal his secret. Instead of not bothering to translate that show, the explanation given was that he was rehearsing the role of Maria in ‘The Sound of Music’. While not X‑rated, perhaps, this is still several degrees more perverse than you’d find in ‘The Real Ghostbusters’. The Big Cheese’s crows are even referred to as “ninjas”, ITV not sharing the BBC’s mealy‑mouthed approach (‘Hero Turtles’?) to such things.

The series is refreshingly free of the moralising that strait‑jackets other shows, most notably the obscenely preachy ‘Captain Planet’: “Gee, if we’re nice to each other then we can solve this Middle East crisis AND be kind to the environment as well”. Don’t you hate socially‑conscious broadcasting? None of that in SPC: Little Tokyo gets trashed on a regular basis, junk food is promoted with the ultimate decadence of home delivery and moral concerns are simply not present. One story was about ‘Princess Vi’ and her attempts to go out on the town incognito. Anyone who remembers Princess Di’s exploits with Pamela Stephenson will know where this episode is coming from, and it has to be said the portrait of royalty isn’t a very flattering one. On reflection, this republican outlook might tie in with the Quebec references!

However, the main appeal of the show doesn’t lie in it’s origin or it’s plots. On the surface, it might seem like a cheap ripoff of the Ninja Turtles (TM, C, all‑rights‑reserved). However, SPC harks back to the days when cartoons were entertainment rather than adverts for toys – it’s only as a result of the series’ success that the SPC toys will be arriving here (apparently, mainly due to pressure from the grandson of a senior executive at Bandai UK!).But above all, Samurai Pizza Cats possesses one major advantages: it’s actually FUN to watch, and in the current era there aren’t many television shows which you can say that about.

Samurai Pizza Cats Episode List.

  1. Stop Dragon my Cat Around
  2. Underground, Underwater, Undercooked
  3. If you knew Sushi like I know Sushi
  4. The Great Golden Cluck
  5. Let the Cellar Beware
  6. Singing Samurai Sensei-tion
  7. The Nuclear Potato
  8. Kind of a Drag
  9. Double Trouble for Princess Vi
  10. Hot & Cold Kitties
  11. Candid Kitty
  12. Pizza Cats are Only Human, Pt.1
  13. Pizza Cats are Only Human, Pt.2
    Episodes 1, 2, 8 & 9 are available on a videotape, exclusive to Woolies!