Judge Roy Hrab is DVD reviewer by day and a ninja by night. Oh, if only it were so!
"Spooky Sooga Village Is A Witches' Brew Of Mischief And Mayhem For Every Boy And Ghoul!"
Pint-sized ninjas and kung-fu experts! So, what's all this then? In an unidentified Asian location lies the small village of Sooga. Inhabiting the town is a quirky community consisting of children and various elders, including Santa Claus(!?).
The main characters of Pucca's large cast of eccentric martial arts experts are Pucca, who works at a noodle shop, but knows kung-fu, and Garu, who is a ninja in training. Pucca has a huge crush on Garu and is always trying to plant a kiss on him. However, her feelings are not reciprocated by Garu, who runs like the wind whenever he catches sight of her. Sometimes he escapes. Many times he does not. And sometimes he escapes partially: On one occasion Garu's skeleton runs away, leaving the rest of his body behind.
Just in time for Halloween, Pucca: Spooky Sooga Village consists of 11 episodes with (mostly) all featuring a (somewhat) spooky or supernatural elements:
• "Them Bones"
Each episode is a combination of the Pucca-Garu dynamic and an external conflict, such as a cursed bow tie, an evil spirit, an attack by Tobe (Garu's nemesis), or traveling back in time. Interestingly, Pucca never speaks and Garu has little dialogue. The speaking roles fall on the other characters, such as Garu's Bruce Lee wannabe best friend, Abyo.
The best way to describe the Pucca series, which is shown on Toon Disney, is somewhat of a cross between Charles Schulz' "Peanuts"-gang and Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants. Is that confusing? Well, let me explain. Pucca and Garu have a Sally-Linus/Lucy-Schroder type of relationship (minus the dialogue) and the group of other children provides supporting roles, ergo the "Peanuts" connection. At the same time, the over-top ninja and other bizarre sequences that take place bear a closer resemblance to the wacky absurdity of Spongebob. Also, Tobe serves as Pucca's Plankton equivalent. The end result is a series that should hold equal appeal for both young girls and boys alike.
However, the episodes also have something for adults through various nods to martial arts films through extreme face close-ups and stylized villains, to Hollywood blockbusters through switching to letter-boxing for big action, and to Japanese horror films, like The Ring. Further, the producers clearly understand that padding thin storylines is unwise. Each episode is a fast-paced 7-minutes in length. This is a savvy move that adults will appreciate.
Pucca: Spooky Sooga Village is presented in full screen format. The animation isn't Pixar quality, but is appropriate for the childish spirit of the show. The picture is strong, and the multi-colored Sooga village and characters are bright and clear. The stereo sound suits the program's simple dialogue and sound effects.
There are no extras, except for a pumpkin carving pattern of Pucca's face.
This is a fun little show. Not Guilty.
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