In which sharks are adorable, surprisingly educational, extremely hungry dorks.
My introduction to Samezu was confusing, to say the least. I love sharks, first of all, hammerhead sharks in particular, so the minute I saw a picture of Shumoku I was hooked. However, I had a lot of trouble finding information and merchandise at the start. One difficulty was that the series title tends to be written a couple of different ways, Samezu and Same-z among them. Another was that there’s a fair amount of cruddy bootlegs for the series.
So the (licensed) plush Shumoku my darling Mr. B got for my birthday one year was informally named Ham Hammington, following a lifelong pattern of me calling rabbits Bun Bunnington and kittens Cat Cattington and so forth. And for some reason, without any references — maybe because he has that cute little turned-down mouth — we started referring to him as sort of judge-y. (Yeah, I know.)
It amuses me, then, that Shumoku in the books is kind of a hipster in his way, occupied with his blog and YouTube and fashion.
But I’m getting things all out of order here, aren’t I? Today I’m writing about the three volumes of Samezu I recently got in another perfect order from CD Japan (it included a magazine released on July 1st in Japan and was in my hands in the States on July 2nd!) — Samezu, Itsudemo Samezu (Samezu Anytime), and Samezu Same to Azarashi (Samezu The Sharks and Azarashi). These are not only adorable, they’re hilarious.
The book begins by introducing you to the main characters (right to left in the picture above):
- Shumoku – his hammerlike head is his charm point.
- Jinbee – an easygoing type whose favorite dish is plankton.
- Itachi – a glutton who’ll eat anything that moves.
- Hoojiro – loves Azarashi.
- Azarashi – the Samezu’s little brother type/friend/food.
A good chunk of the humor comes from juxtaposing these adorable, plushy, puni puni characters with more realistic images. Make sure to look under the dust covers for some of the best examples of this, and you’ll see a good one from Same to Azarashi below:
Each book consists of single-panel illustrations and four-panel comics. The first groups these by character; the second is structured around holidays and other special days. The third is basically a hybrid of the first two in terms of format.
Lots of humor comes from how vain and petty and silly the sharks can be — if you’ve ever had a friend group of “the boys” or “the girls” to sit around being foolish with, you might find some of their behavior charmingly familiar. They’re like odd hybrids of adults and children, and actually sometimes they remind me of friends’ kids fighting with their siblings, like below.
They also kind of remind me of Animal Politics between pets in the same house.
If you’ve ever had those competitive types, human, or animal, it’s nice to have a sweet simpleton around too, and that’s why I think after reading the books my second favorite character is the gentle doof Jinbee.
These books are also surprisingly educational, in their way. For example, on the left below you learn that the short-tailed albatross is called the アホウドリ in Japanese, where アホウ ahou means idiot and ドリ dori means bird. As Itachi observes, they really are idiots — though apparently they got that name from being too trusting of humans. Poor things. ^^;
Speaking of dark humor, the eating of Azarashi ranges from chewing to gnawing to devouring him entirely. It’s consistently hilarious,
I give these books a huge recommendation! These sea creatures are really funny, and their mix of realism, surrealism, and kawaii aesthetic is really pleasing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an anime presence for Samezu soon beyond what’s already out there, and there’s an amount of merchandise available on the official site that both delights me and makes my wallet shake in fear. These weird guys really got me in the heart – hope you feel the same!