Guru Guru: The Movie

The difference between enjoying a comedy and never even remembering it again can be slight. Last week, I reviewed Elf Princess Rane, a show that's well-praised among the reviewing community but didn't fly for me. It was too much nonsense and not enough funny. On the other hand, this week I'm talking about Guru Guru: The Movie. Both are set in fantasy realms with RPG stylings. Both have a mix of low-brown humor and silliness. Both involve plots where the main characters are after a special treasure. You could read a plain description of both and think they might be the same show. But Guru Guru: The Movie was truly enjoyable, a short romp in goofy fun that, while not setting a new comedy bar or anything, is an enjoyable way to spend a half-hour.

The Pickle of Happiness is this week's treasure of's supposed to grant the wish of whomever eats it. But to get it, a brave adventurer must make it to the top of Megalo Mountain and convince an enormous dragon to relinquish his hold on it. Nike and Kukuri -- our brave hero and mage, as noted on their pop-up stat boxes -- decide to make a go of it, even though it's their own selfish desires pressing them onward rather than any real heroism. They quickly get more party members, and they'll need them. On the way, they come across a wacko tribe of furry weirdos and a band of monsters working for the the new local boss, all of which have their own pickle plans. Between cat-headed snakes, a floaty guy in a loincloth, and a grass-skirted grampa who does the Kita Kita dance, what's not to like?

This 1996 short is not much to look at, nor does it need to be. It's not driven by its looks. The characters are "chibi" by nature -- tiny and cute -- and thus the show's flavor is far more cartoon-like than most anime. The artwork is simple, but more than adequate for the needs of the's never poorly done or off-putting. It's just one of those shorts where old VHS fansubs didn't lose a whole lot of the picture quality, if you get my drift.

What I enjoyed about Guru Guru: The Movie was that the whole thing was pretty funny, but the plot itself kept things moving and gave our adventurers something to do. It's proof that even in a silly show, a good plot given proper attention can make a huge quality difference. I admit I laughed at some simple jokes like the stat boxes I mentioned, and the level of humor never gets much more sophisticated. Some of it is nonsense, and there's very little you haven't seen before if you've watched any manic comedies in the anime canon. Yet I couldn't help but smile through it. And there is something genuinely charming about these tiny characters and their exploits. I'll put it this was not really any more memorable than Elf Princess Rane. The difference was, I wanted to remember Guru Guru: The Movie.

As I found out doing some research this week, Guru Guru is an ongoing series, and this "film" is just a short follow-up that made it to the big screen (probably as a double or triple feature with something else). It's easy to jump in with no previous knowledge, and I think it's a good way to know if it's worth it for you to make the time commitment to try to find the TV program. Me? I don't know if it was so good as to seek out 45 more episodes of it. But for a quick laugh when you're in need of a pick-me-up, it'll hit the spot.

Guru Guru: The Movie -- comic violence, brief male rear nudity, mild profanity -- B+