Dr. Slump 1 by Akira Toriyama: C+

From the back cover:
When goofy inventor Senbei Norimaki creates a precocious robot named Arale, his masterpiece turns out to be more than he bargained for!

Basking in the glow of his scientific achievement, Senbei scrambles to get Arale in working order so the rest of Penguin Village won’t have reason to suspect she’s not really a girl. But first Senbei needs to find her a pair of glasses and some clothes…

This series was recommended to me after I enjoyed Toriyama’s COWA! so much. Unfortunately, this one’s not really my cup of tea. I had originally borrowed the first three volumes from the library, but struggled to make it through just one. To be fair, its advocate was completely forthcoming about the “cracktastic humor.” It just didn’t turn out to be the kind that works for me.

This is the story of a socially inept inventor named Senbei Norimaki and the girl-shaped robot he creates. It begins promisingly enough, with a fun sequence detailing Arale’s creation, but quickly derails into zany, juvenile humor as Senbei ventures into a department store to buy undies for his creation. Some chapters are kind of fun—like when super-strong Arale is hounded by every sports club at school or when she finds a camera Dr. Norimaki invented that takes photos of the future—but many feature boogers, butts, and boobies.

I’m sure this would delight the young male audience for which it was intended, and it’s not as if COWA! was completely devoid of this kind of humor itself. The thing is—COWA! had real heart. I think I’ll always fondly remember the scenes of the monster kids and their wonderment as they took in the human world, but there are no similar moments in Dr. Slump, at least so far. That said, some of the gadgets are intriguing enough—like the camera—that I might give it another chance at some point. I do think, though, that it’s going to be one of those series that’s best in small doses.

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  1. I also wonder how well the humor translates, tbh. Dr Slump is really heavily reliant on puns and wordplay (everyone’s names are puns, for one thing).


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