Plot: A boy named Nori realizes that he has the ability to make his imagination come to life by writing it and drawing it in his diary. When he creates a pig with this power, he furthers his abilities when the pig rams his snout into his head, allowing him to instantly create anything he imagines without the help of his diary.
Breakdown: Before I start, I want to mention that Tokyo Pig is aimed towards a pretty young audience. I’m not usually one to review shows aimed at particularly young audiences, but this one doesn’t seem like its target audience is too young to warrant aversion.
That being said, the only real way to express my feelings on this show so far is by examining the episode step by step. We start out with a weather girl who will annoyingly be popping up about every minute or so to make pointless and not funny observations who explains that the weather will be full of pigs today. Well, okay. I don’t think my umbrella can withstand that, but okay.
Cut to a boy named Nori (or Spencer. I think the subs might be basing themselves off of the supposedly horrible English dub sometimes) who is super excited to run home and do his homework, which is to write about the thoughts and feelings about his day in a diary. The diary won’t be read by anyone else but him, so this is one of those moot homework assignments. Checking to see that he’s alone in the house, he writes how a strange girl in his class has been pressuring him to say that he likes her even though he doesn’t. In fact, he writes that he has no feelings for her at all and doesn’t wish to be with a girl that he feels nothing towards.
His mom and little sister burst from under his desk and in his closet claiming that they were playing hide and seek. His mother freaks out on him since she believes he was studying, and she finds education to be worthless since his father also studied hard and got a good job at a company only to have the bubble burst and him end up with a title-less job at her printing plant. Yep, she is actually a mother who not only values physical labor over education but studying in her house is basically akin to doing drugs.
He leaves to go meet his friends, and his little sister discovers his diary in his desk. When he returns, his mother and sister laugh at him and mock him for what he wrote in his diary. I would completely understand this if it was just the sister. Siblings just do this crap to each other; it’s the natural order of things. But his mom?! She’s laughing about violating his privacy and expressing his perfectly normal feelings about a girl liking him in a seemingly confidential medium. Not to mention they’re acting like he wrote that he did like her when he repeatedly expressed that he didn’t in the diary.
Look, the point of this assignment and diaries as a whole is to have a private place to openly share your thoughts, feelings and dreams without worrying about being judged. In addition to being somewhat of a cathartic experience, it helps people, kids most of all, to feel more comfortable and trusting in sharing their feelings, allowing them to create stronger relationships with people.
Taking someone’s diary and reading it, especially when it’s a young kid’s diary, is essentially shattering every benefit of using a diary. It only makes you feel less trusting of others and more closed-off in regards to continuing the diary out of fear that someone will take it and read it again.
Not really an example, but my sister forced me to write something in my diary when I first got it. I didn’t understand why, but I did it because she kept pressuring me to write it. I forget who it was about, some boy in my class I think, but she made me write “(boy) is sexy.” then she snatched it from my hands and squealed to my parents that I wrote something dirty in my diary. I was about six years old, I didn’t even know what that word meant, and her doing that, even though I didn’t write in it beforehand, put me off of writing in a diary for many years. Which sucked because I was excited to get my first diary.
Laughing at someone for their diary entries only makes that feeling that much worse.
But I’m probably over-reacting. This is a show for little kids, right? Nori will probably have a hissy fit and run upstairs yelling about how his mom and sister are poopy-heads.
He actually has a pretty legit emotional breakdown about his privacy being violated and having his private thoughts being mocked.
In most cases, the worst case scenario here would probably be the kid not wanting to use a diary anymore for fear of the same thing happening.
Nori instead decides that the healthiest way to approach this problem and avoid any further “shame”, as he puts it, is by filling his diary with outrageous lies. Way to go, mom. You took away Nori’s feelings of trust, filled him with deep shame about sharing his personal thoughts and feelings and taught him that lying is the best way to avoid that shame all in a matter of minutes. Truly your parenting techniques are top-notch.
One of the lies he puts in his diary is that his mom would grow an incredibly long neck, which she actually does and, surprisingly, not a single person sees this as odd besides Nori himself. He quickly erases the entry and his drawing of it, returning his mom to normal and still leaving them thinking nothing’s odd.
Nori realizes that he manipulated reality with his diary…..somehow…..so he decides to test it again with something equally odd by writing that they’ll be having pencil tempura for dinner, which they do, and again no one but Nori finds this odd. His father actually ends up choking on a pencil, only for his mom to cure him by putting an eraser on a cheese grater and feeding his dad the shavings.
Freaked out yet again, Nori decides to write something even more outrageous and says the sky will be filled with pigs tomorrow, and lo and behold the next morning is mostly sunny with scattered pigs. Yet again, no one finds this weird. The pigs, seeing Nori, cram themselves into his room for some reason. Hearing the commotion, his family comes up to investigate, stating that they won’t be happy if there are pigs in his room, which I don’t really understand. If they believe the pigs are just weather phenomenon then wouldn’t that be like getting mad that rain is coming in through the window?
He quickly erases the picture and entry from the diary, causing the pigs to vanish before his family comes up. However, he realizes that he left one pig picture in the diary and that same pig is in the room. His normally happy-go-lucky dad suddenly takes his glasses off, revealing his scary angry face that is apparently so traumatizing that the show won’t reveal it to us, and he demands that he “dump” the pig.
Nori reluctantly agrees, and he drops the pig off in front of a butcher shop. Nori, why? You were the one character consistently earning my sympathy so far. Not to mention that, while he does quickly return for it and I get the ‘joke’, this is the same kid who was having trouble leaving him period because he kept looking into the pig’s cute wittle sad eyes and feeling insanely guilty. It feels like the scene is reversed. Have him do something that drastic at first and then slowly whittle him down to ‘I can’t abandon you at all.’
Also, do I have point out the obvious question of ‘why not just erase the last pig picture?’
Frustrated, Nori thinks that he’d be able to keep the pig at home if he were a godzilla pig because no one would be able to stand up to him. The pig shoves his snout into Nori’s head, allowing him to transform into the godzilla pig Nori imagined. So now, somehow, Nori no longer needs the diary to make his imaginary ideas come to life; he just needs to be skull-stabbed by a pig snout.
Freaked out by the monster, Nori imagines fighter jets to combat him, which instantly come about. So now, somehow again, Nori no longer needs the stab to his skull to make things come to life; they just instantly do the moment he imagines them.
Everything starts getting destroyed around him, so Nori freaks out. However, he does take a minute out to imagine how cool it’d be if another monster showed up to combat pigzilla. He instantly regrets this, but it’s too late and a three-pigheaded dragon emerges to fight pigzilla. In an effort to save the town and stop imagining these things, Nori slams his head repeatedly against a vending machine until he gets knocked out….which is a pretty serious and downright dramatic way to solve this problem in this otherwise goofy and completely random show.
It does work, and the pig tries to wake up Nori to no avail. In an effort to save him, the pig goes to get Nori’s family, and they soon find and retrieve him from the park, thinking he merely fainted. Back at home, the family reveals that the pig is now revered as a savior pig who somehow immediately has a collar even though they would’ve had no time to buy and give him one between being alerted to Nori’s condition and retrieving him. Because of this, Nori is allowed to keep him as a pet and Nori decides to name him Sunny Pig since he fell from the sunny skies. However, since his thoughts can be brought to life by Sunny Pig, he now has to keep everything a secret.
Okay, for the most part, this partially works as a first episode. We get a good idea of the personalities of each character, and the universe that they live in is somewhat explained, though the whole thing about why and how he suddenly has these abilities is not explained at all. How is his diary magic? Is his teacher a witch or something? Is this whole ‘every thought is instantly brought to life’ power turned on with snout stab and turned off with him being unconscious?
The tone kinda flip-flops. On one hand, it’s very obviously trying to be a light-hearted comedy show. On the other hand, you have scenes like Nori reacting to his mom and sister reading his diary and Nori’s efforts to knock himself unconscious, which honestly seem more emotional and heavier than they should be or were maybe intended to be.
A major issue is that most of the characters are completely unlikable, except Nori. His mom is an education-hating, privacy violating, emotionally damaging crazy person. His sister is essentially the same as his mom, only made more annoying by her repeated phrases and her high-pitched voice. His dad seemed pretty good until we learned he’s apparently a hard-ass who hates animals. The weather girl is completely pointless and annoying. Nori is still a very fine character, but that scene with the butcher shop won’t leave my mind. Really, the best character is the pig, which is probably why he gets top billing.
Another annoying aspect in that regard is that the family, like the overall tone, also flip-flop in their personality. Most of the time they’re complete assholes or idiots and at the end they’re a seemingly normal and happy family.
Most of the jokes also simply didn’t land with me, except one joke involving trying to translate what the pig is saying. I get that the comedy here is mostly in the insanity of everything, but simply being random and insane is not enough to be funny. However, it probably is pretty funny to a young kid.
I will admit that the final scene is pretty sweet, albeit a little predictable.
The art is obviously simplistic, and while most of it is fine, several character designs are just ugly. Backgrounds have little to no detail and are roughly drawn and colored.
I honestly would’ve been more inclined to continue had I not been so put off by most of the characters. I actually don’t mind the insane and non-sensical plot as it does open up a world of possibilities that are literally only limited by your imagination. However, considering the characters and the fact that the comedy just doesn’t fly very far with me, I can’t find it within myself to feel apt to go on.
Recommended Audience: E for everyone, most suitable for younger audiences.