I’ve talked about it before, but the 90s were a bad time for dubbed anime. It was hard to find any localization of an anime that stayed true to the original, or one that wasn’t chopped to bits during the editing process. Even if you managed to find an anime that doesn’t edit anything out, you’d still have to deal with awkward atrocious voice-acting. Not every dubbed anime was like this, however.
Some anime, such as the early dubs of Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho still hold up phenomenally well. However, there are rare occasions when the dubbed version surpasses the original in every way! One such dubbed anime that managed to do this was the cult classic series “Samurai Pizza Cats”.
This show originally aired in Japan under the title “Kyatto Ninden Teyandee”. Originally aired in 1990, the show did relatively well in ratings. The show revolved around three anthropomorphic feline cyborgs who worked at a pizza joint, while fighting crime as ninjas on the side. And yes, this is just as ridiculous and amazing as it sounds! They do battle against a corrupt fox, one who is vying for control of the city.
The show was an action-comedy, filled with puns and silly jokes galore. The show did moderately well, though not enough to warrant a continuation. There was a second season planned, as well as a spinoff series. Sadly, both projects were cancelled. What did happen was the series getting an English localization the very next year!
Not only that, but it was being handled by Saban! Yes, the very same Saban who would one day adapt Super Sentai into Power Rangers. The very same Saban behind VR Troopers, Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog, Los Luchadores, and Big Bad Beetleborgs. Saban decided to create their own version of Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, which proved to be an immensely difficult undertaking.
Why? Well, Saban did not have access to the translation scripts. They had no idea what the characters were saying, what the plot was supposed to be, or even what the character’s names were. As a result, the writers were forced to come up with an entirely new plot on their own. Eventually, this lead to the creation of one of the most well-known anime dubs to this day: Samurai Pizza Cats.
With no real script for the writers to work off of, everything had to be invented from scratch. Everything was given a new name, and I mean EVERYTHING! Heck, the city was even renamed from “Edoropolis” to “Little Tokyo”. Despite being rewritten completely from scratch, it turned out surprisingly good! A lot of this comes down to the humor, the characters, and the way the writers paint the insane world the characters live in.
The show revolves around our three fearless felines doing battle against the mischievous rat “Seymour Cheese”. Cheese’s big plan is to wrest control of the entire city from the semi-incompetent monarchy that runs it. To do this, he enlists the help of Bad Bird, Jerry Atric, and an army of ninja crows.
This premise is utterly insane, and the show is completely aware of it! This show had no fourth wall, a snarky wit, and a level of craziness that would be right up there with most early-to-mid 90s shows. Epic action scenes, nonsense dialogue, it’s all there! It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoy this series.
It’s about 52 episodes long, and is definitely an enjoyable thrill-ride from beginning to end. Heck, even the clip-shows are made infinitely more entertaining with the absurdist jokes the characters constantly crack. The show is surprisingly solid, despite how downright insane it is. A good example of this comes in the show’s nonsense theme song.
It was sung by one of the show’s writers, who happened to be drunk during the recording. The way the singer stutters during his lines, sings some rather obtuse lyrics, and even breaks into random laughter at the end is a dead giveaway. Despite the song being sung by a man who was drunker than a skunk at the time, it turned out surprisingly well!
In fact, this is a trend that that applies to the show itself. This anime feels like something that just couldn’t work on paper, yet was somehow executed smoothly. The show isn’t without its flaws, however. Characters have a tendency to rattle on a bit too much, sometimes resulting in a flat joke. Stock footage is often used at times when it shouldn’t be, sometimes creating inconsistencies in the show itself.
Despite these problems, Samurai Pizza Cats is still surprisingly entertaining. It’s one of the few dubbed anime from the 90s that I actually find myself coming back to. I think the most alluring aspect of the show is the cheesiness that comes with being a Saban product. You haven’t really experiences silly 90s schlock until you’ve seen at least one Saban show! This being an early Saban production may be enough to drive most people away. Honestly though, you won’t find a better nonsense ninja cat show in any reality!