Samurai Pizza Cats
|Samurai Pizza Cats|
Cover art of the American DVD box set
|Anime television series|
|Produced by||Andy Thomas (producer)
Winston Richard (executive producer)
|Music by||Shuky Levi & Haim Saban|
|Licensed by||Saban (1991-2002)
Discotek Media (2012-present)
Samurai Pizza Cats is an American animated television adaptation of the anime series Kyatto Ninden Teyandee (Cat Ninja Legend Teyandee), produced by Tatsunoko Productions and Sotsu Agency. Saban picked up the North American rights to the series, which originally aired in Japan on TV Tokyo from 1 February 1990 to 12 February 1991 for a total of 54 episodes, in 1991, and produced an English adaption for a total of 52 episodes. The English version of the series first aired in 1991 on the ABC television network, and then in first-run syndication since then. Also the English version became a cult hit among anime fans due to its rapid-fire pop culture references and more farcical nature.
Saban's rights to the series expired in 2002. Discotek Media currently holds the North American home video license to the series.
The series is set in the mechanical city of Little Tokyo, a mechanical city which fuses feudal Japanese culture with contemporary culture, and is populated by cybernetic anthropomorphic animals. The city is notionally led by Emperor Fred, a doddering eccentric. The city's actual leadership lies in the hands of his daughter Princess Violet and a city council. The council is headed by the ambitious prime minister Seymour "The Big" Cheese, a rat, who constantly plots to overthrow the Emperor. He is aided by his inept minions: trusted adviser Jerry Atric and Bad Bird, the leader of an army of ninja crows.
Unknown to the prime minister, council member "Big Al" Dente, the commander of the Palace Guard, learns of his designs on leadership, but is unable to prosecute him for treason because of the plausible deniability he maintains. Instead, Al Dente enlists the services of Speedy Ceviche, Polly Esther, and Guido Anchovy, three cyborg cat samurai who work in the city's pizzeria, along with their operator Francine. Known collectively as the Samurai Pizza Cats, they are assigned to stop Big Cheese and his evil henchmen's plans to take over Little Tokyo.
When Saban Entertainment licensed Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, proper translations of the original Japanese episodes were either of poor quality or non-existent, so it was decided to write completely original dialogue for the English dub, playing the show as a wacky, Animaniacs-esque comedy in contrast to the less farcical original version. The protagonists were changed from ninja into samurai. Of the 54 episodes that were originally produced in Japan, 52 were translated into English. The two untranslated episodes were clip shows that did little to further the series' plot. Some episodes of the dubbed version were never aired in the United States for censorship reasons.
The music in the English dub (replacing the original Japanese music though the Japanese music is intact in the uncut version of this show dubbed in English) was done by Shuki Levy and Haim Saban. The theme song for the English dub naturally differs from the original, a common practice for dubbing at the time. In keeping with the parodic nature of the show, the lyrics of the new theme song make a number of references to American pop culture. Michael Airington, a writer for the series, also sang the theme song (in an impersonated Paul Lynde voice), being credited as "Singing Sensation: Googie Gomez". According to the producer Andy Thomas, Airington had a few drinks before the recording session for the song started, and as a result, accidentally stuttered on one line ("this cat gets down down with a love hangover"); that mistake was left in the final version of the theme.
Samurai Pizza Cats has been broadcast in Australia and New Zealand, as well as various countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and Americas. The series has aired in the United Kingdom, India, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Chile, Peru, Panama, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Armenia, and the United States, from 1991 onwards.
Discotek Media released the Japanese original under the name Kyatto Ninden Teyandee on 30 April 2013 and the Saban dub on 30 July 2013. The Kyatto-Ninden Teyandee set includes all of the 54 original episodes (including the two clip-show episodes that were never dubbed into English) while the Samurai Pizza Cats set includes all 52 English-dubbed episodes. A French-language version titled Samouraï Pizza Cats featuring a French dub adapted from the English dub was released on DVD in France by Declic Images across two 5-disc box sets (26 episodes per set) in 2004.
Various toys and model kits were released in both Japan and Europe by Bandai, the latter usually being reboxed versions of the prior. Action figures for the Samurai Pizza Cats and the Rescue Team (the Japanese originals came as model kits comparable to today's Gundam toys, while the European figures came pre-assembled). There were also both large and small (Gachapon-sized), rubber-like figures, as well as playsets for the smaller figures, including the Great Catatonic and the pizza parlor.
In 1991, Tecmo published a platform video game based on the Samurai Pizza Cats original Japanese version, Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, for the Famicom (NES) released only in Japan, despite the series' popularity in the west. Although the game was never officially released in the west, three complete English translations are available via a fan-made ROM patch. one of the patches is directly based on the English version, with Michael Airington's opening theme, comedic dialogue, pop-culture references and breaking the fourth wall moments.
The main characters of the series were also intended at one point to appear in the Wii fighting game Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. The game's producer, Ryota Niitsuma, was quoted in an interview as saying: "One of the main anime we got more requests for than any others was Samurai Pizza Cats... I wanted to see that, but we couldn't reach an agreement."
- Clements, Jonathan; McCarthy, Helen (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia. California: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-933330-10-4.
- Chipman, Bob. "Found in Translation". Escapist Magazine. The Big Picture. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- For example, the line "they've got more fur than any turtle ever had" references the similarly themed cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, while the line "they're stronger than old cheese, stronger than dirt" refers to an advertising slogan once used for the industrial cleaner Ajax. The theme song also contains the line "As soon as someone finds the script, we might begin the show", which can be interpreted as a reference to the lack of proper translations given to Saban for production on the American version.
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- "Samurai Pizza Cats NES game translation patch". Romhacking.net. Retrieved 2013-12-20.
- "Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Producer Niitsuma Discusses Characters". Anime News Network. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
- "The Lost Characters of Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom". Kotaku. Retrieved 1 April 2012.