|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Trey Parker
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||November 3, 1999|
"Chinpokomon" is the 11th episode of the third season of the American animated television series South Park. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on November 3, 1999, making it the 42nd episode of the series. In the episode, the kids become fascinated with the latest fad: a fictional Japanese anime series called Chinpokomon and its related products, such as video games and collectible toys. Chinpokomon is a parody of the popular Pokémon media franchise. "Chinpokomon" was written by South Park co-creator Trey Parker, who also co-directed the episode together with animation director Eric Stough. The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2000.
The children of South Park become obsessed with an animated Japanese cartoon, Chinpokomon. The cartoon features overt embedded marketing to encourage consumption of Chinpokomon related merchandise. Unbeknownst to the parents, Chinpokomon products all contain anti-American sentiments with the aim of converting American kids to Japanese child soldiers.
Kyle is originally oblivious to the fad, and as its popularity increases he reluctantly attempts to keep up-to-date to avoid ridicule from his friends. Unfortunately, the merchandise lineup is so extensive that he is always one step behind. Meanwhile, the boys make plans to attend the official Chinpokomon camp, which is actually a front for a recruit training boot camp designed by the Japanese government to train and brainwash the kids into becoming soldiers for an upcoming attack on Pearl Harbor. As the adults start to become aware of the scheme, the Japanese distract them by telling them that Americans have "huge penises" (the chinpo in Chinpokomon) compared to the Japanese (which, in fact, later ends up being true), a tactic that works well against the male characters.
The parents start to suspect the nonsensical cartoon is dangerous, as "stupidity can be worse than vulgarity and violence" and compare it to Battle of the Network Stars. Sheila Broflofski suggests it is just another harmless fad. This is juxtaposed with the truth of the fad's influence, which has turned the children into brainwashed soldiers and left Kenny in trance-like state after an epileptic seizure caused from playing the Chinpokomon video game (parody of the "Dennō Senshi Porygon" controversy).
Becoming increasingly concerned, the parents attempt to defuse the fad's popularity by trying to manufacture new fads: The "Wild Wacky Action Bike", a weird plastic glow-in-the-dark bike contraption that cannot be steered, and "Alabama Man", an abusive, alcoholic, redneck action figure that comes with a bowling alley playset and a redneck wife to use as a punching bag. The boys, uninterested, call both the bike and action figure "gay."
As the boys march through the town with Emperor Hirohito, President Bill Clinton will not act against the invasion as he too has fallen for the "incredibly large penis" trick. Finally, the parents hit upon the idea of using reverse psychology, pretending to be Chinpokomon fans themselves — figuring that whatever they like their children will immediately dislike. The trick works, and all the children except Kyle instantly lose all interest. Kyle claims that if he stops liking Chinpokomon now, he will be following the crowd, so he prepares to leave in a fighter jet to bomb Pearl Harbor. A heart-felt and contradictory speech by Stan confuses him into reluctantly getting off the jet.
The group decide to avoid fads for a while, and Kenny is discovered to have been dead for some time, as evidenced when his body explodes, unleashing a large number of rats; Cartman, Stan, and Kyle then laugh.
Kenny's seizure from playing the video game references the 1997 broadcast of Pokémon episode "Dennō Senshi Porygon", which sent hundreds of Japanese viewers to emergency rooms. The episode included strobing red lights which can induce seizures, a condition called photosensitive epilepsy, in a small portion of the population.
DVD Verdict described it as "perhaps the most devastating parody of the seemingly endless pop culture craziness of forced Japan fads", adding: "Beginning with the title and moving through awkward, amateur anime, video games that cause seizures, and parental confusion over what their kids see in the little crappy toys, the episode smacks of too much truth and contains many moments of ultra-high comedy...This particular episode is why South Park is sometimes begrudgingly called genius, even amongst those who consider it a peek inside the Antichrist's subconscious. It proves that, on occasion, Parker can take the envelope, fill it full of outrageous sentiments and blatant stereotyping, mix in a whole lot of social realities, and filter it through his own sense of tasteless humor and end up with yet another brilliant installment of his show."
ElderGeek described the episode as "a very ironic take on children’s trends and how debilitating they can be". PixelatedPop ranked the episode 23rd in a top 25 greatest episodes list in 2012. ScreenJunkies wrote "The blindness of parents, the zombie-like children following a fad, and the irrational paranoia of Americans who fear the Japanese simply because they make the occasional incomprehensible TV show were all parodied to perfection". IGN said "Chinpokomon was a great rip on the whole Pokemon craze with a lot of crude jokes about Asian male anatomy".
The AV Club noted that this episode was the first instance of the South park fad episode, in which "Characters briefly latch onto something fleetingly popular and often inherently stupid—which is then obsessed about to the detriment of their relationships (or, occasionally, the safety of the entire town)—then, inevitably, they realize that the object of their obsession is dumb and drop it forever."
- IMDb Emmy Awards: 2000
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- Hamilton, Robert (April 2002). "Empire of Kitsch: Japan as Represented in Western Pop Media". Bad Subjects. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- "DVD Verdict Review - South Park: The Complete Third Season". DVD Verdict.
- "Top 10 Geekiest South Park Episodes". Elder-Geek.com.
- "Top 25 South Park Episodes". pixelatedpop.com.
- "12 Best 'South Park' Political Parodies". Screen Junkies.
- "South Park: The Complete Third Season". IGN.
- "Review: South Park: "Créme Fraiche" · TV Club · The A.V. Club". avclub.com.
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