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The main cast of Kappa Mikey
|Created by||Larry Schwarz|
|Directed by||Sergei Aniskov|
|Voices of||Michael Sinterniklaas
|Opening theme||"Hey Hey Look Look" by Beat Crusaders|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||52 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Animation Collective
Nicktoons Original Series
|Original release||January 6, 2006– September 20, 2008|
|Followed by||Dancing Sushi|
|Related shows||Speed Racer: The Next Generation
Kappa Mikey is an American animated sitcom created by Larry Schwarz, who chose 4Kids Entertainment as the worldwide licensing, marketing and official promotional agent of the series. The show is Nicktoons's first original half-hour series, bought during the same period as other Animation Collective series such as Three Delivery and Speed Racer: The Next Generation, as well as Flash shows from other studios, such as Edgar & Ellen and The Secret Show, though the latter was made from BBC. The series premiered on January 6, 2006, as Nickelodeon aired several reruns and premieres as a promotional movement from August 20, 2006 to January 2007. The series is MTV's first global acquisition, and was available on iTunes until 2009.
Kappa Mikey was marketed as "the first anime to be produced entirely in the United States", according to press releases from MTV, Nicktoons Network, and various other sources, as the term anime in English is generally reserved for animation originally produced for the Japanese market. It uses Japanese animation and culture as inspiration for its concept, rather than being "true" anime. As a matter of fact, the series is a homage/parody of Japanese anime. On February 16, 2008, during their "Music Week", Nicktoons Network aired their first and only original television movie, an hour-long Kappa Mikey musical entitled "Kappa Karaoke". Officially, the episode's title is "The Karaoke Episode".
The last three episodes aired after the show was stuck on a hiatus. These episodes were aired in September 2008, and declared the season (series) finale after September 20.
The series focuses on a rather self-centered, cocky adolescent American boy named Mikey who wins a starring role in a popular Japanese television series "LilyMu", centering around a team of crime-fighters with personalities based around typical anime characters. He becomes acquainted with his co-stars, including Gonard, a tall, husky, sweet, rather dimwitted boy who portrays the primary antagonist of the "LilyMu" series, Lily, the spoiled, heartless portrayer of the otherwise ingenuous and sweet damsel-in-distress of "LilyMu" who contempts Mikey for having overtaken her limelight, Mitsuki, a sweet-natured actress infatuated with Mikey who plays a much tougher character in the series than in reality, and Guano, a small, fuzzy purple creature with many insecurities, responsibilities, strange habits and tendencies. The program in which the actors are featured is run by a tyrannical, strict, and loud boss named Ozu, noted for his sour demeanor yet mentoring guide and constant infuriation with Mikey, aided by "Yes-Man," his dedicated and trustworthy assistant who loyally upholds him and agrees with any decision that he makes. The series centers on the actors' daily lives aside from filming the television program and the predicaments in which they may entangle themselves at the hands of their own cockiness, incompetence, or celebrity status, and episodes usually feature sub-plots following the lives of whichever characters are not being primarily featured in that particular episode. The series relies heavily on gags and other things for comedy.
The show's title is a variation on the word kappamaki, a type of sushi. It is suggested that it was the inspiration for naming the title character Mikey, and uses the prefix kappa. Like Mikey, who is a 'fish out of water' in Japan, the kappa creature itself is a water demon who can live on land. The kappas first appeared on this show in the episode "Mikey, Kappa", on August 5, 2007, where the origin of the title was explained. Mikey also shares his name with the actor who supplies his voice.
Kappa Mikey is different from other cartoons produced at the turn of the 21st century, in that the property was owned by the studio instead of an agency, the animation was not out-sourced, and the episodes were written by a full-time staff. After producing Internet-based projects and television spots, the series became Animation Collective's first television series. The series was produced in New York City starting from the summer of 2005. Production for the two seasons wrapped in September 2007.
Schwarz conceived the series in 2000, when he was running Rumpus toys, a toy design company in New York City, but they folded before any storyboarding could commence. They resurfaced years later as Animation Collective, and produced an early test pilot for a pitch to MTV Networks, where the character designs and backgrounds resembled more like those found in Adult Swim series Perfect Hair Forever, and the humor was also more adult-oriented. Much of the current cast was voicing their characters even this early in production. MTV declined the deal, and Nickelodeon eventually picked up the project. The series was tweaked heavily in order to be aimed at a younger audience. Voice talents were usually local, and its audio was recorded at Manhattan-based NYAV Post, which Michael Sinterniklaas owns. Larry Schwarz, along with the other executive producers, oversaw all phases of production, but only had writing credits on the pilot episode, "Mikey Impossible", and "A Christmas Mikey". All the episodes were directed by Sergei Aniskov. The instrumental score was composed by John Angier, who also wrote the lyrics to "The Recycling Song", "Ori and Yori's Hits", "Living With Mikey", "How Did We Get Here?", and the songs in "The Karaoke Episode".
The series was animated in Adobe Flash, with some moments of CGI rendered in Maya. To further emphasize the contrast in animation styles, one group of animators was assigned to the anime characters, and another group was in charge of Mikey and the other American characters. The vehicles on LilyMu and around Tokyo, as well as the weapons, the Gonard balloon, Pirate King's ship, the Karaoke Genie Machine, etc., were created in Maya and exported into Flash using the Toon Filter. The backgrounds were modeled in Maya, and texture, details, and clouds were added in Photoshop. Some of the backgrounds were inspired by actual locations in Tokyo. The show's anime-style characters perform with large comedic overuses of face faults, such as a face and/or body turning into an exaggerated general appearance, or becoming much smaller. This allowed animators to have more control over how a character looks and acts than on many other Flash shows, and they didn't always have to be on-model. The show uses clichés common to anime, including the sweat drop, lines over the eyes or no eyes at all, big heads, flaming eyes and bodies becoming smaller. Sometimes Mikey will try to do these things, which was one of the show's running gags, but cannot due to being drawn in an American style.
|Mikey Simon||Michael Sinterniklaas|
|Yes Man||Jesse Adams|
These characters are modeled on cartoon stereotypes, to varying extents. The show also features secondary characters and extras, mostly in crowd scenes, whose designs are directly inspired by famous anime characters, but who are different enough to avoid copyright infringements. Sometimes this is done to spoof the films and television programs intentionally, such as the character Masaka Masako, whose appearance spoofs Yubaba, or her twin, Zeneba, from the film Spirited Away, or Takashi Katashi, who shares a similar appearance and name with Kakashi Hatake from the manga/anime franchise Naruto. The person standing next to him could be a character that's supposed to resemble Sakura Haruno, also from Naruto, note the clothing. On another episode there is an anime version of Ami and Yumi from the TV series, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, which was running on Cartoon Network at the time. Also in the final scene of the episode "Reality Bites", there is a person in the crowd that was designed like a persocom from the anime Chobits. Other times, it is done to continue the show's original concept, without any intention behind it.
|Seasons||Episodes||First Airdate||Last Airdate|
|Season 1||26||January 6, 2006||April 28, 2007|
|Season 2||26||June 9, 2007||September 20, 2008|
A Kappa Mikey DVD was released on September 18, 2007 under the Starz Home Entertainment brand, and includes the episodes "Lost in Transportation", "Easy Come, Easy Gonard", and "The Man Who Would Be Mikey", all from the first season, as well as bonus material, including a fictional music video of "I'm Alright" taken from "Battle of the Bands", wallpaper, an interactive game parodying Hollywood Squares, and a How-to-Draw-Mikey tutorial.
In 2008, the Animation Collective site advertised a second DVD that was scheduled be released sometime later that year. However, the announcement was removed from the website, leaving the exact release date to be unknown. The DVD was intended to include the first season in its entirety, with DVD extras, and would have been considered more of an "official" volume than the last one. No further announcement has been made as the status of this DVD. As of 2009, this release is shelved.
The soundtrack for "Kappa Karaoke" is available as a downloadable album on iTunes. Both seasons of the show itself were also available for download from iTunes before they were later taken down from the online retailer.