04 June 2005

Kure Kure Takora!

Kure Kure Takora (or, Gimme Gimme Octopus, as it's known in English) is a 1970s Japanese kids' series of something like 260 short films, each about 3 minutes long, give or take. It's one of the most surreal things I've ever seen on TV. (Kids totally get the best media…)

So, the show. It's… hard to describe. The title character is an octopus who goes around saying "Kure Kure!" at everything (which means "Gimme Gimme!"/"I want it!"), and his best friend/partner in crime (literally…) is a peanut or a Squash ("Chombo", I think is his name). Both Takora and Chombo are in love with a weird… walrus/dinosaur thing. Law in their weird little sound-stage village is kept (sorta…) by a badger who's the sherriff – though, strangely for a kids' show, Takora and Chombo are usually on the wrong side of the law, stealing from guys who look like they might be Sea Cucumbers?

Anyway, the episodes are typically about Takora deciding he wants something and going and taking it. Usually he gets some sort of comeuppance, but not always. The first one I saw was where the Sea Cucumbers are having a picnic; Takora uses some sort of bizarre magic trick to turn himself into one of them, and he sneaks in and steals their picnic basket, and brings it back to Chombo, where he turns back into Takora, and they gorge themselves on the contents. The Sea Cucumbers come back, see their food gone, and suss out that Takora and Chombo have swiped it, so they beat them up until Takora and Chombo vomit up the food whole, where the SC take it back and presumably finish up their picnic.

In another episode, Takora and Chombo go around hitting the other characters in the head, taking whatever stuff they have on them and putting a headstone by their head. They pretty much go through the entire town/whatever this way, until the badger tricks them, whacks them on the noggin and gives them headstones. This isn't the last episode, as death isn't permanent in this world – Takora and Chombo are undone by the previously killed Sea Cucumbers coming back to life.

The episodes are all untranslated, but they're relatively easy to figure out what's going on – at least, as much as you ever will; I'm not sure if knowing Japanese would really help – and they don't make a whole lot of sense anyway. It'd be interesting if someone decided to work on a Kure Kure Takora fansub project (I would love that, in fact), but I really doubt that knowing what's being said would provide some huge amount of insight. Partially because the episodes are just so… weird… and partially because there isn't a whole lot of dialogue; there's some, but it's not really a speech-heavy show.

However – there's one thing I've got to mention about this – the editing. The editing cranks up the weird factor by about 100. This stuff would already be surreal enough, but every few seconds, it cuts to a still frame of a symbol (basically, if you've seen DEVO's "Love Without Anger" video – think the series of images that display during the wood-block hits in that song – they're exactly the same thing). Usually, the symbol illustrates what's happened (if Takora fails, a huge X comes up; if something good happens for him, a big "GO!" sign pops up, for example), but there's a few that just seem sort of random – they're cultural references that are going over my head, most likely. Still, though – it makes me wonder if DEVO saw this show and used that for that video. (It's feasible, DEVO's mentioned being fans of Japanese culture for a long time and getting tapes of stuff early on, so perhaps they somehow came across a copy of Kure Kure Takora?)

This must be seen.

In the meantime, though, here's a couple mp3s of the theme song – really good and really jazzy and cool.


Blogger Lee H. said...

I HAVE TO SEE THIS. And it's been out on DVD for two years??

I'm a huge Sid & Marty Krofft freak, and this sounds like a Krofft show from the wrong side of the tracks. :D (I was tickled when the H.R. Pufinstuf DVDs that came out included the episode with Witchipoo and her "bad mushrooms"... heh heh!!)

I don't remember the video to "Love Without Anger," though I'm sure I've seen it... I'll have to look that up as well.

9:26 PM, June 05, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Well, it's only been officially released in Japan (though bootlegs abound in the US; it seems that most online bootleg houses have it -- though usually a 1-volume best-of it looks like, and I first saw it when my girlfriend rented a bootleg tape from Scarecrow Video (a HUGE video store in Seattle - a movie geek's dream!) -- when trying to find links, I saw a linked Torrent... which was unfortunately long dead. But perhaps they can be found on p2p?). But yeah -- it's pretty amazing. Once I get income again, I think I'm going to pick up that 4 DVD set of all of them in the first link (sorry about linking a fer-sale one first; I tried my best to find stuff, but could basically only find "What IS this?!?" type blog-posts, and since I was writing my OWN "What IS this?!?" blog post... But, it did provide some information that wasn't available on other sites!).

But yeah -- it's a strange, strange show. There is a bit of a Krofft vibe from it, actually, though considerably Lower Budget. (Though, tell you the truth, I never really got into the Krofft stuff, aside from, say, The Altered State of Druggachusetts sketch on Mr. Show or Pink Lady & Jeff, which I might have to make a post about...) But yeah -- it's a really.. bizarre, frantic show. Could fit in with some of the stuff Nickelodeon used to show back in the day, like during Pinwheel or something.

"Love Without Anger" is really cool, I really like that one -- but it's got the same sort of stills. It floored me the first time I saw Kure Kure Takora because my DEVO-addled brain went "WHOATHISISWHERETHEYGOTLOVEWITHOUTANGERWHOA!" -- I'm not sure if they DID get it from there, but I wouldn't be surprised... in interviews, they mention that they love that kind of thing and talk about how they'd get tapes from overseas, and, well, I'd figure that something like KKT would be at the top of the "WHOA, you guys have GOT to see THIS!" list.

9:56 PM, June 05, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

It's for sale on that first page? How can you tell?? :D

Seriously, I'd love to get this, but I have no idea what that Japanese page says. This place has what appears to be the "best of" thing you mentioned, for $20, which ain't bad.

And oh yeah, I have bought MANY things from Scarecrow Video, like my Alajandro Jodorowsky DVDs. Their online store is great.

10:22 PM, June 05, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Yeah, I know, that page _is_ pretty subtle....8)

I've been interested in a bunch of stuff on 5 Minutes To Live, but I've heard they're somewhat unreliable -- I've heard reports of them taking forever and/or never actually sending stuff, so I don't know if I'd want to order from them. On one hand, the reports could be wrong or about another place or be about problems that have been fixed, but on the other hand, I worry about getting scammed. (And what are you going to do? "Oh no, this place selling bootleg DVDs and violating all sorts of copyright laws stole my money!") I've heard good things about SuperHappyFun (and I can't recall, but maybe I've gone through them before, even?), but they don't have it, unfortunately.

10:35 PM, June 05, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

I've gotten a LOT of stuff from SuperHappyFun and have never had any problems. (I think that's where I got my "On The Air" DVDs, come to think of it.)

I'm going to HAVE to give 5 Minutes To Live a shot, though, because they have the movie White Dog, which I've been looking for for about 15 years.

10:50 PM, June 05, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

You'll have to let me know how it goes -- haven't tried them first hand, so I don't know for sure, and they've got a lot of cool stuff I'd love to see (like "God's Angry Man" by Herzog...).

A friend of mine said he got one of the Kure Kure Takora ones, and I think he went through Brutallo, so it's good to know that they're not scammers either, so... yes!

11:35 PM, June 05, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

I almost picked up "God's Angry Man" with this order, but I thought I'd try just a couple of discs this first time until we see how reliable they are. :)

9:28 PM, June 06, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Hmm, that's a good plan... so, KKT and White Dog, then? You'll have to mention how they go! I hope they work out really well (mainly because it'd suck if you got ripped off, but they've also got a bunch of other cool stuff, so it'd be awesome to know they're OK)...

2:57 AM, June 07, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

For the record (and any lurkers), the movies I ordered from 5 Minutes to Live arrived today... four days after I ordered them! So, kudos to 'em.

6:57 PM, June 09, 2005  

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