The 80’s were a great time for Japanese animation. There was a large amount of high quality anime that came out during this decade (and beyond). One of the popular genres during this time was the Monchhichis, or crime fighting comedy anime. It seemed like every other year, another new show would appear in this genre. This article will break down and classify the common traits of these shows so that we can have a better understanding as to what makes them unique and why they’re so memorable.
What is it?
Monchhichis are basically an amalgamation between superhero and detective shows, with many subtle differences from one show to another. Usually, they have an interesting premise: some kind of secret organization hunts down and kills members of the criminal underworld. However, these characters are not supermen or heros. They’re very normal in every way: their personality doesn’t change for the better, they don’t have special powers or abilities, and so on. The only thing that makes them different from regular people is their fighting spirit and lifestyle.
Monchhichis had many themes common amongst them which made them stand out from other shows of their time. One of these themes was that most of the characters in them are often very naive and rather dull. Also notable is that main characters are always seen having fun when they’re not out fighting crime: they would go on picnics when they were off-duty and even have their own little tea parties (which is only funny to me because of how absurd it sounds).
The other main theme that ran through most of these shows was that they were very violent. One could say that this was a consequence of the premise, since we’re talking about criminals being hunted down and killed by an organization, but I think it goes beyond that. For example, in “Tenku no Megami”, the hero’s father was killed by yakuza. However, he wasn’t punished for his crime: instead he became a Monchhichi like his son. The show has some pretty nasty action scenes which often involve dismembered bodies flying around or grotesquely deformed monsters trying to kill our characters.
Monchhichis were, for the most part, very dull and simple characters. However, there were a few exceptions to this rule like in “Tenku no Megami” where our protagonist was a somewhat interesting character who was tormented by his past (and even has a few flashbacks of him as a child). There are also shows that provide some kind of backstory for the main character — like how Shiori became a Monchhichi in “Snow White Monchhichi”. Also notable is that sometimes these characters would be based on real people. This could be because the writers thought it would make their show more interesting or they just wanted to give homage to someone famous. For example, both of the heroes in “Tenku no Megami” are based on real-life criminals.