While his name may not pop up into your head immediately, the moment you hear of Yoshio Sawai’s works and the light bulbs will go off. Gag comedy, or ギャグ as it’s known in Japan, is quite popular and focuses on taking other famous works and throwing a parody spin on them. One of Yoshio Sawai’s most notable works is Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, which is an incredibly hilarious manga which pokes fun and pays homage to a lot of fantastic shows such as Initial D and more. While some in the west may not quite understand the whole idea behind Japanese style comedy, we hope to shed some light on that area by using Sawai’s work as a primary example. So without further adieu let’s jump right into all the fun.
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Shounen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: September 2008 - November 2008
Chagecha is one of Sawai’s lesser known works, but it still creates a very amusing setting and brings the reader to tears after a few chapters. The story starts off in a city known as Gure Tokyo, where a horde of yankees (otherwise known as hoodlums or punks) gather and aspire to live out their dreams to become the best. With very little supervision, these hoodlums have all the leisure time in the world which allows them to do whatever they please. A big dispute is about to go down in the city and everyone wants a piece of the top spot, but when the notorious Chagecha arrives in town, things start to take a different change of pace.
If you haven’t already noticed by now, this manga is all about the yankee lifestyle and a ton of jokes along the way. You’re never sure what the direction will be because there’s just so much laughing going on that you lose track of things. It’s a bunch of wild rambunctious punks going at it, yelling profanities at one another in hopes that their antics will somehow garner them some attention. While there really isn’t much of a story behind it all, what sells this manga is simply all of the gag comedy and random behavior that transpires throughout each chapter. It’s a simple read that supplies a large amount of surprises to keep you amused for a while.
5. Kirarincho no Obake Festa
- Genres: Comedy, Shounen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: 2009
So you enjoy ghosts? Do you enjoy lots of incredibly random events that are sure to keep you chuckling for a while? Then Kirarincho no Obake Festa, otherwise known as Ghost of Kirarincho no Obake Festa will certainly hit the spot. Everything that you’ll find in this book of gag is all absurd humor that draws its charm from Japanese cultural themes such as kintaro, so perhaps if you aren’t too familiar with Japanese comedy some of it may fly over your head. Be that as it may, just looking at the cover of the manga will immediately tell you a lot of things to expect. Poking fun at other mangaka, catching you off guard with some incredibly funny puns, and just a random story of a young boy and his team who fend off ghosts.
Sawai’s works aren’t necessarily supposed to carry any serious themes or a breathtaking story, so if that’s something you’re expecting then perhaps this isn’t the place to start. It’s nothing but overly exaggerated characters, such as a pair of underwear running around fighting ghosts, a child with a long trail of snot running from out of his nose while riding a miniature horse, female characters with incredibly big eyes which poke fun at all of the manga during the time that always drew females with the cutesy features, and characters which closely resemble Dragon Ball characters but are totally disproportionate.
4. Honnori! Don Patch
- Genres: Comedy, Parody, Sci-Fi, Shounen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: September 2014 - August 2015
Honnori! Don Patch is the second part of Fuwari! Don Patch, which mainly focuses on the life of Don Patch himself along with Beauty, and is a spin off of the main series Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. For those unfamiliar with the Bobobo-Bo series, Don Patch is very well known and is a very eccentric character who does whatever he wants, whenever he wants. If you look closely at his character model, he resembles sonic the hedgehog (or ristar if you’re familiar with that character too) in many ways but his color palette has been switched around to create a different look. Yoshio Sawai had a love for the hedgehog and for the sega games which inspired him to create this happy go lucky character, that is probably the most wild out of the Bobobo-bo bunch.
The story just follows Don Patch as he wanders around the world of Bobobo-bo running into all of the typical craziness that you’d expect from the main series. The manga takes shots at other popular manga such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and One Piece but does so of course in a very amusing way, using certain characters to emphasize parts of the plot or just to throw them in for good measure. As expected from Sawai, a lot of the characters you’ll encounter while reading are all just completely odd and out of place, and make no sense as to why they’re there, while Don Patch himself is just hilarious to watch because he can pull off so many different roles that you’ll be cracking up constantly.
3. Fuwari! Don Patch
- Genres: Comedy, Parody, Sci-Fi, Shounen
- Volumes: 33
- Published: December 2011 - August 2014
Fuwari! Don Patch is the original story to that of Honnori! Don Patch which continued from where this one left off, but we placed this one higher because it just explains things more clearly so you aren’t lost in the second part. Don Patch and Beauty are always together creating the most amusement and drama, which is totally entertaining. Beauty is the main female heroine of the Bobobo-Bo series and her role is supposed to portray that of your typical teenage manga heroine who’s all quirky in the beginning but then ends up being one of the strongest in the end. If you’re looking for a story summary, unfortunately there really isn’t one.
We basically get to know both characters a little bit more in this two part series, which is nice because it provides you with an inside look to their true character and how they behave when no one else is around. You never really had a chance to see Don Patch and Beauty’s personal life explained much in the main story, so this shows us how close their relationship is and just how funny the two are when in the same room. Simply put, this manga is nothing but page after page of unexpected humor thrown at you left and right which is what Sawai is aiming for, catching you off guard.
2. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
- Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Parody, Sci-Fi, Shounen
- Volumes: 21
- Published: February 2001 - December 2005
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is such a funny name in itself already that you know you’re in for a treat. The earth is in peril as the Maruhage Empire is out to terrorize every living being, and will stop at nothing to ensure that the entire population is rid of their hair. However Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo isn’t one to take this very lightly and he now must use his special ability known as the Fist of the Nose Hair to put an end to this debacle, and take down the bald henchmen who govern the Maruhage Empire.
The story itself just makes us laugh simply because if you get the reference to Maruhage, it just makes more sense. Maru in Japanese (丸) means circle, while hage (禿) means baldness. Put the two together and you have bald rounded head empire. Yoshio Sawai just takes every bit of every anime out there and creates this wild ride of jokes, random encounters, and nose hairs flying all over the place. It’s action packed and so comedy driven that it’s up there with the likes of Gintama in terms of just utter nonsense all packaged together for non stop chuckles. Beauty, Don Patch and the rest of the Hajike crew all come together to put a stop to the dreaded Maruhage Empire, who are relentless in their plans and will stop at nothing to ensure the rest of the world is bald. It’s so hard to explain everything that happens in the manga, but all we can say is go into it with an open mind and expect nothing because it just makes all of the gag moments stand out even more. From characters running around with incredibly like scissors, references to Shaman King others, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is nothing short of amazing and will more than likely keep you up at night.
1. Shinsetsu Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
- Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Parody, Shounen
- Volumes: 7
- Published: December 2005 - July 2007
Shinsetsu Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is the continuation of the original series which takes place one year after all of the events that transpired prior. Former emperor Tsuru Tsurulina III has stepped in and reforms the Maruhage Empire, which is now known as the Neo Maruhage Empire. The hair hunts still continue to rule and govern the area, while a new generation of hair hunt are being groomed for battle. Bo-bobo, along with Beauty and his allies from Hajike must now work together to put a stop to the new Maruhage threat before all hell breaks loose. Bo-bobo must now rely on his fist of the nosehair ability to get him through tough scenarios, and hopefully be able to use his true theory form to end it all.
Paying homage to Buronson’ Fist of the North Star, Sawai uses that very same reference but in a more lighthearted and incredibly funny manner, as Bo-bobo uses his long nose hairs to confront enemies and dispose of them with little effort. All of the action scenes are all mixtures of what you’d find in Fist of the North Star, as well as Dragon Ball which are of course all over exaggerated to emphasize that gag feel. There’s never a shortage of something random taking place, such as a piece of poo coming to Bo-bobo’s aid, while various other side splitting jokes are thrown into the mix to have you tearing up in no time.
We hope that these great pieces of work illustrated just how impactful the gag genre is here in Japan, and perhaps it shed some light on this culturally unique experience. While gag hasn’t taken the manga world by storm, it still has its place in the community and adds a nice flavor to an otherwise cesspool of the superhero image that most tend to focus on. Laughter is most certainly medicine for the soul, so be sure to check out some of Yoshio Sawai’s works for some of that healing when you need it most. Let us know what you think of the list and share your thoughts in the comments below!
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