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Skunk Kusai Of The 2003 Series

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Well readers, right before the migration to the Webon server, we must return to the crazy, topless world of Astro Boy. This article can be considered a follow-up to a previous tribute page for Skunk, but we're not really going anywhere. With Sony Entertainment's upcoming effortless re-release of the 2003 anime, I feel I should cover the second appearance of Skunk Kusai. I don't have time to get to the 1960's, because I don't have nearly enough video material, and Skunk's english name is "Fearless Fred Fink", which is Latin for "I Will Never Know Intimacy". Who cares if Usagi Tsukino was renamed "Serena"? Fearless Fred outshines that.
 
In the 2003 series, Skunk underwent a number of edits to his design. As you remember before, the man had blue skin, chin-length yellow hair, and a navy blue suit with a scarf. Knowing this wouldn't sit well in the nouveau world, he became more normal-looking, and I will admit he is attractive. Here's a comparison...
 
 
My younger brother was actually shocked to see Skunk without blue skin, later saying "I like him better when he's blue.". As I wrote before, Skunk was memorable for his actions and appearance. He's got to keep his ballsiness, no matter how absurd the situation. Without that, he's not the same guy. The fact that he suddenly became so well-groomed, calm and...pink is a big turn, but not too big - if you see the Japanese version first.
He got a decent English voice, done by Wally Wingert, whom tries to give Skunk a nasally, young Brooklyn voice. This wouldn't be too bad, if not for the fact that Wally Wingert also played every male adult in the english dub. Skunk sounds like Rock, Ochanomizu, and that blonde guy who kidnapped Uran and put her in a robot bird, all at once. Jay Rath was only 18 when he got into the 1980's dub, and rarely re-used the same voice. I don't think he even knows the 2003 anime exists.
 
Astro Boy was Sony's hot stuff back in 2004. Sony and Cartoon Network edited it down and used it in a Hot Potato-esque scheduling switch-up that was so erratic, no one who liked the show got a chance to see it consistantly. After being cancelled, the series was doomed to suffer on a badly-manufactured DVD set. Viz Media would have been better handlers, given how awesome they treated Zatch Bell (reasonable editing, widespread release and completely untouched manga), but they probably didn't have room for another property. So Wally Wingert was hired to play every male character but Dr. Tenma and kid characters. The dub is so manufactured and soulless that it's unbelievable. This anime was originally as dignified as Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Sony made it into a cheap Megaman clone.
 
Enough of reality. On with the Skunk. He appears in five episodes - half of what he had in the previous version - and has less of an influence on the entire storyline. Skunk doesn't have a mob anymore, but he does have two friends/lackeys that dress like the average gay Torontonian. He arrives with a a bang in episode four (episode six in Sony's version) when he steals a child robot named Denkou. In this episode, Skunk is much like himself...ruthless, creepy, and willing to sacrifice a small child for wealth.
 
NOTE: Denkou was originally pronounced "Denko". Due to a fansub misunderstanding, it was once believed Denkou was a boy, but you shouldn't trust everything you see in fansubs.
 
As the story goes, Skunk and his two lackeys drive though a German laboratory and steal a cute, five year old robot girl who can turn completely invisible. Just like with Light Ray, he uses her to steal jewelry and artifacts, but gives her a room and a handful of shiny beads. Astro tries to turn her around, but to no avail. During Denkou's last robbery, Skunk attaches a "protective belt" around Denkou's waist, which just to happens to be bomb. Don't you hate when that happens?
 
Shit.
 
Denkou steals a crown, following the promise that she would get a "reward". Sony actually made this scene more powerful and horrifying in the english dub, as Skunk promised Denkou she could go to school with other children, instead of just being a "Reward", which could easily be a metaphor towards exploding. He leaves her with stinging remarks, then drives off laughing, ignoring her pleading screams. But she doesn't explode, because Astro rips off the belt at the last minute.
 
 
Next time around, Skunk robs a jewelry store on foot and flees to the roof of a building with a few gadgets on hand, then waits for those two guys to pick him up. They get there late and are chased away by police, so Skunk gets arrested. He gets sent to a robotic version of Alcatraz, where he has to wear a too-small blue uniform in solitary confinement like in all the jail pornos. Lucky for him, his friends hijack a giant robot named Jumbo, then take it to the jail and break him out. Oh, and they kidnapped Astro's teacher...
 
 
...who then beats the piss out of them. They try to flee in a flying car, but Astro spins it around violently before realizing his teacher is still in the giant robot. Speaking of her, did you know her name was Ms. Midori in the original? Sony, making total sense, changed her name to Ms. Maiyoki, a Japanese-sounding but not Japanese name.
 
 
In "Robot Hunters", Skunk basically trains a robot to hunt down other robots and kill them violently. In addition to putting his shiny, big-lipped face on a TV screen, we see during this episode that Skunk and his friends are living in an abandoned ice cream factory, where they throw darts at a wall of Astro Boy photos. Skunk doesn't get his ass kicked here, but he has thin eyebrows and some of the most fuctacularly scary facial expressions, like the crack-fueled one above.
 
"Oh hi, I've been standing in your house for two hours with my giant hentai robot. Wanna try it out?"
 
"Only a Machine" is some pretty weird jizz. Skunk is hired to make "Eraserbot" for an anti-robot council member. Skunk also clashes with the guy's young daughter C.J., which as much a name as the number 4 is. (She was "Tifi" in the original version.) Eraserbot is entirely controlled by human and can steal the CPU of any robot using its pink tentacles, and I'm going to stay above pointing out how the tentacles look like rubbery glowing cocks, even though they totally do. After disabling a myriad of robots around town, chaos ensues, and Astro goes out to somehow make everything better.
 
That's right. Skunk is arguing with a little girl.
 
Astro corners Eraserbot, which magically steals C.J.'s consciousness. This is where I thought C.J. was a cyborg, but she wasn't, and it was just a poopy example of a plot twist. It then steals Skunk's consciousness, then Astro's, as part of Astro's plan. Inside Eraserbot's stolen soul chamber, Astro finds C.J. and Skunk, where Skunk says the following cringe-inducing line:
 
"There you are, Astro! Sorry 'bout the misunderstanding back there. Hey, what say we head on out of here and grab a soda?"
 
 
Eighties Skunk would not say that. I mean, really. Anyway, all the stolen CPUs shoot across town and into the correct robot's head, because it makes sense. And Skunk gets arrested, but that's already happened several times. What seems to be the problem is that Skunk is reduced to handling incredibly absurd situations and dub lines. A robot can steal your brain?! I hate this episode like John Belushi hated the Saturday Night Live skits about bees.
 
I don't have a damn caption. They're just laughing at Wato.
 
In "Old Dog, New Tricks", Astro meets Shunsaku Ban (or Wally Kisagari, probably named after Wingert), who is looking for a researcher named Wato after meeting her son Sharaku. However, Wato and Sharaku were actually classmates in the manga The Three-Eyed One, complete with sexual tension, so this episode is really creepy if you know your Tezuka.
 
Anyhow, Skunk forces Wato to let his gang use her awesome snake robot in their heists, under the warning that they'll kill her son. They make Wato help them with the controls, and unfortunately, she programs the snake thing to turn into the magnetic cube, thus causing the guys to be stuck to it momentarily. Skunk shoves Wato away from the controls...that's where Sony cut two seconds of footage showing Wato falling to the ground. In the meantime, Astro and Shunsaku hold a very special bonding ceremony, featuring this line:
 
Shunsaku: Looks like we've trapped a skunk in its den.
Astro: ...Yes sir.
 
"Hur-hur, my gun looks like a dick! Hur-hur!"
 
Skunk regains control of the snake robot and decides it's lady killin' time. After using the magic blue ball to break down the robot, Skunk's gang tries to drive away in a van...which Astro tips over and crashes, as Wally Wingert screams in three different vocal pitch levels. Skunk throws a smoke bomb (amidst more smoke) and tries to run away, but Shunsaku throws him over his shoulder just like in the 80's episodes. Sharaku gets his "mom" back, Shunsaku stops hating robots, Skunk is unconscious...not too bad, I guess. Let's go home, kids.
 
 
 
Looking over what I've wrote, it would seem as if I intensely hate the 2003 series. I really don't, given that this is maybe Tenma's best appearance, and some of the visuals are incredible. However, Sony's edited version has been redubbed and used in every single country outside of Asia, and this actually made the Japanese dub stay in Japan. With all its bad one-liners, stories drained of emotion, cheap dub names for well-known Tezuka characters and re-used actors, it's hard to enjoy a whole episode in Sony's version. Not to mention the fact that Skunk has a shred of dignity remaining at the end of the series. While he's pretty much the same, save for being better-looking, he goes through a lot of stupid things. Some of the pratfalls were funny, yes, but lots of shit was borderline ridiculous...being beaten up by a 23 year-old teacher? Getting your consciousness stolen? Comitting a robbery alone? That line about the soda? Oh come on, Mr. K - you showed up cool and then everybody kicked it out of you. It's like the blue pigmentation gave you the Powers of Badass.
 
This almost reminds me of Negaduck from Darkwing Duck. He was a chainsaw-wielding maniac, and I remember an episode ending with him getting stuck on an assembly line, coated in chocolate, and jammed into a giant heart-shaped box. The gist of this comparison is that it doesn't make any sense to kids when a villain is on top of the world and suddenly on the receiving end of cheezy slapstick.
 
Skunk, I still like you. But the fact that Wally Wingert plays you and your friends simultaneously is creepy. And next time you get hired by some guy who wants a robot that destroys other robots, you might wanna come up with something that won't end up stealing your brain.
 
 
 
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