It's not too surprising that Tamagotchi virtual pets spawned off a cartoon special. After all, everyone seemed to have one of the keychain toys during their hot period, and in the time before Pokemon and Furbies ruled the roost, a Tamagotchi was every kid's best friend.
Yet, the most intriguing thing about the fad wasn't the planet-sized pile of kids who loved the toys, but rather how Tamagotchi transcended all age barriers. I knew people well into their twenties who wouldn't leave the house without the little electro-thingies, and for a modest period, Tamagotchi were considered "chic" enough for their owners to be free of the usual shames involved with being an adult who liked kiddy toys. While we've seen the technology duplicated and modified a hundred times over since, Tamagotchi pets certainly felt special at the time. They played, they ate -- the creatures even shit, and it was up to us to make sure they didn't sleep next to a lump of feces. I'm absolutely serious.
For those unfamiliar, a Tamagotchi was a battery-operated egg-shaped keychain. After one of the creatures hatched, it was up to us to keep them fit and happy. Part of the fun was never knowing which Tamagotchi character you'd end up with, as every device was capable of birthing any of the creatures. Some were common, others were so legendary in their rarity that many refused to believe they existed. More importantly, one of the aliens was made to look like then-president Bill Clinton, and yes, even he shit all over himself.
Tamagotchi Video Adventures, produced by Bandai in 1997, sought to breathe a little more personality into the otherwise vapid creatures were we feeding and cleaning up after all the time. Lazily scripted mostly with made-up alien languages, it's a forty-minute acid trip where pretty colors compensate for nothing making sense. Seems like the world at large has entirely hopped off the Tamagotchi bandwagon, so the video's obscurity is only heightened by the fact that nobody's ever going to look for it. Recapping the absurdity of this story won't be an easy task, but someone's gotta do it. Not sure why that someone should be me. I probably killed a few nuns three lives back.
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You'll have to forgive me on some of the character's names; the cartoon is nearly impossible to keep track of, simply mashing close-up Tamagotchi faces on the screen so they can whistle or grunt for a few seconds before exploding into other Tamagotchis who dance. I've stripped the review down to what I'm guessing is the core story, featuring some kind of wizard from the planet Tamagotchi who needs to complete a hall of souvenirs for another Tamagotchi wizard, this time of higher rank. Man, this story is so cliche.
The creatures gather in their museum, and are alarmed to see that they've not yet collected a souvenir from Earth for Grand Wizard Tamagotchi. Under Secondary Wizard's orders, the monsters pair off, board a shuttle and head to the planet we know best.
Soon the Tamagotchi assume actual identities, splitting apart from the wobbly mass of colors seen prior. "Masktchi" seems to be the main character -- a good natured but unlucky fellow desperate to bring home the best Earth prize. All of the popular creatures were shown, but only a handful enjoyed any significant role. I wonder went into the decision to push Masktchi harder than Tarakotchi or Nyrotchi. Oh, doy. Alphabetical.
The animation style is unique, at least from what I've been exposed to. It's intentionally crude, with the aliens poorly colored as a child would with a dulled crayon. Add that on top of the zany music and constant Tamagotchi chirpings, and we've got ourselves one Hell of a reason for a Plan B video cassette. All of the colors bleed and swirl, and that combined with the music repetitions will make you swear that they're trying to hypnotize us. It would've worked on me if I wasn't wearing these glasses.
Aboard the shuttle, we finally get to see which Tamagotchi teamed up. It's a good introduction to the characters and their nuances. I gotta admit, I can see how the video would work to turn casual Tama enthusiasts into card-carrying Gotchi nuts. As we meet the characters, it's hard for a person to avoid choosing their favorites -- and I suppose this could make kids all the more adamant about owning the toys. If someone falls in love with "Kuchipatchi," they were just a toy store trip away from perhaps raising one of their own. I gotta admit something else. I'm already tired of the "chi" suffix. And I've got about 2,400 chis left before we're through. I need one of those pills they gave Jodie Foster before she spun around in the Mars ball for eight hours.
So the things finally reach Earth, and from the way they're conducting themselves, this must be their first visit. The Tamagotchi bid a temporary farewell to their compatriots, each team heading in a different direction to hopefully bring in the best Earth souvenir for Grand Wizard Tamagotchi. As explained earlier, the creature who delivers the right goods doesn't just get some bragging rights, but also a neat little medal with a happy face drawn on. In the world of medals, this is the best kind.
One of the monsters soon makes the first souvenir pick: corn. You wouldn't believe the amount of time allotted to the Tamagotchi making this decision. After the 34th skit where the thing sniffed the corn and little hearts popped over its head, I was pretty sure I understood where the story was going. After the 79th skit, I really couldn't stand the sight of corn anymore.
The rest of the creatures' picks were similarly offbeat, but somehow endearing all the same. One team picks a flower, another a television, while others pick things like golf clubs and Xerox machines. Secondary Wizard Tamagotchi watches on from the homeworld, making all sorts of transparent excuses for his followers' stupidity. If these fools try to give Grand Wizard Tamagotchi a Xerox machine, he'd use it to make copies of their ripped-out lungs. I can't prove that sentiment, but only because nobody bothered to translate GW's lines from Tama-Japanese. Deep down, I know that's what he'd do.
In return for whatever each team decides to steal, the Tamagotchi leave behind eggs of solid gold for the possessions' former owners. I'd say this was a particularly fair trade for the guy who only had a piece of corn stolen. Ugh, more corn.
Bill alert, Bill alert! One of the first "secret" Tamagotchi characters, Bill is an obvious spoof of our ex-president. Any lingering doubts were squashed once Bill pulled out a sax and began duplicating in front of American flags for no apparent reason. Even without the social commentary, Bill had to be one of the favorites amongst kids. All of the Tamagotchi look different, but all except Bill seem to follow a generate template. Bill follows no templates at all -- he's just a severed head with stickman limbs and a little machine that sporadically pops out of his back to trim his hair. From what I've read, getting a Bill on one of the toys took skill and plenty of luck. Seems like a lot of work, but none of the other monsters ever made U.S. News & World Report's buzz page.
Bill and Nyrotchi choose a half-working cassette player, probably because the bar was already set so low by the stupid corn monster. Bill moves around erratically while playing the sax; apparently an effort to keep our attention away from the fact that he's teamed with sperm on fire. Considered one of the least desirable Tamagotchi, kids only received Nyrotchi after taking poor care of their first creature. So, if you end up with a Ginjirotchi, just feed the damn thing.
Most of the Tamagotchi seem happy with their souvenir choices, but Masktchi can't find the right artifact. A series of mishaps leaves him with nothing for Grand Wizard, until a little Earth girl takes pity on him and hands over her half-eaten popsicle. Masktchi is thrilled with the taste, deciding right then and there that he's uncovered the perfect gift for his evil overlord. Of course, by the time he gets back to the ship, the popsicle is almost completely melted and unpalatable to all but the few twisted souls who get a kick out of such things.
Masktchi's cousins belittle his souvenir choice, because a gooey popsicle cannot make photocopies or serve as a chili ingredient. Our hero returns home with a lump in his throat, fearful of reprimand for his seemingly terrible decision. To illustrate what I've just told you, Masktchi makes a bunch of belching sounds.
Now back in the good ol' Tamagotchi Museum on planet Tamagotchi, the Tamagotchi check back in with Secondary Wizard Tamagotchi for more Tamagotchi action. If "Tamagotchi" was today's secret word, I guarantee you that I just broke Conky.
The clear winner in everyone's eyes is some kind of Elvis-impersonating monster who brought back a shiny red Cadillac. Should've been pink. Elvisgotchi dances on the hood while his cousins applaud and cheer, and even Secondary Wizard seems sure that they've found the perfect Earth relic for Grand Wizard. The remainder of the contest feels like a formality at this point, but Secondary Wizard is steadfast in his belief that every souvenir must be inspected before choosing a winner. Inexplicably, this decree warrants another five minutes of Elvisgotchi dancing. I wouldn't have minded so much, but the dude's moves were pretty weak.
Unfortunately for Masktchi, there's only one souvenir left to check -- his lousy popsicle stick, now devoid of all popsicle life. He'll be the laughing stock of the Tamagotchi Museum! Jeez, of all the places...
While the rest of the monsters cackle and giggle, Secondary Wizard sees through Masktchi's sorry ass gift to a greater meaning. Having witnessed the little Earth girl hand it over in sympathy, Secondary Wizard notes that the lousy stick perfectly personifies the giving spirit of us Earthlings. Okay, please don't tell me he's gonna pick the stick over the big red car. I did not just watch that ten minute Elvisgotchi dance routine for no reason.
But yeah, that's what's going on. Secondary Wizard names Masktchi the winner, as his former bullies flip flop and chant his name in vicarious triumph. Masktchi seems awfully forgiving, but I bet he plans on using the newfound fame to make sure none of the badmouthers work in this town again.
Plus, you just know that the only reason Secondary Wizard picked the dumb stick was so he could keep the Cadillac for himself. These Tamagotchi wizards are a tricky bunch.
Masktchi places the wood in the specially marked Earth display case, proudly accepting his medal and ending the cartoon on a high note. Literally, because he's screeching.
The toon portion of the tape ends here, and though pretty scatterbrained, it's a whole lot better than I thought a Tamagotchi show could be. A slicker and modified version might've even survived on Saturday mornings, but Pokemon swept in and annihilated any steam the franchise had left. I haven't checked on those facts, but they make enough sense for me bullshit and hope I'm correct. Honestly not too bad, and certainly worth a look if you're a former Tamagotchi fan who never knew why one of them looked like Bill Clinton.
But! The video doesn't end there...
We're then treated to the longest music video in history, with one word (guess which) composing the lyrics and everything shown in the previous cartoon simply repeated in fast forward, with occasional scenes of kissing Tamagotchis dispersed. It just goes on forever and ever, and I almost shut down the VCR before realizing that a grumpy man and sock were about to teach me how to draw a Marutchi.
Yes, "How to Draw Tamagotchi," hosted by "Bill" and "Handy Warhol." Well, this was unexpected. Insanity of watching blue-suited Bill and a sock give art lessons aside, this was a pretty neat feature. Bill knows his Tamagotchi, and spares no effort in teaching you how to draw every...single...one of them. I can't believe that the video only has a 40 minute running time. It feels seven times longer. I suspect these 40 minutes are in fact Dog Minutes.
We even get quick tips on how to create Tamagotchi mobiles, picture frames, and something that looked like a lamp but probably wasn't since marbles were falling out of it. Bill was an avant motherfucker.
A piece of a garden hose supplies the inspiration for "Zuccitchi," but Bill uses a piece of toast to illustrate most of the other monsters' body types. 95% of the art lesson features Bill putting a piece of a toast on a sketchpad and doodling it on the left. He does this at least 100 times. The video ends up providing a harder sell for bread than Tamagotchi. It's for this reason that I've scrapped plans for a cap-off Tamagotchi picture gallery in favor of bread images. Enjoy the loafs!