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Anime / Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō

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Shimajiro and his friends.note 
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Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō (しましまとらのしまじろう?, lit. "Striped Island Tiger Shimajirō") is a 1993 Japanese children's Slice of Life anime series primarily aimed at preschoolers. It is based on the Kodomo Challenge educational program by Benesse, which debuted in 1988.

The entire series focuses on Shimajirō Shimano, a curious tiger boy living in Challenge Island, as well as on his friends to a lesser extent. Being the eldest in a two-child family, Shimajirō attends kindergarten alongside his friends- Torippi the parakeet, Mimirin the snow rabbit, and Ramurin the lamb (later replaced by Nyakkii the kitten) as they all discover everything around them, and learn valuable lessons as they grow up.

The closest analog to describe this show would pretty much be Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood meets Arthur but with the emotional charge of Franklin and with the gadgetry and supernatural weirdness (as well as Japanese kodomomuke humor) from Doraemon, and with the occasional Product Placement by Benesse themselves (especially with the shorts on the official Japanese and Chinese YouTube channels). The show currently airs every Saturday at 8:30 AM on TV Tokyo. The Qiao Hu dub, meanwhile, airs several times a day on ETTV Yoyo in Taiwan which is also available through select Pay TV providers throughout Asia.

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The series first started as a segment in the Kodomo Challenge direct-to-video tapes in 1988, but broke out into its own show in 1993. It has had several retools since it's launch, each time getting a new name:

  • Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō - the 1993 launch title. Longest running incarnation of the show, lasting from 1993 to 2008.
  • Hakken Taiken Daisuki! Shimajirō - the first retool, started in 2008 but ended after just two years, in 2010. Switched to the Three Shorts ABA format with a live action Shimajiro as the B short in this version.
  • Shimajirō Hesoka - the second retool, started sometime in 2011 but again ended just after two years, in 2012. Most notably, this incarnation ended with Ramurin leaving Challenge Island.
  • Shimajirō no Wao! - the current incarnation of the show, started in 2013. Second longest running incarnation of the show behind the original. The show switched from traditional animation to Cel Shaded 3D in this incarnation, and introduces Ramurin's replacement, Nyakkii. Also starting from this incarnation, the live action segments occasionally features person of interests showcasing their craft or celebrities performing an educational skit or song and general topic of the B-Segment switched from School Curriculum to STEAM.
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It should be noted that while Shimajiro no Wao! is considered a retool of Shimajiro Hesoka (the B-segment changing focus from school curricular subjects like hiragana writing to STEAM and general topics) internally at Benesse they are considered the same show (or the former is considered a continuation of the latter) and the episode number from Shimajiro Hesoka is not restarted after the retool. As such, Benesse celebrated Shimajiro no Wao! 's 10th season in 2021.

In April 2020, Benesse and WildBrain partnered up to create an online-exclusive English dub of Shimajiro no Wao! called Shimajiro: A Wonderful Adventure (Or Shimajiro: A World of Wow!, depending on which market Benesse thinks you're in). The dub is overseen by Iyuno Media Group and uses talents from Bang Zoom! Entertainment with feedback from Benesse. Several segments from the Kodomo Challenge program were also dubbed. The dub is primarily uploaded to it's own Youtube channel, but notoriously, the channel on and off blocks access to the episodes from half of the world. This dub is also streamed in Japan on Netflix alongside the original Japanese show, and a selection of it was eventually made available to the rest of Asia (and even the Indian subcontinent and Oceania) on Netflix in 2021.


Tropes:

  • Alliterative Name: Shimajirō Shimano, and Mimirin Midorihara.
  • All Just a Dream: The ending of the Sega Pico game Shimajirō: Yume no Kunihe Daibouken! implies that the entire four page StoryWare adventure was this to Shimajiro. Then Shimajiro notices this thank you card on the top of his dresser...
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Ramurin Makiba and Nyakkii Momoyama are both pink.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: An episode in the 2009 remake averts this. In the toilet training episode, a kangaroo superhero shows up to help teach Shimajiro learn to use the toilet, and brings his son along with him; because he's specifically a boomernote , he has to wear a separate pouch so he can carry the joey while leaving his hands free.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Adult rabbits are the same size as adult tigers, which are the same size as adult cats and adult hippos. Averted with Torippi’s family tho, who’re smaller than normal adults.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Some inanimate objects are turned anthropomorphic, in order to demonstrate lessons. However, this is sometimes taken to the next level. For example, in an episode about diseases and the immune system, the germs are portrayed as apes and rats, while the antibodies are portrayed as miniature versions of the body them live in. After all, this is just Japanese weirdness.
    • Perhaps this is the one thing that makes the potty training episodes unusual to the west- the show anthropomorphizes toilets and toiletries, something that never happens with potty training videos in the west.
  • Art Shift: The earliest episodes were traditionally animated, but the show had shifted to cel-shaded CGI when the Shimajiro no Wao! Retool started. Some later content are full CGI.
  • Childhood Friends: Shimajiro, Mimirin, Torippii, and Ramurin.
  • Dub Name Change: Surprisingly, this is mostly averted. While a few of the characters had their names slightly changed in the English dub, (Torippi to Flappy, Nyakkii to Nikki, Mimirin to Mimi-Lynn and Marurin to Mary-Lynn), many other characters, (Zota, Boota, Kirinta, Pontarou, to name a few examples) kept their original Japanese names in the English dub. The English names were apparently decided by Benesse themselves tho, as the Indonesian dub uses the same set of names despite Funimation and WildBrain having no part in that version's dub process.
    • The Chinese dub takes things Up to Eleven. Even if you know the Japanese names by heart, watching the Chinese dub is an exercise in confusion management as half of the names are changed and those that aren't are pronounced so differently that it barely sounds like the original Japanese name. Some can be brute forcednote  but othersnote  require repeated watching and maybe basic knowledge in Mandarin Chinese to make sense.
  • Expansion Pack: A lot of their toys supports add-on expansion modules or additional program cards which has to be purchased separately to expand their functionality, making getting them even more frustrating than it already is if you don't live in Japan and qualify to sign up for their programs.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In one episode, Torippi manages to trick Shimajiro into thinking he’s Torippi’s robot alien friend from another planet. Despite the Paper-Thin Disguisenote  and the fact that he did not really bother with disguising his voice, Shimajiro buys it. note 
  • Free-Range Children: Shimajiro and company are always seen going around town on their own without adult supervision. Keep in mind that they're basically kindergarteners, Shimajiro can only barely read basic kana forms if any of the toy advertising anime are canon. Sure, they're on an island which statistically always have very low crime rate, they have a police station, except that it's manned by a pair of lions at best, and they have a neighborhood association which means everyone knows each other, but the island is shown to be quite huge with a large town and several smaller villages on the outskirts, and a working shinkansen line circling it. The probability of getting lost on the island is still very real.
  • Forgot About His Powers: It seems that Torippi sometimes forget that he can fly.
  • Funny Animal: The entire cast are anthropomorphic animals.
  • Funny Background Event: In the episode Nurse Mimi-Lynn, after Mimirin slaps Tamasaburo into the bushes, Shimajiro arrives and Tamasaburo complains to Shimajiro about how Mimirin slapped him. While they were arguing, Mimirin can be seen in background giggling uncontrollably with a huge pink cartoon heart growing above her head until it floats away like a balloon.
  • Furry Confusion: On an island full of Funny Animals, regular animals like turtles are shown to also exist. And to make things worse, there are also both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic animals of the same species, for example, dogsnote . Heck, they even have a zoo with zoomorphic versions of many animals!
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The core characters consists of two males (Shimajiro and Torippi) and two females (Mimirin and Ramurin). When they wrote off Ramurin, they were careful to maintain balance by making sure the replacement, Nyakkii, is also female.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The 2014 movie actually had a giant crab as the antagonist.
  • Green Aesop: In one episode, Shimajiro and his friends come across a magical catfish, who has been depressed over the ruined environment he lives in. They, with help of adults, clean up the place and the catfish becomes happy once again.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Averted. Historically, Benesse has always paid Warner Music Group the royalty fees which allows the song to be shown on TV, as well as sold on DVD, VHS and Music CDs, and appear on their toysnote . However, the English dub was released half a decade after the Supreme Court in the US and many other countries agree that WMG had no valid claim tho the song and that it should pass into public domain.
  • Japanese Ranguage: To possibly make it easier for kids to pronounce or understand, Mimirin and Marurin had their names slightly changed to Mimi-Lynn and Mary-Lynn respectively in the English dub.
  • Lost Aesop: In the episode where Torippi in disguise tricks Shimajiro into thinking he's Torippi's robot alien friend, Shimajiro starts wanting to play with him more and less with Torippi himself. Torippi starts feeling that he has taken the prank too far and talks to Mimirin and Nyakkii about it and they suggest he should just go apologize to Shimajiro and tell him the truth. Instead of heeding Mimirin and Nyakkii's advice, he goes to Shimajiro in costume one more time and tells Shimajiro that he must return to his home planet, and pretends to fly off into space. If this episode is a two parter, the second part was never shown on the Qiao Hu channel.
    • Also, the episode where Zouta and company snatches Shimajiro’s treehouse from him. The moral does not make sense- patience is a virtue? People who steal your treehouse will eventually think it’s haunted? Your guess are as good as our’s.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Unsurprisingly for an almost three decade old series, there are tons of characters in the anime and satellite content like the learning DV Ds (and VHS) and the movies.
  • Long Runner: Appeared as a segment of the Kodomo Challenge direct-to-video tapes since 1988, and has been on the air as its own show since 1993, and new episodes are still being made. That's over three decades of Shimajiro- in Japan, Benesse celebrated Shimajiro's 30th year anniversary in 2018.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: in April 2020, Benesse engaged with Sanrio (whom they already had a partnership for a while) to create a exercise video featuring Shimajiro and Hello Kitty to encourage children in lockdown to perform a simple exercise. About two months later, Cheburashka, Mell-chan, Kumamon, Gachapin and Mook from Hirake! Ponkikki and even Eddie from Chuggington were roped into a major remake of the video.
  • The Magic Touch: In one episode, Shimajiro is granted the ability to turn anything he touches pink. This doesn't turn out to be well.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The Japanese and Chinese YouTube channels occasionally release anime shorts that ties in to whatever new toy Benesse is currently releasing into the market. For example a "magical" machine that teaches the Kana writing system, or a toy slate that you write on with an ultraviolet ink marker that doesn't show anything until the light is switched on. A tasteful story would be written around the toy and made into an anime to tug on the heartstrings of the parent watching with the kid. Segregated Commercial is not a thing in Japan and Taiwan.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Seems to happen quite often in the series, as one of the series’ core values is to show what happens with poor communication. Case in point: the 2021 Valentines episode. Mimirin had made her mom an origami carnation for Mother’s Day. The next day, on the actual day itself, Mimirin’s parents were having a discussion about the sales of carnations, being the island florist, and Renge (Mimirin’s mom) makes a sarcastic remark of how carnations are just good enough - as in, people are just getting the gift for their mom but without the thought or sincerity of the heart. Mimirin overhears the sarcastic part of the conversation and thinks her mom wants more than just carnations on Mother’s Day. Cue the poor girl scrambling all over town for alternative gift ideas and having a breakdown near the end of the episode before being set straight by her parents.
  • Parents as People: Unlike other similar animated works targeted at the same preschool demographic which shows adults as Stepford Smilers who would never hurt a child and are perfectly capable of solving every child's issues, the show is surprisingly deep and is not above showing that adults too are flawed people with a full functioning set of emotions.
  • Potty Emergency: Shimajiro has one in the first version of "Any toilet can be a piece of cake!", as well as in the short "The Pee Bucket" on the "Do It By Yourself!" DVD. In both instances, he makes it.
  • Potty Failure: In an early episode, Shimajiro wets the bed, and leaves his pants out to dry on his window. Toriipi helps the pants to dry by putting magic crystals on them.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: The show has a fair share of Japanese TV and music personalities appearing as guests in live segments of the Shimajiro no Wao! retool. A recent episode featured Takashi Fujii, a.k.a. Matthew Minami, in a singing role to highlight his lesser known musical talent no less, as Etiquette Man.note 
  • Starfish Language: While the language spoken is Japanese, and bigger signs are written in either Japanese or the Alphabet, the secondary written language (like smaller prints found on books or packaged goods) appears to only consist of Playstation button symbols.
  • The Moving Experience: Averted, Ramurin really did move away in the 2012 Very Special Episode. The episode is proudly advertised as a Tear Jerker by the makers of the show.
    • Double-averted when the plot was recycled and Boota has to move off the island at the end of the 2016 season.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Averted with MomBot, who has no qualms threatening Shimajiro with a beatdown when he interferes with it's attempt to clean the room.
  • Three Shorts: This show does the ABA format starting with Hakken Taiken Daisuki! Shimajiro, with a live action segment featuring a costume Shimajiro being the B.
  • Toast of Tardiness: Shimajiro is seen biting one while running into the bus in the episode I Won't Cry. His dad was also running after him because he had forgot his schoolbag.
  • Toilet Training Plot: There are at very least 3 episodes teaching kids about potty-training. The first was the one everyone knows and loves, the second was about public restrooms, and the third had a superhero named "Pants Man", an anthropomorphic kangaroo.
    • The first was "If You Can Use The Toilet, You're A Pantsman", about Shimajiro learning how to use the toilet. It also got a remake in 2009.
    • In "Any Toilet Can Be A Piece of Cake!", Shimajiro learns how to use a squat toilet while at the mall. There was a remake of this in 2015, but it was different from the original, which also featured a segment similar to the third example.
    • A "Do it by yourself!" segment introduces a character called the Pee Bucket, who teaches Shimajiro to go to the bathroom before his bladder is full on a car trip.
    • Another episode from the Kodomo Challenge set of videos has a younger Shimajiro learning to knock on the door of the toilet to make sure the toilet is vacant before trying to enter.
    • A much later episode involving this taught viewers how to make using the toilet after having dinner fun by imagining that you're someplace else.
  • Very Special Episode: The episode where Ramurin moves away. Unlike most other Western Animation and anime series, the moving is final and sticks. It’s not surprise then that the episode is advertised and played as a major tearjerker by the creators of the show themselves.
  • World of Funny Animals: the world in the series is populated by anthropomorphic animals.

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