Trey Parker's Japanophilia is on full display in an episode-long Affectionate Parody of shonen anime.
The boys are roaming the Park County Fair when they spot a knife stall selling Japanese ninja weapons. Roger, the proprietor, says he cannot sell them weapons without a parent present, so the boys pretend to be orphaned brothers and turn on the waterworks to get Roger to relent; Stan buys a pair of tonfas, Kyle a pair of nunchaku, Cartman a pair of sai, and Kenny a single shuriken. After a practice session using the weapons in Cartman's basement, they assume ninja identities (complete with Art Shift to a more Animesque style) and show off their new weapons to Craig, Token, and Clyde. But when they run into Butters, they tell him he can't play ninjas with them; stung by their rejection, he returns home and dons his supervillain alter ego, Professor Chaos, before confronting the four ninjas. A parody of anime fight scenes ensues... and then Kenny throws a shuriken that embeds itself in Butters' eye.
Unfortunately for Butters, the boys shy away from taking him to the hospital for fear that their parents will find out they bought ninja weapons behind their backs, but when an attempt to remove the shuriken themselves fails, they come up with Plan B: disguise Butters as a dog and take him to the (very short-sighted) veterinarian. But as they are escorting the increasingly woozy and incoherent Butters to the vet, they run into Craig, Clyde, Token, and Jimmy, who have used the "orphaned brothers/waterworks" scheme on Roger as well and now have their own ninja weapons. Hiding Butters in an old oven, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny do battle with the other four ninjas... until they notice Butters has wandered off. Now all eight boys must find him before his injury leads their parents to discover their illicit weapon purchases.
Butters finally arrives at the hospital, but the emergency staff are fooled by his dog disguise and call the animal shelter. Deciding that the "dog" is beyond medical help, the shelter decide to put him to sleep, but he escapes again. Meanwhile, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny try to get rid of the evidence of their crime by returning their weapons (which Roger won't permit) when Craig, Clyde, Token, and Jimmy say they've seen Butters at the fairgrounds - on the opposite side of a big auction which all of their parents are attending. Cartman declares that he can use his ninja invisibility to sneak past the auction and keep Butters from being discovered; unfortunately, this time his "invisibility" just involves stripping off and trying to sneak nude across the stage in front of a shocked audience. To add insult to injury, Butters wanders onto the stage, Kenny's shuriken still in his eye, and passes out.
At a community meeting, the townsfolk are outraged... by Cartman's public nudity. Stan, Kyle, and Kenny are amazed that the adults don't care about their weapons, so they join in the condemnation of Cartman's streaking, then leave to resume their ninja escapades.
Good Times with Tropes:
- Adults Are Useless: The adults pay no attention to Butter's eye injury, instead focusing on Cartman walking around nude.
- Affectionate Parody: Of shonen anime and background songs, especially nonsensical ones.
- Apathetic Citizens: The citizens of South Park (aside from the Stotches) don't care about Butters getting seriously injured. Only the sight of Cartman being nude grabs their attention.
- Animorphism: Played for Laughs when Cartman uses his powers to turn Kyle into a chicken.Kyle: Goddammit, Cartman!
Cartman: (mock singing) Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Now you are a chicken! Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!
- Art Shift: The fantasy sequences would often cause the episode to shift to an Animesque art style.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Let's Fighting Love" is full of these; the first verse sees the singer boasting about his genitalia, while the second verse points out how ridiculous the lyrics are. Notably, the entirety of the song is in authentic Japanese (which Trey Parker speaks fluently), as opposed to foreign-sounding gibberish.
- Bittersweet Ending: The boys are let off the hook while Butters is ignored by the townsfolk in favor of Cartman's nudity, but Butters does get taken to a hospital by his mom (albeit off-screen).
- Blatant Lies: Cartman tries to blame his nudity on a Wardrobe Malfunction. No one buys it.
- Delayed Reaction: It takes around three seconds for Butters to scream in pain after getting hit with Kenny's shuriken.
- Didn't Think This Through: Cartman probably wouldn't have stripped naked had he remembered the kids were only pretending to be super-powered ninjas and he doesn't actually have the power of invisibility.
- Everybody Cries:
- Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny use a sob story, complete with Crocodile Tears, to convince a vendor at the county fair to sell them their ninja weapons.Stan: Goddamn, that's like the 12th time that's worked.
- Craig mentions to the boys he and his gang used a similar sob story to get the weapons from the same vendor.
- Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny use a sob story, complete with Crocodile Tears, to convince a vendor at the county fair to sell them their ninja weapons.
- Everyone Has Standards: Linda may be abusive to Butters for the most part, but she was legitimately shocked over his predicament.
- Eye Scream: Butters gets hit in the eye with a shuriken, setting off the episode's main conflict.
- Gratuitous Japanese: "Let's Fighting Love," with a bit of Gratuitous English thrown in.
- Humiliation Conga: In order to disguise his identity, Butters is forced to pretend to be a dog and then gets urinated and defecated on by actual ones. And this is after the Eye Scream mentioned above. This moment currently provides the image of the trope's main page.
- Invisible Streaker: One of Cartman's "many, many powers" as a ninja is the ability to turn invisible, albeit with the caveat that his clothes don't follow, hence why he strips naked at the end. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't have any powers in the real world, so all he accomplishes is just getting naked in front of everyone.
- Irony: Kenny is the one who caused Butters' eye injury.
- Jerkass Ball: Stan, Kyle and Kenny reject Butters when the latter asked to play with them, then refuse to give him proper medical attention since it would get them in trouble. Kyle even agrees with Cartman's decision to kill Butters.
- Karma Houdini: Stan and Kyle face no repercussions for not helping Butters deal with his eye injury. While he does get punished for something else, Cartman also does not face extra punishment for that. However, Kenny stands above them all, as he was the one who gave Butters the injury. He doesn't even come close to dying in this episode!
- Lampshade Hanging: Later in "Let's Fighting Love," the lyrics lampshade the song's nonsensical dialogue. Translated from the Japanese (except for the last six words, which are in English in the original):This song is a little stupid
It's hard to make sense of
The English is all messed up
That's okay, we do it all the time!
- Loophole Abuse: When the other boys tell Cartman that he can only have one power, he declares that he has the power to have any power he wants.
- No Sympathy: Downplayed. Though the boys were horrified by accidentally injuring Butters, they still care more about getting in trouble for doing so.
- Oh, Crap!:
- The boys have this reaction after Butters gets stabbed in the eye with Kenny's shuriken.Cartman: Oh shit, dude!
Stan: Butters! Oh my god!
- Cartman also has this reaction when the townspeople witness him in the nude.
- The boys have this reaction after Butters gets stabbed in the eye with Kenny's shuriken.
- OOC Is Serious Business: After Kenny throws a shuriken into Butters' eye, Kyle is so terrified of what his mother will do to him if she found out he was playing with weapons that he actually agrees with Cartman that they should kill Butters and hide his body rather than get him medical attention.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Butters' "dog disguise" makes him look nothing like an actual dog, yet the adults buy the disguise anyways. Justified since the adults in South Park are Too Dumb to Live. Of course, Butters' mom sees through the disguise by the time he shows up at the auction.
- Pet the Dog:
- Despite blowing him off earlier, the boys do allow Butters to play with them after he shows up in his Professor Chaos costume.
- Butters' parents take him to a hospital (albeit off-screen) after witnessing his predicament at the auction.
- Shout-Out: The boys ninja/anime forms are basically Street Fighter characters. Stan looks like Ryu, Kyle resembles Fei Long, Cartman is E Honda, Butters resembles M Bison combined with Sagat, Jimmy is Sodom, Clyde is Adon, Craig is Guy, and Token is Dee Jay. Kenny is the odd man out here, as he resembles Raiden from Mortal Kombat. Also, Chef resembles Akuma.
- Skewed Priorities:
- The townspeople are more upset at Cartman running around naked than Butters nearly losing his eye, ultimately forgetting about the latter and allowing the other boys to get off scot-free for what they did.
- The boys are more concerned over getting in trouble than how Butters is seriously injured.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- The stylized anime battle between the boys and Professor Chaos. The make-believe fireballs and energy blasts aren't working, so Kenny tries his magical shuriken and scores a direct hit on Professor Chaos. Cut back to the normal art style, with poor Butters shrieking in pain and terror while blood streams from the throwing star in his eye.
- During the climax, the boys discover that Butters is at the auction and is in danger of exposing his injury to the parents. Cartman decides to save him by turning invisible while naked. This only works in the anime art style, however — the normal animation shows that he just walks across the stage naked, causing a much bigger controversy than Butters's injury.
- Take That!: The end of the episode tackles how parents and Moral Guardians make uproars with the presence of nudity or sexuality in media, but at the same time tend to be unfazed by depictions of extreme violence.
- Teeny Weenie: Cartman's penis is shown to be very shriveled up and minuscule. That stands to logic because being obese makes your penis look a lot smaller. There's also that fact that's he's still a kid.
- Vocal Dissonance: None of the boys' voices change, even when they're drawn to look like big, burly ninjas.
- Weapon of Choice: The boys all form their own distinct ninja personas based on the weapons they're wielding.