The Return of OH! Mikey (Part 1)
Overview: Roughly a year and a half ago I brought the quirky story of "OH! Mikey" to our readers. It was the tale of a family from America who had moved to Japan and had to adjust to the different pace of life in a foreign country. The time has come, at long last, to take a look at the second installment of "OH! Mikey" and once again return to the surreal mannequin world of the Fuccon family. New characters mingle with old characters in the peculiarly immobile way that only the actors of "OH! Mikey" can manage. Be warned, this article contains extremely disturbing imagery of leering mannequins standing motionless. Only the exceptionally stable and well-adjusted should even attempt to read this article.
I had a dream once that I awoke alone in a city and I wandered, terrified, through deserted streets. My only companions were the shop front mannequins, preserved like specimens behind glass, somehow fitting inhabitants for the eerily silent city. Then my mother appeared naked like a statue of Aphrodite and I threw a spear at her and I Greco-Roman wrestled Chuck Norris, but that's not really important. That disquieting emptiness of a city full of mannequins is the sort of feeling that "OH! Mikey" will give you. It's a comedy show from Japan that tells the story of the Fuccon family (Mikey, Mother and Father) and their eccentric friends and neighbors…using a cast entirely made up of immobile mannequins. Some of them (like Mother and Father) are frozen in horrifically exaggerated expressions of pleasure, while Mikey and his sometimes-girlfriend Emily are sweet-faced innocent children.
If "OH! Mikey" had come from Europe I might be inclined to believe that using a cast of mannequins to portray an American family was some commentary on the shallowness of American culture. Coming from the Japanese, who fawn over robots that can play trumpets nearly as much as they fawn over real people, the central conceit of the show seems just another jarringly eccentric production decision. The Fuccons possess a retardate understanding of the real world ("what do you do on a picnic?") while the world and characters around them approach the bafflingly surreal. It's a show that has a unique charm and the humor ranges from the most base of puns and sight gags to bizarre vignettes about lost loves.
Each DVD in the series features 13 of the two and a half minute long episodes. In this article we will be examining the first six of the vignettes contained on the "OH! Mikey 2nd" DVD.
Part 1: "Let's Go on A Picnic"Mikey is excited to be going on a picnic with his family. All three Fuccons have been bundled into their family car and the roadway zips past in the background. Mother isn't sure what going on a picnic involves, but Father assures them both that she'll find out soon enough. The Fuccons then engage in their patented manic laughter.
I hope they don't get a Driving While Inanimate Object ticket!
At the park the Fuccons are gathered around a picnic basket. "Hooray! Hooray!" Mikey cries, but he's not really sure what they're supposed to be doing either. He asks if the picnic has started yet and Father smiles madly as always and says that it's a "difficult question" and that he supposes the picnic began when they left the house.
Mother cracks the picnic basket to reveal a neat row of sandwiches. How exciting! But, with no idea of what sort of sandwiches to bring on a picnic, mother has made her sandwiches from leeks. Mikey and Father are aghast but they chow down and then head out to play some badminton. This does not go well and both agree that badminton is for the birds. Unsure of what do next to fulfill their picnic duties they decide to eat lunch again. Mother has made riceballs! Mikey asks what is in the rice balls and Mother replies that she has made them with leeks, of course. A fight erupts and they all agree that picnics are terrible and just lead to fighting, like their normal daily lives. Crazed laughter follows.
Part 2: "Mikey and The Ghost"Mikey is asleep in bed with his eyes open when a haunting voice calls out his name from the darkness of his bedroom. It's Laura, his nearly always cruel cousin, decked out in a white hooded robe and claiming that her name is Lilly. Mikey thinks she looks like Laura but she looks exactly like Laura, but she's far too nice to actually be his cousin. She asks Mikey if he would like to explore the night life and Mikey agrees. The next morning Mikey heads into the kitchen for breakfast, but his face has turned inexplicably blue and his parents are very concerned. "Christ! What happened Mikey?" his mother asks. Mikey explains that Lilly came to him in his sleep and invited him out for a night on the town. He laughs it up, but Mother and Father do not share in his mirth.
I think I saw a kung fu movie where they were slapping these things onto vampires. Maybe Mikey is a vampire?!
That night Mikey is once again visited by Lilly. She invites Mikey to her house on the following night and Mikey accepts. The pair laughs madly but Mikey's parents are watching from a few feet away through the wide open door. Why haven't Mikey or Lilly noticed them? That's the sort of question that "OH! Mikey" forces you to ask but doesn't even attempt to answer. Mother and Father realize that Lilly is a ghost and they place a paper charm on Mikey's forehead to protect him from the evil spirit. They warn him not to speak if the ghost visits again.
Lilly returns and calls out to Mikey. When her calls go unanswered she yells at him and prompts him awake. The veil of mystery surrounding Lilly is lifted by her suddenly cruel behavior and Mikey realizes that it was Laura after all. The next morning he heads into the kitchen and his parents are again horrified to realize that Mikey is completely bald. They theorize that their charm could only protect his body and not his hair. Then Laura stops by for a visit…with a mysteriously new haircut that looks suspiciously like Mikey's! "I thought I'd change my hairstyle, but it really sucks!" she proclaims. Mikey doesn't understand, but everyone has a good and creepy laugh all the same.
Part 3: "Christina My Love"Mother and Father are excited that Mikey will be arriving shortly to introduce them to his girlfriend. Father hopes that she is cute, but Mother warns that she had better not be cuter than her. They both cackle at this, but their chuckle time is interrupted by the sound of the doorbell ringing. Mikey enters and introduces them to his girlfriend, Emily. Mother says she's just a little jealous about how adorable Emily is and she asks her husband his thoughts. "My God! Christina, is it you?" Father asks with passion filling his voice. Mikey repeats that her name is Emily, but Father is insistent. This is Christina!
Father watches his love, Christina, from a distance.
The Fuccons and Emily head into the kitchen and Mikey and Mother sit down with Emily while Father watches from a distance. He thinks "she's the very image of my first love, Christina." Father crowds up to her and presses poor Emily for answers. She reveals that her mother's name is Christina and that she graduated from "Virginia High School in South Carolina." It's the same school where Father met Christina! Emily has to go and Mikey departs with her to walk her home.
Mikey is introduced to Emily's mother, Christina, and the sparks immediately fly when she mistakes him for her long lost love. "James! You're James, aren't you?" She is lovelorn and all up in Mikey's grill. Mikey tries to explain that he's not James, but Father arrives on the scene and declares his love for Christina! Unfortunately, it's Emily he is declaring his love to. Both Father and Christina moan the names of their lost loves in a rising crescendo as Mikey and Emily discuss what to do about the confused paramours. Emily advises that they leave them be and Mikey agrees since they "look so happy." Children's laughter cuts through the chorus of "James!" and "Christina!"
Part 4: "The Twins and an Alien"Mikey is building a lovely mound of sand jammed full of shovels at the local playground when Tony and Charles, the twins, show up to hassle Mikey. They subtly make fun of him for playing in the sandbox all the time so Mikey challenges them to a game of hide and seek. Mikey turns away and then asks if they're ready. They say yes, but Mikey spots them as soon as he turns around. They're standing pretty much exactly where they were and they complain that they could not possibly have hidden in the amount of time he gave them. Mikey repeats the process and asks again if they're ready. When he turns around this time they have moved to stand behind a chain link fence. Mikey complains that they're not even trying. One of them says that he IS hiding behind the chain link fence and the other complains that he's not and that Mikey should hide if he wants to play the game so bad.
Along with Laura the twins are Mikey's greatest adversaries.
Mikey says he doesn't want to play hide and seek anymore and the twins suggest a game of tag. Their efforts to determine who will be "it" causes a heated argument to break out between Tony and Charles. Mikey interrupts them and tells them to forget about playing tag. Tony and Charles explain that they came there to contact and alien. Mikey doesn't believe they can.
"Alien…Come here!" they sing in unison. Mikey complains that nothing seems to be happening, but Tony and Charles are insistent that it worked and the alien has already at the playground. Mikey turns (off camera) and then we see that Teacher Bob is standing a sinister watch in the background. Mikey explains that it's just Teacher Bob, but Tony and Charles insist that's the alien. "Alien! Go home!" they sing in unison, and Teacher Bob turns his back and leaves. Mikey still isn't convinced.
Tony and Charles claim they can send a telepathic message to Emily as proof that their powers are real. Mikey challenges them to beam her a message. "Emily…Come here!" they sing in unison. Teacher bob has returned! "Emily! Go home!" they sing in unison. Teacher Bob again turns his back and departs. "Wasn't that fantastic, Mikey?" the twins ask. "You never fail to surprise me," replies Mikey. Laughter follows.
Part 5: "Here Comes 'Time Boy'"Mikey has arranged a play date for 3PM with his classmate named "Time Boy." Mikey finds his friend lurking by the front door and invites him in, but he won't enter until a shrill alarm goes off on the giant clock around his neck. "According to my schedule, we're to play in the park in 10 minutes," Time Boy explains. Mikey and Time Boy hurry to the park and Time Boy dictates a rapid-fire sequence of events. Five minutes wedged onto the swings. Five minutes wedged onto the jungle gym. Five minutes with their feet nailed to the moving seesaw. It exhausts Mikey, but there is no rest for the pair. They have to hurry back to Mikey's house for snack time.
Time Boy is trying to recruit Mikey for his hip-hop ensemble.
Once there, Mikey realizes he has forgotten the key to the door. Time Boy appeals to him to hurry for snack time. "Batter down the door," Time Boy implores him, "my schedule will be ruined!" Mikey refuses to destroy his door and abruptly the alarm goes off and makes a weird zapping sound and Time Boy screams in horror. For Time Boy, their play date begins again. "According to my schedule, we're to play in the park in 10 minute!" Mikey is confused and Time Boy explains that if the schedule is disrupted they have to start the hour over. Wearily, Mikey follows Time Boy back to the park.
Father and Mother arrive home and realize the door is locked. "I guess we're just gonna have to break down the door then!" Crash! Crazed laughter follows.
Part 6: "Emily's Blues"Emily stands alone on a bridge, her face covered with enormous and motionless tears. She is crying because she was punished by her mother for fighting with her brother. She needs Mikey to comfort her, but he is nowhere to be seen. She begins a search for him, starting at Mikey's house. Mother and Father have no idea where Mikey is, but they point out that running off right when you need him is Mikey's standard operating procedure. Time Boy and the twins don't know where Mikey is and Laura insults Mikey and invites Emily to tea. Finally, Emily is back on the bridge, crying harder than ever and cursing Mikey's name. Mikey appears and offers her flowers. He tells her that he saw her crying earlier and he went to pick flowers to cheer her up.
The gang is all here...to laugh at poor Mikey.
Touched by his gesture, Emily forgives Mikey completely. Suddenly, terror strikes, and a very unconvincing caterpillar emerges from the bouquet and perches on her wrist. Emily screams for Mikey to get it off of her, but Mikey's intense fear of caterpillars leaves him paralyzed. One by one all of the characters asked earlier about Mikey's whereabouts appear to coax and insult Mikey for not dealing with the caterpillar. Just as it seems Mikey is about to overcome his darkest fears a hand swoops in and brushes the caterpillar aside. It's Emily's brother! At that moment Emily realizes that truly it is only her own flesh and blood that she can depend on.
Mikey's father insults poor Mikey for blowing his chance to impress Emily with his courage. Mikey begins screaming in terror! The caterpillar that Emily's brother knocked aside so casually has landed directly on his face! All of the characters gather around and have a good humiliating laugh at Mikey's expense.
Conclusions: The first half of this disc of "OH! Mikey" was pretty damn good and definitely had its moments, but the second half is really where the continuing saga of Mikey heads into uncharted territories. Of the stories on this disc I would have to say I prefer the installment where Mikey has Tony and Charles summon an alien and the vignette where Mikey's father becomes smitten with Emily. Both had just the right blend of surreal circumstance, imagery and comedy. If you're interested in picking up the DVD of "OH! Mikey 2nd" you can find it at jlist.com. It's outrageously expensive and it's region 2 coded, but if you like the truly weird then it's money well spent.
Next week I will conclude the story of "OH! Mikey 2nd" for your information and edification. In part two, Mikey gets a striptease from his tutor and Mikey's good citizenship earns him an invite from the King of the Blueberry Kingdom to move there and marry his daughter.