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Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2001). Original title Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu ["Jungle: Always Fine, With a Chance of Guu"]. Shin-Ei Animation. Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima. Written by Michiko Yokote, based on the Manga by Renjuro Kindaichi. Voice cast includes Rikako Aikawa, Kaoru Morota and Naoko Watanabe. 26 23-minute episodes, plus thirteen OVAs. Colour.

Ten-year-old Hare (Aikawa) lives happily in a jungle community with his carefree alcoholic mother Weda (Morota), but when she adopts an orphan child called Guu (Watanabe) his good spirits nosedive: for though Guu can be sweet and charming, her default temperament is deadpan and snarky, with chaos and trolling Hare her main pastimes. Moreover, she's not human, but a rubber-limbed Shapeshifting Monster with many unsettling powers: able to swallow anything, regardless of size, and regurgitate it undamaged (including the ocean); what stays down can live in her stomachs (see Pocket Universe) – briefly swallowed himself, Hare meets several surreal creatures and a nice young couple.

The jungle is inhabited by several unfamiliar species, including the apparently intelligent pokutes, which are both respected and eaten, and a giant plant with teeth and an eyeball in its mouth. The supporting cast are mainly eccentrics: when Hare complains of this Guu obligingly changes their personalities. Other times she performs an Identity Transfer, read minds (see Telepathy), fires a Gatling gun in her elbow, allows Hare to control her as a (child-sized) Mecha and mind controls his friends. Later, the Weda household temporarily moves to the city: during the flight Hare discovers Guu is both the captain and a stewardess, to noone else's alarm. The tv series ends emotionally, with Weda – who had been disowned by her father when pregnant – reunited with her mother.

There were two subsequent OVA series, Haré+Guu DELUXE (2002-2003) – which includes Guu turning a pair of cockroaches human (possibly an inverted Kafka joke); Dream Hacking; reverting Weda and her lover to children (see Rejuvenation) whom Hare then raises in a day (see Time Distortion) and sending Hare into the past (see Time Travel) where his interactions inspire his mother's present day carefree manner (see Time Paradoxes) – and Haré+Guu FINAL (2003-2004), which includes a giant mecha Guu and a RPG world in one of Guu's stomachs.

Guu's origins and intents are unclear: she might be an Alien or Supernatural Creature, but sometimes behaves like a Robot; she might even have Hare's best interests at heart – her uplifting and moralistic platitudes whenever Hare's world collapses (a frequent occurrence) sometimes seem sincere, though only sometimes. The fourth wall is broken regularly, most often by Guu, but others complain about their roles or the Clichés they represent; in one scene a copy of the source manga can be seen in the background. This is a fun, farcical, but sometimes touching Anime, best enjoyed in small doses: for though Guu always diverts, it is repetitive, particularly Hare's histrionics. [SP]


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