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An Introduction to Super Deformed or Why Are They So Squishy?
By Chris Beveridge
March 23, 1999
Super Deformed. Mini's. Roundies. Squishies. I've heard the subanime genre called a lot of things over the years. SD is the common and accepted term for it though, and it's a curious genre indeed.
The first known "case" ofSuper Deforming was back with the SD Gundam show, but I've been unable to find any pictures or information about it beyond a brief mention in a FAQ. Over the years though, other cases of SD has shown up in various shows. Often it takes place in the eye-catches and bumper sequences of both TV series and OVA series. Often times it's used to make the characters even more cloyingly cuter than usually, which is readily apparent with the Magical Girl genre.
Some of the shows I've seen them in over the years include Ranma 1/2, Video Girl Ai and my earliest exposure being from the Science Lessons attached to the end of the Gunbuster episodes. When I first saw those, it had me laughing out loud.
In the past few years, there's been a lot more use of SD'ing characters in the midst of a show, usually for comical reaction that "doesn't always seem to really happen" like they show it. You'll see it happen in Ranma with Akane chasing after him/her with a huge inter-dimensional hammer. The use of taking a serious show and adding these comical touches can do wonders for humanizing a show, and seeing just what kind of whacked people really make anime. The sad part one realizes afterwards is that they're just as whacked as the creators for laughing at it. Sort of a South Park Syndrome.
With the exception of the aforementioned titles, only two full length shows have made it to the U.S. that contain in their entirety SD characters.
The Super-Deformed Double Feature was released by Animeigo and contained two different shows. 10 Little Gall Force
and Scramble Wars
. Obviously, the first was a hilarious parody of the many Gall Force shows that have come out over the years. Tiny women running around yelling at each other, doing goofy things, big round eyes (often as big as the heads themselves, if not bigger) crying here and there. Mercy. The thing that many anime shows that use SD seem to like to take advantage of is making the villains almost seem like little boys, and then making them just as cute as the other characters. 10 Little Gall Force
has a very obvious use of this with excellent comic outcomes.
The second show on the release, Scramble Wars
was something that you generally don't see outside of the U.S. comic book world. The producing company, Artmic, which owned such properties as Bubblegum Crisis, Genesis Survivor Gaiarth and Gall Force, decided to put characters from different shows together, make them all SD's, and make it one big race.
No, it's not an animated version of the Cannonball Run. Close though! Characters that were normally friends suddenly race against each other and personalities come out. The one that caught me as the funniest was Sylia from Bubblegum Crisis. Her over-the-top laugh (the one that only female Japanese voice actresses can seem to do) cracks me up to this day, as she plots to win the race over her fellow teammates and everyone else in the race as well.
Cute versions of everyone else also made it into the race, though there wasn't a huge amount of interaction between the varying series characters, mostly just fumbling and foiling themselves along the way.
Super Deformed seems to be a parody of tiny proportions, that makes its way out in a select few shows and areas. It's definitely something very unique to anime, which is often saying a lot. One thing is very obvious though, is that the creators and actors all seem to have a great deal of fun making these types of shows or including short sequences here and there.
On the Animeigo site, under the product listing for Super-Deformed, they have this one appropriate warning:WARNING: Contains ridiculous Nudity, silly Violence, and VERY, VERY, VERY bad puns.