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Hey! Look! Out in the streets!
—refrain from the theme song
A 2006-to-2008 Fish Out of Water Work Com Nicktoon animated in-house at Animation Collective, and Nicktoons Network's first original cartoon. The show blends tropes from both American cartoons and Japanese cartoons. Kappa Mikey is about American teenage actor Mikey Simon who wins a contest giving him a role in the flagging Anime series Lily Mu, and ends up making it a hit. Lily Mu is a show that parodies, and includes, more Superhero and Shonen tropes than would fit in this article, and are all the more appropriate to contrast with the ordinary "real world" in the main show.
After moving to Japan, Mikey constantly finds himself in conflict with both the culture of his new homeland, and with his cast-mates. Episodes usually revolve around Mikey and his friends learning An Aesop as they deal with off-screen problems that are impairing their acting performance. Said problems are often rather bizarre, like the time a rapping, self-aware sock puppet threatened to upstage Lily on a magazine's "Most Beautiful People" list. An in-joke for the 4Kids fans exists where most of the voice actors also worked on their anime dubs back in the day.
The initial response from the show's premiere was met with less-than-positive reviews, and there is still a large body of haters (professional animators, actual otaku, That Dude in the Suede, in particular). The show is nonetheless available on iTunes, and has gained a small cult following and dedicated internet fanbase. It is also succeeded by one Spin-Off mini-series that is available on YouTube and has... you guessed it... never seen the light of day in United States television.
Now with a Characters page. Any tropes specific to an individual character should go there.
This series features examples of:
- Aesop: Played with in the end of 'Splashomon. After the conflict has been resolved, Ozu claims that one shouldn't jump to conclusions, and if anyone has a question, they should just ask, as he'll always be honest. Always.
Mikey: Ozu, where do babies come from?
- Adobe Flash (a more infamous example of its use!)
- Animated Actors (with a twist)
- Animation Bump - They are rare, but can usually be found in places where the animator got free reign to do what he/she wanted with a given shot, and particularly in the Karaoke Episodes, where the beat of the music ruled the animation.
- Anime Theme Song - One of the few, if not only, instances of a J-pop band writing an original song for an American cartoon! Hey! X2 Look! X2 was performed by the Beat Crusaders (best known for Tonight, Tonight, Tonight the 4th opening in Bleach), and was the only piece of music for Kappa Mikey that was not written in-house. This band tended to sing mainly in English and were influenced by the United States heavily. They also performed the original theme Hit in the USA for Beck.
- Anticlimactic Parent - The story of La Cage Aux Mikey. Taken one step further when it turns out Mikey's parents CAN'T make it to dinner, so he hires two other characters to play his parents.
- Art Shift - It's amazing how smoothly Mikey and the Americans are animated... but they make up about 5% of the characters! The other 20% are okay-looking anime, and the remaining 75% are chibi.
- Big Damn Fan Movie - Well,... the trailer, at least. ...and a damned GOOD one!
- Book Ends - The Lily Mu sequence bookends each episode- the first time, the take is ruined, and the second time, they get it right and it is changed to incorporate whatever lesson was learned. Though they did get it right on the first take a few times.
- Bottle Episode - The Clip Show, along with being what it obviously is, features about eight minutes of original animation, the seven main characters, no new designs, and takes place indoors, mostly in the studio.
- Especially in Season 2, the LilyMu sequences were recycled and altered in new episodes.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs - One writer, or a pair of writers, depends on this a lot as jokes in a few episodes.
- Brick Joke - In one episode, Mikey accidentally destroys Ozu's precious Bonsai Tree. In a later episode Mikey pulls out a katana, cutting everything in sight, including, you guessed it a bonsai tree. Both even catch on fire after losing all of their branches.
- Broken Treasure - Mikey at one point looses the photos containing Mitsuki's fond memories, and frantically takes replacements before she gets wise.
- Pretty much anything Ozu values in his possession gets destroyed or lost by Mikey.
- Cartoon Physics - If Mikey is an example of a Western type of animation, shouldn't he have more cartoon physics than the anime characters?!
- Channel Hop - Kappa Mikey was produced solely for Nicktoons Network, but because it was controlled by their larger parent network Nickelodeon, new episodes sometimes premiered there first. When episodes stopped airing on Nick but continued on Nicktoons, some took this to mean it was canceled.
- Christmas Episode
- Clip Show - The second season includes one, framed by Guano being forced to make his OWN clip show of Lily Mu. Played straight AND spoofed on occasion..
- Cloudcuckoolander: Gonard when he off the set.
- Conspicuous CG - Most of the vehicles and robots. Always used in the Lily Mu segments. Surprisingly, any background with a building in it is also CG!
- Contest Winner Cameo - The winner of an online fan contest arranged by the studio appeared, and voiced herself, in the second season finale.
- Continuity - Pops up on occasion.
- In "The Karaoke Episode Part II", a newscast reports that the yen has taken a bit of a dive and goes to tycoon Richie McMillions for comment, who was a scripted antagonist in "Tin Putt".
- Credit Card Plot - Hog Day Afternoon begins with this.
- Credits Gag - Mikey At The Bat ends with various crew members creating baseball-related middle names for themselves.
- Cross-Popping Veins
- Culture Clash - Mikey constantly fails at grasping the world he has entered. At one point, he even mistakes Japan as having a president instead of a prime minister, and after some persistent correction from his friends, winds up calling him "Prime Minister The President". His Japanese friends occasionally have the same problem with American facts.
- Cutaway Gag - Of the Family Guy variety, though not used so much as to make the show memorable for it.
- Deranged Animation - to an extent. It's enhanced even more during the songs of The Karaoke Episode.
- Drunk on Milk - Guano, after he quits, in Script Assassin
Guano: -Hic- Another Banana Bonanza, please.
- Edutainment Show - Averted: it's clearly not, but being set in a country other than where it was made and is seen, basic facts pop up on occasion that the target audience (little boys) may not have known about beforehand. This leads to some Truth in Television examples, such as how Japan has to recycle all their garbage to conserve space on their small island nation (there really are tons of recycling cans in every building), or how kabuki actors are all men.
- Face Fault - Parodied in a few episodes where Mikey, as an American cartoon character, can't do it, no matter how hard he tries.
- Fashion Show - The episode Fashion Frenzy.
- Feud Episode - Several.
- Easy Come Easy Gonard: Gonard and Mikey have a falling out. Mitsuki has them make up later.
- Script Assassin: Guano quits in tears after Ozu revises his script without telling him, and they make up on a talk show.
- The side story of Mitsuki Vanishes involves Yes Man quitting.
- Flowers for Algernon Syndrome - Gonard eats a radioactive sandwich and becomes super-intelligent in Go Nard Hunting.
- Forgotten Birthday - The first third of Like Ozu Like Son.
- Freaky Friday - The episode Manic Monday parodies both the trope AND the film on which it is based, where the two yin-yang heroines switch bodies in a standard story formula.
- Funny Background Event - Live LilyMu- Gonard is on-stage doing a prop comedy sketch for the audience and says, "Now if you want milk with those eggs..." We cut to Ozu giving his team a pep talk backstage, where in the background we hear a cow's moo, a hard punt, Gonard's scream, and a crash.
- Gag Series - And how!
- Gasshole- Gonard on most occasions, though after she accidentally ate ice cream with "fart powder" on it, Mitsuki became one during the series finale, "Live LilyMu."
- George Jetson Job Security
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff - in-universe: Lily Mu was very popular in Buttswana.
- Green Aesop - "Mikey Kappa"
- Guilty Pleasure
- Hard Work Montage
- How the Character Stole Christmas - Not the focus of the special, though... and it only lasts a minute.
- Idiosyncratic Wipes - Two words: dancing sushi.
- Irony - This never aired in Japan. It was otherwise MTV Network's first global acquisition and was translated into at least 15 languages. ... given what the show is trying to say, it's actually not surprising.
- It's a Wonderful Plot - The Christmas episode.
- Karaoke Box - The entire two-part episode The Karaoke Episode focuses on this activity. Each character even has their own Image Song during the course of the episode.
- Lampshade Hanging - "We go through this every time, Mitsuki. You tell me not to do something, I do it anyway, things go wrong, I try to fix it, it gets worse, we talk about our feelings, and everything's cool! So chill'ax, already!"
- Love At First Sight - Mitsuki to Mikey in the pilot, Mikey to Lily in the pilot.
- Lull Destruction - Pauses are filled in by cartoon noises for the slightest bit of movement.
- Macekre - in-universe: When Lily Mu is imported to America, it's edited to make Guano the star of the show and Mikey's character is changed to a fairy and a background character.
- The Magnificent Seven Samurai - There is an episode where the five crew members are called by a little boy to save their playground from a garbage man intent on turning it into a landfill. The boy is under the impression that they are heroes instead of actors, and the LilyMu crew is under the impression that it's all a publicity gig!
- Mikey Meets Everyone - The pilot episode.
- Mouth Flaps - Subverted. Only the anime characters have mouths that just go up and down when they talk in a normal indoor voice and never accentuate what they're actually saying, while Mikey's mouth covers the full spectrum of movements.
- National Stereotypes
- Nice Character, Mean Actor / Mean Character, Nice Actor: Lily, Mitzuki and Gonard respectively. In Lily Mu, Lily play the cutsy heroine while Mitzuki is more the stricter teammate. Gonard is the main villan of series. Off the set though, Lily is a mean indiviual who only cares about her needs. Mitzuki is kind to a fault and Gonard is...well he not evil, just Gonard.
- Ozu's Five Man Band - As with any band, these can overlap, flip flop, and mix into any of these characters.
- Paper-Thin Disguise - Several instances. Sean Schemmel does a drop-dead hilarious Swiss accent!
- Parody Episode - Several. One of them involving The Ring, of all things (though possibly because it was based on a Japanese horror film). Another episode parodies Murder on the Orient Express, although its title is a play on The Lady Vanishes.
- Portmanteau Couple Name - in-universe: Ozu tricks Gonard and Lily into a fake relationship purely for ratings purposes. "Lilynard" is printed on newspaper headlines, and on Gonard's T-shirt- he later rips it off to reveal another that says "Gonuki", saying, "ya never know..."
- Pun-Based Title
- Rapid-Fire Comedy
- Real Place Background - Most of the show takes place in the Ginza area of downtown Tokyo. Yoyogi Park, Nagano, and the Yodo River are also real places.
- The Jimmy Hart Version - The instrumental score is filled with original tunes that try and fail to disguise the songs they are built over.
- The Rashomon - The episode Splashomon presents an utterly and hilariously absurd version of this.
- Reaction Shot - All subtropes are covered, and used so frequently, it gets annoying.
- Risky Business Dance - Briefly in "Mikey Impossible".
- Show Within a Show
- Spin-Off - Dancing Sushi
- Split-Screen Phone Call - Featured in several episodes. Lampshaded by Lily, who, at one point, pushes a horizontal split-screen line into Mikey on the other end.
- Status Quo Is God - A lesson is learned at the end of every episode, but by the next episode, no one changes.
- Lampshaded: when Mikey messes something up again, Ozu muses with Guano and Yes Man that they should probably start holding Mikey responsible for his actions. They think about it, then laugh.
- Surprisingly Good English: Notice that Lily and Mitsuki lack a Japanese accent.
- Same with most of the cast. It's more a convenience that everyone speaks English because it was made by and for an English audience.
- Sweat Drop
- Take That - To how American dubs, particularly 4Kids, always edit anime shows to ridiculous levels.
- The pilot has Ozu expressing a deep hatred for cards, and that all shows seem to have them.
- Ozu, when explaining why he's changing the format of the show.
Ozu: This is what audiences want to see! Attractive people! Doing ABSOLUTELY! NOTHING!
- Ten-Minute Retirement
- The Musical -- Or rather, the Karaoke Episode.
- Toilet Humor - The punchline of many situations is usually just farts or thereabouts.
- True Companions - All five crew members are only together because of their occupation- an anime show. This also makes it a Work Com. They usually despise or don't understand each other, yet you can bet that at the end of any episode, they will discover something about one another they admire. Same goes for Ozu and Yes Man.
- Tsundere - The two heroines Lily and Mitsuki can arguably personify the two behaviors the trope describes toward their attitudes toward Mikey (Lily is tsun-tsun, Mitsuki is dere-dere). However, both have been known to switch behaviors on occasion.
- Two Lines, No Waiting
- TV Never Lies
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee
- Viewers are Morons - Self-admitted in this show.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol - Played straight and subverted in the middle.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair - Gonard and Mitsuki.
- Zany Scheme
Engineer 1: How do you think the network is going to feel about all that farting?
—The very last lines in the show