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LONG BLOG

The Adaptation: Teach My Katamari

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The title of this blog isn't a cute statement or witty saying - it's a command. A mandate, really. I demand it because now, some thirteen (!!!) years after the North American release of Katamari Damacy, the franchise has only really existed in the world of video games. As you ponder whether or not this actually qualifies as a hate crime, let's take a look at some other, less-deserving video game franchises that have been adapted to other mediums.

Consider the cinematic abortions that were World of Warcraft, Assassin's Creed, Hitman, or Angry Birds - all of which had a big-screen production in the thirteen years of Katamari's existence, and all of which were largely considered to be a blight upon humanity. Try not to cry when you remember that Sonic the Hedgehog has ran very fast into basically every other medium there is - mediums like comics, TV shows (one of which featuring the high-pitched, nasal croonings of one Jaleel White), and probably even romance novels (don't Google tha- aw fuck too late). Chuckle defeatedly to yourself when you realize that the ballooned production of Final Fantasy XV necessitated hopping all over the goddamn place from anime to CGI movies to mobile games just to squeeze every last ounce of money from the nebulous teat it had become over its ten-year cycle.

And while you're at it, stab yourself repeatedly in the stomach with a sharpened toothbrush like a shamed Japanese businessman incarcerated for peddling un-used underwear at mall kiosks (according to Japanese law, underwear can only be sold after being worn by a schoolgirl) as you think about the multimedia behemoths in Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddy's that have seen everything from coloring books and action figures, to keychains and flavored condoms. Fucking hell, even Konami got their shit together for just long enough to dust off one of their myriad criminally-ignored IP's so Netflix could spend money producing original content based on it, ensuring that next time you boot it up to look for a movie starring a Baldwin other than Billy you're going to come up more empty-handed than Jesus trying to cup water from a basin.

why

My point with all of this is that is seems like basically every moderately-successful gaming franchise gets some sort of adaptation or mass-market play going for it. So long as someone sees a few bucks to be made, they'll turn it into whatever the hell can get them through until the next stint in court-ordered rehab. And I want Katamari in on this action. I know this month's Bloggers Wanted prompt is meant to highlight things that have, successfully or not, already been adapted, but I'd like to waste a few precious minutes of your life to tell you about an adaptation I actually want to see.

Let's talk about Teach My Katamari.

peaceful banner

I have a vision, lady (there is only one of you on the internet, so if you're reading this, thanks!) and gentlemen. And it's so easy that is seems insane that it hasn't been done yet. I envision a world where a television show exists that teaches Japanese to children, and to child-like adults like me. I'm thinking something along the lines of Dora the Explorer, where half the show is in Mexican or whatever, half in American, and has the aim of introducing kids and idiots alike to other languages - something most Americans are steadfast in refuting.

And it's incredibly easy to do. The show's premise will easily mimic the basic gist of the games, in that The King of the Cosmos slipped on a banana peel or whatever and crashed into a solar system, and it's up to The Prince to roll things up using the eponymous ball to restore order to the universe. And that's it. You can repeat this basically as much as you need to, throwing in special episodes here and there to break up the monotony. But much like Dora is intent on making our perfectly American children illegal Mexican immigrants with her confusing language, The Prince will teach viewers Japanese to ensure we all watch hentai with our families during family movie night. As he rolls across work desks and landscapes, each collected item will be displayed at the bottom with its corresponding word written out in both English and Japanese. Each week's theme will center around a certain type or class of object, and each object will be collected and spoken several times in Japanese to help with the repetition aspect. By the end of each show, we'll have seen and heard several words in Japanese to hopefully have at least one or two of them stick well enough for us to over-enunciate Japanese titles the next time we go into a Gamestop. I hear the employees love that kind of shit.

To further bring in some of the concepts from the games, in each episode you'd either encounter one of the many colorful cousins The Prince can meet in the game series, or discover a Royal Present hiding amongst all the erasers and wadded-up suicide notes you'd typically find on an average office worker's desk. The cousins, of course, would start spouting some gibberish in Japanese and just act all goofy, giving the 4-or-30-year-old viewers a bit of comedic relief as they prance about the screen probably shouting something rude about our founding fathers. And the presents, of course, would always be odd, barely-related items that fit with the theme, but only just so. With adapting a game series where you can collect a sumo wrestler into a strange amalgam of Vespa scooters and opened umbrellas, you have a ton of room to really get wacky while at the same time being educational. Few IP's offer that sort of unhinged structure.

Speaking of unhinged, I think the best part of the game series would be perfect for this format. "The King's constant diminutive praise and scolding after failing that stupid 'collect a bear' mission?" you might ask? No, but those definitely need to show up to remind viewers that they're going to disappoint everyone at all times. The best part of the series is, of course, the Royal Rainbow you get at the end of each mission. The King comes down from the cosmos over which he so haphazardly presides to collect you and your work in his colorful explosion of fun and whimsy. The great thing about this is that even if you ultimately disappoint your heavenly father (and you will) you at least get a really sweet and uplifting ride there. It's like taking a limo to your wife's wake, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

royal rainbow

And the music? Don't get me started on the music. It's grand and flashy and memorable, and would lend itself perfectly to a show aimed primarily at kids and chubby American nerds like me. I mean, like you. Not me. The game's theme song alone would draw the attention of anyone who just happens to flip by it on television, and lots of equally-fun and inventive tunes could be drawn up to match the themes of the episodes. Music is a big part of edutainment, and something the game series has plenty of.

Will we ever get something along the lines of Teach My Katamari? Absolutely not. It's much, much easier to fart out a poorly-written CGI movie based on Candy Crush or a Michael Bay-produced live-action Call of Duty Zombies film starring Ariana Grande and her giant forehead than it is to put a little love and effort into a faithful adaptation. That doesn't mean that we can't strive for more as far as gaming adaptations go, though, and demand that studios produce something more than the cynical cash-grabs that tend to overpopulate the arena. And it just may be that one day the studios will hear our pleas and give us something that more consistently respects the source material, as well as the faith that we gamers put into the industry.

Until that day comes, all we can do is hope for the best when Hulu tries its hand at a Riverdale-esque television series of Metal Gear Solid. And while I'm pretty sure I'm only kidding on that, it sounds suspiciously plausible, doesn't it?

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About Wes Tacosone of us since 9:23 PM on 11.29.2011

Destructoid's resident LVL 70 Tacomancer, and Community Manager. I've personally backed exactly one KickStarter/crowdfunding project: Sony's PlayStation, by Dtoid community member darrenhupke.
PSN ID:pmanningrocks


 

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