A few years ago, I would have looked at a show like Mysterious Joker and scoffed. That was before I realized how much I really love long-running, all-over-the-place series ripped straight from the pages of Shōnen Jump…and anime from the ’90s.
Mysterious Joker itself has been running as a manga series since 2008, but it wasn’t until 2014 that it began as an anime adaptation, with three seasons under its belt and the fourth currently airing. It’s raucous, ridiculous, and totally for kids. I was wary of jumping in having missed so much plot, but I went ahead and dove in with the help of the manga, episode explanations, and context from the very same friends who urged me to check it out. I’m glad I did, as it’s a great throwback to the shows of yesteryear (i.e., the ’90s) and that’s why I’m investing my time in it.
Mysterious Joker (or Joker, as it’s colloquially known) follows Jack Jones, or Joker, a phantom thief who’s out to steal treasures all for himself. When he’s not doing that, he’s, well…not up to a whole lot. He reads manga, plays video games, watches TV and does pretty much everything other young male protagonists in anime are expected to do i in their spare time.
Weirdly enough he has a sidekick in Hachi, his ninja apprentice, who’d do anything in the world for Joker, which usually ends up in some kind of bizarre situation in which I’d personally ask myself if Joker’s a good enough friend to be in.
Spade, Joker’s rival, is a thief who’s methodical and a prankster, but a lot different from Joker in several ways. His assistant Dark Eye is secretly a member of an idol group, which is a fun running joke as the show goes on. There’s a whole wealth of colorful, bizarre characters with strange personalities, but they’re relatable in the same ways.
Joker’s your typical kaitou (thief) anime, but it’s more than that, too. Joker himself will send a note, take on a special heist where he steals an item, and then the police tail him but they can’t quite figure out what’s going on, so Joker gets away with his toils. But that’s not why I watch. I watch because it’s colorful, loud, fun, and drawn like the anime and manga I watched as a teenager. In some ways, it’s like a much more out there Lupin the 3rd, and since the show’s already at its fourth season, it could end up running a decent amount of time if it can keep its audience engaged.
Joker isn’t just a plucky young kid, but he’s confident, audacious, and ridiculously talented. No matter what happens, he’s always got a trick he can pull out of his hat to save the day. I’m always reminded of Saint Tail, one of my favorite series growing up, or Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, coincidentally both shōjo adventures. Mysterious Joker takes the best parts of those shows and melds it with the courageous heart and raucous spirit of the ’90s in a way I hadn’t seen since I powered through the hilarious and raunchy Needless, a show that Joker seems to take a lot of its cues from.
With the idea of a phantom thief seeming to be making a comeback these days, what with Persona 5‘s narrative and the continuation of Mysterious Joker, it’s a great time to get into the genre and take a little trip back to the ’90s, where character outlines were thick and black, hair was all over the place, and nothing needed to make too much sense. Dig in. You’ll see exactly where I’m coming from.
Top Image Credit: Twitter