Dog Days in Hotlanta – Chapter 16: A Horrifying Return (Featuring Arale)

I had to go back to this Anime Attic eventually, I guess, didn’t I…

I just never realized it would only be a couple days later.

Well, here I am, back in front of the Arale statue and staring at the absolutely dreadful tagline of “Anime Attic, A Place for Anime Addicts!”

And once again, as soon as I enter the building, I get that familiar crusty odor barreling straight into my nostrils. It’s a lot worse than last time, because there are a lot more people here. It was basically empty before other than me, and it already smelled bad then!

Well, at least this time I have an extremely specific mission and a very direct path to get there. I walk straight up to the counter to find Tony (with an “ah”) and confront her—

The person at the counter is not a person. It is a robot cashier. Frick.

“Hello…” I mutter.

“Welcome to Anime Attic,” the robot says in a choppy monotone, “a place for anime add-add-addicts.” This is an older model, a refurbished Sakaguchi from the late nineties, so it’s even less functional than the usual cashiers I deal with on a daily basis.

“Are you… So, robot, do you know an employee named ‘Tony?’” I ask. I’m not hoping for much… Considering that this lady has creepy enough stalkers that they go to another workplace of hers, I highly doubt this place’s robots will be divulging—

“Tony!” the robot shouts. “Tony, our resident Anime Expert, will arrive in twenty minutes. If you are waiting on her, please continue to shop here at Anime Attic. You can enjoy the holo-booths on floor four, or the UFO games on floor five.”

“Uh, OK.”

That sure was a lot of programmed text from a robot that surely isn’t smart enough to have come up with all that on its own. Surely it isn’t… advertising Tony… Or is it?

Ugh, though. Twenty minutes.

What the hell am I going to do for twenty minutes?

I guess just look at more anime stuff.

I already did that last time, though… This is gonna be so friggin’ lame…

First off, I slink over to the Arale merchandise section, because she is one of the only characters in this store who I can look on with unbridled fondness even in a location such as this, even after her creator left her out to dry in this goodness desert.

Arale was a childhood favorite of mine. Mine, and pretty much everyone of my whole generation. She came from the manga Dr. Slump, which was so popular that it got made into TV (both live action and cartoon), a billion movies, some video games, and the works. Earthbound for the eighties, really.

The manga ended a few years before I was born, but the cartoon still aired, and it continued to air basically nonstop until well after the war. Yeah, maybe it was super inappropriate with toilet humor and unsettling levels of violence, but it was the first show I saw as a young kid that excited me. I kinda knew, in a way, that this Dr. Slump show wasn’t like my traditional Stuffed Doll Moll-type experiences. There weren’t any life lessons and the characters never grew better or nicer. That feeling of cynicism seeping through the cartoonish nonsense was exhilirating even when I was like, seven.

So that is why I look at this short, purple-haired little robot girl and all the billions of plushies and t-shirts and posters and reproduction video game cartridges, I do so with great fondness.

Not that I LOVE the show or anything. But it’s a classic! You gotta respect the classics.

Like, you know? There’s just some pop culture that you have no choice but to feel some sort of reverence for, like it’s a hallowed part of our era. Star Wars on one hand, Earthbound on the other. The Joy of Painting on one hand, Prince Valiant on the other. Dr. Slump is the Japanese equivalent to all these things.

As much as I respect and have warm feelings for Arale and all her shouts of “N’cha,” however, I can still never give too much credence to her creator. Akira Toriyama, the richest manga creator in all of the Eastern Union, can be lauded for many things. He is the reason that the Final Fantasy video game series became what it is today, with those amazing character designs. He is the one who pioneered the art of CGI motion capture animated movies, even if I still think they’re creepy.

BUT… He also completely sold out and let a bunch of other creators continue his work on Dr. Slump into infinity. The series got bad after the third or fourth writer but they still keep making it every week because people keep reading. And worst of all, Arale is now the officially licensed mascot of Anime Attic! No!

Toriyama did work on some really serious and artsy stories like that sci-fi comic Zone Space, and everyone loves that stuff even more, but I like his cartoony nonsense better, and he’s basically abandoned all of that. It makes me so sad that I can ramble about it for years on end.

Or twenty minutes, before Tony finally arrives here at the store and I can question her.

I was fully prepared to walk over to the Gundam figurine display and go off on another tangent, but it looks like Arale alone got me here, because Tony’s walking through the door right this moment.

And when she sees me…

“YOU!” she shouts.

“Me!” I shout back with a goofy grin to match.

“I’m going to kill you. I’m going to absolutely kill you.”

The look on her face is significantly angrier than it is annoyed.

My smile fades immediately as I realize that she has not spoken these words in jest. She really is going to kill me.

2 comments

  1. Oh what did you do Morgan?

    Real quick:One of my parents just passed away due to covid. I just wanted to put it out here, I’ve been posting about it around the net because I don’t want to bottle it up.

    1. Morgan did a lot of things.

      And I’m really sorry to hear that. I’m glad you aren’t bottling up, and I will send my heart to you and your family.

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