The last few months have seen many big anime announcements, from massively hyped new shows to reboots of perennial favorites. However, one announcement that slipped under the radar was that Viz Media had acquired the rights to the reboot of Genie Family and were going to be streaming the series on Crunchyroll, dubbing it Genie Family 2020.
The lack of fanfare isn't surprising as Genie Family isn't a show that many non-Japanese viewers will be familiar with. However, the series has a long history in its home country where it also has a loyal fanbase. Here's why you should give Genie Family 2020 a look and everything you need to know about this magical reboot.
The original Genie Family was broadcast in Japan in 1969. The series focused on a boy called Kanichi who finds a magic bottle that contains Hakushon Daimaō, the king of the genies, his wife Eppah and their daughter Akubi. Whenever someone sneezes, hiccups or yawns, it summons one of the three genies. When one of the family is summoned, they must grant the wishes of the person who summoned them until another sneeze, hiccup, or yawn sends them back into the bottle.
While this sounds like a dream come true, it isn't all plain sailing as the wishes tend to go wrong. Hakushon Daimaō is clumsy and often messes up when he tries to grant a wish. Akubi, on the other hand, takes great pleasure in twisting wishes and causing chaos. The show's popularity is often attributed to its hopeful central message about the power of dreams and wishes and how chasing your dreams is something to be admired.
The series was licensed by Saban Entertainment in 1992. Saban Entertainment dubbed the show in English, renaming it Bob In A Bottle and giving it a new reggae theme song. However, this show was never broadcast in the US, though it did air on YTV in Canada and on various European networks. The only time US viewers would have encountered the show was during an episode of Saban Entertainment's Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers as one of the characters is seen watching the show in a moment of cross-brand synergy.
Genie Family received two spinoffs in the early-2000s. These spinoffs shifted the focus onto Akubi, relegating Hakushon Daimaō to a side character. Yobarete Tobedete! Akubi-chan was released in 2001, in which Akubi befriends a shy girl called Koron Nemuta. Koron yawns whenever she is embarrassed, which, when mixed with Akubi's wish-granting ability, causes hilarious chaos to ensue. Akubi Girl was released in 2006 and followed a similar plot, with Akubi befriending a girl called Ruru-chan this time around. Akubi tries to help Ruru-chan get the attention of the boy she has a crush on. However, this plan often goes wrong due to Akubi's wish-granting backfiring in hilarious ways.
Genie Family 2020, while technically a reboot, also functions as a sequel to the original 1969 show. The bottle that holds Hakushon Daimaō and Akubi was meant to enter a 100-year slumber. However, when Kanichi's grandson Kantarō finds the bottle in an old box, he accidentally summons Hakushon Daimaō and Akubi. Akubi needs to undergo training in the human world to help her learn how to become a good monarch, and thus, Akubi is tasked with helping grade-schooler Kantarō overcome his problems. However, things rarely go smoothly; especially as Akubi's wish-granting often fails and her kid brother Pūta, a new character for this series, is always trying to cause trouble.
Genie Family 2020 is a charming series. It retains the hopeful and optimistic heart of the 1969 show and seamlessly moves it into the modern world. In many ways, Genie Family works so much better in 2020 because the faster pace of modern life and the quirks of technology open up so many new avenues for comedic chaos, especially when magic is brought into the mix. Even if you have not seen the original Genie Family, you should give Genie Family 2020 a try. The show does a fantastic job of telling you all you need to know about the 1969 version. The characters are likable, the jokes are hilarious and the quick and snappy pacing means you'll have a big smile on your face throughout. And in 2020, that might just be the magic we all need.