A Viewer’s Guide to RobiHachi: Getting Started

A Viewer’s Guide to RobiHachi: Getting Started

May 13, 2019 Anime Blog Hizakurige Japan Jippensha Ikku RobiHachi Tōkaidō Viewers Guide 0
Gras, Allo, Yang, Hatchi, Robby, Ikku

I watch a lot of anime these days. After a long day spent concentrating on scientific journals, technical manuals, and academic textbooks, I need light and easy entertainment to help shut down the mental processors. Of course, my overactive brain doesn’t settle down without a fight, so I usually start recognizing references and parodies inserted in the show. Or to put it more accurately, I start looking for them.

My current anime of interest is RobiHachi [ロビハチ], a TV series directed by Shinji Takamatsu. On the surface, it’s a gag anime filled with contemporary and pop cultural references. But what may not be obvious to Western viewers is the story and characters are inspired from an illustrated book series titled Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige written by Jippensha Ikku and published during the late Edo Period.

On the official RobiHachi website, Director Takamatsu explains the connection between the anime and book series. Takamatsu has plenty of experience working with historical material from his time as chief director of Gintama. This popular and long-running gag anime is filled with characters, locations, and events from the Meiji Restoration, in particular, the Bōshin War

Hatchi Kita (left) and Robby Yarge (right).

The basic storyline of Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige follows the misadventures of Yajirōbei and Kitahachi, two men making a pilgrimage to the Ise Grand Shrine. They travel via the main highway connecting Edo to Kyōto, the Tōkaidō Road, stopping at several of the 53 official post-towns along the way. 

The original pair of traveling buffoons,
KItahachi (left) and Yajirōbei (right).

This road-trip comedy tale was a huge hit when the first installments were published in the early 1800s. Over the centuries, the story has been adapted for theatre, storytelling, film, and now, anime. The two characters are so well known that the Japanese term yajikita—notice it takes the first syllable from each character’s name—has become a general term for a pair of comical idiots.

Hatchi, Robby, Allo, Yang, Gras

(l-r) Hatchi, Robby, Allo, Yang, Gras

The anime flips the original names around to give us Robby Yarge and Hatchi Kita.1 And yajikita becomes RobiHachi. The robotic bunny JPS-19, or Ikku as Robby usually calls him, is derived from the author’s name, JipPenSha Ikku; Ikku literally means “19“. The mecha robot Hizakuriger comes from the series’ short title, Hizakurige. The Tōkaidō has moved to outer space as the Galaxy Highway and the post-station towns have become planetary outposts.

RobiHachi is currently streaming on Hulu, Amazon, ANIPLUS, and Funimation.

Episode Guides

Traveling Companions; Journey to the Star

Truth Found from an Octopus

Pique on Planet Pluto

Merfolk on the End of the Pole

The Don Opens All Doors

Qu-eel-le Surprise

Land of Dreams Just Ahead

Heads I’m Tin, Tails You Lose

The Family that Stays Together, Hizakuriger

Never Get Involved in a Buddies’ Quarrel

Common Fame is a Common Isekander

Dream of the Moon, Dream of the Earth

Footnotes

  1. For those who read Japanese, the English subtitles and lettering in the animation do not match the rōmaji or phonetic transliterations. For example, Robby Yarge would be Robii Yaaji [ロビー・ヤージ] and Hatchi Kita would be Hacchi Kita [ハッチ・キタ].