gumball

If you haven't been keeping up on The Amazing World of Gumball, you've been missing a smart and vibrant kids show that utilizes a variety of art styles to tell fun stories (sometime with low-key blowjob jokes). The fact that the show has seen some imitators isn't surprising by itself, but the degree to which Gumball has been bootlegged is kind of astonishing. Which makes the recent Gumball episode "The Copycats" all the sweeter, since it is entirely devoted to utterly demolishing the uninspired con artists that have literally stolen the show's identity.

But let's back up a bit. The Chinese cartoon "Miracle Star" isn't just a borderline ripoff of Gumball -- it's an utterly shameless carbon copy. Imagine if someone filmed Gumball off their TV screen with a Nokia phone and took a picture of that phone with a disposable camera and then traced the picture with an Etch-a-Sketch, and you're getting close. You know how clones in sci-fi movies only get dumber the more times you clone them? Miracle Star is about twelve clone generations down from Gumball. 

Here, let me show you what I'm talking about. This is part of a scene from the very first episode of Gumball. 

Kid talks back to his mother, Mom scares her kid shitless with a show of force, etc. Classic cartoon comedy. 

Now let's check out an episode of Miracle Star

Yep, it's the exact same god damned thing, except now the characters have horns and the mom spent the animation budget on some new boobs. 

This has been going on for years. Flash-forward to 2017, and "The Copycats" episode of Gumball introduces the Chinese bootleg characters into Gumball's world. Yeah. 

As you might guess, the characters in the show have a lot of feelings about someone reappropriating their lives in such a shoddy fashion. True to life, the bootlegged-bootleg characters don't seem to have any real life of their own -- they only exist to ape the real Gumball characters. That is except for Anais, the little sister who is not represented in Miracle Star, and thus not represented in the bootlegged-bootleg.

gumball

There are a couple of reasons for why Miracle Star dumped the third kid from the show. For one, China as a nation has a two-child policy that bars anyone (except for the rich) from having three kids. And as the DELETED text suggests, there might be some leftover hostility towards daughters from "one-child policy" days. 

When the Watterson family confronts their doppelgangers, they attempt to shoo them away with a catchy song, encouraging these nobodies to find their own identities.


Of course, since half the episode is left, the Wattersons continue to find their lives the constant subject of shoddy YouTube replicas. And so the family hatches a plan that, while brilliant, is pretty diabolical for a kids show. See, they figure that since the bootleg characters will copy every action no matter what, maybe they could get revenge by living dangerously. 

Let's be clear, here: The characters in Gumball are dancing with death in an effort to get the Chinese ripoffs to kill themselves

And it kind of works! Almost. The whole family finds themselves in a truck leaking flammable liquid, about to catch on fire and drive off a cliff. The Wattersons are saved because Anais is tiny enough to unhook the flaming tank of doom, but the bootleg characters don't have their own version of Anais. And so...

The show makes the bare minimum effort to ensure that the bootleg family isn't "really" dead, but the crash has apparently left them incapable of continuing their imitation game. 

Rarely has a show ever gone so far out of its way to spite someone. Maybe it's the whole "fiery truck explosion" thing, but you can really feel the hate radiating from this episode. I can't wait to see the Chinese bootleg version.


Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.