'Samurai Pizza Cats' is
the brainchild and finished work of producer Andy Thomas. Back when this
series was first licensed out to Saban (now wholly-owned by FOX) it came to
them as a little Japanese anime series known as Kyattou Ninden Teyandee
or 'Cat Ninja Legend' if you want a loose translation.
SPC in the Western half
of the world is 10 years old now, and this page and the ones to follow it, are
my tribute to a long lost anime 'cult-classic'. SPC has been off
Canadian and American TV for a good almost 4 years now, and personally, I
should have did this a long time ago. Well, better late than never,
On this page, you'll get
a (somewhat) complete history of KNT's beginnings, to SPC's demise from the
airwaves. After that, you can go find more info. about the cast, the crew, and
also a nice sized image gallery full of memories from the series. Plus,
there's other SPC/KNT related things scattered about the Palace, so have a
Now, without further
adieu, let's go back in time and start from the beginning.
The Pizza Cats' leash on
life began at the same home where "Speed Racer" was born....Tatsunoko
Studios in Japan. The series, called "Kyattou Ninden Teyandee"...or
KNT for short, was a once-a-week deal on Japanese TV (like most anime series
are), and ran for 53 episodes (2 seasons: Feb. 1990-1992). It was
distributed by Sotsu Agency, the same folks who distributed "Gundam
Now, Haim Saban took a
look at this series and decided it was worthy of a translation. Picking
up rights in early 1991, he hired out a group from Cinar Studios (located in
Montreal Quebec, Canada....they're a big movie studio). The hired
producer, Andy Thomas, took one look at the original scripts and decided that
most of the Japanese customs portrayed in the original series just wouldn't
fly in the Western world.
With that....out went
the scripts (probably put them through a paper shredder...hahaha...:P), and he
hired a new set of writers, the 2 more prominent ones namely being Ardwright
Chamberlain and Tom Wyner, to write up an ENTIRELY new story for the show's 54
episodes. Thus the concept of "Samurai Pizza Cats" was born.
The toughest part for
the crew of SPC was the actual writing up of scripts. The words had to
match up closely with characters' mouth movements. A very tedious and
time-consuming process, which is why many anime companies today, one being
Ocean Group, an anime dubbing company out of Vancouver, B.C. Canada, uses
their Word-Fit system to make quick work of this process). Add to
this, the fact that some story elements had to be changed around.
Once all that was
finished, an all-Canadian cast of talented, top-notch voice actors/actresses
lent their talents to SPC's memorable characters. Rick Jones played
Speedy, Sonja Ball did Polly, and Terrance Scammel was the voice of
Guido. Finally, a new soundtrack composed by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy
(published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.) was mixed into the final
product, which also included a new opening title sequence, and closing credit
With all that said and
done, and on tape, Saban was ready to ship the Pizza Cats out for a trip
around the world.
Around the World:
SPC tested waters in
several countries in the UK, and in Canada over here first. Across the
big pond, SPC stuck around the longest in The Netherlands, however, it's also
shown up there in Ireland, England, France (from 1993-1994), Spain, and
Germany. The series in that case, got several re-dubs....in German,
French, and Dutch, respectively.
In the West though, the
SPC stuck around the longest in Canada, which explains why a good portion of
SPC's fans here in North American are Canadian. The series lasted from
1992 up through 1997 on YTV. Now most folks in the UK, got all 52
episodes that were dubbed. Canada (due to Saban's stupidity in not
packaging 4 episodes) got 48 of the 52.
In The USA:
Like I stated above,
Saban didn't feel that SPC would pull it off at first in the USA, so he
decided to skip us intentionally. When his "Power Rangers"
sent shockwaves through the ratings, literally driving them up through the
roof, his company decided by the mid 1990s that it was time to 'let the cats
out of the bag'.
SPC wasn't alone
though. It was packaged with a 2 1/2 hour block of Saban shows that
would air in syndication. This block inlcuded the following shows:
'Samurai Pizza Cats'
'Why Why Family'
'Adventures of Oliver Twist'
'Eagle Riders', the
other anime in this block, was a 'Battle of the Planets' sequel in Japan, and
most of the staff of SPC (including one who would work in "Digimon"
later on), also worked on this series. 'Masked Rider' was another one of
Saban's live-action 'Power Rangers' spoofs. The
final 2 series....'Why Why...' was an educational series for younger kids,
since by the time this block aired, the FCC required that TV stations air at
least 3 hours of educational/informative programming, and 'Oliver Twist' which
the only thing I remember anymore is the advertisement to it. This block
in general, did poorly in the ratings, as it's shows were scattered across
different stations and at HORRIBLE timeslots. They all got the dreaded
6, 6:30 AM, and 2:30, 3 PM timeslots on weekdays, and 6, 6:30 AM on Saturdays.
The above block was also
shipped out to Australia / New Zealand during this time and shown there.
SPC in all the above markets, would prove to be the longstanding favorite for
many fans....the rest of the shows.....are all but forgotten entirely now.
SPC got 40 of its 52
dubbed episodes aired. 2 Clip shows and 8 episodes were intentionally
skipped because of censorship in the USA. See the Episode
List to see which of those were skipped over and why.
Due to the bad
timeslots, and poor advertising efforts in Saban's part, SPC bit the dust in
the second week of September, 1997 (in my area anyways). DBZ, which got
it's start in larger markets in 1996 with the above-mentioned block of Saban
shows, carried on for a second season and expanded to cover areas that lost
SPC. Of course, that meant bad times again, but DBZ faired better in
those timeslots than SPC.
bought out the Family Channel in 1995, in a partnership with FOX/News Corp.,
and renamed the channel "Fox Family Channel", would pull totally out
of syndication business in January 1998. Basically, this meant all Saban
series in syndication, except on Fox affiliates, all but disappeared from the
air at once. Saban also gave up rights to DBZ in fall of 1998, and thus
it moved to its current home, Cartoon Network, and was their first shows to premiere
on its new "Toonami' block.
Does SPC Stand Today:
SPC's current status
today is not what most fans would like to hear. Everywhere except for Israel
and in scattershot locations in the UK who show it on occasion, SPC is off the
air. However, this could change very soon.
As of this page's
publishing, Saban has given up his portion of Fox Family, his ownership of Fox
Kids, and all rights to current and previous Saban series are under Fox's
complete control. What this means in laymans terms is....a possible
re-airing of SPC on Fox Family, Fox selling off rights to another company (eg:
The Program Exchange) to re-syndicate the series, or Fox issuing the series on
DVDs, or selling rights to a company like Pioneer or ADV Films to reissue onto
VHS or DVD formats.
SPC has had a devoted
fan following, especially in the last 5 or 6 years, and even more so since
it's fading from the airwaves. Myself, along with other die-hard fans,
wait and hope for the day this series may cross our path again.
For me, it was the first
anime series I truly devoted myself to, and the first to introduce me to an
entirely new entertainment medium.....that, of Japanese animation. That
is probably why I'll never get sick of hearing about SPC.