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Words by Christian Orkibi
Illustration by Sarah McDonald

No, this is not about Matthew Broderick’s ‘pile o’ shit’ Inspector Gadget movie from 1999. If you want to know about that Inspector Gadget, search through your local Video Ezy bargain bins and then put your head in a blender.

The Inspector Gadget TV series first aired all the way back in 1983, but it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that the show began to churn out follow-up seasons on Nickelodeon. Revolving around the adventures of cyborg detective Inspector Gadget, the show was produced by several companies around the globe. Animation was done in Japan and Taiwan and writing in France and Canada. Go go, carbon footprint!

Inspector Gadget is celebrated by kids of the ‘90s for displaying the power of clumsiness. He was our Basil Fawlty, and we loved him. Gadget was constantly tripping over himself and making a mockery of the advanced technical wizardry contained within his body (penis joke, not intended). For me, his ability to save the day, despite his failures, really instilled hope and reassurance into my own failures. Years later, I’m still waiting on the Royal Melbourne Hospital to fulfill my request for springy robotic legs.

The character and personality of Inspector Gadget was originally designed to mimic the mannerisms and escapades of The Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau. In the pilot episode in ’83, Gadget can even be seen with the iconic Pink Panther moustache. Gadget was accompanied by his so-close-to-a-Family Guy-lawsuit dog Brain and his super genius niece Penny. Penny and Brain were the brains behind the operation (pun intended), solving almost all of the cases set against Gadget by the super cliché bad dude, Doctor Claw!

The plot of each episode wasn’t exactly Academy Award winning, given that every single episode pretty much went down the same. But then again, the writers didn’t have much to work with, did they? Well, nothing except for the fact that he was a robot filled with gadgets …

The episodes would begin with Gadget, Penny, and Brain receiving a call from Chief Quimby, (seriously, all these cartoon producers need to have a big lawsuit day). Quimby would then give the Inspector an assignment, which of course would self-destruct after reading. The group would then travel to the location of the crime, where Gadget would get into mischief while Penny and Brain fought Doctor Claw’s men and solved the case. At the end of each episode, Gadget would be commended for his service to the world and it would end with a good moral lesson. Something like not deciding to stuff half of NASA’s equipment up your bottom to help solve crimes.

Gadget’s legacy lives on today and he is remembered for his charm, innocence, and crazy contraptions. Despite the series ending in the early 2000s, a new animated show is currently in development and Inspector Gadget comic books have been on shelves since 2012. But perhaps the best thing Inspector Gadget ever gave us was a childhood of standing on tables with a little bowler hat on, screaming “Go go gadget!” at pieces of furniture. May we never forget him.

 

Words by Christian Orkibi
Illustrations by Sarah McDonald
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Ever imagined what it must be like to be a teen parent? Having to change your baby’s nappies while your parents are nagging you to clean your room. Posting status updates about your child’s first word when your friends are nek nominating one another. Not being able to go clubbing with your friends because you’re crouched in fetal position on your bed listening to Sinead O’ Connor on a loop.

The life of a teen-mum was much easier back in the mid ‘90s; children consisted of 14 pixels, were trapped in handheld devices and only died twice a week. I refer to the world of the Tamagotchi, the Japanese craze that swept the world and wasted the lives of every kid under the sun.

Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai developed the first Tamagotchi in 1996, to help young girls learn the basics of parenting. The name Tamagotchi was derived from the Japanese word for egg, “tamago”, and the English word “watch”. The story is simple: an alien race of Tamagotchis land on earth and for some reason, are incapable of caring for themselves or maintaining personal hygiene. Thus, it falls upon the teenagers of earth—boys included—to care for these little nightmares.

For anyone who owned a Tamagotchi in the early days, the process of picking up poo, dropping off food and giving your fungus covered children a smack in the face became a well-oiled machine. This routine eventually developed, through many editions, to include a series of mini-games with high score tables and hunting.

As you looked after or slowly murdered your pet, it grew through different stages of life, from baby to adult. However, everyone who owned a Tamagotchi experienced the heartbreak of the angel rising from a dead Tamagotchi’s body. Leave your pet for too long and they will ascend to the heavens forcing you to begin anew. Common causes of death were either excrement suffocation or a simple lack of common sense to get feed them.

If you were a kid in the ‘90s, chances are you had a Tamagotchi. However, I bet I can throw a couple of random facts your way that you mightn’t know about our alien friends.

Fact one: in December 2007, Tamagotchi The Movie told the story of Tanpopo, a teenage girl transported into the world of crystal meth Tamagotchis. The film received dismal reviews.

Fact two: German band Die Ärzte may have a hard-arse name, but in 2012 they released a song entitled ‘Tamagotchi’. Remarkably the band’s career is still going strong.

Despite being the subject of crude insults and general humiliation in today’s culture, Tamagotchi was truly a gem of the ‘90s; the world it created and the copycats it inspired are evidence of that.

Tamagotchi taught teenagers what it was like to have a child, and evened out global population growth. Thanks Japan.