Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
Plot: Dan comes to the rescue of his wife Sheila when she spots a cockroach in their bathroom. But when the cockroach flies, Dan loses all sense, and his fear of the flying roach leads him to imagine that the roach is a kung fu master who he must fight with all his might to defeat.
Context: Last month I reviewed the teaser trailer for upcoming animated film The Caddy Club by Trinidad and Tobago writer/director Kafi Kareem and in the review, I mentioned she also created the award-winning short-form adult animated comedy web series Big Man Dan. And then I realised that I hadn’t yet reviewed the Big Man Dan short, “The Ninja”, released back in 2019. For shame, I tell you. For shame! And before I am forced to walk through the streets of King’s Landing wearing my birthday suit while a nun walks behind me ringing a bell and repeating “shame” (trust me, you do NOT want to see that) do allow me to correct that oversight.
Review: The Ninja is just a good old time. Art and animation director Shane Young Sing has every scene bountifully bursting with colour and the character designs of Dan, Sheila and the cockroach are all delightfully cartoonish. Dan is the star and the standout with his tiny body and big attitude. He is voiced by multitalented singer, songwriter, animator, filmmaker, actor and director RemBunction while Sheila is voiced by actress Mandisa Granderson (Home Again, This Love, Salty Dog and The Lies We Tell). They both deliver in their roles and bring their quirky characters to life.
Now if you have ever gone after a crawling cockroach to kill it and it suddenly starts flying, then you will be very familiar with Dan’s predicament. And the highlight of the episode is when his imagination runs wild, and he imagines he is in a kung fu battle with Master Roach. We got some anime influence here and it is as funny as it sounds.
I’ve mentioned before the importance of including subtitles when using Caribbean dialects and colloquialisms because the ultimate target is international audiences (Cariwood to the world!). And I was pleased to see that Dan and Sheila’s misadventure is effectively captioned for non-native speakers.
At just over three and a half minutes, The Ninja is super short but packs in a few good laughs during the brief runtime. Yeah, I definitely want more of this colourful couple. And Dan and Sheila do feature in a series of PSAs (a couple are rated PG-13, so do take note). These are cool, but I would love to get another regular short like The Ninja.
Editor Jules’ Score: 7.5 out of 10
You can watch the Big Man Dan pilot for yourself on storyplay.tv by clicking here. And you can check out more great Caribbean animated content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.