Known as the Bart Simpson of Japan, Crayon Shinchan is a five-year-old nightmare who delights in tormenting his parents and everyone around him with his brutally honest observations and devastating antics. He's incredibly mischievous, and causes his mother nothing but grief. As with the best popular satire, Shinchan also functions as an antidote to the more uptight aspects of (here, Japanese) culture. In this eighth volume, Usui, whose art is utterly minimal at best, may be running out of inspiration for Shinchan's gags, and takes lengthy excursions with other characters, such as the leader of the Red Scorpion Gang, a teenage girl who pretends to eschew love. Of course, her crush on a boy who walks by her one day proves this to be false and leads to endless embarrassment. The final tale, "Buri Buri Kingdom's Hidden Treasure," is even more of a departure, a lengthy story that is Usui's version of a Tintin-type adventure, as a vacation trip goes wrong and Shinchan is mistaken for a lost prince. Usui is much better at one-liners than sustained narrative, and his jokes regardless of which character's involved are scatological and outrageous. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.