This show! (Aaahh! Real Monsters) This show right here! It aired from 95-97 so I was a little too young for it. They did play reruns, though so I do remember catching some episodes growing up. From what I remember, it looked fascinating to me, but for some reason, I never truly got into it. Man, I missed out.
It’s weird because I was into a lot of horror stuff growing up, Goosebumps and such. You’d think I would have been all over this. At least I’ve managed to make up for lost time. Just to give a brief plot rundown, three monster friends, Ickis (a monster with long ears), Oblina (a black and white striped stick monster), and Krumm (a monster who holds his eyes) all attend a school for scaring. Together they must rise through the ranks and eventually become skilled enough to graduate.
What I enjoy about this show is that most of the characters are likable or tolerable at the very least. The main trio play off each other well. Ickis is more of the slacking type who is always cramming at the last minute. Krumm, while being known as the dumb stinky one, can be insightful at times. Lastly, Oblina is the responsible one.
Ickis will be goofing off, sometimes with Krumm, and neglect his monster duties while Oblina will try to steer him on the right path. Ickis will disregard her advice and end up stressing over the assignments he should have done earlier. Why this works is because while you can assign specific traits to certain characters it never feels like it goes too far with them. Ickis actually begins as the runt of the class. This is due in part to his personal flaws and the fact he’s arguably the most comparatively cute monster among his classmates.
He’s even been called a rabbit several times much to his annoyance. Typically, he’s a nervous wreck on account of having to complete his assignments. A big part of his character has to do with his dad, Slickis who was the best student in the school. It’s understandable why he’d feel so pressured all the time, having to live up to those standards. In fact, you could almost see the situations Ickis puts himself into as a self-deprecating cycle.
Slickis himself only appears in two episodes. However, he does help his son out and shows him that nobody starts out perfect. Another thing I enjoyed about Ickis is that his development shows the difference between confidence and arrogance. There are several times throughout the show when he ends up in over his head due to an overinflated ego. What happens then is he is either punished for causing a disaster or he has to find another approach to solve the problem at hand.
Most of the time Krumm and Oblina are bailing him out. As the series goes on, he learns how to stand on his own while working with them as a team. Krumm while being known as the stupid one can be insightful and understanding. You could argue that compared to his friends he’s the most emotionally intelligent. Later on, it’s revealed that his dad, Horvak dropped out so in a way you could see it as a parallel to the relationship of Ickis and Slickis.
In Krumm’s case, he’s trying to succeed where his dad failed. Horvak is portrayed as being supportive and yet a bit overprotective in some instances when it comes to his son. I don’t think he’s bad. To me, it’s more that he makes bad decisions out of good intent such as keeping important information from Krumm because he doesn’t want him to worry. Overall, though he is supporting him when push comes to shove.
Oblina, while being more of a study worm, does eventually learn how to loosen up. Her relationship with her mother is almost the inverse of Ickis and Krumm’s ones with their dads. Rather than help her daughter achieve her dreams, Sublina instead chooses to try and control her. As of my writing this, I just realized that her and her mother’s names are supposed to be puns on the words oblige and sublime.
At least her father, Skeetch is more supportive. Oblina is sometimes shown as overworking herself to the point of exhaustion. Hence, she sees the value in relaxing. Before I get into some of the other minor characters, one thing I wasn’t expecting about this show was the amount of political satire and jokes from side characters. For example, there’s one human kid named Nicky that Ickis is friends with. In one episode, he’s going to summer camp and is apprehensive due to fear of being bullied.
To which his dad responds, “I was picked on. Your grandfather was picked on. You come from a long line of picked-on campers. You’ll do our family proud.”. Good parenting? No. Hilarious? Absolutely. Then in another episode, the monsters end up unintentionally exposing the human mayor’s corruption. Before I get into talking about some of the other minor characters, I want to point out that the creators of the show, Gábor Csupó and Peter Gaffney also helped create Rugrats. The reason I am mentioning this is some of the characters from Real Monsters appear in one of the episodes.
Not to derail too much, but when am I going to get another chance to talk about this on this site? The episode was about telling scary stories with Angelica as the narrator and Chucky as the main character in the tale she is telling. What stood out to me is that in it, Ickis and the other monsters want to eat him. If you watch Real Monsters, the show establishes early on that monsters are not allowed to harm humans beyond scaring them. My head cannon is that Angelica somehow got scared by the monsters before Tommy and the others were even born so their appearance stuck into her subconscious or I’m reading too deep into it.
At least, it’s better than the theory of all the other kids being a figment of her imagination. Moving on to the more minor characters, first I want to talk about Zimbo. Other than Sublina he’s the only other character I don’t care for. Except with him, it’s worse because he has more screen time. Whenever I hear him talk, I wish someone would smash him with a tennis racket.
In fairness, he has gotten his comeuppance before. Next, I want to discuss Simon. He’s a human character who is actively trying to capture the monsters and put them on TV to prove he isn’t crazy. Since the monsters aren’t allowed to be discovered by humanity as a whole, this makes him the main antagonist of the show. This is a character I root against, but I can also see where he is coming from.
On one hand, he’s a constant threat to the safety of the monster world. On the other, you do understand his frustration of being the only person who knows the truth about something. To make it worse, he’s constantly ridiculed and it’s even been implied he was bullied when he was a kid for his monster belief. With that said, he has his fair share of funny moments and is shown to be pretty damn intelligent. Even if you don’t agree with what he does, you have to respect his dedication.
Finally, I want to talk about a character called The Gromble. I fucking love this guy. He’s the head of the monster school and he teaches the class how to scare. What sells me on it is how he shows his anger. Someone, usually Ickis will do something annoying.
The Gromble’s response will at first seem calm and leveled before exploding into a burst of rage. Every time something gets under his skin. I just imagine the fuse of a bomb being lit. He’s not all about, yelling though. It’s been shown numerous times that while he is strict, he only acts this way because he genuinely cares about his students’ success.
He wants to push them to do their best. Yelling isn’t all he’s about, however. Throughout the series, he’s been shown to have a bit more depth. Every once in a while, he even needs help from Ickis and his friends. This shows no matter how much experience you have, you still won’t be able to do everything on your own.
If you asked me who my favorite character is, I would have to say The Gromble. Now, with all this praise I’ve given the show, would I want this show to come back? Well, there’s a major issue that can be summed up in two words, the internet. Yeah, remember that rule of the monsters can’t be discovered by humanity as a whole? Getting around that would be difficult with everyone walking around with cameras in their pockets.
There are two ways I can think of to get around this. Number one would be to simply pick up where the show left off. I think this would work best, especially since the show didn’t really have a conclusion. It kind of just stopped which I thought was a shame. For the second, let’s say they choose to go the Rocko’s Modern Life route.
How would they subvert that pesky smartphone problem? What I’m thinking is that they can have a designated team of monsters to pose as humans online and “debunk” monster sightings people post. I think this would work especially well playing off Simon’s character. You could make him a parody of Alex Jones except less crazy. I think it would work as long as they don’t go too far with it.
To conclude things, if they can find a way around the whole internet issue, I say they should give this show a revival and you should give it a watch. My grade for it would definitely be a solid A.