When I first got a chance to watch South Park, my perspective on cartoons changed forever. It was such a mind-numbing experience, having a chance to hear crude language from cartoon characters. If you were to ask me then if we were ever going to get anything like that in Zimbabwe, I would have said, “no!”. Time would have proved me wrong though as the PaGHETTO series has managed to bring that exact element but just laced with a storyline that hits closer to home.
By Lennon Mudzengerere
The Zimbabwe animation scene has been growing in strides and bounds, even the music scene could not ignore the immense talent out there on the market. Artists like Soul Jah Love, Enzo Ishall, and Platinum Prince have blazing hit songs that are accompanied by animation videos.
One of the leading creative collectives in the animation space is Crazy Creative Mind Studios, the creators of the PaGHETTO series.
Paghetto is an animated online sitcom with a social commentary twist exploring a myriad of youth and societal issues. PaGhetto was created by the self taught animator and multi-talented Ivan Bakke who is the director, producer, writer, video editor, designer, voicer for Mike and other additional characters.
The animation is top tier 2D production that emphasises detail as much as Creative Mind Studios does is not only rare but is a marvel, especially in the Zimbabwean context. The character and animation sync so well it is hard not to pay attention to it. Lip syncing even in real real-life videos is hard now to imagine with 2D cartoon characters, nearly impossible right, well not for Ivan Bakke and his team. For instance, Chaser is a characteristics book worm, and his glasses and the book he always carries around match up well with the character. On the animation side of things, I must admit that the series is near perfect. There is only so much you can do with 2D animation and the creators of PaGHETTO have done everything. If you doubt my assessment, check out the “Reason Ndewangu” episode which has mirror reflections and a litany of characters.
It is not easy to keep a series going for 3 years, especially an adult cartoon series. The plot of the story is quite intriguing and everyone that has had a chance to interact with the Ghetto you will easily relate with every character. The main gist of the story is based on 4 characters that are Reason, Chaser, Mike, and Jabu.
The 4 friends are from the ghetto and the show follows them around as they navigate their way through the hood and the problems that come with being in the hood. The character development for each character is quite phenomenal and all you can do is appreciate what was put in.
Chaser is the brains of the group and the characteristics spectacles and book he carries around easily bring that to the fore. Jabu on the other hand is a girls “chicks” magnet. Mike is a cannabis addict and practically the crowd favorite on the group thanks to his sleek language and delivery. For me, the most iconic, “Mike” moment must be the “Ukaona muroyi muden mako, unomubhaudha here?” question. That had me rolling in tears.
The central character, the paradox of the series is Reason. “Reason”, the character is a bully and has been repeating his grade 4 times, 4 times, 4 times. The character integration is amazing and each character seamlessly fits into the story.
The character development of the series is amazing and I can’t stop marveling at how great it is. The development allows for longevity.
PaGHETTO is One of the most outstanding creative projects to come out of Zimbabwe.Plot Mhako
The Voices Behind The Characters
This is one of the best parts of the series for me. Ivan Bakke Who is credited as the creator of the series voices Mike. If you hear him speak, you would swear that it is not him that shows just how great the voice acting is. The dreadlocked voice actor is also an integral part of the scriptwriting process.
The witty Chaser is voiced by Daniel Chikuku. The lad is quite outspoken and I was a bit disappointed though that he does not wear spectacles in real. One thing, you can’t take away from the gentleman though is his top-tier voice acting.
Leo Musenda voices Jabulani and Chamunorwa. The difference between the voice tones of the two characters is amazing and takes a top-tier level of voice acting to pull it off. Add to that the reserved character of Leo and you will appreciate how good his voice acting is.
Another element that had me in awe is the fact that the characters Reason and Amon are voiced by the same person and his voice is by a long mile different from that of Reason and Amon. The gentleman characteristically speaks at a fast pace and toning it down to fit the Amon character is a marvel. Jolly Japhet, voices these two characters. Did I also mention, that he voices, the voice of Nyoni the school headmaster?
On The female end, Wadzanai Mandaba voices, Mombeshora, Regina, and Monica. That’s a plethora of characters and she executes it very well. Patience Timos is the voice behind, Kiki, Michelle, and Nyasha. The girls have a huge load and the fact that they carry it so well is another sign that women have an integral space in the animation reasons. In an interview though, Patience did mention that voicing 3 characters can be quite a huge load. Her execution though says otherwise as there seems to be no problem at all.
Numbers never lie and in the case of the PaGHETTO series, they are shouting Success! The parent page of the series. In its 3 and a half years of existence, the parent page of the PaGHETTO series has managed to garner over 13 million views and they have also earned a verification page along the way. Add the Facebook views and we could easily clock 20 million. These are huge numbers, especially in Zimbabwe where data prices are quite steep. These numbers do not include the viewers that religiously follow the series with the aid of “Share It” Overall PaGHETTO could easily contest for the title of the most-watched Zimbabwean series and would win by a long mile.
It’s also important that I add that of late the series has been available on Pay Per View site, Gateway Stream. This is a huge deal, especially for me, I have been looking forward to artists getting to reap rewards from their labor, and for the PaGHETTO crew, it seems that their moment is not far off.
I recommend that everyone gets to watch this series (16 and over of course). The series is entertaining and in some instances quite educative. The crude language is A mirror reflection of what happens in the Ghetto and the fact that they could bottle all that in cartoon characters is another reason to watch the show. With how the numbers are growing we can only hope that the show will get better.
On a scale of 1 to 10 for me, PaGHETTO scores a sterling 11 and if you have not watched it before I don’t only recommend but I am begging you to watch. The best part is that every episode in the series has a fire playlist.
With how good the series has turned out to be, you may be shocked that at the beginning, the audio for the series was being recorded using a Huawei P9 cellphone and being rendered using a “vintage” Dual Core laptop. Nothing puts context to the, “Started from the Bottom” anecdote than the Crazy Creative Mind Studios story.
Do watch the series and please do not skip ads, it helps get the boys and girls paid, or better watch the series on Gateway Stream.