Monchichi refers to a Japanese animated series that had a one season run in the early 1980s in the US. The name can also refer to dolls with a monkeylike appearance that first inspired these series. The original Monchichi dolls were designed by Koichi Sekiguchi in the early 1970s, and then went into mass production by the Tokyo-located Sekiguchi Corporation. Popularity of the dolls led to Mattel® licensing them for production in the US and elsewhere, and they also ultimately led to TV series in Japan and in other countries.
The first Monchichi cartoons were run in Japan in 1980, and successful licensing and production of the dolls led to a one year run of the series from 1983-1984 in America, produced by Hanna-Barbera. The Monchichi creatures are somewhat comparable to other odd woodland creatures produced at the time, including the Smurfs, but they didn’t quite inspire the same popularity.
By the time Monchichi cartoons aired in America, there was a full-fledged cast of Monchichis. They were ruled by Wizzer, in a home above the clouds and had to fight off the evil influence of Grumplins, who regularly threatened to bring the Monchichis’ moods right out of the clouds. Though the series only aired for a year, it attracted something of a cult following, more greatly felt in Japan than in the US. There are still devotees of the series and collectors of the dolls. The dolls are still manufactured with new editions, but many search eBay to find the old classics when they can.
On the other hand, Japanese toy stores still stock the dolls, and many people love the various characters. Their popularity is so great in Japan and among collectors, that the dolls are sold at places like Tokyo Disneyland, even though the toys have virtually no connection to Disney. The number of characters, cute clothes and mischievous monkey faces account in part for their fame.
Due to their popularity, Japan continues to produce the dolls, and decided to roll out yet another series featuring these cheerful monkey folk in 2005. Since that time, plenty of kids have bumped up the popularity of sales of Monchichis, with the airing of the new series on Television Saitama. Presently, fans wish for a new American series with Monchichi stars, but other critics of the show felt that its early attempts were really not worthy of a second run. Of course other classic cartoons that originated in Japan have been made over into new series and movies like Speed Racer.