Fujio Akatsuka was a noted fan of Charlie Chaplin. The balance of madcap physical comedy alternating with character-driven pathos is definitely something both their works have in common. Akatsuka wasn’t exactly shy about taking cues from Chaplin, either: for instance, Bakabon’s Dad is known to have been based on Chaplin’s Little Tramp character.
But I think there’s another big one: not in any particular chapter, but across the whole series.
See, in the fluid continuity of the comics, Chibita goes through a lot of parents depending on what the gag calls for at the time. His parental figures have included Dekapan, Santa Claus, and…, er, nobody. But if there’s one relationship that recurs consistently across the whole franchise, it’s gotta be Iyami and Chibita!
There’s something compelling about the idea of a sly but charming hobo becoming an unwilling surrogate father-figure to an abandoned little boy, who then helps him commit various scams and petty crimes.
Their whole dynamic is, I would argue, is an ongoing retelling of Charlie Chaplin’s classic silent movie The Kid. In this 1921 feature, Chaplin’s Little Tramp character is… well, a sly but charming hobo who becomes an unwilling surrogate father-figure to an abandoned little boy, who then helps him commit various scams and petty crimes!
So, was Chaplin ultimately the source of inspiration for this unforgettable duo? Admittedly there’s not much I can do to substantiate this theory beyond a general hunch, but hey… It’s food for thought at least.