Tag Archives: Magical Girl

Magical Pretty Girl Sammy

Type: Spin-off!

mahou-shoujo-pretty-sammy-full-466688

Synopsis: In the magical world of anime Japan, a pretty girl named Sasami is turned into a pretty magical girl named Sammy in the name of love, justice, and merchandising.

Pros: The Magical Pretty Girl Sammy franchise is a very interesting entry in the surprisingly wide Tenchi Muyo brand. The concept is based on a multiverse story from a CD Drama, which was later adapted into Tenchi Universe, and then into this OVA. The premise is fairly simple: Sasami and everyone in the Tenchi Muyo Universe cast is in a magical girl show. Now for me, I got a kick out of this, as it was yet another way to see the Tenchi English voice cast strut their stuff. And I do generally enjoy when an established anime experiments with other genres. The jokes are neither here nor there, though I did like the fierce rivalry between Ayeka and Ryoko (even if Ryoko is a lot more forward in this). The best character is probably Pixie Misa, Sasami’s delightfully evil rival. And while this show keeps it fairly light, the moments when Sasami gets serious is pretty cool.

Cons: The show is a 3 episode OVA what doesn’t really have an ending. Now, I looked it up, an apparently the Pretty Sammy brand has two other full length anime, Magical Project S, and the non-canotical Sasami: Magical Girl’s Club. So I would view this OVA as more of a backdoor pilot than anything else. The show is not amazing by any means. It’s got that traditional Tenchi Muyo jank in terms of animation and voice acting, but that’s kinda it’s charm (at least to me). My only real complain is against the show’s attempts to make the 10 year old, 4th grader Sasami “sexy,” or at least more sexual. I can always live without that.

Watch it: Maybe out of curiosity (3/5)

MVP: Pixie Misa

pixy_misa2

She loves to double cross everyone!

Best Episode: OVA rules (a.k.a. you decide)

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Type: Medoka Magica’s more upbeat little sister

Ouo9h43

Synopsis: In the future, the Japanese government asks young girls, around the age of 12-15, to fight monsters from a different dimension in order to protect the magic tree that is protecting humanity. They mainly recruit these girls using phone apps, because kids and their phones these days. The app says you can be a hero, and it even gives you cute fairies as sidekicks for free! Of course, once you get nice and addicted, it ramps up the difficulty of the monsters and that’s when you finally notice the in-app store purchases and start thinking….man, I could really use that power upgrade, and the use of my legs isn’t that big of a price.

Pros: Yuki Yuna is a magical girl anime. Specifically, the subgenre of dark-magical girl anime. This means that the big reveal is the price the characters have to pay for being magical girls. Without spoiling it too much, I’ll just say that I liked the “price” being paid, because it was drastic enough to be meaningful, but not too big to be forgotten. The girls don’t have to give up their lives or anything, and the in some ways, the price is optional. It gave the characters a lot for agency in their decision to use their powers and ultimately made them seem like the “heroes” they aspired to be. This differs from Medoka Magica, the current dark-magical girl measuring stick, because there the price was pretty much an ultimatum done for selfish reasons. Yuki Yuna differs from Medoka in that it’s pretty positive. Yuki Yuna stays pretty light until Ep.8, with everything up till then being pretty typical female slice-of-life stories with good humor, like the new girl becoming friends with everyone, the young girl learning to be more confident, gossiping about love only to discover that none of them have any juicy stories because their in middle school. This is mixed with stellar actions scenes, so you never get bored. Compare this to Medoka, which gets dark at Ep.2. After Yuki Yuna’s Ep.8, things start to spiral, as the truth of the girl’s powers are revealed. What I liked about the reveal is that is was dark, but it didn’t overdo it. It didn’t come off as malicious, and there’s no “evil” organization controlling everything. The girl’s sacrifices are honored and rewarded. If anything, it’s a system whose tragedy lies in it’s necessity.

Cons: For as show called Yuki Yuna is a Hero, the title character is not really present all that much. There is a character named Yuki Yuna, but she isn’t really the protagonist, and she doesn’t act as a audience surrogate. Her only role is being the most “optimal” hero. In fact, Fu Inibozaki is a more likely candidate for main character. But the show really is more of an ensemble story. Speaking of the story, while watching it, I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. Ya know? I knew that this was a dark-magical girl show, so every episode I asked myself, “is this the one where it all goes to hell?” But since this happened so late in the show, fans of this kind of dark twist may be annoyed at the time it takes to get there. Don’t watch this show looking for a tragedy like Medoka, because you won’t find any. This anime strictly adheres to the happy ending troupe. No one dies, no one’s feelings are hurt, and the girl’s sacrifices are even mitigated by the end of the show. I’ll admit, that last part was regrettable as it lessened the impact of the girl’s decisions. I do wonder, however, how people who watch it blind may react to the show. Now let’s talk spoilers: In the show, the girl’s have to sacrifice something to unleash their full power. The people in charge of recruiting don’t tell the girls this because ignorance is bliss or whatever. But, as the show suggest, this leaves tremendous psychological scars on the chosen girls. Worse yet, because the sacrifice is required for an optional second transformation, a power boost if you will, there really is no reason not to tell the girls. A little “hey, you have this secret weapon, but only use it as a last resort because it will cost you something precious. ;)” text would have been sufficient.

Watch it: More upbeat than Medoka (4/5)

MVP: Fu Inubozaki

ca0f6ef525cc40084d6247e0eaa4ef64

Girl Power!

Best Episode: Ep9. “Those Who Know Grief” (that breakdown really got to me)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion

Type: What a heel turn

Puella-Magi-Madoka-Magica-New-Feature-Rebellion-website-700x412

Synopsis: So this is the third Madoka movie, but its actually the first sequel to the anime. The franchise did that thing where they dupe rubes into buying two “movies” that are really just elongated clip shows of the original. What rubes.

Pros: Rebellion is a continuation of the anime story, but you don’t know that for about 30 minutes. The movie starts with all five magical girls together, and Homura still in her shy girl phase. Given that this anime deals with timelines, your not exactly sure when the anime takes place until the first reveal happens. Since a lot of the film’s impact depends on surprise and twists, I’ll try my best not to spoil much. What’s not confusing is the stellar action and animation of the Madoka franchise, and we finally get to see the girls fight as a unit! We also get their transformation sequences for the first time (probably), and they certainly fit with the rest of the show. The Russian (?), French (?) inspired animation scenes that are still here and as discomforting as ever. The story, while still a bit off, certainly changes the trajectory of the franchise. Rebellion feels like a movie, which is all I ever want.

Cons: The ending might bother some people, though I though it was great. The film is a solid two hours, but I feel that it could have been a smidge shorter. Once again, despite being the title characters, Madoka feels more like a hanger on than protagonist. The film is Homura’s story, and sadly, she still does her signature hair flip every five seconds. Some of the girls also felt a little out of character. Like, why would Homura confide in Kyoko of all people? How come Sayaka is more perceptive this time around? What’s with the little girl? No really, they never properly explained that part.

Watch it?: Another great entry into a weird and awesome franchise

MVP: The Actions Scenes

30133-Madoka

Still my favorite part

Best Moment: The Homura/Timoe fight (the fated battle!)

Tagged , , , , ,

Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!

Type: It needs a shorter name

cute_high_earth_defense_club_love_team

Synopsis: Fighting evil by moonlight! Winning love by daylight! Never running from a real fight! They are the ones called Sailor…wait, wait, that’s not right. First off all, the Cute High Earth Defense Club, or “Battle Lovers” for short, never fight at night. They do do a lot of winning with love. As for never running from a real fight, well, that’s technically true, but does fighting a noodle-man count are real fighting? And one of the central stories involves someone turning their back on a friends, and “defense” is in their name, but I wouldn’t consider them really dependable.

Pros: So as you can tell, Cute High Earth Defense Club is a magical boy anime. Its about 5 high school boys living in this possibly post-apocalyptic world where no women exist. Like, at all. They’re chosen by this space wombat to protect world with the power of love. The show is full with a lot of cute boys of every preference, from the lovable blonde to the guy with luxurious pink hair. The homoerotic undertones are yours for the taking. It’s a comedy, and the boys do in fact comment on the weird turn their lives have made, as well as keep the dead body of their faculty adviser around. The show follows a monster of the week format, which is defeated the exact same way every time.

Cons: The show is formulaic, not particularly exciting, and the overarching plot isn’t that original. Good sailor boys vs bad sailor boys. My real gripe with the show is with the Battle Lover uniforms. I’m not really sure what they’re suppose to be. Their this puffy, short short get-up with ribbons. They look downright silly. Their rivals, the conquest club, had a much better uniform that looked military style. This was probably a reference to Sailor Moon or something, but it didn’t really land for me. This may sound kinda weird for an obviously female-driven audience, but I hope they butch up the uniforms a little for season 2. (Why not make them dress up in tuxedos?)

Watch it?: A solid parody show (3/5)

MVP: Akoya Gero

tumblr_inline_njs0jeeCtc1t4jnh6

Look at this guys hair…just look at it…

Best Episode: Ep.11 “The Trial Called Love” (the fated battle!)

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Ultra Maniac

Type: No one’s really a Maniac in this

ultramaniac_s1v1

Synopsis: A middle school students makes friends with a Magical Girl, which leads to a lot of wacky misadventures. There’s the time they turned their pets into humans, the time a potion made everything bigger, and the time the girls turned into 20 year olds to go clubbing and their parents were totally cool with it. There’s also the main story involving five Holy Stones that determine the next princess of the Magical Kingdom, but I was mainly in it for the blushing and sparkling eyes.

Pros: This is an older anime from a time where animation gags and sitcom-like plots where the norm. The gag where Nina’s mom and dad acted super cutesy together was adorable. Like I said, Nina the Magical Girl’s second rate magic lead her friend Aya into a variety of comedic situations. Aya plays a pretty good straight-man to the ditzy Nina. Its a pretty light love-comedy, complete with the main character that has a crush on a boy that is seemingly very popular (but don’t worry, he likes her back). Their is actually an interesting character twist with the much sought after Kaji-Kun that moves him away from generic love interest territory, at least a little. This isn’t a masterpiece, but it is a pretty fun anime from a decade ago. (P.S. if you want something extra to do, this anime is based on a Manga that I’m pretty sure was targeted at young girls, so keep an eye out for the girl’s clothing. You’ll find them more stylish than usual).

Cons: Again, this is an old anime. If you weren’t a fan of that style of comedy, then move along. Story wise, two main plots compete from attention. The first is Aya’s crush on Kaji and Nina’s well meaning and hilarious attempts to use magic to help her out. This is apparently closer to the Manga the show is based on. The second is Nina’s “secret” quest for the five Holy Stones, which is not as interesting, and sure enough, not at all based on the Manga story. Sadly, the Aya-Kaji arc resolves itself about 5 episode before the finale to focus more on the Holy Stones, which just made Aya’s search for love seem inconsequential. Though in hindsight, her story is literally about the most popular girl in school dating the most popular boy in school. Also, Nina’s catchphrase, “Practice,” totally annoying.

Watch it: Simpler Jokes for Simpler Times (3/5)

MVP: Aya Tateishi

Ultramaniac02039

I just really love her hair

Best Episode: Ep. 18″R&B” (kids pretending to be adults…wait a minute, that’s what being 20 is all about!)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Magical Girl Madoka Magica

Type: Kinda weird after watching Sailor Moon

The-Madoka-Universe-mahou-shoujo-madoka-magica-22792560-2560-1738

Synopsis: A deconstruction of the magical girl anime sub-genre that subverts stereotype by, wait, sorry, I have snort this ounce of cocaine while listening to this indy cd I bought while eating at a cruelty free thrift shop….and scene. Anyway, by “deconstruct,” I mean that it shows how all the stuff in magical girl shows, like talking cats and enchanted jewelry, are actually sinister.

Pros: All jokes concerning the hipsterness of pretentious critics aside, Medoka Magica is a deconstruction anime. It takes apart the elements of its genre and adds dark connotations to each. Evangelion did it, School Days did it, and probably a bunch of other shows I’m forgetting to mention. Case in point, in Medoka Magica: the cat is cute but creepy, the witches’ rooms are all twisted version of storybook drawings, even the opening has Medoka crying in her Magical Girl dress. There are a lot more, but discussing them would ruin the plot, so have fun catching all the references. Past the analytical aspects of the show, you’re left with killer fighting scenes and pretty imaginative enemies. Seriously, the fights in this are something to behold. Even if you don’t watch the show, you should catch on of these fights on Youtube or something.

Cons: For one, I don’t think the show’s promotional artwork properly conveys the actual tone of the show (though, this too could be part of its deconstructionness). I feel that the main characters were underwritten, with most coming off as two dimensional. Medoka is the modest one, Homura is the cool one, Sayaka is the tomboy, Kyoko is the wild one, and Mami is the wise one. None of them really move past their assigned role, well, maybe Homura and Sayaka. The ending could also be way better, but I’m guessing the series was leaving itself open ended for the movie sequel.

Watch it?: The hype is deserved, if overblown (5/5)

MVP: Mami Tomoe

yamasan_madoka-magica_tomoe-mami

I really loved her fighting style

Best Episode: Ep. 10 “I Won’t Rely On Anyone Anymore” (origins!)

Tagged , , , ,

Sailor Moon (Season One)

Type: O.G. Pretty Soldiers

454764

Synopsis: I normally don’t do super popular anime, but dammit, I finally know what Sailor Moon is about! A long time ago, the Moon Princess and her friends are sent to Earth after her Kingdom is destroyed by the evil Queen Beryl. Years later, the Moon Princess is reincarnated as a young girl named Serena and given the ability to turn into “Sailor Moon” by a talking cat named Luna. Together, they reassemble the “Sailor Scouts” and fight Queen Beryl and her evil henchmen.

Pros: Although I’m the right age, I missed Sailor Moon the first time around because I didn’t have cable. But I did watch the Power Rangers, and this is basically the same thing. Just look at the story structure: One or more of the Scouts are doing something, the bad guys crash their activity, then someone throws a tiara and the day is saved. This would have made for great after school TV (though I wouldn’t recommend binge watching). It’s funny, in that early 90’s English dubbed anime way. I mean, why does Serena’s school friend have a Brooklyn accent? Better question, why weren’t their more random accents! I also liked that Serana was kinda a clutz and not a natural at the who hero thing. It made her relatable.

Cons: The show is repetitive, though I can’t say whether that’s due to North American editing or not. That’s right, I watched the old-school English version of Sailor Moon, end credit PSA’s and everything. I can tell you this much, Goku never told me that jealousy made people act differently. The more you know, I guess. I should add that this show is pretty girly. I mean, it was made specifically for girls, so that’s not really a negative. But I was confused over the common plot of these–middle school girls? high school?–dating clearly adult men. Maybe that’s a girl thing.

Watch it?: You really need to know what your missing (4/5) 

MVP: Serena

740388

I refuse to call her Usagi.

Best Episode: Ep. 31 “A Reluctant Princess” (Serena got real for a minute there)

Tagged , , , , ,