Usagi, Doremi, Yucie + Magical Pendant = Magical Girl

A recent post at What is eternity doing tonight? asks about the magical girl genre of anime: Who watches these shows anyway? After a long but well written piece (something I wish I could write), CCY asks:

What do you think of magical girl shows? Would you openly recommend them to other people? Are they as widely appealing as I believe they can be — or is this madness induced by one too many peppy, sugary J-pop songs?

I know magical and girl, sugary and sweet, so of course I left a reply of my own:

As a person who isn’t interested in cursing, blood flying everywhere, fist-fights or large battles, or normally-covered skin showing up every few seconds, there’s a large majority of shows I’ll skip over. What am I left with? Magical girl and similar shows.

I started out with Sailormoon, the original English dub. Looking back on the series (having seen more than half of it in Japanese, mostly missing out on S and SuperS), I’m not sure I’d be able to re-watch it, or even fill in the missing episodes I never saw. Length is a big issue, but there just doesn’t seem to be worthwhile plot or, really, and actual character growth. So, “magical girl” alone isn’t enough to catch my attention. There has to be a little bit more, at least.

Now, Cardcaptor Sakura I was expecting to not have much to it when it came to plot or character growth, and it had both. Took me quite by suprise, I must say. Add to that Sakura being so adorable of a character, and it would be hard for me to not like this series. The only downpoint is the length, which makes it difficult to re-watch (unless I skip some of the less interesting episodes, such as the early one with the card moving toys around).

If I were going to recommend to someone a magical girl show, I’d pick a shorter one. This is where Princess Tutu comes in, because it’s light on the “magical girl” and heavier on the “fairytale fantasy”. The story begins light, but there are a lot of hooks early on, things to make you ask, “Why is this? What will happen now? What is this character’s motivation? Why is the teacher a cat? What, that character is also from the fairytale? What’s real and what isn’t?”

Another series I like is Ojamajo Doremi, although I’ve only seen the first two series of it. This one is more “sit back and relax” than Cardcaptor Sakura, as the plot is lightweight, and there’s little happening with the characters. It’s almost “slice of life with witchcraft on the side”. These things which failed in Sailormoon work in Ojamajo Doremi. However, it suffers from the same number of episodes as Sailormoon (and super-high priced DVDs, not even counting the OVA which is something like US$30 an episode, with 13 episodes total).

Were I going to show a “magical girl” series other than Princess Tutu, I’d go with Petite Princess Yucie. However, this one’s only for someone I know would like this series. Even then, it can fall a bit flat with its slow middle episodes when watched by someone at least partially liking of the genre.

If Shugo Chara or Nanatsuiro Drops ever finds itself licensed in the USA (and hopefully one day BOST TV will have series like this appearing concurrently with Japanese televised showings), I’ll be sure to check them out. If they’re “pure” as Cardcaptor Sakura is, then they may be just the kind of show I’m looking for.

Of course, I’m the kind of person who watches A Little Snow Fairy Sugar, enjoys it, and says, “I heard this was so sugary I’d get cavities, but I don’t see it as being sugary at all.” Maybe the candy land of sugary sweet shows is my natural habitat?

I failed to address the “widely appealing” portion in my comment I left there.

Looking at all the people around me, I could imagine maybe six giving Strawberry Marshmallow or Princess Tutu a chance (and not necessarily the same people for both shows). Whether they’d make it through to the end or not, that might drop it down to about three or four viewers. On the other hand, I could probably come up with at least ten viewers to watch Cowboy Bebop or Trigun and fully enjoy it. (I know, “only ten”? The place I work has something like a one male to 99 female ratio of employees, so… I only know of about five to ten guys on the floor I work on, and even then one recently moved to the floor below!)

So, as far of the question about wide appeal, I don’t see it there. But I’m looking at “wide” here as “all the people around me”, not “all the people around me who watch anime” (which would drop the sampling size to zero).

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