32 of 51 episodes seen
=== Story ===
The Mysterious Star/Wonder Planet (depending on the translation, we'll go with the former) is the setting where this story takes place. It's essentially a hollow meteor with the various kingdoms, oceans and mountains lining the inner walls. Floating in the center of them all is the Sunny Kingdom, home of our protagonists. Hyperactive, redheaded glutton Fine and her blue haired, equally hyper romanticist sister Rein are infamously known as "The most unprincess-like princesses in all of the Mysterious Star.
The ecosystem of the Mysterious Star is fueled by a power known as the "Blessing of the Sun". When this power starts to weaken, it causes the Kingdoms to suffer adverse effects, threatening the way of life for all of the star's people. After an encounter with the legendary Princess Grace, Fine, Rein and their mentor mascot, Puumo are tasked with saving the Mysterious Star, and are granted the magical powers of the Prominence. Of course our unprincess-like princesses have quite a ways to go before they can grow into capable saviors of the Mysterious Star, and the only thing put to a greater test then their abilities, is the patience of Puumo.
One fraction of the show's story involves our heroes descending to the many Kingdoms of the Mysterious Star, discovering the various problems sweeping the star and doing what they can to help.
Another reoccurring plot is the Princess Parties, competitions where the princesses from all across the star gather to compete in various activities such as baking and gardening, with the hopes of being crowned Best Princess.
Roughly a quarter into the show however the show takes on a new formula, as villains are introduced, seeking to steal the power of the Prominence and conquer the Mysterious Star. By the halfway point the show shifts into a slightly darker tone, exchanging the absurd story of twin princesses helping others with their personal problems, to a journey around the world via hot air balloon, where our protagonists combat the powers of darkness.
=== Art ===
The art style of Futagohime is color and lively, much like it's brightly dressed protagonists. The animation style is what you'd expect of a cutesy Magical Girl show, with bright eyed girls smiling and lighting up the hearts of the viewers. Nothing particularly spectacular for our current age, but it does well for it's time.
=== Sound ===
The opening and ending of the show are both bouncy and cheerful songs that will get stuck in your head if you're not careful. The BGM is fairly standard, but it's pretty hard to notice when our squeaky voiced heroes are babbling on.
The voice cast do their jobs well enough, with special mention going to Kaori Mizuhashi, who puts all of her talents into the stuck up and irritable Altezza. Some of the voices, particularly Puumo's, might be a bit too squeaky and obnoxious for some viewers, but if cutesy stuff is your forte, you should be able to enjoy them.
One minor thing that chips my enjoyment down (but not enough to affect the numbers) is the recasting of Prince Tio's voice. From his debut in episode 3 to episode 25, Vanilla Yamazaki brought an energetic and adorable charm to the character. Come episode 27 and that gets replaced by the raspy, nasally voice of Shihomi Mizowaki, which Ojamajo Doremi fans would recognize as belonging to Kaori Shimakura, the obnoxious paparazzi girl.
=== Character ===
Like in most Magical Girl shows, the characters are where the show shines brightest. Of course the first step to enjoying them is to not take this show seriously. At all. This show is essentially about Magical Girls with a bad case of ADD, as Puumo and Camelot, the Sunny Castle Princess's tutor learn the hard way as a simply explanation can go completely ignored in favor of the scent of food or fashionable clothes.
I must emphasize, Rein and Fine are probably the most ridiculous characters I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Cheerful and outgoing to a fault, the girls have a hard time dealing with anything that isn't fun or delicious (food for Fine, Prince Bright for Rein), leading to wacky antics and a vast encyclopedia of bizarre dances that will leave you cracking up, cringing, or both.
With such emphasis on princesses, the cast of them doesn't just stop at Rein and Fine. Princesses from all the land come together, from the sweet, timid Lione, to the gluttonous infant, Milky. Probably the most prominent princess is Altezza, a spoiled, haughty girl who has very little tolerance for the antics of the Sunny Princesses, and their inability to take Princess Parties seriously.
Though less prominent than the Princesses, Princes of various Kingdoms play a role in the series, such as Altezza's older brother, the aforementioned object of Rein's affections. Bright is, on the surface everything you'd expect from a Prince Charming, in the wrong place, because the heroes are princesses, and Bright shows he feels very insecure about how little help he can be.
The other most focused prince is Tio of the Flame Kingdom, the show's resident punching bag. Tio shows up every now and again, eager to protect Rein and Fine, but this plucky kid always ends up failing spectacularly.
=== Enjoyment ===
I want to say that this show is completely ridiculous, but that's not the case. Only the first 25 or so episodes are. I really enjoyed the beginning half, rooted in the Cute Witch sub-genre of Magical Girls. It was fun, absurd and upbeat. Once the second half rolled around the show began to take on a darker, more serious atmosphere, reducing it's comedy level and making the once charming antics of the twins stand out as odd when the group is discussing serious threats.
In particular I found the show much more refreshing without villains taking center stage as the cause of superficial problems for the people of the Mysterious Star. Without being the direct cause of villains, these problems could be solved in much more amusing and unconventional manners, rather than simply expelling or disabling threatening entities. This also allowed the emotional develop of the characters to expand more than allowed when a monster or villain threat must take center stage, which honestly are rather generic in nature.
But still, after adoring the cast and watching their various developments, this shift in tone doesn't do all that much to make me not want to follow Rein and Fine's adventures in the Mysterious Star.
=== Overall ===
Fushigiboshi no Futagohime is for those who don't expect much from their anime. It's a fun show with silly characters and silly plots. If you're looking for a much more meaningful and complex show you may enjoy the second half, but not all that much. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
=== Story ===
Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo: Bewitched Agnes is the story of Tatsumi Kagura, a young man living in a town known as "Wonderland". Contrary to it's name it seems to be nothing more than an ordinary, sleepy little town.
In reality, Tatsumi's world is the product of a magical world known only as "Realm". Realm appoints a magical girl to manage this town and protect it. This manager has the authority to reshape the entire Wonderland if they please. This causes a problem for the current manager, Ureshiko Asabe, also known as Agnes Bell. This town is quite precious to her, but she's become too old to maintain the position of manager, and is supposed to hand the position over to a new Magical Girl, who would surely spell the end of the current Wonderland and it's inhabitants.
Exacerbating Ureshiko's unwillingness to relinquish her position is the budding feelings between herself and Tatsumi, which becomes further complicated thanks to the fact that Ureshiko is already married... and quite unhappily so.
Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo is at it's core a romance story, and with any good romance story, emotional drama is needed to make the end result worth it. One of the best things about this show is that no side of the conflict feels completely right or wrong. As Ureshiko and Sayaka butt heads we can feel for both of their situations and it's clear that both of them have very understandable passions, but passion often leads to stubbornness and a refusal to accept new ideas.
=== Art ===
The animation style of Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo is good for it's time. The scenery of our humble town is always pretty and conveys the feeling of a peaceful town where most long time residents are happy with their ordinary lives. The character designs all suit the characters well. Most notably our lead male, Tatsumi boasts a rather messy hairstyle which clues us into his personality, passionate, yet naive young man.
The animation loses some points mainly in part to scenes where bright magical effects make it almost impossible to see the characters and what is transpiring between them, as well as scenes of animation laziness where a character essentially warps from one part of the room to another, in order to save time and animation having him go about his business in that room.
=== Sound ===
The sound department is where this show suffers most. J.C. Staff is no stranger to criticism, and in this case, the biggest criticism is that the background music is often too loud, so much that it's difficult to hear what the characters are saying. The music itself usually sounds of the peaceful wind instrument variety, but it's hard to feel relaxed when the sound is blaring into your ears.
The voice work is pretty top notch, with each voice suiting their character. I personally wasn't too fond of Ureshiko's breathy, ditzy voice, but it suits her character quite a bit, especially since she shares her voice with another well known Yamato Nadeshiko type character, Belldandy.
=== Character ===
The characters are where the show shines brightest. Though some such as Ureshiko herself come off as generic, (in her case the typical naive clumsy older woman) there is a layer of depth to them makes them endearing to even a detractor of this type of character, such as this reviewer. As we learn just why Ureshiko acts the way she does, it's difficult not to sympathize with her, particularly why her relationship with her husband is so strained, and her unwillingness to give up the current Wonderland.
The character of Sayaka Kurenai is another of great interest. Sayaka transforms into Cruje Gapp, a Magical Girl who won the right to be the next manager of Wonderland. Much of Sayaka's development comes from how her perception of Wonderland changes throughout the series, which we see in her interactions with her classmates and Tatsumi. It's hard not to support Sayaka just as much (if not more) than Ureshiko as we see the world from both of their sides, and how these sides clash.
=== Enjoyment ===
What began with an appalling first episode that nearly made me drop the show, blossomed into a rewarding experience. It proved that the story of a 20-something year old Magical Girl wearing a skintight costume could really be something more than shameless fanservice. The pace of the story never feels like it's doing too much at once, or it takes too long to get to the point. Every episode brings new developments into the mix while elaborating on the old. Even the seemingly mundane conversations between Ureshiko and her friends carry weight that makes the viewer feel for Ureshiko's desire to keep Wonderland as it is.
=== Overall ===
Overall, Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo has it's faults, as do many J.C. Staff shows, but if you can overlook a bit of fanservice and an obnoxious soundtrack, you'll find yourself captivated by a rich, rewarding story with meaningful drama and compelling romance, all of which is brought to us by a diverse and endearing cast. read more
39 of 39 episodes seen
[ Story ]
True to it's name, Otogi-Jushi Akazukin has fairy tales as it's bread and butter. In fact there's an entire world where many Grimm fairy tales are blended into a vivid culture reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda series. Magical weapons, Elves, dragons and all that other good stuff. On the other side of this series's universe, there's the world we the viewers live in. Two worlds, one ruled by science, one ruled by magic. Long ago these two worlds existed as one, until God himself separated them. This "Tale of Two Worlds" is an integral plot decide, as the favorite fairy tale of the show's lead.
True to Magical Girl fashion, the show starts with a dream the lead, Souta, has where he's rescued by a mysterious girl wearing a cloak and distinctive red helmet. It's not long before this dream becomes a reality and he meets this girl, Akazukin, or Red Riding Hood. She reveals that a member of the Three Muskeers from her world of Magic and has been sent to protect Souta, who bears the "Key" of his world, a great power sought by Cendrillon, an evil witch who broke free from an ancient seal and is seeking to take over both worlds. Soon enough Akazukin, her fellow musketeers, Souta and his childhood friend Ringo travel to the magical world on a quest to rescue their king, who was taken by the witch.
Of course it's not as simple as it sounds, especially when the backstories of the characters are involved. In fact the pasts of Akazukin and Cendrillon are among the most intriguing things about the series, the latter's story being gradually revealed through several episodes.
[ Art ]
In Summer 2006 this show's visuals were lovely. Bright and colorful, showing just how vivid the world of magic is. The character art is just as nice but falls victim to the trappings of moe, which means this band of fourteen year olds looks a bit younger than they should. It doesn't try to push the envelope in any way, in fact it's not even widescreen despite releasing around the same time as Haruhi Suzumiya, but it works well with what it has. The few Magical Girl style sequences that appear aren't visually impressive or memorable in any way, but they make up for that with the fact that they're not reusable attacks themselves, but used to summon weapons for the heroes to fight with themselves.
[ Sound ]
Where the show might lack in the art department it more than makes up for in the visuals. The music of Otogi-Jushi Akazukin is one of my favorite things about it. It's comes in many flavors to suit whatever scene is taking place. Being a series about magic it has plenty of gorgeous, mystical melodies to convey the mood of the series.
The show's two opening themes are sung by Yukari Tamura, who does the voice of Akazukin herself. They're cheerful and cute sounds that perfectly express the show's kid friendly nature.
The first and third ending themes are performed by marhy, and are catchy, peaceful songs, while the second ending is performed by the voice actresses of the Three Musketeers themselves, and is more upbeat in nature.
The show boasts an all-star voice cast, with Yukari Tamura as the lead. Nobuyuki Hiyama provides the voice of Akazukin's talking wolf sidekick, Val.
Motoko Kumai, famous for the role of Li Shaoran on Cardcaptor Sakura, voices our male lead Souta, for the first half of the series, but was replaced by Yuuko Sanpei due to medical reasons.
Rie Kugumiya is also on board, voicing the nagging, Tsundere (Big surprise!) childhood friend Ringo.
Miyuki Sawashiro voices the narcoleptic Elf, Ibara-hime and Shugo Chara's own Sayuri Yahagi voices Gretel.
[ Character ]
As with many Magical Girl shows, the characters are where this show shines best. Each character plays off the other in comical and heartwarming ways. Val is the straight man to the cheerful and silly antics of our heroine, the prim and proper Shirayuki develops a crush on Souta, putting him her at odds with the aggressive Ringo. Yet there's a level of depth to each character beyond these wacky antics, and they each get their time in the spotlight.
On the villain side we have Randagio, a clueless comic relief character who struggles to defeat the heroes with his entourage of monsters of the week, but even he is more than just a joke character. He's one of the few characters who's honestly loyal to Cendrillon, and only wishes become part of her elite army.
Hansel and Gretel serve as Cendrillon's second and third tier minions, with Randagio as the fourth. Hansel is cold to the point of emotionlessness, expressing only disdain for weakness. He's the kind of character who, when he shows up, things get serious.
Gretel is probably the second most frequent villain behind Randagio. Armed with a sword larger than herself and gravity magic, Gretel behaves very condescending toward our heroes and villagers, making her hard to like at first. Then we see what she's like when the heroes aren't around. All she wants is to earn her brother's love and respect, as he's the only person she has in her life. Of course her constant failures lead to his increasing coldness toward her, making her arguably the most sympathetic character in the series.
Probably the most serious villain besides Cendrillon herself is Jed, King of the Lycans. In a child friendly series we have a character who won't hesitate to kill (and does!) though no blood is shown. His thirst for power leads him to clash with not only the heroes, but Cendrillon's forces as well.
[ Enjoyment ]
Even before I got into the Magical Girl genre, I liked this show. I was in a bad place, depression and all that and this series really brightened my days as I watched. It didn't teach me anything special but it was a heartwarming and cheerful series, very enjoyable.
If I could name it's second flaw it's the fighting. Being a kids show it doesn't try for hardcore dueling. Most of the fights seem like eye candy, where our heroes can win with ease after clashing with the enemies for a while. When you hear the inspiring music you know it's time to end this fight. This is made worse by the powerup Akazukin receives roughly halfway through the show. It gives her a Goku-level edge over her teammates, and from then on she rarely, if ever fights without it.
It's first flaw: Episode 18. I would have preferred a clip show to what I was forced to endure, a cheesy episode that was used to plug Image Songs. And they don't even sing themselves, the episode breaks into a clip-show style music video for each song. Only a bit of comedy made this episode remotely watchable.
[ Overall ]
Overall Otog-Jushi Akazukin isn't the perfect anime, even by Magical Girl genre standards, but it's a colorful and heartwarming series with surprisingly dark moments and deeper motives than simply "Save the world". If you can stand watching kid friendly shows with cute characters, I personally recommend this underrated gem. read more
49 of 49 episodes seen
[ Story ]
The story is pretty typical for even a Precure season. A great evil was sealed away long ago and is returning to wreck it's own special brand of havoc on the world. Since Heartcatch is flower themed, this comes in the form of desolate wastelands, specifically of the desert variety. And so our Precure warriors must band together to combat the threat of this evil's band of minions, the Desert Apostles.
Watching Smile Precure at the moment I'm able to see one thing that really stands in Heartcatch's favor, the limit on main characters. At the start of the show, Heartcatch only has two active fighters, as opposed to Smile's ensemble of five warriors. This allows the two fighters to take on a single monster without the need for blatant methods of disabling all but the focus character of the episode.
The fighting is probably one of the things most older male viewers are going to remember from this show. Precure in the past have always been known for being super strong and having enhanced combat ability, but these girls spend much of the fight rumbling with their foes in an impressive display that would be welcome in a Cartoon Network lineup alongside Powerpuff Girls. But, true to Magical Girl fashion, they always finish with a flashy Magic attack.
One of the things that works against Heartcatch is it's victim of the week formula. A standard filler episode features a random background character with an emotional problem. Our leads, Tsubomi and Erika associate with this character before said character becomes the power source for the latest monster of the week. It can get really predictable at times, to the point that you can tell right away who's going to be the victim. Their problems are also very easy to see through at times, and you can tell exactly how they're going to overcome it. It gets downright repetitive at times, where the monster of the week will stop in the middle of the fight to cry over the problem the victim is having. "Girls aren't allowed to play on the boy's soccer team!" and such. The villain who summoned the monster will 9 out of 10 times, laugh about the problem the victim is having, saying that it's stupid and pointless. At this point our heroes will make a big speech about how important that problem is, followed by catch phrases and then the aforementioned magic attack. On a bad filler episode, the lead characters get maybe... five minutes of screen time, aside from the fight.
One interesting thing to note is that the show is somewhat savvy toward the cliches of the genre. If you're watching online. Just when you think there's going to be a typical stock footage finish attack, a villain interrupts it and the fight continues.
Despite the aforementioned filler there is a surprisingly gripping and sometimes dark story taking place amid the colorful scenery and cutesy designs. At the focal point of is Cure Moonlight, a fallen Precure who spends much of the series recovering from the emotional damage of her last battle prior to the start of the story.
[ Art ]
With an animation style reminiscent of Ojamajo Doremi, it's easy for those who aren't fans of the genre to be put off by this show. If you can get past the flurry of pink and rainbows that is the opening theme, the show itself is vivid and gorgeous, showing just how beautiful the world is despite the hardships these characters endure. The character designs all come with round, lovable faces and dazzling eyes that convey their personalities so well.
You would think that this art style would have a bad effect on the darker, more serious moments of the show, but amazingly it works in their favor. Even with the color toned down, the smooth animation style stands as one of the best aspects of the series.
Edit: How could I forget to mention the most gorgeous transformation sequence in Magical Girl history? Blossom and Marine's dual transformation is absolutely stunning.
The ending themes feature the cast of characters in CG, dancing to the song. This animation is nice, but seems awkward compared to the style of the series.
On a personal note, I wish I had watched this show after receiving this gorgeous flatscreen monitor I have now. My last one was pathetic, so I wasn't able to appreciate the animation style like I can now.
[ Sound ]
The soundtrack of Heartcatch Precure is another thing that helps it vividly display the joys and hardships of life. Gorgeous melodies accent the peaceful serenity that comes with the flower motif. In particular, the transformation sequence music is among the most upbeat and inspiring of any in the Magical Girl genre. This series has something for every occasion. Powerful, upbeat music for dramatic action moments, gentle, mellow tunes for the tragic, emotional moments and plenty of cheerful, upbeat melodies to suit the fun of being a girl and having great friends.
The opening theme is catchy and cheerful, perfectly suited for the bright, optimistic majority of the series. The first ending theme is another of those upbeat, catchy dancing themes that spreads through the internet like Haruhi-ism. The second ending is one I'm less favorable toward, as it's a gospel-style song, a weird choice for a Magical Girl show with no religious symbolism.
[ Characters ]
The characters in a Magical Girl show are usually it's strongest point, and Heartcatch is no exception. This cast is well rounded and colorful, developing beautifully whenever there isn't a filler episode. Our lead, Tsubomi Hanasaki, is a rare treat for the genre. Whereas main leads are often the idiot hero type, Tsubomi is intelligent, withdrawn and insecure. Realistically, she's not at all ready to accept the burden of fighting dangerous monsters, and even when she has no choice but to become a Precure, it takes her a while to get used to this new power. The best thing about Tsubomi is that she doesn't immediately shed her timid self. It's all too easy for a protagonist to become instantly courageous and confident upon receiving power. Tsubomi on the other hand still has her doubts about herself, and spends much of the series growing as a person.
Serving as the foil to Tsubomi's weak exterior is her friend Erika Kurumi. Erika is another unusual character. Her Cure powers are water based, but she's as hot blooded as any Shonen Hero, maybe more so. Erika is loud, obnoxious and incredibly outgoing, making her overwhelming for those around her. That isn't to say she's completely without concerns, she has her own insecurities, but has an easier time masking them through sheer energy. Such energy and yet Erika is lazy at the same time, especially when it comes to school work.
For those who don't mind casting the spotlight away from the lead characters, every filler episode brings us a new character who the show takes the time to develop as a person, instead of simply throwing them on screen, throwing a problem at them and being done with it. The best part is that these characters exist around our heroes long after they've become the victim of the week, offering their support and serving as comic relief.
The villains of the show we mostly see are a trio of quirky characters. Most noteworthy among them is Kumojacky. Just looking at the guy, you can just see him as the hero of any hotblooded mecha series. He is a man who believes power is most important. Of course when you're in a Magical Girl show, this philosophy isn't on the winning side.
Kobraja is another of the more interesting villains. He's a complete narcissist, and FABULOUS MAX at that. He can be both a serious threat and comic relief.
And then there's Dark Precure, the nemesis of Cure Moonlight who's sole goal in life is to eliminate her enemy. This puts her at odds with even the main villain of the series, who wants her to focus on eliminating the Cures who are still in commission. While there's much more to her than meets the eye, the thing that stands out most about her for me is that she is the bringer of the more serious, impressive moments in the series. Every time she shows up I pretty much cheer, cause I know things are gonna get awesome.
[ Enjoyment ]
I admit I was a bit bored during the first few episodes. The victim of the week formula gets a bit tiresome, especially when the main cast is so vivid and lovable. But I'm so glad I stuck with it. Things got much better after a while, and even in the filler episodes, we have the amazing fight scenes and gorgeous animation that make this series stand out even among it's successors, Suite and Smile Precure. In particular, the arrival of the third Cure brings about a change in the formula, as there are now enough able warriors to warrant the villain assisting the monster of the week, or not using a monster at all.
[ Overall ]
Heartcatch Precure is a must see for any fan of the Magical Girl genre. Even if you were bored with the original Precure season, give this one a try. If not for the amazing fight scenes, then just for that beautiful animation style. It's a fantastic series marred only by a bit of tedious filler, which is par for the course in this genre. If has it's dark moments, arguable the darkest in the Precure franchise, but you're looking for lots of angst and despair, you're watching the wrong series. Heartcatch Precure is a fun series with something for all ages and genders, full of cute characters, colorful animation mixed with amazing action scenes and surprisingly dark moments, but in the end, love conquers all! read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
The animation is stunning, true to KyoAni standards. Even more so than a couple of it's other works. One of the major beefs I found with K-on was that the character designs were a bit blobby. Nichijou's character designs are more smooth and believable, without the cloying amount of attempted cuteness squishing their designs. The "chipmunk teeth" seen in K-on's animation style is also absent. Teeth entirely are rarely seen, and when they are, they take up the entire row of the mouth the appear in. The budget for Nichijou must have been impressive, as there are a lot of stunning visual effects not seen in other KyoAni works. The effect of a camera swirling around a desk is the most notable. It really shows that they took the time to make the series as vivid as possible.
Where would great animation be without great music? Every little melody compliments the scene flawlessly without overpowering it. It sets the mood and shows us exactly what the characters are feeling.
One of the best things about Nichijou is it's well rounded cast of characters. Nichijou takes the time to shine the spotlight on a vast array of background characters, giving each one a name and personality unique to them, showing how they go about their crazy lives. But when it gets down to it, the show is mainly about two groups of characters, a trio of school girls, and the surprisingly more mundane lives of an eight year old mad scientist, a humanoid robot girl, and a talking cat. For the first half of the series these two sides are kept separate, but come together into a circle of friendship as the series progresses. In a series where character development isn't needed, it's surprising when it does come up, and can tug the heartstrings of those who are surprised to find themselves endeared to these characters.
If I could name one flaw in Nichijou, there are a handful of quick, meaningless scenes that seem more like padding than anything else. The show often employs the use of lengthy shots of peaceful scenery, which while gorgeous, don't really contribute to the show, and feel like they go on for almost ten seconds. Cut out all of the "short thoughts" and mundane scenes and you could fit in an entire chapter of relevant manga humor.
Another beef with the show I had was the focus on a certain gun-toting tsundere character. It's pretty obvious from the beginning who she has feelings for, and her angry, violent attempts to deny it got stale for me after a while. She's like a car stalled on the road, it's neither completely dead, nor is it going anywhere. It was entertaining the first time, but how many times can you watch a girl viciously lash out at her crush, friends and little sister before it gets more annoying than amusing?
All in all, Nichijou is a fun and enjoyable show for those who are skeptical of the slice of life genre, or are just looking for a show full of laughs read more