Long, long ago, there existed a world of magic and science. God, afraid of man's potential, split the world in to the world of science, Elde, and the world of magic, Fandavale. One day in Fandavale, a terrible witch named Cendrillon (Cinderella) revives. Cendrillon plots to rule both worlds, and searches for the "key" which holds tremendous power.
A young boy from Elde by the name of Sōta meets a mysterious girl from Fandavale, Akazukin, and her talking wolf companion, Val. Sōta learns that he is the key Cendrillon is searching for. Now it is up to Akazukin, Val, and the other Fairy Musketeers to protect Sōta from Cendrillon and her Nightmarelians who wish to obtain the power he mysteriously possesses.
Most anime aimed at kids in Japan is for the sake of merchandising. Otogi-Jushi Akazukin is no exception, but it is also one of the few that surpass the commercial need and becomes something respectable in its own right.
Akazukin plays on one of the most familiar of story devices; fairy tales, and still manages to come out with a story all its own. At first, Akazukin gives off the presence of a magical girl show, and though it keeps that essence, its far heavier on the action than most; a factor that works in favor of the series rather than against it. Moreso, it abandons
the monster-of-the-week element by the halfway mark and becomes increasingly focused on the main plot, intensifying in suspense up to the climax. In addition, Akazukin provides a handful of unique twists, though it falters in giving them away too early. Still some of the revelations are pretty impressive to say the least.
As Akazukin revels in fairy tale lore, it should come as no surprise that almost every character is a relation to some famous story. Everyone from the fairy tale world holds some link to a fairy tale and the detail put into the backstory, design, and personality all reflect their archetypes or play on them. Unfortunately, there's no real genuine development. Characters change in sudden and jarring revelations rather than changing gradually, and some are just plain irritating without reason. I'm looking at you, Randagio. Moreso, some characters don't even change at all, so if you don't like someone at the start, be prepared to dislike them the rest of the series.
Animated by Madhouse, the animation is consistently enjoyable all the way through. Nothing is choppy, though there is a strong tendancy, especially around the middle, to fade into flashbacks. It is redeemed though by its pastel-perfect backgrounds and flashy but classically appealing character designs. Very pretty indeed.
Akazukin's sound is okay. It's not bad, but it sounds like every other generic anime soundtrack out there. It doesn't impede on anything, but it doesn't really stand out. The OPs are okay, but the EDs are pretty good, especially the last one.
A combination of magical girl and RPGs, Akazukin is a wonderful tale all its own. Though parts lag, it is ultimately fulfilling in the very end and leaves nothing lacking. Akazukin is a pleasant, if not wonderful, watch from beginning to end.
Overall, I give Otogi-Jushi Akazukin an 8 out of 10.
One of the few ‘weird’ titles in my list, this one. Me being both male and adult…completely the opposite of the target-audience for the show. I started this because I was interested in what is currently made for the little ones in Japan, and wondered whether it would make me feel nostalgic. Or if I would even consider it good. Fairy Musketeers was picked because it was (and is) legally available for streaming on ANN and looked childish, so yeah. There you have it.
Plot- and premise wise, Fairy Musketeers is pretty unoriginal (no surprise, and no complaint): Take a Fairytale Book from your average shelf
here in Europe, mix all the stories, add a LOT of über-cute à la Japan, put in an ‘our world’ in a separate dimension, an evil sorceress who wants to take over the world and make 3 classic heroines who originally have nothing to do with each other member of some order who act as a cute ‘special forces’ unit in service of a king.
Good things first: It is certainly watchable. It’s clearly not meant for me, but character interaction is good, morals and themes are where they should be and the tales are generally simple but effective (and still recognisable). Music-wise it’s repetitive, but joyful, cute and fitting. Also a big kudos for putting a human side to our evil sorceress, yet still make her dark enough, and not someone to reason with. Some quite good characters by the way (Gretel comes to mind). And I can really see 6 year old girls watching this without me raising a brow.
Still, when I said ‘some good characters’, much of the main cast fall outside that. They are quite bland, and some traits are really stupid and serve little purpose. Like our boy Souta’s talking to flowers for example. I guess they wanted to show a soft side, but he already is more that soft enough without it. Other examples include the constant (and irritating) yawing of our ‘Sleeping Beauty’ or the jealousy of Souta’s friend from school towards Snow-White’s advances on Souta. But maybe all this is negative because of my perspective. It’s all really harmless, both to the audience and to the story.
In short, Fairy Musketeers is a show for little girls that is morally sound, simple and over-cute. But there is nothing wrong with that. 5 or 6 on my rating scale for me, at least 7 for it’s target audience I would say.
Otogi-Jushi Akazukin is an anime that combines Fairy Tale motifs and Magical Girl elements into a colorful and fun adventure series. With title comes from a combination of the words "Otogibanashi" or Fairy Tale and "San Jushi" or Three Musketeers. In fact the series logo has "Fairy Musketeer" right on it, in English. Makes me think this was meant to licensed outside of Japan.
[ 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.