Mahou Shoujo Pretty Sammy is basically a spin-off of the Tenchi Muyu series, its just a shame that this alternate version couldn't have been as good as the latter.
Story: We basically follow little Sasami (a seemingly ordinary girl) who is destined to take on the identity of a super heroine called "Pretty Sammy." She is chosen by Tsunami, that if Pretty Sammy can do enough good deeds, then Tsunami will become the next Queen of their magical world known as Juraihelm. However there is also a rival candidate that makes her own magical girl called "Pixie Misa," who has the very same goal in mind. Now I know that all this sounds nice, and really it is a good concept for a magical girl story. What brings Mahou Shoujo Pretty Sammy down so much, is its extremely corny content! It's a series that definitely doesn't take itself seriously. Sammy has all your standard magical girl attacks (known as the Codfish bomber, which come in the form of a magical heart style attack) and transformations, they don't really change throughout the series, but are pretty amusing to watch, so again there actual is a good formula here for the series. The kind of corny content that it suffers from as I mentioned however, are as followed: The monsters (which usually are pretty ridiculous to look at, such as a talking Karaoke Machine and a Cowboy Girl), character origins (such as a boy who turns into a bird) and many of its joke lines (such as Sammy singing a song while they show her briefly pick up a house with her bare hands). However, the one thing that does make this series worth a peek at, are the numerous Tenchi Muyu character cameos! All of the cast that you grew to love, or hate, during the Tenchi series all make an appearance here. With the exception of the new characters from the GPX series, since this spin-off came before that one. Most of the characters don't really stay long (Tenchi himself only makes a one episode appearance), so the majority staple characters from the series that you get are: Sasami, Ryo-Okhi, Tsunami and Washu--as they are the only real characters that remain from beginning to end. Ayeka does appear later under the name Romeo, to my recollection she was the only one that had her name changed for the series. So anyway, the bulk of the story has Pretty Sammy stopping Pixie Misa from doing harm to other people, which mostly happens by way of a monster being summoned. The more times she stops her, the more points Tsunami gets, which she needs to be queen. So from beginning to near end it revolves around that plot, all the while having over the top humor and jokes. Which can get very repetitive very fast! The storyline also feels very very blodded at times, like they could have snipped this series down to half as long and it wouldn't have made much difference. Near the end though:
a surprise guest appears that turns out to be the real enemy of the series.
And I do have to go on par to say that it does actually conclude at the end, so if you do decide to give it a chance, it's nice to know that you will be treated to one at the end.
There isn't too much as far as offensive material goes, though there is a scene or two where Sasami ends up taking a bath with her dad. It's done in a innocent way...but is still awkward none the less. So yeah he can be pretty creepy, and honestly--the dude makes me want to retreat into myself sometimes! Is that odd? Ahem...anyway...
Art: The art style from the Tenchi series remains here, so you will recognize all of the cast once they appear. The only odd thing I found is that this series was made around the same time as "Tenchi in Tokyo," yet the color clarity seems to have dropped compared to that one. Not really sure what happened here, its by no means bad--it just fails in comparison to the series that came before it. The character design is indeed the best part though, I mean they are the Tenchi characters after all.
Sound: I really liked the soundtrack, even if it was a bit campy at times. The character voices do sound alright, and you do get a catchy opening theme sung by "Yokoyama, Chisa." Who is the voice of Sasami herself. The ending theme changes twice throughout the series, both are quite enjoyable and varied. (one a soft late night theme, the other a Samba style theme) I think they got the right characters for the right job in each role. Though some (such as Sasami's dad and the monsters) come off as awfully exaggerated.
Characters: Well they are the Tenchi characters, so you can expect pretty much that, only this time them being a lot more over the top in their personalities. This is especially true with Washu, who seems to be even more of a wacky inventor now. I mean...there is an episode where she dresses up like Santa in order to help Sasami defeat the monster, yet it's not Christmas...need I say more??? I felt they got Tsunami's role down perfectly though, she retains her very quiet and mature nature. Sasami acts like she did in the Tenchi series, only now she is much more child-like in her personality. There really is no character development that takes place here, with exception of Sasami and a girl named Misao, they actually do grow closer to one another by the end.
Overall: Pretty Sammy is an interesting title to say the least, it may have simply been a desperate attempt to cash in on the Tenchi series, but I don't think it is quite as bad as others would see it as. Because it does have a good magical girl formula down here, it just suffers from its corny (and cheesy) approach in story. I recommend it to the hardcore Tenchi fans out there, or to viewers who are will to go in with lower expectations. I would consider sampling an episode or two, you'll know by then if it's your cup of tea or not.