Number of episodes: 50
Hal Film Maker, IM Animation, Satelight
Fansub Release Viewed: NUGUMIN
Likelihood of US Release: Low
In this “heartwarming comedy,” the Mikogami sisters enjoy cosplaying as animals. One day they find a magic compact that allows them to transform into real animals.
Riko and Rimu are sisters whose family works closely with animals. Their mother is an animal psychologist who is called to travel to Vladivostok to deal with a homesick elephant, so she leaves the girls in the care of their older sister, Nagisa, while she’s away. They’re also asked to take care of a cat named Lyla, nervous after an accident. While working outside, Lyla is startled and runs into the house, and Riko and Rimu chase after her. They discover a hidden staircase leading to the attic, and follow Lyla up.
While searching for a light switch in the dark attic, the girls uncover what they assume to be their grandfather’q secret room; there’s scientific equipment scattered about and shelves of old books. Arranged on a seat are tiny compacts with cute animal characters on them. When they pick them up, they flip open and transform them into smaller, animal-shaped beings who have the abilities of these animals (Riko becomes a cat and Rimu becomes a rabbit). They chase Lyla outside and, using their abilities, are able to rescue her from becoming roadkill while completely startling two of their male friends who happen to have seen them. Now they become worried over whether they’ll ever be able to transform back into their regular selves.
I was sort of wondering when another super cute magical girl series would appear. Even though the genre seems to have fallen out of favor to some extent, usually there still seem to be a few and this one fits the bill perfectly. I’m not kidding; if you’re the type of anime fan who thrives on watching almost painfully cute little girls have adventures involving numerous adorable animals, then this is the show for you. Sugary-sweet and lighthearted are the keywords here; the most dramatic point in the episode happens when Rimu nearly gets hit by a truck, and that scene is very brief.
Of course this series is clearly aimed at children, and while that label doesn’t immediately spell doom for my own enjoyment of a series since many charming children’s series have aspects that appeal to older viewers as well, I’m not sensing a deeper layer here. For one thing, the character designs are completely over-the-top. Riko and Rimu are not only cute in their human forms, with Riko sporting spiraling pigtails and Rimu wearing oversized glasses, their animal transformations are almost laughable in their use of overstuffed mascot-like hats, huge paw-shaped hands and feet, and even their cute little tails. I almost feel as if the look of the characters was calculated using some secret algorithm in order to create something that would instantly cause the viewer to desire character plushies and other merchandise.
While I didn’t really expect anything different, if one has seen almost any other magical girl series, the tropes that this one employs will seem extremely familiar and perhaps a little obnoxious, depending on one’s love for the genre and how many similar series one has viewed. The magical transformative objects the girls find, the fact that they go through elaborate henshin sequences to become their magical selves... heck, I’m sort of surprised that an obnoxious mascot character didn’t make its appearance in this episode, though I suppose that the two girls are so close to being mascot characters that introducing actual mascot characters might come across as redundant. I have to admit that I’m a bit thankful I didn’t have to deal with some sort of tiny, fast-talking magical creature [puchuu! -ed].
The strength of this anime is its visuals which, in spite of being extremely cutesy, manage to maintain the proper blend of bright, cheery colors and consistent animation that gives the series a bit more of a refined appearance that many magical girl series seem to lack. It’s almost as if someone actually provided the production team with an adequate budget and some cohesive art direction (imagine that!). Surprising, though, is the fact that the show looks so good while being produced by a conglomeration of three different animation studios, one of them Korean. This isn’t a commentary on the quality of Korean animation, but rather that the show doesn’t seem to suffer from having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Also, the Korean influence appears to be more than superficial; both theme songs are performed in the Korean language, making this one of the only series I’ve ever seen to be truthful about the fact that a lot of the animation is probably done in Korea anyway.
This is not the type of series that can really hold my interest, but as bright, colorful fare for children, one could do much worse. While the sugary-sweet characters and their ridiculous outfits are creeping much further into over-the-top territory than even other series in this genre tend to do, the show is all about fun, shallow entertainment and does a good job of reaching that ideal.
- The visuals are quite good despite there being multiple studios working on the animation production
- The show is more obviously multi-national than most anime
- Much of the content is simply too cutesy and sweet to interest most older fans