the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
[personal profile] the_sun_is_up
It occurs to me that I've had a lot to say about Japanese magical girls over the course of this project, but what about magical girl shows made outside of Japan? Because they do exist: Winx Club and Angel's Friends from Italy, Jem and the Holograms from the US, W.I.T.C.H. from a joint effort of Italy/France/Disney, Petit Petit Muse from Korea, and doubtless some other ones I haven't yet heard of. Well I decided early on that because of the large cultural differences at work, I was going to have to relegate the non-Japanese MG shows to a separate project and restrict the main MG project to just anime.

However, yesterday I discovered that someone had put most of the dubbed episodes of Angel's Friends onto Youtube, so in the name of outrunning the copyright police, let's take a little detour and talk about those Italian magical girl shows.

I've heard mostly positive things about WITCH, though I've never watched it myself. Winx Club on the other hand, I have a more personal relationship with. I watched a bunch of the first season back in high school when the dub was first being broadcast stateside, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much I liked it because from what I can remember, it wasn't very good. What can I say, it was a guilty pleasure.

Both WITCH and Winx premiered in 2004, which brings us to Angel's Friends, which debuted in 2009 and which I'd barely even heard of until I stumbled across it on Youtube. Angel's Friends centers around the old idea that every person has an angel and a devil sitting on either shoulder, giving conflicting advice about how to act. In this story, our heroes are a group of teenage female angels, their antagonists are a group of teenage co-ed devils, and the two groups split their time between attending their respective angel/devil schools and fighting with each other over the hearts and minds of their designated humans. Also: teen-oriented morals, transformation sequences, a hawt bad-boy love interest, shopping, sparkles, giggling, and the power of FRIEEEENDSHIP.

And I have to say, Winx may have been a guilty pleasure but at least it was a pleasure. I can't say the same for Angel's Friends. I had to force myself to keep watching this thing for research purposes, and so I'd have a license to bitch about it. After a few episodes, I think Stockholm Syndrome started to set in, but the experience was still about as pleasant as eating heaping spoonfuls of the sugary synthetic powder inside a Pixy Stix.

In fact, it'd be quicker to just list off all the aspects of Angel's Friends that prompted me to make the Excalibur face:

Strike 1: There's a friendship speech in the second episode between two girls who have only just been introduced.

Strike 2: The main romance appears to have been written by a Zutarian. I am so not kidding, the first thing that popped into my head when I realized who was going to be boinking who was "Ack, it's Zutara! It's come back to haunt me!" The devil love interest even looks like Zuko — same hair color and style (circa Season 3), same anemic skintone, and he even has a red mark over his left eye!

Strike 3: The angels are led by a man; the devils are led by a woman. The main villain, who's out to get both the angels and the devils, is also a woman.

Strike 4: Too much glitter. TOOOOOO MUUUUUUCH.

Strike 5: The way in which the main conflict between angels and devils is set up and regulated is the most contrived clumsy-ass shit I've ever seen. I seriously laughed out loud when the head angel was expositing about how the rules of this universe work.

Strike 6: The art style. I think this might be an Italian animation thing — while current anime frequently annoys me by visually infantilizing its female characters, Italian shows like Winx and Angel's Friends go too far in the opposite direction by making their female characters look like Bratz dolls: pouty lips, thick eyelashes, and supermodel-esque bodies. And there's something about their legs that I can't pinpoint but it always bugged me.

Strike 7: Speaking of Winx, the Angel's Friends tv show is pretty blatantly cribbing from it. I hate to use the term "rip-off," but I think it might be somewhat applicable here. From what I've heard and seen of the source material, the original Angel's Friends comics are markedly different from the tv adaptation, so it seems that the showrunners retooled the property to be more reminiscent of Winx in the name of the almighty Euro.

Strike 8: The animation. I'm a pretty terrible judge of animation, but there's something funky going on with Angel's Friends' animation and it never stops annoying the crap out of me. I especially notice it in the way the characters' hands move — like when they pick up an object, they don't look like they're actually making physical contact with it.

Strike 9: I think it was a mistake to have the heroine's ladybug mascot communicate with her via very soft buzzes. It makes the heroine look like she's constantly talking to herself, plus she always has to clumsily restate what she just heard the ladybug say for the audience's benefit.

Strike 10: The ladybug's name is Cox. It's pronounced like "cocks." I know, I know, this isn't the show's fault, it's just an unfortunate linguistic coincidence, but it still made every scene between the heroine and her ladybug unintentionally hilarious.

Although I will give the show this: it makes it all the way until the fifth episode before it sends the heroines off to the shopping mall. No seriously, as sad as it sounds, that's a genuine compliment; with a show of this tone, I'd expect the girls to be hitting the mall by episode three at the latest. And I admit to genuinely liking the cranky nasally-voiced devil chick; she was the only aspect of the show that actually made me want to keep watching. Just goes to show how much difference the right voice actor can make.

Anyway, I'm a little too braindead from sugar overdose to analyze this thing or tell you how it fits into the genre overall, but the one thing I can tell you about it is that it's baaaaaad. Don't watch it. You have better things to do. Now I'm going to go wash the Pixy Stix aftertaste out of my mouth by eating some bruschetta, an Italian import that is worth spending time on.

Date: 2012-05-20 02:04 pm (UTC)
nenena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nenena
I'd heard that Angel's Friends was radically altered from the original comics in order to make it more like Winx, which... wouldn't surprise me, as W.i.t.c.h. also got an extreme makeover in the transition from comics to TV. But for probably different reasons. In the case of W.i.t.c.h. it seemed that Disney was convinced that the property wouldn't be marketable unless it appealed to boys, so they stripped the lead magical girl of her powers, promoted a minor male character from the comics to the starring role of the series, completely retooled the plot, and added a whole cast of original boy characters because God knows the show needed more boys! At least in the case of Angel's Friends it seemed like TPTB were smart enough to realize that appealing to a girl audience is, you know, profitable. Even if they seem to have a very narrow idea of what appeals to girls.

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