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)
So I've come down with a case of the summer lazies, and while I've been continuing to work on the MG Project, this "work" hasn't involved doing any write-ups because writing takes effort and thought and all that stuff that's so hard to summon when it's summer. In such cases, it often takes something extreme to jolt one out of one's couch-potato-ness. In my case, it was something extremely bad.

I just watched the first episode of Twin Angel: Kawaii Moe Desu Barf on Crunchyroll, and while Moetan and Ultimate Girls were painful viewing experiences because of their intense sleaze, Twin Angel: Technicolor Yawn was painful because of its unrelenting badness. The opening credits alone was one of the most agonizing things I've ever had to sit through. Whoever told the voice actresses to sing like that should be taken out behind the barn and shot. And after all the vapid cutesy giggling in this episode, I'm pretty sure I never want to hear anyone laugh ever again.

I could attempt to explain why this thing is so godawful, but Gia Manry at ANN did it better, so I'll just quote her: "You know that show that non-anime fans vaguely imagine anime as being? The one always parodied by fictional anime-within-anime (like Genshiken's Kujibiki Unbalance)? High-pitched, overly colorful, and usually mind-numbingly stupid? This is that show."

Actually I'm quite thankful to the ANN preview folks because their universally revolted reactions to this thing sufficiently prepared me for what lay ahead, while also providing some much-needed snarking. Although Theron's review had one unintentionally funny part in it that almost broke my brain:

"[the bouncing tits] and certain other elements suggest that teen and preteen girls are not the only target audience here."

I... wait wait wait. Stop the presses. You're saying that certain elements of this episode suggested that teen/preteen girls aren't the only target audience.

Dude, you've been reviewing for ANN for a while now, so I'm just going to assume you were high when you watched this episode, or maybe the show's awfulness caused some kind of temporary brain damage. Because there was not one single second of this episode that was even remotely aimed at anyone female, much less at teen/preteen girls. For fuck's sake, literally the third shot after the opening credits end is a close-up of the heroine's lovingly animated bouncing tits, complete with "boing boing" sound effects. And that's only scratching the surface. I mean, I'll freely admit that I'm terrible at telling the difference between girl-aimed anime and guy-aimed anime, but Twin Angel: Jiggle Jiggle is one of the most blatant examples I've ever seen of "made for the horny moe otaku and no one else" anime. (Plus there's the fact that it aired at 1:45 in the morning. Yeah, that was a pretty big hint.)

Also, I was reading some of the forum comments on the preview guide and became annoyed at hearing people defend the show by saying that it's a parody. So let's get something straight, boys and girls:

When you have a show that takes a bunch of really painfully tired clichés and plays them absolutely straight, that is not a parody. It might be attempting parody, but if so, it is failing miserably. To be a parody, you have to actually comment on or mock the thing you're parodying; you have to take all those clichés and show us why they're stupid and bad and don't make sense. Hell, one of the earliest definitions of the word was "a parodie, to make it absurder than it was" — the key being "absurder." If your "parody" is indistinguishable from the thing you're parodying, you're doing it wrong.

Dai Mahou Touge is a parody. Puni Puni Poemi is a parody. Even Ultimate Girls had certain elements of parody to it. Twin Angel: Unicorn Puke is just a lazy crappy rip-off.

As a final note, Dear Japan: Please stop naming blue-haired characters "Aoi." It stopped being clever a long time ago.
the_sun_is_up: Satan from Dinosaur Comics saying "What, what, I am in hell and that is the worst thing I've ever heard!" (dinos - the worst ever)
Okay. Okay. Yeah.

So this Magical Girl Project thing. In an ideal world, I would watch every episode of every single show included in the project, but for various reasons, this just isn't practical. As a compromise, I've been trying to watch at least a few episodes of every show, so that I can have a first-hand opinion on it and get a general feel for what its deal is. Unfortunately, this does mean every show, even the horrendously bad ones, and there are two shows in particular I've been dreading having to watch. Moetan was one. Ultimate Girls is the other.

To explain why, allow me to simply describe the premise of the show:

Our leads are a trio of schoolgirls, natch. One is a shy, quivering, trembling moeblob who's frequently on the verge of tears, one is a perky otaku chick, and one is an ice queen who secretly has a quivery moe filling. They're tasked with protecting Tokyo from giant Godzilla-esque monsters. They do this by transforming into giant versions of themselves, clad in superhero spandex, so that they can fight the monsters head-to-head. Unfortunately, their power is on a time limit: shortly after transforming, their clothing starts to shred off. However this is a good thing, because their superpowers run on something called M.O.E., which is a silly acronym that basically means "female shame at being naked in public." The more embarrassed the girls become at their disintegrating clothes, the higher their power level rises.

The otaku chick is the only one who reacts to the shredding clothes with some level of poise by going "Eh, I'm a badass superhero, a little nudity isn't going to hurt," but of course since their powers run on shame, this means that she's the weakest of the bunch and gets curb-stomped on her first mission because she failed to generate the necessary levels of humiliation. On the other hand, the ineffectual wibbling too-moe-to-function protagonist is the one with the strongest power, even though she's also the least effective fighter, the most reluctant about the whole superhero gig, and the most traumatized by the public nudity. Early on, before the source of their power is revealed, the ice queen chick has the bright idea to grab some banners off a nearby skyscraper and fashion herself a makeshift bandage bikini. But of course this cripples her power, and the mascot mentor tells her that she needs to strip off the bandages right away and succumb to her shame if she wants to beat the monster.

Also, the news media nicknames the three girls based on their breast sizes.

I just. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS, YOU GUYS. Like, I would try to do some kind of feminist analysis of this dreck, but my feminist faculties have thrown up their hands and given up. No scratch that, they haven't just given up — they're gone, they've bounced, they're sacked out on a beach in Tahiti knocking back daquiris. But do I even need to analyze something like this? I feel like it kind of speaks for itself!

As for its place in the Magical Girl genre, Ultimate Girls is going about its work with tongue firmly in cheek, spoofing both the MG genre and the Ultraman franchise. The show is actually kind of funny when it's not being awful — when the girls transform in eps 2 and 3, we're treated to a photograph of the Tokyo skyline with an arrow pointing to a location in the city, and a caption saying "So-and-So is transforming here, please wait," and there's a loading bar showing the girl's progress — and there are some neat shout-outs to other Magical Girl shows, like in the first episode when the heroine ends up in a cosplay outfit of Corrector Yui (both shows have the same director). I feel like there's a halfway decent fun silly Magical Girl parody in here somewhere, buried under all the DEAR GOD PLEASE STOP.

Also, Ultimate Girls is (obviously) a very extreme example of making a Magical Girl show for a male audience. It's like the showrunners were trying to wring as much cheesecake and moe pandering out of the genre as was humanly possible. I haven't yet mentioned the transformation sequence, in which the robotic mascot sticks out a rod that looks suspiciously like a penis, and the girl grabs ahold of the rod, causing the mascot to have an orgasm and spray thick white fluid all over the girl which then turns into her new clothes. Then we're treated to several zoomed-in shots of her spandex-clad crotch. It's some of the sleaziest, creepiest camerawork I've ever seen in a fanservice anime. This may be a show about superheroes who are powered by shame, but it's clear that the showrunners have no shame whatsoever.

Speaking of the showrunners, Ultimate Girls was made by a studio that appropriately enough call themselves "m.o.e." The acronym stands for "Masters of Entertainment." Seriously. Guys, methinks you would've been better served to just paint a target on your chest, especially since you're the studio who made CosPrayers. And indeed, the Irony Gods did not let this act of hubris go unpunished: Ultimate Girls was the last show made by the studio, in 2005, and since then it looks like they've kicked the bucket. Pardon me while I completely fail to hide my glee.
the_sun_is_up: Agatha from Claymore walking magnificently, with the text "I should have known each dress you own is a loaded gun." (claymore - the ultimate femme fatale)
Today on the Magical Girl Project, we have the other Proto-Magic-Warrior OVA that came out in 1985 alongside Genmu Senki Leda and which also features a chainmail-bikini-wearing sword-swinging heroine: Dream Hunter Rem.

Dream Hunter Rem is a peculiar case of a series that started out as hentai but switched to ecchi after the first episode. I've heard of this happening in between adaptations, like a porno game or OVA that gets adapted into a clean tv series, but never within the same series. In Rem's case, the switch happened because the creators found out that people liked the plot. Hey, I guess some people really do "read it for the articles"! Having seen the first episode, I now understand why: the porn bits are actually rather sparse and not very good, while the plot and premise are much more interesting. The show also spawned a two-episode sequel, New Dream Hunter Rem, which came out in the early 90s.

At this point I should admit that all my opinions on this show should be taken with numerous grains of salt because I could only find it in unsubbed form. It's kind of difficult to analyze a show when you can't understand what the hell anyone's saying, but I'll try anyway!

Rem is a green-haired teenage (?) girl who moonlights as a paranormal private detective. Basically she enters peoples' dreams and does battle with the demons that possess and torment people while they sleep. In the dream world, she wields a laser sword, and in the real world, she has a revolver loaded with silver bullets and a couple of rocket launchers mounted to her car. She's assisted by her adorable sidekicks, a kitten and puppy who can transform into larger ferocious versions of themselves during battle, and she also has a Buddhist monk friend, Enko, who always swings by in the nick of time to save Rem whenever she's in a sticky spot, although the show uses this device way too frequently for my liking. I guess it's because this is an ecchi show, and the male viewers like seeing cute girls get tied up, but the show's over-reliance on having Tuxedo Monk rescue Rem from James-Bond-esque death traps kind of undermines her status as a badass action hero.

However Rem does get in some pretty memorable moments of badassery, like when she's about to get chomped by a huge toothy monster, so instead she dives into its mouth and slices it apart from the inside, or in the hentai pilot episode, where she's getting tentacle-raped by a monster's glowing laser-tentacle-wang, and she retaliates by shooting the laser-tentacle back out of her cooch and spearing the monster with it. Like, holy shit, girl must do a lot of Kegels. She also has some very impressive driving skills. Seriously, she would not be out of place on the streets of Los Angeles.

As far as its place in the MG genre, Dream Hunter Rem is a Proto-Magic-Warrior show like Cutey Honey and Devil Hunter Yohko, and therefore it doesn't adhere to all the conventions we've come to expect in Magic Warrior shows because, well, those conventions hadn't been established yet. For starters, Rem is naturally magical, as opposed to being given magic; in fact, her magic comes from her ancestors just like Devil Hunter Yohko's does. Also, the show starts in medias res; unlike in most MW shows which open with the heroine receiving her powers, it's clear in the first episode that Rem's been doing this for a while now. Rem does have the requisite cutesy sidekicks, but they actually help out in fights rather than dispensing wisdom, guidance, and new gadgets. Speaking of gadgets, Rem has no transformation trinket, although she does have a very brief transformation sequence, and instead of magic wands, she uses conventional weaponry, though she does use a magic flute in one episode.

As a side note, I'm intrigued that all four of the pre-Sailor-Moon Magic Warriors (Cutey Honey, Rem, Yohko, and Leda/Yohko) used the same thing as their main weapon: a sword.

Also similar to its Proto-Magic-Warrior peers, Dream Hunter Rem is very enthusiastic with the gore and tits. Rem gets all the flesh melted off her bones twice (although she quickly pops back to life again which is pretty funny) and the show is a bit torture-porn-ish in places, since most of the demons' victims are attractive young women whom we get to see ripped apart in loving detail. At one point, Rem also gets impaled by three giant phallic spikes which made me rather suspicious. On the tits side of things, in addition to Rem's amusingly inadequate "armor" and the frequent strategically-placed clothing damage she sustains, there's also an episode where Rem attends a girls' school and of course they milk that for all it's worth. Though I guess I can't really complain about that one because woohoo LesYay!

Anyway, I'm enjoying these old Magic Warrior shows. It's fun to see what the genre was like before it really became a genre. And I'm amused to note that there's one way in which Rem does adhere to genre tradition: she dresses almost entirely in pink and red.
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)
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.
the_sun_is_up: Kyoko and Moko from Skip Beat standing inside a heart shape, smiling cutely at each other. (skip beat - so adorable and gay)

Today on the Magical Girl Project, I'm sampling two shows with very similar premises from the same era: Risky Safety from 1999 and A Little Snow Fairy Sugar from 2001. Both shows involve miniature apprentice-level Magical Girls who travel to the human world in order to pass a test that will allow them to become fully-fledged magic users, with said test requiring the collection of MacGuffins. Both are also early examples of cutesy-wootsy Magical Girl shows made for a male audience.

A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is about an adorable pink-haired apprentice Season Fairy named Sugar. Season Fairies are in charge of creating weather in the human world; Sugar’s specialty is snow, which she creates by playing a magic flute. After arriving in the human world, Sugar promptly passes out from hunger and is discovered by the muggle heroine, Saga. Saga is a control freak; she likes to have her day all neatly planned out and diligently sticks to her schedule. However, now that ditzy, playful, fish-out-of-water Sugar is staying at her house, you can bet that Saga’s carefully-laid plans are all going out the window. Two of Sugar’s friends quickly join them, Salt the sun fairy and Pepper the wind fairy, and when you add the fact that Saga’s the only human around who can see the fairies, you have a recipe for ~*~wacky hijinks!~*~

Risky Safety is about an adorable apprentice shinigami named Risky who has come to Earth to collect souls. She happens upon the muggle heroine, Moe, who is depressed after being rejected her crush and is longing for death. However, before Risky can make Moe’s wish come true, she’s interrupted by her brain-roommate. See, Risky is sharing a body with an apprentice angel, Safety, and who’s in control of their shared body depends on the overall mood: happy events make Safety come out, sad events make Risky come out. The duo move in with Moe and continue to fight over her soul, with Risky trying to claim it and Safety trying to save it, and when you add the fact that Safety has a magical bow whose arrows can make people fall in love with the first person they see and the first arrow she fires accidentally hits a Pomeranian, you have a recipe for ~*~wacky hijinks!~*~

I was expecting my reaction to A Little Snow Fairy Sugar to being something like “UGH IT’S SO CUTE AND SACCHARINE I’M GONNA BARF.” However I was pleasantly surprised by how un-painful the experience was. Make no mistake, ALSFS has cuteness gushing out of its every twee orifice, but the cuteness has a certain Disney-esque sincerity to it that saves it from being nauseating.

Risky Safety is a more subdued affair, and the sweetness is balanced out by Risky’s more tomboyish, rude, and growly-voiced brand of cute. The quieter tone is complimented by a muted color palette of browns, greys, and creams, in contrast to the more candy-colored ALSFS, although I think Risky Safety is almost too muted, like someone leaned too hard on the desaturate button.

As far as content, both shows are Cute Witch stories at the core, with the added twist of the magical girls being miniaturized and invisible to everyone except their one muggle friend, whose role in the story is consequently expanded. ALSFS tweaks things a bit by having one of the heroine’s posse be a Magical Boy, and adding a couple more Magical Boys later on. Risky Safety is a more interesting twist on the genre due to the sharing-a-body schtick and the fact that the two magical girls are directly at odds with one another, and the evil-ish one is also the slightly more prominent one in the story.

An interesting thing about both shows is that they were among the earliest male-aimed Magical Girl shows on broadcast TV, coming soon after the success of Cardcaptor Sakura and a few years before Nanoha and the height of the moe craze. Also, both shows are almost completely devoid of fanservice and could easily be mistaken for kids’ shows. I don’t know if these two things are related, or how — you’d think the early male-aimed broadcast MG shows would be more fanservice-heavy than later ones because they’d be less assured of success and would want to hedge their bets with lots of attention-grabbing T&A.

Also I’d like to note that even in the short time I was watching and in spite of the size difference between the heroines, ALSFS managed to squeeze in the required Magical Girl LesYay Quota: Sugar really likes to kiss people on the cheek or nose whenever she’s happy, and the first time she does this to Saga, the latter gets all blushy and flustered. A+ effort, ALSFS.
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)
Okay boys and girls, it's time to descend into the belly of the beast. It's time to examine one of the worst shows that the Magical Girl genre has to offer.

Because while I may have referred to shows like Wedding Peach and CosPrayers as the "unholy abominations" of Magical-Girl-dom, I was mostly being facetious. Aside from some gross T&A in CosPrayers, those two shows are pretty harmless, with their greatest crime being mediocrity. Neither of those shows made me feel like I needed to take a shower afterwards. Neither had me twitchily glancing over my shoulder to make sure the FBI wasn't peeking in my window. Neither made me feel queasy simply from knowing of their existence.

This is what sets them apart from today's specimen: Moetan. As you might have guessed from my intro, it's lolicon. It's a show made specifically for those guys who draw hentai doujinshi depicting Cardcaptor Sakura being brutally raped by anonymous disembodied penises. That group of people was apparently large enough that someone in the anime industry felt it was financially sound to make an entire show for that demographic and broadcast it on TV.

Also I just found out that the director of Moetan is the same guy who directed my beloved Getsumen to Heiki Miina. I may feel the need to sob loudly into my pillow during this review.

Actually I must be getting jaded, because the loli fanservice in Moetan didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I guess Kodomo No Jikan desensitized me to such things, or maybe I was distracted from the fanservice by some of the other stupid features of the show. For starters: What the hell is going on with the characters' ages?

Moetan presents us with a couple of heroines who are clearly children, and then it tells us that they're actually 17 years old. I can only assume this was a pathetically flimsy attempt to provide guilt-free lolicon — "she may look 10, but she's really 17, so it's okay!" — because there is no part of me that believes that the heroine of Moetan is 17. She looks like a little kid, she acts like a little kid, she dresses like a little kid, she walks like a little kid, she talks like a little kid, to the point where the whole "oh but she's rly 17, you guys" thing is just insulting our intelligence. If you're going to make a pedo-bait anime, you could at least own it.

However, I might be able to overlook the bone-headed "she's really 17" contrivance if the show itself didn't constantly keep banging on about it. The other characters will constantly tease the two heroines for looking like elementary-schoolers/behaving like elementary-schoolers/having the intelligence of elementary-schoolers, and while this is ostensibly just a way of provoking that cutesy "stop treating me like a kid!" reaction in the girls, I can't help getting stuck on the fact that the other characters are totally right. Moetan, why do you keep pointing out your own bad writing? Are you trying to do some kind of ironic self-referential humor thing? Because it's not working! If you know that making the heroine 17 was a stupid decision, then the fact that you did it anyway just makes it worse, and constantly pointing this out just makes you look even dumber.

Actually self-referential "humor" is a problem throughout this show. Moetan comes across as a weak attempt at parody, not understanding that a true parody needs to have more substance than just pointing at a trope and going "look everyone, it's a trope!" In the first episode, the transformed heroine teaches her love interest to say the phrase "Don't you think magical girls look the same after they transform?" in English. Moetan, congratulations on noticing something that everyone who has ever watched Sailor Moon has made fun of. But the show doesn't do anything interesting with the Clark Kenting trope, it just points it out, like the writers expect a gold star for having eyeballs in their faces.

This problem with channeling Captain Obvious isn't even restricted to the failed parody elements — the mascot characters suffer from it too. These mascots serve double-duty as the audience surrogate characters, meaning that they spend a lot of time drooling over all the hawt loli ass that's on display. But the writers apparently thought all that literal drool wasn't enough to get this concept across: the mascots also make frequent comments on how hot the girls' outfits are, how pervy the transformation sequence looks, etc etc, and dude. Dude. I FUCKING NOTICED. I noticed that the 10-year-old girl is wearing clothing that appears to be made of wet tissue paper. I noticed this because the camera ZOOMED IN on her extremely detailed ass and taint area SEVERAL TIMES. YOU DO NOT NEED TO POINT THESE THINGS OUT TO ME IN THE DIALOGUE.

Seriously, those bits of dialogue are like the show is throwing up a big neon sign saying "YOU MAY NOW BEGIN JERKING OFF." Sorry Moetan, but I'm pretty sure your audience starting doing that during the opening credits. I doubt they're going to wait for your prompting.

Umpteen paragraphs in, and I haven't even talked about how dull the show is. Thank god for the nauseating bits of "I DIDN'T NEED TO SEE THAT" loli fanservice jolting me into wakefulness, because aside from that and the weak attempts at humor, this show is just a boring pointless slog. There's hardly any action in it! I mean surely a big part of Magic Warrior shows, especially those aimed at men, is rousing bombastic fight scenes, but so far Moetan has devoted only a tiny bit of its time to Monster-of-the-Week fights. Things perked up a little in Episode 4 when the Dark Magical Girl showed up to wreck some shit, but even that was pretty brief.

So in the end, Moetan surprised me by having loli fanservice be only one of its many problems. Snip out all the prepubescent vulva shots and this show would still be a worthless piece of crap.
the_sun_is_up: Panty looking excited, with her hand on Stocking's abdomen. (psg - PEEKABOO PEEKABOO PEEKABOO)
Today I sampled two vicious parodies of the Magical Girl genre, both directed by the same dude: Dai Mahou Touge and Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan.

Dai Mahou Touge is about Punie, the princess of the magical world who has travelled to Earth as part of a test to prove her worthiness as future queen. She dresses in red, she wields a magic wand, and she's joined by a cutesy plushie-looking sidekick with a squeaky voice and a verbal tic, a shy buxom bespectacled muggle best friend, and a Dark Magical Girl rival who wears all purple and wields a scythe.

So basically it's a completely standard and cliché Cute Witch anime. Except that the magical world is a fascist dictatorship, the Dark Magical Girl is the daughter of the good king and queen who were violently overthrown by Punie's tyrant mother, the cutesy sidekick is a hardened cynical badass who only accompanies Punie because she brutally beat him into submission and to this day he's constantly trying to kill her whenever he gets the chance, Punie's magical incantation is "Lyrical Tokarev, Kill Them All!" and her wand has a big red eyeball on it that pops open with a revolting SQUELCH whenever she casts a spell. Also Punie herself is a ruthless bloodthirsty sociopath who prefers to use excruciating submission maneuvers in lieu of magic when subduing her opponents and who is willing to do anything and kill anyone to get her way. One time she dropped a nuclear bomb on the school because she didn't want anyone to find out that the princess of the magical world was bad at math.

Basically it's like if Azula starred in a Magical Girl anime.

And as you'd expect from that summary, it is a barrel of laughs, although you must have a strong stomach for pitch black comedy and cringe-worthy violence. It's really quite a joy to watch Punie merrily skipping around causing mayhem and stomping all over our expectations about what this kind of show is supposed to be like. The show is also graced with a healthy dose of Japanese weirdness — at one point, Punie brings a bunch of vegetables to life and we get to see a sentient potato very seriously commit seppuku with a potato peeler before nobly flinging himself into a soup pot — and amusing shout-outs to other canons — the cutesy mascot's backstory has a bunch of references to gritty U.S. war films, an Alien facehugger makes a cameo, and when the queen is listing off the other witches she beat out for the throne, she mentions Sally, Akko, Majokko Meg, and Minky Momo. Plus Punie herself is a really fun character in a weird way. Of course she's the worst person in the world, but she's very good at being the worst person in the world, and I have to admire how audacious, no-holds-barred, and downright badass she can be.

Anyway, I think this is a pretty excellent parody of the Cute Witch genre and I recommend it.

Then I watched the first episode of Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, and to my dismay I discovered that it's pretty clearly a Magical Girlfriend/Magical Harem show where the protagonist is the male lead, meaning that it's disqualified from inclusion in my project. Much as I hate making changes to my master list this late in the game, I'm going to have to delete Dokuro-chan from all my data.

On the upside, that means I don't have to watch any more of it, which is good because it looked pretty crappy. It relies too heavily on gore, even when compared to the already gory Dai Mahou Touge, and it strikes me as a "parody" that tries to eat its cheesecake and have it too by going "look at what a violent nutbar this girl is, having a tsundere Magical Girlfriend would be terrible in the real world, but look how hot she is naked/in her undies/with her skirt up/boobs/panties/knockers/etc." Plus it does that annoying ecchi thing where all the female characters' bodies are super shiny, like they're made of plastic. Bleh.
the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
Welcome back to Chez Magical Girl. Our special tonight is Jewel BEM Hunter Lime, an OVA from 1997.

Jewel BEM Hunter Lime is an oddity because a) it was based on a video game and b) it appears to be the first half of a longer series that was never completed. The first episode sets up the extremely generic plot: six magical MacGuffins have been accidentally scattered across the human world, so two citizens of the magical world are tasked with retrieving them before they absorb too much negative human energy and turn into rampaging monsters. However by the end of three episodes, only three of the six objects have been retrieved, and then the series just... stops. I guess this is what Yahtzee would call "a show that ran out of something."

However that might be for the best because Jewel BEM Hunter Lime is not very good. In fact, I'd almost call it bad. The writing certainly needs some major help, the plot is your standard Monster Of The Week + Gotta Catch Em All affair, and the characters are all obnoxious clichés: Bass is the dim-witted lech whose skirt-chasing boob-grabbing antics are supposed to be funny but just make him seem like a total creeper. Lime is the humorless straight woman whose physical abuse and nagging of her male sidekick are supposed to be funny but just make her seem like an intolerable tight-ass. And Mizuki is the squeaky-voiced muggle best friend whose entire personality can be summed up as "nice." There's also quite a lot of fanservice that fortunately isn't too tasteless or crass, but it's not terribly interesting either. The English dub is actually okay, but it still suffers due to the clunky script and cardboard characters. And with the basic Monster Of The Week setup, you'd think there'd be some action scenes to liven things up, but you'd be wrong — the monsters are mostly defeated by trickery, and Lime's transforming powers are only used to put her in fetish outfits and a schoolgirl uniform. So just fetish outfits. Zing!

The show's only saving grace is something the Japanese have been perfecting for many decades now: CUTENESS. Yes, cuteness is something that JBHL excels at, and I'd almost recommend it on that basis alone. The weekly monsters are absolutely adorable both in design and personality. The first is a chubby little candle who is angry because modern-day humans don't use candles anymore, and he's one of those characters who's endearing specifically because he takes himself completely seriously and has no idea what an adorable little snugglemuffin he is. The second is a chubby coin-purse who continually tries to live up to his identity as an "evil" monster by doing bad things but consistently fails and does good things by mistake, to the point where Lime and Mizuki's classmates adopt him as a sort of class pet when he attempts to steal their underwear by politely asking for it. And the third is similar to the first except he's a chubby medical syringe who says hilarious shit like "YOU CAN'T ESCAPE THE WRATH OF MY NEEDLE!" and "EXPERIENCE THE ANGER OF MY SYRINGE!" I should also mention the requisite cutesy sidekick, Poogie: a yellow blob with huge eyes who can morph into any object and who provides most of the few genuinely funny gags in the show.

Anyway, I'm glad I watched JBHM if only for the insanely huggable monsters and mascot, but in all other respects, this show is just mediocre. While Wedding Peach suffered from blandness and CosPrayers suffered from incompetence, JBHM seems to suffer from laziness. It really comes across as something made solely to cash in on the video game, like no one working on the show cared enough to at least try and make it a little less derivative.
the_sun_is_up: Twilight Sparkle reading a book. (mlp - happiness is a good book)

On today’s menu, we have another Magical Girl show that deservedly takes itself seriously: Genmu Senki Leda, aka Leda: The Fantastic Adventures of Yohko. This one’s a 75-minute OVA from 1985, and its story is your standard “girl falls into another world, transforms into a prophecied warrior, and is tasked with bringing down a local villain” plot à la Magic Knight Rayearth, but it’s the execution that makes this one really stand out.

Genmu Senki Leda is a regal feast for the eyes and ears, so much so that I’m tempted to call it “arty.” The show opens with a nearly 4-minute long sequence that’s devoid of dialogue and has only minimal narration, in which the heroine, Yohko, is composing and playing a wistful piano piece inspired by her secret love for some unnamed guy, and then it cuts to her walking down the street at dusk, meeting the guy on the road, trying to work up the nerve to confess her feelings, and ultimately failing. Due to the lack of dialogue, the whole sequence instead focuses on making the visuals, editing, cinematography, and timing with the piano music as beautiful and affecting as possible. And then this is followed by another dialogue-less sequence where Yohko falls into the other world and spends several minutes wandering around looking at all the very weird flora and fauna. Speaking of which, the design work in this show got a lot of love from somebody: the plants, the animals, the landscapes, the buildings, the enemy soldiers, their robotic steeds, their weapons and gadgets — everything in this alternate world is designed to look truly alien and bizarre. In short, this is not your standard fantasy setting. Also the color palette used in the alternate world is vibrant and beautiful, and while I’m no great judge of animation, it looks like the production staff made good use of their fatter OVA budget. On the aural side, the soundtrack consists of sweeping schmaltzy orchestral music that makes me feel like I’m going to swoon every time it comes on, intermixed with Yohko’s bittersweet piano solo and some hints of synth when the score gets more energetic during action scenes.

Some other recommendable aspects of GSL:

-It passes the Bechdel Test, since Yohko’s main ally is Yoni, the shrine maiden of Leda (the local goddess), and they spend some time discussing Leda and the dilapidated state of Ashanti.

-There are several cool action scenes such as: a) the hand-to-hand fight directly after Yohko’s first transformation, where she opens a can of whoopass on the enemy troops and robots, b) the chase scene on flying-motorcycle-things when she’s trying to retrieve her walkman, c) the battle where Yohko and Yoni both hop into giant robots (the similarities to Rayearth keep piling up!) and fight off the TIE-fighter-esque enemy spaceships, and d) the sequence at the end where the villain traps Yohko in a Lotus Eater Machine, but she awesomely busts out of it and causes a bunch of stuff to blow up in spectacular fashion.

-While the characters aren’t terribly interesting or memorable, they also manage to avoid obnoxious clichés and are likeable enough, which at this point is good enough for me. I also have to commend Ringhum, Yohko’s talking dog companion, for being one of the least annoying Magical Girl animal sidekicks ever.

-And for her transformation sequence, the heroine gets eaten by a giant flower. I don’t think anything more needs to be said.

Before watching GSL, I was unsure of whether to include in my project because a) it’s an OVA film, and I’m limiting the project to episodic serieses, and b) I wasn’t sure if it even fit the genre. After watching, I’m inclined to let the former slide because 1985 was still pretty early in the genre when not much was coming out, and as for the latter, GSL’s many similarities to Rayearth have convinced me that it does indeed qualify for the genre.

A good quality version of Genmu Senki Leda is available on Youtube with English subtitles so go watch it!
the_sun_is_up: Giorno in a cloud of flower petals, making a sexyface at the camera. (giogio - faaaaabulous)

In my quest to research Dark Magical Girls, I discovered that somebody uploaded all of Pretear to Youtube, so I'm steamrolling through it before the copyright police zap it.

So Pretear is a reverse harem anime and—

Wait, come back, I haven't finished yet! Sheesh. What I was going to say before I psychically sensed all of you spontaneously losing interest was that Pretear is also written by the same guy who directed Princess Tutu. And like Princess Tutu, Pretear is a show I'd rank amongst the best of the Magical Girl genre.

The basic plot is a mashup of Snow White and Cinderella except with the damsel in distress protagonist replaced with a plucky badass magical girl, and instead of seven dwarves, our heroine is accompanied by seven magical bishonen who act as her transformation trinkets, merging with her in order to grant her powers. Otherwise, the plot is your standard Magical Girl Warrior affair with naked henshins, elemental magic, monsters of the week, destiny, and a purple-wearing Dark Magical Girl who wants to destroy the world because she's angsty and wants everyone else to be too.

However there are a number of things that establish Pretear as a cut above its peers: Firstly, the heroine is refreshingly realistic. Maybe I've just grown demoralized by the endless parade of quivering moeblobs and shrill genki girls and airheaded failboats that clutter up the genre, but these days the surest way for a MG show to win me over is to have a protagonist who acts like an actual human being, and this is something that Himeno pulls off beautifully. She's actually rather hard to describe because she doesn't slot into any of the usual stereotypes; she's plucky and determined and energetic but also angsty and uncertain and self-critical, and my favorite part about her is how she reacts to situations in a way that feels natural and makes sense. For example, when the seven not-dwarfs first show up and try to get her to become the Pretear, she has mixed feelings about it and turns them down. But while running away, she mulls it over and changes her mind and runs back to the seven bishies, who are currently fighting a monster, and she runs up to her slap-slap-kiss love interest bishie and is like "Tell me what I need to do to become the Pretear!" Most magical girls are either all "Nooo I just want to be normal!" or all "Wheee diving headfirst into magical-girl-hood without thinking about the consequences first!" so it was nice to see a heroine whose reaction was more complex and who had the opportunity to give the proposal some thought before agreeing.

Also, in order to transform, Himeno has to merge with one of her bishies, and yes, it looks exactly as sexual as it sounds. And what I like is that Himeno immediately picks up on the innuendo, and when she first hears the merging process described by one of the (hilariously oblivious) bishies, her brain goes straight to the gutter and she has a minor freakout of "You're 'inside me?' We're 'becoming one?' BRB BRAIN MELTING ASDJKDSLFJDJFK" and it is just comedy gold. I also really loved her "STOP ANGSTING AND GET AHOLD OF YOURSELVES" speech to the boys in episode 7 — that was big "UGH I OFFICIALLY LOVE THIS CHARACTER" moment for me.

Another difference is that the show is significantly less cutesy and sugary than most MG fare. The plot is quite serious and heavy on angst, the Monsters of the Week are genuinely scary and disturbing-looking instead of being wacky golems made of mundane objects, and the show spends a minimal amount of time on filler, delving quite quickly into the dark secrets about the villainess's origins and how she's connected to the seven bishies. Himeno doesn't even have a cutesy animal sidekick/mentor; there's a cute bird-thing that serves as Team Pet, but it hardly ever has screentime. Himeno lacks the usual chunky plastic bling since her harem already serves that purpose, her weapons are pretty straightforward and hardcore — a sword, an axe, a whip, a chakram, etc — and her seven outfits deserve special mention for being really beautifully designed. Basically, this is a Magical Girl show that takes itself seriously instead of being self-admitted foof, and deserves to take itself seriously, harem of wearable bishies notwithstanding.

Another aspect of note is the relationship between Himeno and Hayate (the wind-themed bishie) which gets a lot of development and screentime during the series. Their romance reminds me a lot of Kyoko and Ren from Skip Beat: plucky heroine with secret angst meets cranky, abrasive, but secretly kind-hearted dark-haired guy by crashing into him headlong, they get off to a spectacularly bad start and hate each other, but gradually they get to know each other and realize that their bad first impressions were incorrect, and eventually they've got it bad for each other and only their mutual tsundere-ness is preventing them from sucking face. So with those similarities, I guess it's no surprise that I find the Himeno/Hayate romance to be quite adorable, and I'm pleased to report that so far their gradual transition from "I hate you" to "I like you" is well written and believable.

I also think the handling of the fairytale elements deserves special mention. The show gets major kudos for being able to breathe new life into the tired and not-very-good-to-begin-with Cinderella story by making the stepmother an overall nice person who is genuinely in love with the father, making one stepsister a lulzy sitcom-esque rival who is too ineffectual to be hate-worthy, and making the other stepsister have lots of sympathy-inducing angst behind her ice queen façade, so Himeno's dislike for her new family is less about them being puppy-stomping cartoon villains and more about feeling like a fish out of water, a poor girl suddenly thrust into a rich lifestyle and clueless about how to act or how to make her snobby stepsisters like her.

However, that's not to say that Pretear is perfect. The fight scenes are pretty short and lackluster, so if that's what you watch MG shows for then this one is going to disappoint. The focus is more on the people and their relationships and emotional drama, so the action gets short shrift. Also, I'm no expert on animation quality, but the budget for Pretear looks like it was on the modest side, so the visual quality is really inconsistent, although the art style is quite nice. And the soundtrack is... honestly dreadful. It sounds like easy listening or elevator music, with the exception of the memorable J-Pop opener.

And I have one big complaint regarding the requisite "boyfriend turns evil" plotline...spoilers )

But overall, Pretear is a very strong Magical Girl show and I recommend it.

As a final comment: I think it's hilarious that when Himeno first uses the Wind Sword, the glowy magic power comes out of her crotch. Just, unmistakably starts blossoming out of her pelvic region. Given those O-faces she makes during her transformation sequences, I shouldn't be surprised!
the_sun_is_up: Aliciabeth from Claymore succumbing to zombie-ification. (claymore - drowning)
Since I've been talking a lot about Dark Magical Girls lately, I figure it's about time to discuss one of the main codifiers of the trope: Sailor Saturn.

At a glance, Sailor Saturn looks like your typical by-the-book DMG. Dark hair? Check. Wears purple and black? Check. Cold, aloof, and stoic? Check. Angsty? Triple check. Starts out as an enemy of the heroes but later joins their team? Check. Has her frozen heart melted by the pink-haired heroine? Check. Has tons of parallelism and LesYay with said pink-haired heroine? Check. Hell, she even has a creepy-looking scythe as her signature weapon and she's prophecied to bring about the end of the world.

But there's one big problem with categorizing Saturn as a Dark Magical Girl: she's not evil. She's not even an antagonist. The Outer Senshi think she's their enemy, but she doesn't share that opinion. She gets possessed by the Big Bad, but unlike with Chibiusa turning into Black Lady, it's done by force instead of manipulation. Furthermore, the pink-haired heroine who's responsible for Saturn's redemption arc is not the protagonist but the protagonist's daughter, who spends most of her time as a joke character.

If Sailor Moon had debuted in the past ten years, I'd put Sailor Saturn in the same bin as Homura from PMMM: characters who are set up to look like Dark Magical Girls only to turn around and subvert the trope. However Sailor Moon came out in 1992, back when the DMG trope had barely started to exist and certainly hadn't been codified yet, so I guess Saturn falls into that weird category that TV Tropes calls the Unbuilt Trope: when a trope gets subverted before it even gets properly established. At any rate, even though Saturn technically isn't a DMG, I tend to put her in that category anyway because it seems clear to me that she had a major hand in defining the trope for later works. Tsubami from Cyberteam, Rue from Princess Tutu, Fate from Nanoha, Dark Cure from Heartcatch — they're all following in Saturn's footsteps.
the_sun_is_up: Agatha from Claymore walking magnificently, with the text "I should have known each dress you own is a loaded gun." (claymore - the ultimate femme fatale)
Continuing from my last post on Dark Magical Girls, here are some more minor trends I've noticed amongst the members of this character type. They're far from universal, but common enough to be noteworthy:

Heroine and DMG are unaware friends in their everyday lives: See this is the problem with being a protagonist who has multiple identities — sometimes your enemies also have multiple identities, leading to situations where you find out that your best friend from school is also secretly your mortal enemy whom you've been trying to kill all this time. This is a good source of drama and angst but also helps ease the redemption of the DMG, since she and the heroine already have a pre-existing connection. Examples of this DMG type include Pretty Sammy, Haruna from Corrector Yui, Nurse Witch Komugi, Jubei-chan, Magical Canan, and Fresh Precure. In some shows (Jubei, Fresh), the DMG has known all along about the heroine's true identity and is pretending to be her friend in order to screw her over, but of course this façade inevitably develops into genuine feelings of friendship. In other shows (Sammy, Komugi), the DMG doesn't know that she herself has dual identities since she always develops selective amnesia when she switches from her magical form to her muggle form.

Friend turned evil: A related trope is where one of the heroine's friends starts out as her ally but then turns over to the dark side for whatever reason. Sugar Sugar Rune, Onegai My Melody, Mai Otome, and the Black Rock Shooter OVA are all cases like this, where the heroine's best friend turns into a DMG and then has to be reconverted to the good side. Shamanic Princess is a milder example where the heroine and her best friend end up as rivals due to a conflict of interest.

There's also a variant where the heroine's friend will be possessed by an evil entity, either by force or via some kind of more-than-mind-control manipulation. Saturn/Mistress 9 from Sailor Moon, Misao from Sasami MG Club, and possibly Dead Master from the Black Rock Shooter OVA are examples of this, and actually come to think of it, I'd put Black Lady from Sailor Moon in this category too. I never thought of her as a DMG, but I declared parallelism with the heroine to be the necessary ingredient that distinguishes a DMG, and Black Lady certainly has plenty of that. Hell, she and Sailor Moon are even both trying to bang the same guy (sidenote: GROSS). At any rate, the "possession by evil" method is a good way of including a DMG without her having to do anything evil of her own free will, making her easier to redeem, and also eliminating the whole "are we supposed to just forget about all the evil shit she pulled in the past" problem.

Personality Types: Most DMGs tend to fall into one of two personality types; they're either cold, aloof, and stoic with secret angst, or they're bombastic, arrogant, and prone to letting off those "oh-ho-ho-ho" princess laughs. I suspect that Sailor Saturn was a big codifier of Type 1 since she's one of the earliest examples of it and since her show was hugely influential in general. Her descendants include Tsubami from Cyberteam in Akihabara, Ai from Corrector Yui, Fate form Nanoha, Utau from Shugo Chara, Eas from Fresh Precure, Dark Cure from Heartcatch, and Homura from PMMM. Type 1 seems to be the personality one commonly associates with DMGs, probably due to the influence of big-name DMGs like Saturn and Fate and all the Precure DMGs. For instance, when PMMM was setting up Homura as the decoy DMG — a character with all the hallmarks of a DMG who then turns out to be the hero — they chose to give her a Type 1 personality, which I think speaks to its status as the go-to personality of DMGs.

As for Type 2 DMGs, they tend to turn up in lighter and sillier Magical Girl shows — Pretty Sammy, Nurse Witch Komugi, Petite Princess Yucie, Majokko Tsukune-chan, Onegai My Melody, Getsumen to Heiki Mina, and PSG all have Type 2 DMGs. However there are a few Type 2s from more serious shows, like Kyoko from PMMM and Dead Master from BRS.

There are also a few DMGs who have one foot in both types: Rue from Princess Tutu is aloof and stoic in her civilian form, but gets more arrogant and haughty as Kraehe, and the very first DMG, Non, tended to be the cold Blue Oni to Meg's fiery Red Oni, but also had her share of hammy gloating villain moments.

ANGST: Another thing one tends to associate with the typical DMG is angstyness. While there are plenty of DMGs who aren't very angsty, it's true that a lot of them are, especially the big influential ones. Sailor Saturn was massively angsty, being a perpetually ill girl with a villainous dad who gets persecuted by her fellow scouts and who is doomed to end the world. Fate Testarossa is another iconically angsty DMG, what with all the parental abuse she endured. Rue from Princess Tutu also suffered parental abuse, and both she and Takako from Pretear were driven by romance-related angst. Nina from Mai-Otome and Utau from Shugo Chara both had unrequited incestuous love as their driving angst-force, and of course everybody angsted in PMMM, but Homura probably had the largest volume of angst out of everyone. Basically it would take quite a long time for me to discuss all the various angsty DMGs because indeed there are a massive amount of them! Making a DMG be angsty is an obvious choice because a) it can provide an explanation for why she's evil in the first place and/or b) it can make her more sympathetic and balance out her misdeeds so that we're happy when she gets redeemed.
the_sun_is_up: Twilight Sparkle reading a book. (mlp - happiness is a good book)
Over at [community profile] frillsofjustice, [personal profile] erinptah raised the question of what defines a show as a member of the Magical Girl genre. I offered my take on the subject here. In short, I said that a Magical Girl show is one where a) the heroine has two identities, one magical and one non-magical, b) which she must keep separate and secret, and c) the Law of Drama ensures that the heroine is frequently threatened with being unmasked, resulting in lots of dramatic tension.
the_sun_is_up: Agatha from Claymore walking magnificently, with the text "I should have known each dress you own is a loaded gun." (claymore - the ultimate femme fatale)
This week on the Magical Girl Project, I'm looking at the genre's answer to the hot-blooded shonen rivalry: the Dark Magical Girl.

Dark Magical Girls date back to 1974, with Majokko Meg’s blue-haired rival Non as the first one, but the trope didn’t really become a staple of the genre until the 90s. However I have to stop the history lesson almost immediately because as soon as I started examining this subject in depth, I became stuck on a very important question: What exactly is the definition of a “Dark Magical Girl”?

Is it simply as it sounds, a female antagonist with magical powers? That can’t be right because plenty of Magical Girl shows have characters who fit that description but aren’t Dark Magical Girls. For example, Sailor Moon has Queen Beryl and Nehellenia, both of whom are evil, magical, and female but are definitely not Dark Magical Girls, although maybe that’s because they’re adults — Dark Magical Girl implies someone young. But continuing with Sailor Moon, each villain has under his/her employ a team of underlings, most of whom are young women with magical powers — the Weird Sisters, the Witches 5, the Amazoness Quartet, and the Animamates — but none of them are Dark Magical Girls.

After much pondering, I think I’ve hit upon the key ingredient that distinguishes a Dark Magical Girl: parallelism. For a character to qualify as a DMG, the text must set her up as the mirror image of the heroine — strikingly opposite but at the same time undeniably similar. In aid of this parallelism, the heroine and the DMG will often have contrasting color schemes — white vs. black, red vs. blue, etc — and contrasting personalities — extrovert vs. introvert, optimist vs. nihlist, down-to-earth vs. arrogant, red oni vs. blue oni — but they’ll also use the same or similar magic systems and will have a deep, intense, personal rivalry that occupies a large chunk of screentime and nearly always results in the DMG either getting permanently redeemed or at least defrosting a bit and teaming up with the heroine on some missions.

To elaborate, here are a number of common traits I've noted amongst Dark Magical Girls:

Magic Systems: DMGs almost always use the same system of magic as their heroic counterparts. Usagi and Galaxia are both Sailor Senshi, Yui and Ai are both Correctors, Arika and Nina are both Otomes, Nanoha and Fate both use Intelligent Devices, Amu and Utau both transform using Guardian Characters (and transform using each other’s Charas on several occasions), and in the case of Pretear, the previous holder of the heroine’s job turns out to be none other than the DMG. If the show is in the Cute Witch genre, then the two girls will both hail from the same magical world and possess the same type of in-born magical ability. The one consistent exception to this rule is the Precure franchise, which instead has the two girls using the same magic system after the DMG gets converted. The exception to the exception is Heartcatch Precure which had the aptly named Dark Cure, whose parallelism with Cure Moonlight was even more extreme than is usually the case.

Rivalry: Heroines and DMGs are usually rivals, and when I say “rival,” I mean it in the fighting shonen sense, where the two characters spend a significant percent of their time thinking about and obsessing over each other, resulting a large amount of homoeroticism. This rivalry also ensures that DMGs are long-lived. Unlike the Villains-of-the-Week that were common in Cutey Honey TOS and Sailor Moon, DMGs hang around for a large portion of the series and have multiple inconclusive fights with the heroine. A key defining feature of DMGs is their longevity.

Not the Big Bad: Despite their critical role in the stock Magical Girl plot, DMGs are rarely the main villain of the story. Just as Magical Girl heroines are usually in the employ of some far-off queen or princess in distress, DMGs are often minions of another more powerful villain. Nova from Rayearth, Rue from Princess Tutu, Fate Testarossa, Vanille from Sugar Sugar Rune after her face-heel turn, Utau Hoshina, all the Precure DMGs, and even the Demon Sisters from PSG — all of them are working for somebody else. I’m guessing this is done to make them more sympathetic — they’re not calling the shots, they’re just following orders whether they like it or not, and often doing so under coercion or psychological screwery — and also to ensure that the heroine still has a 100% evil final boss to beat the crap out of in the finale.

Another common variant of this is the Loner DMG: she’s not the main villain, but she’s not working for them either. She has her own reasons for fighting the heroine. Non from Majokko Meg, Lena from Shamanic Princess, Glenda from Petite Princess Yucie, both of Majokko Tsukune’s rivals, and Homura from PMMM are all examples of this type. The Loner DMGs tend to be the least evil of the lot, since they’re usually just competing with the heroine over some commonly desired goal.

However there are a few DMGs who get to be the big fish in the villainous pond. Sailor Galaxia from Sailor Moon, Sara from Mermaid Melody, and Sumire from Getsumen to Heiki Miina are all fully fledged Big Bads who have their own minions and mooks, while Takako from Pretear and Dead Master from the Black Rock Shooter OVA are Big Bads who work solo.

Angst: The stereotypical image of a DMG usually includes an angsty woobiefying backstory, probably thanks to iconic characters like Rue and Fate and Sailor Saturn (who was actually more of a prototype-DMG, but still). Actually there are a fair number of DMGs who are either angst-free or fairly light on angst, so angstyness is not a requirement for being a DMG; however it does fit in well with the image of a DMG as a redeemable anti-villain whom the heroine and the audience can sympathize with. Speaking of which...

Redemption: It'd be much faster to list all the DMGs who don't get converted to the good side by the heroines because there are precious few of them. Even the few who get killed off by their heroic counterparts usually get a Redemption Equals Death type deal. For the majority who get redeemed and survive, the process ranges from full redemption and inclusion into the girl posse, complete with corresponding wardrobe change (à la Eas from Fresh Precure) to a mild defrosting and occasionally teaming up with the heroine on a temporary basis but still remaining rivals, albeit friendly rivals (à la Non from Majokko Meg-chan).

To be continued...
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)
This week on the Magical Girl Project, I take on that other unholy abomination known as CosPrayers.

Most of you have probably never heard of this series. Those of you who have might have also heard of the minor meme it spawned: "worse than CosPrayers." This meme uses the show as a litmus test by which to judge other shows, in order to separate the truly wretched from the merely crappy. Saying a show is "worse than CosPrayers" indicates that it's the very suckiest of suck.

Even the production company seems to have become aware at some point that the show sucked because right after it came out, they made another show called "Smash Hit" in which CosPrayers is a show-within-a-show that is acknowledged in-universe to be really terrible. This is what we in the biz refer to as a "parody retcon," in which the creators of a really shitty work turn around and go "Oh, no no, we made it shitty on purpose! As a satire of, um, stuff! Please believe us!"

Hell, even the name of the thing is sucky. Its full title is "The Cosmopolitan Prayers," and the shortened title intentionally resembles the word "cosplayer." Yes, it's a groan-worthy pun based around the Japanese tendency to pronounce "L" and "R" the same. KILL IT.

So since I'm the type of person who always gets morbidly curious whenever fans declare something to be the WORST EVAR, I decided to give CosPrayers a try and see for myself just how bad it is. Honestly, I came away feeling kind of disappointed.

CosPrayers is not the fun kind of bad. It's not the hilarious, campy, hubcaps-on-strings kind of bad that makes the work of Ed Wood and Coleman Francis so unintentionally entertaining. CosPrayers is just dull. And I know I panned Wedding Peach for being dull, but at least Wedding Peach had a clear idea of what it was doing and how to do it. CosPrayers, on the other hand, is incompetent and incoherent, with the storytelling and the editing being its biggest problems. It's like the creators had a bunch of story elements and bits of plot, but instead of arranging them in a way that flowed and made sense, they just kind of dumped them all out on a card table and let chance decide. The characters are shallow and bland and never get a chance to talk or develop relationships with each other, and the plot is so poorly executed that it invites plentiful fridge logic.

That 52-card-pickup method of storytelling gets even worst in the latter half of the series which offers up several plot twists that make no sense whatsoever, only serving to confuse the audience further. Again, it's like the creators wanted to have some plot twists in their anime, but had no clue of how to go about constructing such things. Alternatively, it's like they wanted to make a show about some cute girls fighting monsters, but they didn't realize that a functional anime series needs more than literally just "some cute girls fighting monsters."

I guess I should also mention that the show is full of gross, in-your-face fanservice that completely shatters the dramatic tension whenever it shows up, and the art style is typical of moe-esque fanservice shows in that it makes all the girls look like they're made of plastic, but none of this is unique to CosPrayers.

But back to that question of the parody retcon: According to Wikipedia, Smash Hit premiered only a week after CosPrayers ended, so it does seem possible that the producers had planned all along for CosPrayers to be crappy. But if that's the case, they're still complete blockheads. First of all, where's the sense in airing the intentionally sucky show-within-a-show before airing the making-of show that gives it context? Your audience will get bored and/or annoyed and go off to watch something else long before you have a chance to reveal the whole "it was supposed to be crap all along!" twist. And secondly, a crappy work does not automatically get any less crappy just because you made it crappy on purpose. If you sing a song horrendously off-key, it doesn't matter whether you did it because you're tone-deaf or because you're doing it intentionally to make some point — either way, it's still going to make my ears bleed. Being sucky on purpose isn't enough by itself — you have be entertainingly sucky, and preferably also include some satire on the sucky thing that you're imitating. Plus, I don't think CosPrayers is outlandish enough in its suckiness to qualify for the "haha sucky on purpose" crowd. Simply put, it's not bad enough. Despite that "worse than CosPrayers" meme, it's not the worst anime out there, nor is it even the worst I've seen. It's just kind of mediocre and incoherent. It fails even at being legendarily awful.
the_sun_is_up: Panty and Stocking looking confused, with the text "What?" (psg - wut)
Now that I've laid out the history of male-aimed Magical Girl shows and their gradual rise to success and popularity over the past 20 years, the question arises: how has the increased presence of these shows affected the genre as a whole?

The main thing I've noticed when comparing MG shows of the 2000s with those of the 90s is that the visual age of the average heroine has sunk like a stone, especially in Magic Warrior shows. The heroines of 90s girl-aimed shows (Sailor Moon, Rayearth, Wedding Peach, Cutey Honey Flash, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Corrector Yui) were usually leggy willowy girls who looked to be in their mid-to-late teens, and the heroines of male-aimed shows looked even older, ranging in visual age from late teens to early twenties, since male-aimed shows of that era usually relied on large racks to sell themselves (Moldiver, New Cutey Honey, Hyper Doll, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, Jewel BEM Hunter Lime, Shamanic Princess). Mixed in with these were a few younger girls (Super Pig, Nurse Angel Ririka, Saint Tail, Pretty Sammy, Cardcaptor Sakura) as well as some younger girls who would transform into older bustier alter egos (Akazukin Chacha, Jungle de Ikou, Cyberteam in Akihabara, Fancy Lala).

Fast forward to the 2000s and suddenly everyone is looking a lot younger. Some of these are because the heroines genuinely are really young (Mao-chan, Petite Princess Yucie, Nanoha, Fu No Fu, Moetan, Kiruminzoo) or because they look significantly younger than they are (Nurse Witch Komugi, Uta Kata, Otogi-Jūshi Akazukin, PPG Z, Saint October, Kamichama Karin, Milky Holmes, Aurora Dream, PMMM, Twin Angel). Only a handful of heroines fit the mid-to-late teenage Sailor-Moon-esque style (Pretear, Arjuna, Mermaid Melody, Fresh Precure, some of the girls from Getsumen, Suite Precure), and there's a new in-between category of heroines who look like they're in their young teens, best showcased in Mai-Hime and Futari wa Precure. And as for 20-something-looking heroines like those in Shamanic Princess and Jewel BEM Hunter Lime? Nowhere to be found.

Basically it boils down to this:

Those characters are all 14 years old. Except for Mami who's supposed to be like 16 years old. In fact, here's an array of alleged 16-year-olds:

See what I mean?

Now when it comes to the past decade, a lot of the young or young-looking examples I mentioned can be chalked up to a bad case of moe-ification, but if you take a look at the shows I listed, you'll notice that nearly half of those shows are girl-aimed and therefore don't have the excuse of catering to a moe demographic. I'm not sure if this can be explained by the rise of moe just having an overall effect on the art style of the average anime, or the extreme popularity of Cardcaptor Sakura leading to more elementary-school-aged MG heroines, or something else.

However, I have grown just a tad bit suspicious that a few recent girl-aimed shows are trying to cater to the moe demographic on the side. For example, I invite you to take a gander at the character designs for the new Precure season, particularly the yellow Cure. Look at how she's posed in her civilian form. Would it surprise you to learn that if you go to the "Smile Precure" tag on Pixiv, the character who by far has the most fanart drawn of her and the most porn drawn of her is Ms. Yellow? Yeah, me neither. That character design and that pose... that can't have been unintentional. There's no way you could design a character so perfectly guaranteed to grab moe fandom's attention by accident, not in this day and age.
the_sun_is_up: Agatha from Claymore walking magnificently, with the text "I should have known each dress you own is a loaded gun." (claymore - the ultimate femme fatale)
This week on the Magical Girl Project, let's give some relevance to all that timeslot data and talk about the practice of aiming Magical Girl shows at an adult male demographic.

For the first few years of the genre, Magical Girl shows were predictably enough made for little girls. However, this trend was first disrupted in 1973 when Go Nagai premiered his landmark anime series Cutey Honey. It was the first shonen anime to feature a female protagonist, the first superheroine anime, and the first Magical Girl anime to be specifically aimed at an adult male demographic, as evidenced by the high levels of fanservice, violence, and bawdy humor. A year later, Majokko Meg-chan mixed up the traditional Cute Witch formula by adding tons of fanservice and a coquettish fille-fatale heroine, and I strongly suspect that was a case of following Cutey Honey's example.

However, Cutey Honey's lasting influence on the genre would take a while to materialize, because for the rest of the 70s and most of the 80s, Magical Girl shows continued to be made almost entirely for girls. The only exceptions were a couple of OVAs: Dream Hunter Rem, the hentai-turned-ecchi series that premiered in 1985, and Devil Hunter Yohko, which premiered in 1990.

The mid-90s saw a relative boom in male-aimed MG shows, possibly spurred by Sailor Moon's revitalization of the genre. Hyper Speed Grandoll (97) in particular borrowed the plot of Sailor Moon wholesale and tailored it to appeal to a more boob-interested audience. Meanwhile, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna (95), Makeruna Makendo (95), and Jewel BEM Hunter Lime (96) offered MG anime adaptations of video games, Shamanic Princess (96) delved into cosmic horror territory, and shows like Megami Paradise (95) and Jungle De Ikou (97) relied on non-stop fanservice to sell themselves. However during this period, male-aimed MG shows were exclusively OVAs. The only possible exception I've found is the Pretty Sammy series, whose target audience has been tricky for me to pin down, especially since it's a spin-off of a harem show and aired in a slot usually given to shonen series like Slayers. Overall though, broadcast TV was reserved for the girl-aimed stuff while male-aimed shows were restricted to brief direct-to-video runs.

The turning point came with the premiere of Cardcaptor Sakura in 1998. Conventional wisdom states that while CCS was by no means the first girl-aimed MG show to attract a sizeable periphery demographic of male viewers, it was the first time that the anime industry noticed this demographic and realized that they could make a fat pile of cash off it. This marked the point at which male-aimed MG shows started consistently making it to broadcast TV, coinciding with the rise of moe. The trend of moe-flavored Magical Girl shows started with Risky Safety in 1999, A Little Snow Fairy Sugar in 2001, and Mao-chan in 2002, but the boom really hit in 2004 and 2005, during which a whopping 13 male-aimed Magical Girl shows aired on broadcast TV (opposite 9 girl-aimed shows), at least 10 of which could be categorized as moe or moe-influenced. The most notable of these was, of course, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.

Nanoha was a landmark because it was the first time someone made a successful cash-cow franchise out of a male-aimed Magical Girl show. Previously, franchises were the domain of girl-aimed shows like Toei's trifecta (Sailor Moon, Doremi, and Precure), Cardcaptor Sakura, and remake-happy oldies like Sally, Akko, and Minky Momo, while male-aimed shows tended to have single-season runs, if they even made it to broadcast TV at all. Even the influential Cutey Honey franchise only got one broadcast season, spending the rest of its existence in OVAs, manga, and the live-action adaptation. By contrast, Nanoha got three broadcast seasons for a total of 52 episodes, plus two feature films, a video game, several manga series, and the usual parade of merchandise. As far as I can tell, Nanoha remains the most popular male-aimed MG franchise and the strongest support for the argument that male-aimed MG shows can be financially successful.

After the boom years, the number of male-aimed MG shows airing on broadcast TV has leveled off, but such shows still make up a fair portion of new MG shows, as you can see from this exciting graph:

During the past three years, the percentages have stayed quite consistent, with roughly a third of broadcast MG shows being aimed at a male demographic.

One recent sign of how much times have changed was Moetan (07), the first blatantly lolicon-themed MG show. You know how there's that slice of the Cardcaptor Sakura audience who watched the show mainly because they wanted to nail the 9-year-old heroine? Yeah, somebody made an anime specifically for that demographic. The last few years have also given us shows like Magical Pokaan (06) and Milky Holmes (10), which are 4-girl moe slice-of-life shows like Lucky Star or K-ON, but with Magical Girls as their theme. On the flip side, we also get shows like Uta Kata (04) and Madoka Magica (11) which go for the dark angsty sad-girl-in-snow side of moe. Mixed in with these are the old-fashioned jiggle shows that sell themselves more on T&A and less on moe cuteness, such as Papillon Rose (06), Getsumen to Heiki Miina (07), Twin Angel: Unicorn Farts (11), and of course that horrifying monstrosity known as Ultimate Girls (05).

At any rate, male-aimed MG shows have finally cemented their place as a consistent staple of the genre, as evidenced with this coming year's line-up which thus far promises a new Black Rock Shooter broadcast anime and a second season of Milky Holmes.
the_sun_is_up: Asuna from Negima shrugging in a dorky manner. (negima - that's how i roll)
This week on the Magical Girl Project, I take on the unholy abomination known as... Wedding Peach.

For those not in the know, Wedding Peach is a Magic Warrior anime that premiered in 1995, based on a 1994 manga of the same name. It's also the one Magical Girl series that most frequently gets accused of being a Sailor Moon "ripoff." Go to any Wedding Peach video on Youtube, and you'll find a comments section plagued by boneheaded flame wars between the Wedding Peach fans and the Sailor Moon fans.

Out of curiosity, I decided to skim some of the series to find out once and for all if the "ripoff" label is valid, but first let's debunk a common misconception about Wedding Peach:

Sailor Moon and Wedding Peach were not written by the same person. However they do share one writer — the co-author of the WP original manga, who served as one of four writers on the WP anime, also was the scriptwriter on 35 assorted episodes of the first 3 seasons of Sailor Moon. The two shows also share the same character designer, which I think is a big reason for the "ripoff" accusations — the shows' art styles are almost identical. However, aside from those two people, the two shows have entirely different production staffs.

So after watching portions of the series, here's my verdict: Wedding Peach does not rip off Sailor Moon. Honestly I wish it had, because then it might be worth a damn.

I should probably explain that.

As far as parallels, Wedding Peach is no more similar to Sailor Moon than any other Magical Girl show in which a group of teenage girls fight evil and save the world. Most of the tropes WP and SM have in common are just standard Magic Warrior tropes — calling your attacks, stock footage, nude transformations, "in the name of the moon" speeches, trademark poses, brainwashed boyfriend, the power of looooove, monsters/victims of the week, and of course the clumsy dumbass "this loser is you" heroine.

Beyond that, WP has a lot of details that differ from SM. The outfits, for a start: SM's were based on sailor-suit school uniforms, while WP's look more like armor, specifically that particular variety of pretty-but-useless armor that female characters always wear in fantasy series. The hair colors and styles of the girls are different between the two shows, WP's heroine has a dead mom, and the girls of WP start out the series as best friends, as opposed to the SM crew who only met after getting their powers. WP has a Tuxedo-Mask-style mysterious protector, but he has more of a knightly look to him, carries a sword, is from another world, and ends up romancing one of the girl-posse members instead of the heroine. The cutesy mascot actually starts out as a villain who gets converted and switches sides a few episodes in. I could go on, but basically when you examine the nitty-gritty, Wedding Peach is too frequently different from Sailor Moon to be a straight ripoff.

So what's the problem with Wedding Peach? Well, it's bland. It just doesn't seem to have any clear identity of its own, and what little identity it does have is laughably dorky. For example, look at the theme-naming for each series. Sailor Moon's theme-naming is a rich trove of references to astronomy and Greco-Roman myth. Wedding Peach on the other hand has a theme of, well, weddings. Some of the attack names are things like, no joke, "Passionate Cake Cut!" and "Wedding Engagement Gift, Saint Crystal Love For You!" But even the wedding theme isn't terribly consistent; the show also has a flower theme, with each of the posse-members being named after a flower, and an overall theme of over-the-top girlyness — one of the girls' main magical device is a freaking lipstick whose main attack is called "Saint Lipliner Lily Rainbow!" I mean, Sailor Moon could be a pretty silly at times ("Star Gentle Uterus" anyone?) but its silliness pales in comparison to Wedding Peach.

Another problem with Wedding Peach is that the theme of each girl seems poorly defined. In Sailor Moon, as in most posse-based shows, each girl has her own distinct attack specialization, usually elementally based — water, fire, lightning, love/metal, sky, ocean, time, death/silence, etc. In Wedding Peach however, the girls don't seem to have a clear specialization. Lily has "Lily Rainbow," a lasso attack, and "Saint Astral Stardust," which blasts stars at you; in the sequel, she gets a whip, which I guess kind of matches the rainbow lasso. Daisy has "Daisy Blizzard" and "Saint Tornado Dreaming" which implies a weather theme, although that's not evident in her character or henshin. And Salvia's defining combat trait is that she has a sword. Just, a sword. That's it. Add to this the fact that the girls' personalities can be summed up as "ladylike," "tomboy," and "arrogant aloof ally" respectively, and this lack of coherent themes makes them feel indistinct and forgettable. Even their "greyskull" spells are homogeneous-sounding — to transform, they yell "Wedding [Adjective] Flower!" with the adjective being Beautiful, Graceful, Attractive, or Excellent. *snore* Sailor Moon's girls may not have been terribly deep characters, but at least they stood out from one another and were easy to tell apart.

And finally, while Sailor Moon's conflict was a fairly simplistic fight between good and evil, with copious use of the power of loooove on the side of the goodies, its handling of the core conflict looks subtle and nuanced in comparison to Wedding Peach's thuddingly obvious approach. The heroes are called the "Love Angels," their boss is Aphrodite, and their enemies are simply the "Devils." The Angels' main power source is the "Love Wave," and dear god did I get completely sick of hearing characters bang on and on about the freaking Love Wave. It sounded stupid the first time and gets exponentially stupider with every reiteration. This show takes the whole concept of weaponized love and the care-bear stare and enemies who are physically injured by love to ridiculous extremes. The word "love" gets bandied about so frequently that it ceases to have any meaning or significance, and it just makes the show sound shallow and stupid.

In conclusion, here's my theory on why Wedding Peach gets so frequently labelled as a ripoff: it's so bland and boring that the only aspects of the show that stand out are the bits that were borrowed from the vastly superior Sailor Moon. Wedding Peach does do a lot of things different to Sailor Moon, but none of those differences are memorable enough or interesting enough to give it a distinct identity. Heck, I watched it yesterday and I'm already struggling to remember stuff about it. It's a show that completely fails to leave a lasting impression.
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)
I'm really glad I figured out that timeslots can indicate an anime's intended audience (TV Tropes calls this phenomenon Otaku O'Clock) because I was having a hell of a time figuring out the target demographic of some of these Magical Girl shows. I was especially excited when I discovered that Japanese Wikipedia often lists a show's airtime on its page, even if the show is really old, so I was able to fill in the gaps of my knowledge. Here's what I discovered:

Shows I already knew would be late-nighters:
Nanoha (the big fish in the male-aimed-MG pond)
Uta Kata (basically Madoka Magica without the gore)
Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo (fanservice-tastic)
Magical Canan (based on a hentai)
Ultimate Girls (barf)
Magical Pokaan (4-girl moe comedy)
Papillon Rose (full name is Lingerie Fighter Papillon Rose)
Moetan (lolicon)
Milky Holmes (4-girl moe comedy, again)
Twin Angel: Twinkle Paradise (jiggle jiggle bouncety bounce)

Shows I strongly suspected of being late-nighters, which JP Wiki confirmed:
Ground Defense Force Mao-chan (it's by Ken Akamatsu)
Happy Seven
Rakugo Tennyo Oyui
Saint October (the heroines each have "Loli" in their name and the henshins make them look like they're getting jizzed on)
Black Rock Shooter

Seeing Happy Seven and Rakugo Tennyo Oyui in the late-night slots really made me punch the air because I'd been very suspicious of how moe-ish their art styles and character types were, even though they're Sailor-Moon-esque girl-posse magic-warrior type shows with not much fanservice. Ha, my demographic-detecting powers are improving.

Shows that surprised me by being late-nighters:
Jubei-chan Ninja Girl

The only tip-off in Jubei that I noticed was the hand-to-hand combat and high level of violence, and there are plenty of girl-aimed MG shows that have that.

Shows I thought might be late-nighters, but they weren't:
Fushigi Mahou Fan Fan Pharmacy
Magical Meow Meow Taruto
Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou

Pharmacy was honestly too early to qualify as a male-aimed show — it was made the same year as Cardcaptor Sakura, before the producers noticed the male periphery demographic and started catering to it on purpose — but its particular brand of cutesyness still made me wonder. Meow Meow Taruto I have no explanation for — it's a show about magical cosplaying catgirls for Christ's sake! But it aired at 6 pm. Idk, maybe they were trying to appeal to multiple demographics. Yoku Wakaru aired on one station at midnight but on two other stations at 11:30 am and 12 noon. I have no idea what that means. However given the demographic of the light novels it was based on (male) and the tie-in manga (shonen) and the type of stations it aired on, I'm still pretty sure it's a male-aimed show.
the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
Looking at the TV ratings of various Magical Girl shows has also taught me some interesting things about how anime gets scheduled in Japan. There are certain timeslots that are consistently given to Magical Girl shows, so it's informative to look at which shows get put in the same timeslots, to see which shows are viewed as catering to a similar audience. Here's a list of timeslot buddies:

Monday, 8:30 am, TV Asahi
Ojamajo Doremi
Pretty Cure

Monday, 9:30 am, TV Tokyo
Princess Comet
Onegai My Melody
Jewelpet (1st season only)

Saturday, 7:00 am, TV Tokyo
Sugar Sugar Rune

Saturday, 8:00 am, TV Tokyo
Tokyo Mew Mew
Mermaid Melody

Saturday, 9:30 am, TV Tokyo
Shugo Chara
Jewelpet (2nd and 3rd season)

Saturday, 10:00 am, TV Tokyo
Fushigiboshi No Futagohime
Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream

Interesting to note that Jewelpet was originally put in the same slot as Onegai My Melody, presumably because they're both merchandise-driven shows where the focus is more on the cutesy mascots than the human characters, but Jewelpet didn't score very well there, so it was moved to the Shugo Chara slot, where it received a full 1% ratings bump. And I think it's funny and appropriate that Doremi and Precure, the two 600-pound gorillas of the last decade of this genre, both got the same slot.

Looking at timeslots is also a good way to tell if a show is aimed at a more adult demographic. Jubei-chan Ninja Girl 2, Mai-Hime, Getsumen To Heiki Miina, Umi Monogatari (which I already suspected of catering to the schoolgirl-lesbian demographic), and PMMM all aired late at night, although oddly so did Sasami Magical Girls Club, which to me seems obviously aimed at young girls. (Edit: According to [personal profile] nenena, Sasami was aimed at the adult male otaku crowd, so mystery solved.) A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is another late-nighter, and that's one of those shows where it's really difficult to tell if it's aimed at little girls or at adult moe fans, but due to the scheduling I'm inclined to go with the latter.

Actually looking at the late-nighters, I'm impressed that Getsumen To Heiki Miina, a defictionalization/fanservice/widget series, managed to get such high ratings. The late-night crowd tend to score in the 1.0-1.5 percent range, but Getsumen got 2.0. Then again, fanservice + widget is the exact sort of thing that would appeal to otaku, and otaku are presumably the only people who'd stay up late enough to watch this stuff.


the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
Sing me a bawdy song, make me merry

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