2012 has been a FANTASTIC year so far. No heating, terrible weather, and no electricity for most of yesterday afternoon. It also started with a week of virtually no new anime releases, Mirai Nikki included. So instead, my first post of the new year will be about an older series which I personally think more people should give a chance. That show is Magical Angel Creamy Mami. Perhaps not the best name they could have come up with, at least to western audiences – a friend of mine said it sounded like MILF porn, and while I don’t claim to be an expert in that area, I’ll agree that it does sound a bit dubious. But this anime is pretty SFW, aimed at younger audiences in fact.
So why, as a guy in my 20s, am I singing the praises of a little girl’s show instead of watching MILF porn? Good question, one that I’ll attempt to answer here.
Plot summary: 10 year old Morisawa Yuu gains magical powers, allowing her to transform into the idol Creamy Mami, the only catch being that nobody must learn her true identity. Which is all well and good, except that idols are expected to perform in late night concerts and appear on evening TV shows, while 10 year old girls are expected home before it gets dark. Also, she has feelings for an older boy named Toshio, but while he sees Yuu as though she was a younger sister, he soon falls head over heels for her alter ego, not realizing they’re the same person.
Add a rival idol, bumbling producer and manager, plus another simple minded but kind hearted boy with feelings for Yuu to the mix, along with plenty of weird fantasy/magical situations, and you have a winning formula that stretches nicely across 52 eps without becoming too repetitive.
What makes it worth watching? Magical Angel Creamy Mami wasn’t the first magical girl anime by a long shot; they’ve been around since the mid 1960s, and this came out in the early ’80s. It was Studio Pierrot’s debut into the sub-genre however, the first of five they produced (the others were ‘Magical Fairy Persia‘, ‘Magical Star Magical Emi‘ – maybe they were running out of creative names by that point – ‘Magical Idol Pastel Yumi‘, and the much later ‘Magical Stage Fancy Lala‘ – haven’t seen it, so can’t confirm whether the protagonist is indeed a magical stage).
Additionally, it was the first magical girl series in which the main character’s powers were put to use launching a successful career as an idol… yes, this show has a lot of music. All of it good.
So alright, it has an epic soundtrack (in my opinion). But if that’s the show’s only appeal, why not simply buy or download the CD? Well, the series itself is pretty awesome too. Take the first episode for example, it features among other things:
…and that’s just the first episode. 😛
The animation is pretty good, even by today’s standards in my opinion – nice colours, very few drops in quality. The character designs are what I like the most though, coming from Takada Akemi, also character designer for a few not-so overlooked and underrated shows such as Urusei Yatsura and Patlabor… neither of which I’ve seen myself, but I’ll get around to them!
Possible reasons for it’s obscurity: I hear it’s still popular in Japan, if only among nostalgic adult women, and it also got dubbed in a few European languages. But the lack of an official English release would explain why even my most anime-obsessed friends look at me strangely when I mention its name. Sure, it is now fully available fansubbed, but how many girls of 10 or below watch fansubbed anime? It seems almost doomed to a small fanbase of magical girl otaku… like I’m in danger of becoming at this rate… Even then, as there are newer and older magical girl anime available, what are the chances of someone picking up a show from somewhere in the middle… and with such a dubious name? 😛
Overall thoughts: The series is very episodic; don’t expect cliffhanger endings or complex story arcs. But that does mean you can easily leave it and come back to it later, with little risk of losing track of the ‘plot’. It makes for nice, easy viewing, with fun characters, romance and bucket loads of comedy. And the settings in each episode vary so much that it avoids becoming repetitive for the most part. The only thing which DOES become a bit samey after a while is the music – much as I love it, Mami sticks to her debut single for quite a while before new songs are thrown in to add some variation. But that’s a minor issue.
Anime-Planet average rating: 2.5/5
My personal rating: 4/5