Plot: Ichigo Momomiya is a normal junior high school student. She’s klutzy, head over heels for a great guy, and loves to eat. One day, while out at an endangered species exhibit at the zoo with her crush, Aoyama, an earthquake occurs, and Ichigo as well as four other girls find themselves bathed in a weird light.
She falls unconscious and has a strange dream about fusing her body with a black cat, but brushes it off for the most part. Until, that is, she starts displaying weird cat-like traits such as landing on her feet after huge falls, chasing butterflies and developing an insatiable hunger for fish.
After meeting Ryou Shirogane and Keiichiro Akasaka, she learns that she was infused with the DNA of the endangered red data animal, the iriomote wildcat. Shirogane and Akasaka explain that this fusion allows her to transform into a Mew Mew – Mew Ichigo to be precise – a powerful heroic cat girl.
She is tasked with defeating chimera animals—alien parasites that have infected animals and turned them into monsters. Along the way, she meets up with the other four Mews – Mint, infused with the power of a blue lorikeet, Lettuce, fused with the power of a black finless porpoise, Pudding, infused with the power of a golden lion tamarin and Zakuro, infused with the power of a grey wolf. Together, they have to defeat the chimera animals and the aliens who are controlling them to save the world.
Breakdown: Tokyo Mew Mew, at face value, really doesn’t do much to change up the magical girl formula. The formula is changed a bit in that it’s not really magic, it’s science. Though, to be honest, it might as well be. Call it science all you want, this is still a magical girl anime. There’s no way science is making these weird attack powers and magical girl outfits.
It’s also rather formulaic in its characters. The lead is about the same as most magical girl lead stereotypes. As I said, she’s klutzy, loves food and is deeply in love with Aoyama with their relationship eventually becoming a key focal point in the series. However, she doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as Usagi from Sailor Moon used to, and she knows full well when to stick to her guns and fight and not obsess over petty stuff in the middle of battles.
It is annoying that Ichigo gets so much favoritism in terms of…well, practically anything. She gets to be the leader for no adequately given reason. She gets to know what animal she’s fused with immediately (we have to wait until episode 17 for everyone else’s), she has weird animal traits outside of transformation while the others get nothing (Well, it’s hinted that Zakuro can maybe speak to canines, and one episode shows that Mint is able to talk with birds, but that’s it.) Shirgogane and Akasaka said it might be because Ichigo’s a better match for her animal than the others are with theirs, but I call bull since they said at the beginning of the series that they all had to be perfect matches.
She gets two different attack items and three attacks while the other Mews never get anything new, and it seems like the other Mews are fairly useless on their own and always need Ichigo to finish off the enemy or save them.
There’s also the fact that Ichigo has a reverse-School Days effect on her. So many guys in the series are attracted to her. Kisshu, Aoyama, Shirogane, and The Blue Knight.
Aoyama’s a good character, but he’s a little too good.
Like many male leads in magical girl anime, he’s seen as perfect by many girls, and he is way too perfect to me. He has no weak points that I ever saw. He’s not bad at anything, he never got annoying, he has a handsome character design, he has a comforting voice, he’s a great person, he’s a great boyfriend to Ichigo. He’s just…perfect.
He doesn’t even fall into the trope of the guy whom the main girl hates at first then eventually falls in love with. They both mutually like each other from the start. And there’s no real drama in their relationship. Granted, yes, the whole secret of the Mew Mew thing does cause some wackiness and minor tension, but when he finally finds out it doesn’t shake up things that much and he’s very accepting of her.
And also, there’s something very convoluted about his character.
Aoyama is secretly a character named The Blue Knight. And you can guess just by the name that he’s our resident Tuxedo Mask for the series. Pops up in the nick of time to save the girls, usually Ichigo, from some danger then ‘leaves the rest’ up to them.
However, The Blue Knight never got quite as annoying with this trope as Tuxedo Mask did. He doesn’t appear nearly as frequently as our tuxedo’d friend did in the early days of Sailor Moon. Aoyama has no idea that he’s The Blue Knight. He transforms into him whenever he senses that Ichigo may be in danger. Aoyama always loses his memories of becoming him and doing the things that he does.
That’s interesting and pretty unique, albeit confusing…..but that’s not all!
He’s also our main baddie, a mysterious alien named Deep Blue. And by ‘mysterious’ I mean he spends 95% of the entire show being nothing but a silhouette. How this works exactly is beyond my understanding. I just remember being really confused during the scene where they try to explain it. He also has no knowledge of being Deep Blue, either.
END OF SPOILERS
Next up is Mint. I don’t care for Mint. She’s kinda our Rei-ish-kinda character since she’s the one who’s always butting heads with Ichigo but really has a heart of gold. I don’t really like her much because she’s a snotty rich diva for a good chunk of the show. She does get less annoying and has some sincere moments, but for the most part she’s irritating.
She does little work at the café, instead choosing to sit around drinking tea most of the time, yet she still has the nerve to order Ichigo around.
Lettuce is your standard shy glasses girl. However, despite the fact that she is as such, she’s not noted as being particularly nerdy or intelligent. She likes to read, but she never does anything to imply that she’s supposed to be the token ‘smart one.’
She does have some moments to shine in the series and one or two moments that really show how much she’s changed as a person. In particular, when she gets exposed to Mew Aqua, which temporarily turns her into a mermaid. Other than that, she’s just nice. Also her music selections are really cool.
However, one thing that really riles me up about her is the fact that she cannot swim.
Remember how I mentioned that it didn’t seem fair that Ichigo was the only one who actually seemed to get any animal traits outside of transformation? Well, the series seems to realize that and outright slaps you in the face with it by making Lettuce, the one who is fused with a finless porpoise…..unable to swim.
She doesn’t even gain the ability when transformed, which is stupid. She has to gain the powers of Mew Aqua and turn into a mermaid to gain that ability. Ichigo can survive falls like she’s Gumby, even if that really isn’t something a cat would be able to do at certain heights, yet Lettuce can’t swim. She does learn, but it’s a skill not a power.
Pudding is probably the most unique one of the group. She’s fairly younger than the rest, and she’s very hyper and goofy. Pudding does get a little grating sometimes, but she means well and is sometimes really funny.
Pudding also has a fairly sad backstory. Her mom passed away years ago, and her dad is off training in martial arts somewhere, so she’s tasked with taking care of her several younger siblings. Yes, that does sound suspiciously like Brock’s backstory in Pokemon, but, unlike in Brock’s story, her dad seemingly never returns.
Zakuro is slightly older than the other Mews and is actually a fairly well-known model. (The very flimsy reason why no one realizes that Zakuro works at the café is because her work attitude is awful and none of her fans would believe that the rude waitress is the model Zakuro. Foolproof.) She does some evil-battling on her own as Mew Zakuro despite the fact that that makes no sense to me.
Why is Mew Zakuro able to do tons of stuff on her own with no problem whatsoever when the other Mews have to rely on Ichigo? And where did she get the transformation pendant when Masha’s supposedly the one that doles them out?
Zakuro’s more mature than the rest and is, no pun intended, the lone wolf. She rarely laughs or even smiles, but she is a true friend to the other Mews.
Mint has a huge crush on her, but she returns her affections as a big sister figure.
Shirogane and Akasaka are pretty likable, even if Shirogane’s kinda rough around the edges. Like you’d expect, they’re both pretty boys, but both are very intelligent and kind and caring to the Mews. They stay on the sidelines quite often but aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty if the situation calls for it.
Finally we have our villains. This is actually one of the main changes that the show brings to the table to differentiate itself from other magical girl anime. The villains, while also seeming like traditional villains at face value (Here’s a monster of the week!–oh you beat it? Witty banter! Bye bye!) are not really your average villains. Yes, there is monster of the week stuff. Yes, they do answer to some shadowy figure. Yes, it does seem like their main goal is taking over the world.
But they actually have a fairly good reason for taking over the world.
They used to live on the earth until a series of disasters forced them to leave. They fled to another planet that they thought would be a viable home for them, but it turned out to be even worse in regards to environment as the earth. Some of the aliens (their species is never named) came back to earth after several thousand/million years of suffering on their temporary planet.
When they returned, they found the earth had been taken over by humans and started ruining their planet with concrete and pollution. (There is a slight environmentalist/save the animals slant to the show but it’s not terribly preachy)
The aliens, whom technically are not aliens, are Kisshu, Taruto and Pai – under the command of a mere voice who promised them their home back, Deep Blue. (Slowly, Deep Blue does become a shadowy figure and eventually his actual form. He’s in a weakened disembodied state at first and needs to slowly regain his form.) He orders them to start collecting the mysterious power of Mew Aqua to take their planet back. Their search and subsequent attack on humanity put them at odds with the Mews, causing a constant battle between them.
You do feel bad for Kisshu, Taruto and Pai as you learn of why they’re doing all of this, and eventually they even become pseudo-good guys.
Kisshu is the main alien to deal with in this series, especially during the first half. He’s actually a pretty funny character (I love when he calls Ichigo “Honey”). He’s the kind of villain who loves to play around but is also really passionate about their goals. Kisshu also has a crush on Ichigo. This crush is not reciprocated since Ichigo loves Aoyama, but I do admit it’s an interesting pairing.
Taruto is like the bad-guy Pudding, except he loves to cause trouble on purpose instead of on accident. He and Pudding actually do become a somewhat of a thing, at least good friends, later on.
Pai is rather forgettable. He has little in terms of personality and is very monotone and serious. He’s the most intelligent and strategic of the group.
The ending is good, even if one scene at end is horribly animated for some reason. One part is really cheesy and works on magical girl romance anime logic, but I can’t really fault it that much as those kinds of scenes are expected in these types of anime. But the very, very ending is left open.
Art and Animation: Don’t expect anything special. It’s very sub-par. The bright colors are nice, and I do like some scenes, but it’s never reaching the point of being impressive. The artwork does get better later on, but it’s fairly typical shoujo fare. This is especially apparent in ‘important’ episodes. I got downright impressed at some points…….I still think Mint’s outfit looks like a towel, though.
As for animation, like many magical girl anime, there’s a lot of the footage is recycled due to constant transformation and attack cutscenes. The actual animation itself is just okay, but it does get pretty bad sometimes like with the aforementioned scene in the last episode.
Music: Average magical girl-ish music. Nothing wrong with the soundtrack as far as I can tell. The overall soundtrack grew on me more over time and rewatches, and the ED is particularly catchy.
Bottom Line: All in all, and all ranting, questions and blathering aside, I fully enjoyed this series. It’s a great magical girl anime. I especially like that they kinda instilled a sense of a +Anima type of sense to the story. I really love that manga.
Additional Notes and Information: Tokyo Mew Mew is based on a manga of the same name written by Reiko Yoshida. The series was directed by Noriyuki Abe and was produced by Studio Pierrot.
The series was licensed for the awful English dub by 4Kids, but 4Kids only dubbed 26 out of 52 episodes because they lost the license because they’re awful.
On the topic of the manga, there was actually a sequel. Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode showcases a new Mew Mew named Beri/Berry (All of the Mews are named after foods – Ichigo means strawberry and Zakuro means pomegranate) who is fused with both a cat and a bunny. Cat because I guess the leader absolutely needs to be a cat, and bunny to differentiate between her and Ichigo. It could also be a throwback to Sailor Moon.
Ichigo doesn’t appear much in this manga as she’s studying overseas with Aoyama, thus Beri has taken over leadership of the Mews despite the fact that the other Mews have far more experience.
Year: 2002 – 2003
Recommended Audience: Is there really such a thing as a magical girl anime that’s not suitable for children? Puni Puni Poemy maybe, if that counts as magical girl, but it’s really a parody.
Anyway, no swearing, little violence, no nudity (barring transformation scenes, but it’s nothing worse than Sailor Moon. In fact, it’s probably less so since these girls are younger than the girls in Sailor Moon thus none of them have particularly prominent chests, Zakuro excluded a little.) There is some blood later, as Kisshu gets seriously wounded, but it’s not that much. Later someone gets run through with a sword too, but no blood or wound is seen. 6+
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