Magical Project S
Review by Rylan Hilman
(Note: "Magical Project S" is the name Pioneer has given "Mahou Shoujo Pretty Sammy TV" for American release, supposedly since the "Pretty Sammy" OAV series didn't sell too well...but then, MPS is released in, as of now, a subtitled format only. Hopefully, a dub would be produced after the cast members are done voicing "Tenchi in Tokyo". Subtitled films don't normally go over well with the "Age 3 and Up" crowd the tape is aiming for...)
On the magical world of Juraihelm, the candidate to be the next queen, Tsunami, must choose a kindred spirit on the planet Earth to be a champion of justice and restore the balance of good and evil. She picks Sasami Kawai, an average 4th-grade student, and gives her the power to become Magical Girl Pretty Sammy, along with a helpful talking cat/rabbit named Ryo-Ohki. Sasami is...less than enthusiastic about appearing in public dressed as Sammy, but the arrival of the Magical Girl Pixy Misa, chosen by Tsunami's jealous rival, forces her to take on the task of promoting world peace wwhile keeping her double identity secret.
This spinoff of the vastly popular Tenchi Muyo! series is actually one of THE better storylines using the characters, considered by some to be second only to the original Tenchi OAV episodes. Although the same general idea as the already-released Pretty Sammy OAVs (Sasami becoming Pretty Sammy), the plot details undergo a lot of modifications. Sasami's parents are different (but still VERY odd), almost all the other Tenchi cast members are in different roles, and Sasami has several classmates, each with varying and interesting personalities.
Not just a spinoff of Tenchi Muyo!, Magical Project S is somewhat of a parody of the entire "magical girl" genre, eg. Sailor Moon, and doesn't take itself too seriously. Examples: when Sasami and Pixy Misa first meet, Sasami asks, "Who are you?", and Misa responds, "My name is...tell you next time! See you next week!", and then cuts to the ending credits. Or, Sasami's been afflicted by a strange medical condition, and Ryo-Ohki trys to cheer her up with, "Don't worry, you should be back to normal by the end of the show." "I wish you wouldn't make wild assumptions like that..."
Lightweight and humorous through most the episodes, it begins to get somewhat more serious and emotional in the second half of the series. In particular, the ending of the last episode so far released (as of the date of this review) is somewhat depressing. Nonetheless, on the whole, Magical Project S is a very entertaining and creative childrens' show which can be enjoyed on a variety of levels.
Parent's Guide Rating:
green (suitable for family viewing)
Pixy Misa summons up a variety of Love-Love Monsters whose general purpose is to cause mayhem and beat up Pretty Sammy, but the violence is fairly tame, limited (usually) to flinging magic beams, dodgeballs, cheesecake, etc. There is one episode with a "Gunman Girl", and one character is supposedly shot and killed(he turns out okay), but even Pixy Misa begins to freak out at that one (she never intends to SERIOUSLY hurt anybody). This episode in particular probably needs to be checked the most for appropriateness, as it deals rather heavily with stereotypical American and Old Western themes of guns and the idea of them being "cool" or not.
Aside from that one episode, there's not too much to be concerned with in the violence category. Nothing bloody or graphic is anywhere to be seen.
Sex/Nudity: Usually in shows of this genre, the transformation from a normal kid to a magical girl involves some nudity as their clothes are replaced. This isn't really the case in Magical Project S, as all transformation scenes involve a brightly colored silhouette with no detail whatsoever. There are a couple of scenes with Sasami in the bathtub, but they're all angled to provide no unneccesary views whatsoever (only from shoulders-up for Sasami, waist-up for her dad).
Speaking of which, Sasami and her dad do bathe together a couple of times, and this is done in a perfectly casual manner, something that is far more acceptable and possible in Japan than in the US.
Profanity: Bizarrely enough, there are a few actual instances of profanity in the subtitling, limited to "h*ll" and "crap" for the most part, and the Japanese voice actors sometimes exclaim approximations of "Oh my God!" or "Jesus!". Even with this, they changed the Japanese "sekushii", which sounds obviously very much like "sexy", to "lovely" in the subtitling. Still, there are less than a half-dozen of these instances in 19 episodes so far, so this isn't too bad an issue.
Issues for Discussion: The whole topic of magical girls, monsters, and so on might need some explaining to younger children. Another major issue is that of family: Sasami's family is happy, solid, and well off, although somewhat strange. On the other hand, her best friend Misao's family life is all but nonexistant; her mom works most of the time, her dad left overseas when she was little, and she has to let herself in every day after school. Misao is very lonely and needs Sasami's friendship quite a bit, but the duties of the magical girl sometimes cause her to not be available. This general topic is VERY important to the series, especially later on when Misao finally realizes Sasami's secret.
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