Magical Girl Pretty Sammy

October 10, 2004 on 1:28 pm | In Pretty Sammy, Tenchi Muyo! | Comments Off on Magical Girl Pretty Sammy

Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is probably the most “spun off” of the Tenchi Muyo! franchises because it bears so little resemblance to any of the others. For all of the alternate universes, the Tenchi story is pretty constant. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is the second incarnation of the Pretty Sammy legend, and the first one that was developed beyond a throwaway joke. The best thing about the legends of the Pretty Sammy character is that they’re satirical and subversive while remaining perfect magical girl fare.

In the magical world of Jurai-helm, the time has come to appoint a queen. The council of elders has decided that Tsunami would be most suitable, and she must pass the final test: to do this, she appoints Kawai Sasami of Earth to use her powers for good by becoming Pretty Sammy. The other candidate for queen, Ramiya, is not happy with this at all and creates a magical girl of her own: Pixy Misa, born of Sasami’s best friend.

Oddly enough, Pretty Sammy works better if you’ve seen the alternate TV series Magical Project S: that goes somewhere, which gives this OVA licence to be a few short stories without having to really delve into Misao’s sadness or her home life. It doesn’t really try, and probably shouldn’t have really made allusions to these things, because that’s not what this is all about. It’s about Ryoko and Ayeka fighting over Tenchi, Tenchi inexplicably not making a move on either of the two girls who are totally into him, Ayeka having a team of school girl servants (highly reminiscent of B-ko) and the power of Sasami’s friendship.
It’s not an emotional series; the third episode has some saddening moments, but primarily this is all about the laughter. Any scenes with Sasami’s mother (different to the TV version; the Kawai family is here a single parent household) are guaranteed hilarity as she is obsessed with karaoke and takes every opportunity to sing subversive enka songs (the second ED is about a woman crying over losing her love to another man – the hook being “Gay love is making me sad”).
The second episode’s villain, Bif Standard, is hooked on the idea of standardising computers and software throughout the world. When criticised for the slowness of his system, he yells that speed must be sacrificed for stability. For some reason, his idea of stability is crashing the moon into the Earth, thus doing away with war and poverty. When he sees the error of his ways, it’s that he hasn’t aimed high enough – at which point Sammy asks if she can beat him up.

Matsumoto Rika is great as Kawai Chihiro, the woman who simply can not function without some karaoke in her life, and the rest of the traditional Tenchi Muyo! cast do their jobs and do them well. There’s a little bit of fan service, only one real naked transformation sequence, and some very disturbing animation in the OP that Sasami has to block by laughing it off. Creator Hayashi Hiroki did a good job of integrating all of the elements to make a very Tenchified yet independent OVA series, and directors Hirokawa Kazuyuki and Kikuchi Yasuhito direct with finesse. Hit and miss writer Kuroda Yosuke (Okay, he’s only had one real dud) is sharp and to the point, making for an ultimately very enjoyable comedy.

It may not be as “good” as Magical Project S, but because that TV series exists it doesn’t have to be. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is a frequently hilarious three episode OVA that comes highly recommended for all people who like this kind of stuff. Watching this makes one reflect on how unfortunate it was that Magical Project S wasn’t dubbed; this Tenchi property could have conquered the world.

Magical Project S – Episodes 22 to 26

March 17, 2004 on 11:16 pm | In Pretty Sammy, Tenchi Muyo! | Comments Off on Magical Project S – Episodes 22 to 26

This series peaked many times in the last ten episodes. Each time it reached one, it jumped right over to the next. It may be a terrible analogy, but Magical Project S was mountain goat anime.

It became terribly weird to watch anime in which Aeka was the ultimate evil and Ryoko was a devoted and loyal servant of Juraihelm, but these aren’t the same characters as before. Ryo-Ohki had human intelligence and an entirely different gender (which is why he was so embarrassed to be in the bath with Sasami). Sasami was a very good lead and Misao was great when she emerged from her chrysalis.

The final ten episodes raised Magical Project S from a simply enjoyable series to a rockin’ fun great series. That said, it’s not simply a case of “tolerating” the first fifteen. Development was handled very well and Tsunami was great, although quite how she was fit for ruling I’m not sure. But that’s the whole point!

The omake movie trailer was hilarious, and I wish all fake movies could be like that. It took a while for me to warm to the second ED, but it grew on me for sure. A good series has an ending that makes you sad to see it go, but ultimately satisfies. Magical Project S did just that.
It was a triumph of direction for Akiyama Katsuhito, who directed the worst thing that I watched last year – Armitage III: Dual-Matrix. When he works with traditional AIC material, he is a king.

Magical Project S – Episodes 2 to 21

March 14, 2004 on 11:23 pm | In Pretty Sammy | Comments Off on Magical Project S – Episodes 2 to 21

I started to fear that this was falling into the trap of Jubei-chan: that is, too formulaic. Fortunately, like Jubei-chan, it turned itself around.

After the smash hit first episode, Pixy Misa’s English dialogue really started to grate. However, after the second she really seemed to tone it down somewhat, which was a great relief.

Around episode sixteen it took the mahou shoujo genre’s greatest hook: emotional jeopardy. Team Sexy Madam actually posed a threat to Sammy, which made things more colourful, and Pixy Misa was revealed as a surprisingly weak fighter (as opposed to simply a coward).
But then episode eighteen came up and the ultra genuine emotions came out and the tears never stopped. It had to happen in a series in which best friends are pitted against each other as magical girls, and it did. With five episodes left, I have to wonder what will become of the rest of them.
The appropriation of other characters, such as Yosho and Tenchi’s father, and my old favourite, Washu, were welcome additions. I just hope it didn’t peak too soon.

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