Monday, November 14, 2005

Magical Project S

Magical Project S is probably one of those shows people either love or hate--the best way to describe it is Cardcaptor Sakura on crack. In Japan it was "Mahou Shoujo Pretty Sammy", and had a OVA series followed by a 26-episode TV series. In the US and Canada, that TV series was released as "Magical Project S" (subtitled only).

On the surface Magical Project S looks like your typical mahou shoujo series--fifth-grader Sasami goes to school and lives a happy, ordinary life, along with a good chunk of the cast of Tenchi Muyo in different roles (except Tenchi is absent--he only shows up in one episode). One day Tsunami, candidate to become queen of the magic world of Juraihelm, shows up at Sasami's house to scout her to become a mahou shoujo (magical girl)--in order to become queen, Tsunami has to restore the balance of good and evil by picking an Earthling to give magic powers and do good with them. Tsunami has picked Sasami--but Sasami looks at the baton and the outfit she'd have to wear as Mahou Shoujo Pretty Sammy and decides there's no way in hell she'll do it because it's way too embarrassing, and all her friends would laugh at her.

Later on, Sasami's still against the mahou shoujo thing, but she suddenly gets attacked by another mahou shoujo--Sasami doesn't know it, but there's another wannabe-queen, Ramia, who was passed up for queen candidate and wants to stop Tsunami from restoring the balance. So Ramia sends her hapless little brother to turn Sasami's best friend Misao into Mahou Shoujo Pixy Misa. Misao doesn't remember when she transforms into Pixy Misa and no one recognizes Sasami as Sammy, so the best friends end up on opposite sides, doing battle as mahou Shoujo without realizing it.

The "battles" are nothing like Nanoha--they're played for laughs for the most part. Pixy Misa's powers let her turn ordinary objects into "Rabu-Rabu Monsters", so in one episode she turns a flask in chemistry lab into a giant flask that attacks Sasami. But since it's a flask it can't move, and Sasami blasts it without much trouble as Misa shakes her head and sneaks out the back door, sighing and muttering that it always ends up this way. Washu has a great role in this series, too, as Sasami and Misao's science teacher--she knows exactly who Pretty Sammy is, and even moves in next door to Sasami so she can better study magic. Washu graduated from MIT when she was 10--seems like all child prodigies in Japan go to MIT, wonder if she knew Becky..

The best things about this series are the writing (the characters get some great lines), the eccentric cast, the fact it never takes itself too seriously, and getting to see the Tenchi Muyo cast in a completely different setting. It even leaves the monster-of-the-week format and has some drama towards the end, with some good character development for Misao. It's a lot of fun to watch--probably not for everyone, but if you like mahou shoujo I think it's worth a shot.

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