Tokyo Mew Mew

Mike's totally subjective, completely biased and needlessly verbose mini-review


Mew Mew Strawberry Metamorphosis!

Aliens and Animals and Catgirls; Oh my!

Before we begin, let's establish a frame of reference:

  • This is a Japanese Saturday morning cartoon.
  • This is a Japanese Saturday morning cartoon for girls.
  • This is a Japanese Saturday morning cartoon for little girls.

That being said, if the thought of Sailor Moon with a pink-haired catgirl as the main character doesn't appeal to you, don't bother reading any further. If, however, you suffer from the same mental illness that I do, you'll find this enjoyable, so read on:

Tokyo Mew Mew began life as comic published in the girl's monthly manga Nakayoshi. (This is also where Sailor Moon and Goldfish Warning! started out as well) The story is written by Reiko Yoshida and it is illustrated by Mia Ikumi. It was animated by Studio Pierrot (an interesting choice, they are better known for 80's softcore porn anime!) The first episode aired on April 20, 2002 and the final episode aired on March 22, 2003- 51 episodes, aired every Saturday at 8AM.

So, I trust you like Sailor Moon, right? Tokyo Mew Mew is essentially in the same vein of sentai magical girls anime, however this time, our heroines are genetically modified and infused with the DNA of endangered species. This allows them to transform into "Mew Mew" form (the Greek letter mu, "", actually) and save the world from evil. Throw in a fan-favorite (ahem) concept like the catgirl and you've got something more interesting than just-another-Sailor-Moon-clone.

The story has a few twists on the familiar Sailor Moon archetype, which I won't get into details about, but there are enough differences and modernizations in my opinion to keep fans of the genre happy who have 'seen it all' already...

First Episode Synopsis

In the first episode, our main character, Ichigo, gets up the courage to ask out the most popular boy in school, Aoyama. On her date with him to the Red Data Animals exhibit, they examine an exhibit on the endangered Iriomote island cats. Unbeknownst to her, her DNA was scanned upon entry and two mysterious figures announce that they have found their perfect match. Later that day, outside the exhibit, Ichigo gets zapped by a ray from the top of a cute looking shop. She finds herself in a waking dream where she meets an Iriomote cat, which literally jumps inside her. She awakens to a start to discover that Aoyama had been waiting for her to wake up for three hours. They both return home.

The next day an embarrassed Ichigo laments over her big first date disaster. She decides she needs to apologize to Aoyama who is at his morning Kendo match. She arrives too late to avoid the endless mob of admirers to apologize. She gets bumped which causes her sheet of mini-photo-stickers to blow away. She chases it and grabs it only to lose her balance and fall over the railing some great distance below.

Instead of being reduced to a pancake, surprisingly she lands on her feet without even thinking about it. Furiously embarrassed at her own clumsiness, she runs off. Later she is awakened by her friends before lunchtime and decides to apologize to Aoyama. Curiously, she's been sleepy all morning. As they are being served lunch, she bends down and bites a fish out of the hands of the server. Surprised at her own strange behavior, she scurries off to try and make sense out of what is wrong with her today. Aoyama finds her outside and begins chit-chatting. When she answers, she finds herself ending each sentence with ~nya. Unable to apologize for falling asleep yesterday--and more importantly, unable to construct a sentence without meowing, she runs off once again.

A strange feeling overcomes her, and she is compelled to enter the nearby park. She notices Aoyama has come looking for her. Meanwhile, a strange object has enveloped a rat and changed it into a giant rat-monster. The rat-monster attacks Aoyama, knocking him out, and turns to attack Ichigo. She finds herself rescued at the last moment by a strange man who tells her she must defeat the rat. He pushes her out of the safety of a tree, and again she lands on her feet. He informs her that she is special, and he tosses her a glowing object. Then <begin stock footage section> she transforms into Mew Ichigo, a pink haired catgirl in an outrageously cute pink outfit. She conjures up her magical object, the Strawberry Bell, and <begin more stock footage> uses her attack, the Ribbon Strawberry Check. The rat-monster separates into the original rat and strange object from earlier, which is recovered by the mysterious guy who rescued Ichigo moments before. Ichigo demands an explanation for what has just happened, and a second man appears, who treats Ichigo like she is a fairy-tale princess. He will take care of Aoyama and bring him home, but Ichigo still has no idea what's going on...

The Good:

If you suffer from the same disease I do, then this is a no-brainer. The mere concept of a show with a cute pink-haired catgirl as the main character is enough to keep you entertained, so no further analysis is needed.

For the rest of you, the other Tokyo Mew Mew team is also cute, of course. Fans of magical girls sentai anime will surely find this title enjoyable; you've got your pick of other animal-infused characters: one merged with a bird, a porpoise, a monkey, and a wolf. What's your favorite color?

The Not-So-Good:

Fansubs- do we need to investigate this? Yes, they're inconsistent, sometimes wrong, but for now this is what we'll all have to deal with it. Thanks are in order to the folks who spent countless hours in the process.

The sci-fi content of the story is weak. We have aliens and DNA mutating machines and ultratech (magical?) weaponry and these things are not explored very deeply. I can hear the complaints from the fanboys already: 'Nothing is explained!'. Before we go any further down this road though, remember that we are talking about a show marketed (primarily) to the 9 year old girls segment of the Japanese populous...

The "save the whales" quotient of this show is pretty high. It makes you wonder if it was painted on 100% recycled celluloid at times. It never gets preachy, but it might rub some folks the wrong way.

Make sure you brush your teeth well after viewing, or check your blood glucose level. I wouldn't want anyone to suffer tooth decay or go into a diabetic coma after ingesting something this saccharine. Consider yourself warned.

In Episode 1, Ichigo says she's 11. By episode 20-ish, she's 13. Oops.

Conclusion:

While Sailor Moon is the archetypical sentai girls super-anime, Tokyo Mew Mew has the potential to follow in its footsteps. With over 51 episodes, it's already fared much better in today's paradigm of the 10-15 episode anime. Where this will lead is hard to determine, but with an impressive collection of merchandise, a bunch of cute quirky characters, a pre-teen plotline, and quite possibly the reason for a worldwide shortage of pink paint, this is a show that's worth investigating.

How bad could a show where the main character's name translates to something like "peach shrine strawberry" be? ...ok, I guess I'll quit while I'm ahead.

Watch an episode and I think you'll agree:
"Chikyuu no mirai ni, gohoushi suru ~nyan~!"1
 

Mike's Totally Subjective Rating:

Comedy Factor

6
It has its moments, that's for sure. It'll keep you giggling. I liked the farting monster.

Drama Factor

5
Fairly average for this genre. Remember its target audience...

Fanservice Factor

6
This is hard to evaluate. I'll score it above average due to the Pierrot Factor.

A/V Quality

~
Have not evaluated an official release

English Translation

~
Can't officially comment, but the fansubs are pretty decent if not consistent.

Overall

9
Pink Catgirl. 'nuff said.

More Information:

The official website, in Japanese, of course:

The Tokyo Mew Mew Conspiracy:

A few places I know of that sell Tokyo Mew Mew merchandise:

You can find subtitled Tokyo Mew Mew episodes on usenet and eBay, which are bootleg fansubs in virtually all cases. As of yet, this show has not been picked up for North American distribution to my knowledge.

Requests for episodes or merchandise will be ignored. What I have is mine, I tell you, mine! all mine! mine! mine! mine! mine! mine!

Glossary/footnotes:

1: "For the Earth's future, we're at your service meow!"

*Sentai: A story that involves a team of color-coded superheroes. Think "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers"
*Nyan: Also written nya, mya, etc... Japanese for "meow"- and by the way, the last n is silent.


"What's with this ridiculous outfit?"
(she said that, not me)


Why do you need to change into a ridiculous outfit to fight? Because this is anime!


Aren't we cute today?


"Hey you overgrown rat!"


"Get a taste of strawberry power, nyan!"


Anyone find the rest of my car? All I have left is the steering wheel.


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