Well, I suppose we can consider this post to be something of a sister post to the one from last week. Last week, I talked about a slightly older Japanese property based around fairy tales that was aimed at boys. This time, I’m going to spotlight a slightly older Japanese fairy tale property for girls. First, some background information on the genre I’ll be talking about. It’s become something of a known fact that many young girls like entertainment that features girls with magical powers. Here in the
little slow to realize this, but I think most people figured it out when every
girl between the ages of 3 and 12 went absolutely crazy over Elsa from Disney’s
Frozen. However, in US , they’ve known this for a
long time. In fact, there’s even a whole
genre of manga and anime based around the idea called (quite fittingly) the
“magical girl genre”. Magical girl shows
and comics usually focus on a young girl or group of girls who have magical
powers that they use to fight monsters and protect the world and such. Some of them have transformations and love
story subplots. Some do not. In essence, they’re kind of like superhero
stories with a frillier, girlier edge.
Some examples of the genre include Sailor Moon, Tokyo Mew Mew, Cardcaptor Sakura and Princess Tutu. Now, does it come as any
surprise that someone would take this genre and adapt fairy tales to it? Of course not! This is where Fairy Musketeer Akazukin
comes in. Japan
Just to note, I am mixing both English and Japanese titles here, because that’s what the version of this anime I first saw did. Completely in Japanese, it would be Otogi Jushi Akazukin. Completely in English, it would be Fairy Musketeer Red Riding Hood. Also, I could not find any decent pictures that were free to use. However, to see all the pictures I cannot post, just click HERE.
The story focuses on a 14-year old boy named Souta as its viewpoint character. Souta is a bit of a kind, gentle dreamer who lives with his father. His mother disappeared long ago under mysterious circumstances. Before she disappeared though, she told Souta a fairy tale about a man who conquered the forces of both science and magic. As he became more powerful, he grew lazy and conceited. This caused God to get angry and split the man’s power and the whole world in two. Souta, along with the help of his childhood friend Ringo, has been searching for a copy of that story for as long as he can remember. One day, while searching for the story, Souta gets attacked by a monstrous spider. He’s then saved by a girl in a red helmet and her talking wolf friend. These are Akazukin (Red Riding Hood) and Val. Souta quickly learns that she comes from the world of magic Phandavale and that he is the key to the world of science called Erde. The key to Erde is needed by the evil witch Cendrillon (Cinderella) to reunite the worlds of science and magic. From there, the adventure begins. Other principle characters appear. Akazukin’s fellow “Fairy Musketeers” include Shirayukihime (Snow White) and Ibarahime (Briar Rose). They also find an ally in the Phandavale leaf knight
(The Pied Piper of Hamelin). On
Cendrillon’s side though, are Hansel, his sister Gretel, Randagio (kind of a
cross between Puss in Boots and the cat from The Bremen Town Musicians) and a
mysterious sorceress named Trude (based on the obscure Grimm tale “Frau Trude”). Hameln
Overall, the series is cute, fun, harmless and . . . strangely addictive. After I started watching it, I found I had to watch it all to the end. The series also picks up a lot when the group actually travels to Phandavale towards the second half of the series. Like I said regarding MAR, this show also embraces its share of anime tropes. There are the requisite weird monsters and girls calling magic out of the air with some sort of magical device (in this case, the “sweet phone”). However, it does keep the transformation scenes to a minimum, just due to the nature of the plot. In this one the magical girls don’t have to transform into something magical because they’re already from a world of magic. I also have to give them props for basing their villain on Cinderella. I’ve seen so many respun fairy tales that have made characters like Jack, Peter Pan or Prince Charming into villains. It’s nice to see someone spice it up (note: is it just me or does it seem more common to villainize the male characters than the female characters?). Also, I give them major respect for drawing on the ultra-obscure “Frau Trude”. That’s one I had to look up.
So, final analysis is that Fairy Musketeer Akazukin is nothing spectacular. Altogether, it’s just a harmless but fun kids’ anime. If you want to watch the series, you can find it at the online anime streaming site Crunchyroll. Just click HERE.
Anecdote time: As a kid I had a book with animal stories. Mostly fables, fairytailes or langends from around the world. The stor had 365 stories, so one could be read to the child each day of the year. Mosst stories were really cute and the illustrations were just adorable! (Just look at the cover: http://img.zvab.com/member/82538f/61629879.jpg)ReplyDelete
But somewhere in the "May" section of the book, *this* story showed up. I can only imagine that somehow, someday, somwhre one of the book's editors had a *really* bad that, because I can't understand how someone would have come up with the idea to put Frau Trude right there in the middle of the book, without ill intent. It doesn't evven have anything to do with animals! (Maybe you've read "The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" and recall the bible anecdote... I imagine something similar happened with this book) Atleast the illustrator was wise enough not to illustrate the tale. Needless to say, I always felt kinda paranoid when one of my family members reached for the book in the month of May.
On a more relevant note: The green, red and black manmentioned in Frau Trude correspond to the white, red and black knight that accompany Baba Yaga in Vasylia, The Beautiful", which means the two chracters most likely have the same origin.
Can't tell much about the anime itself, since I never watched it, but I'll probably check it out (if I can find it, since german crunchyroll doesn't have the show),since I'm a sucker for Magical Girl shows. Smile Precure is another Magical Girl show that is influenced by fairytales (which I also haven't watched, since I can't find it anywhere)
Yeah. Sometimes it's hard to find foreign shows and movies. It's especially hard if you have to stick with completely legal sources, which is what I try to do.Delete
It's kind of incredible, as you point out, that it took the US so long to feature magical girls. X Men has always been hands down my favorite comic/movie franchise, and I always thought it was because of the ensemble aspect/how they can creatively combine their powers and that always keeps it fresh, but it's probably because the girls are fighting alongside the guys, not just being kidnapped by the villain and held as ransom because they are the hero's one weakness!ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing this series, it looks like fun.
Well there ws She-Ra and Emerald, Princess of the Gem WorldDelete
I think you mean "Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld", unless they gave it a different name in Germany. There are some other magical girl type characters in the world of American animation, but most that I think of are from the realm of the syndicated Sunday/weekday morning cartoons that I used to see as a kid in the '90s. There was Sky Dancer. There was Princess Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic (based on a real Japanese stage magician). I even recall a show called Princess Guinevere and the Gem Riders or something like that. However, none of them created any real pop culture waves. She-Ra made some. Sailor Moon made more. Heck, Marissa Meyer of Lunar Chronicles fame is a Sailor Moon fan. But Sailor Moon is a Japanese import.Delete