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Girls' Cartoon for Boys Movie Review Special! Minky Momo: La Ronde in My Dream / Magical Princess Gigi and the Fountain of Youth


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#1 Offline ♖NAveryW♖

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 07:11 AM

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Traditionally, merchandise-driven cartoons have been heavily segregated by gender. With very few exceptions, boys get action-based cartoons with army guys and robots and explosions and meat, while girls get pink, fluffy cartoons with strawberries and rainbows and fudge bugs that dance over the horizon.

Sometimes, you start with a premise that seems to aim straight at one audience, but fires a bullet straight through that audience and hits another audience standing behind it, probably scattering some shrapnel into a few other audiences as well.

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Ugh, dinosaurs fighting tanks? I don't know why I bother to watch this girly stuff.

Witness, if you will, the portrait of a pink-haired magical princess, sent to earth along with her cute animal companions to make people's dreams come true. The show: Fairy Princess Minky Momo. One would suspect the title alone is enough to keep most boys away. I guess the title just didn't try hard enough. While Minky Momo did catch on with young girls to a certain extent, otaku seemed to constitute most of its fanbase. Perhaps it was the inside jokes, such as the whole episode parody of Dr. Strangelove. More likely it was the pantyshots.

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Sorry; I didn't take the screencap fast enough.

I've talked about Minky Momo before. When I wrote that post, which was sadly lost in the Oz attacks, I'd seen a couple of the OVAs and a few scattered episodes. The first OVA I saw, The Bridge Over Dreams, follows Momo on a rollicking adventure as she stands on a bridge waiting for a guy to show up.¹ In the next OVA, The Station of Your Memories, Momo and another Momo (long story) go on a whimsical journey back in time to stop a girl who was orphaned in a WWII bombing from committing suicide. But these OVAs were the last two Minky Momo stories ever animated², and they both occur after Momo lost her powers. As a result, a wistful tone permeates them that isn't really representative of Momo during her heyday.

All of this text so far is just lead up to the part where I tell you that here I'm reviewing the first Minky Momo OVA, La ronde in my dream, which takes place about halfway through the first of the two TV series. While it's usually called an OVA, it had a theatrical premiere and it's an hour and a half long, so I'm just going to call it a movie from here on out. Now here's some more lead up.

The king and queen of the fairy kingdom Fenarinarsa sent their daughter Minky Momo down to Earth with the mission of bringing people hope and dreams. Accompanying Momo are a dog, Shindobook; a monkey, Mocha; and a bird, Pipiru. They all live in a pet shop with Mama and Papa, who don't seem to care that someone squatted on their property and called herself their daughter. Unbeknown to Momo's adoptive parents, she has the power to transform into an 18-year old in any outfit, presumably since that's great for merchandising.

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She can be anything, as long as it looks American!

OK, general plot of the show out of the way, I can get to reviewing the movie.

When watching a movie based on a TV series, I usually like to imagine what it would have been like to experience it in the theater with a bunch of other fans. I tried pretending I was a little girl going to see her favorite magical princess in her movie debut, but unfortunately I was overwhelmed of the stench of all the fat guys sitting around me and couldn't pay much attention to the movie. So I started over, watching the movie as me watching it alone on an LCD screen.

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Shindobook screams out to be dubbed by John DiMaggio.

One of the most exciting things about seeing a movie based on an animated series is that you know you can expect an increase in animation quality. Movies give you a chance to see what the show would look like if it weren't stuck in low-budget, rushed-production TV world.

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Here's the movie's opening shot.

After a recap intro, we begin at The Big Special, a fancy lottery gala where the winner gets a free round trip to the South Pole. The winning number was to be revealed by the idol Marilyn Garland, but oh no! Marilyn Garland isn't there! Fortunately, Momo comes to the rescue, transforming into an idol and performing the '80s J-Pop song Miss Garland was presumably going to. Totally stealing Creamy Mami's schtick.

The opening smartly serves several purposes: first, it shows off the comparatively lavish animation the movie format afforded; second, it shows off Momo's ability by having her constantly transform and don different outfits as she sings; and third, it gets the plot rolling, because the lottery winners are MAMA AND PAPA! Wow, what are the odds? More like, what are the odds Momo didn't rig the lottery, right?

Momo doesn't get to go along to the South Pole, of course, because Mama and Papa need their alone time at the South Pole and someone needs to take care of the animals. But Mama and Papa are not to receive their alone time at the South Pole. A strange energy pulls the airplane down onto a mysterious island!

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Not gonna lie: Papa has the most awkward anime character design I've ever seen.

Momo and her talking vermin go to the island to save Mama and Papa, but they're not alone. Agents have arrived from just about every country on Earth, including Some Country, Our Country, and Grasshopper Country, to investigate the strange energy and perhaps capture its power. These agents include some mobsters, super spy James Give-me, Lupin and... uh, Mini-Lupin. And a bunch more.

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Also, the island's full of natives.

The magical energy came from This Country, which captures any nearby adults and turns them into children. Momo can't get in because This Country is only for children who don't want to grow up. Growing up is Momo's specialty, so she can't get in without setting off an alarm. The solution? Turning into an adult! See, a child with the potential to grow up sets off the alarm, but an adult with the soul of a child doesn't. Of course it makes sense. Shut up.

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Now's as good a time as any to mention that the screenwriter was a heavy drinker who eventually retired due to liver problems.

This Country is run by who else but Peter Pan? Nobody else, that's who. Just Peter Pan. He lets Momo in and they have fun and Momo meets her parents who finally learn that their daughter can transform to and from an adult but don't really react that much, and everybody has fun and is happy because that's what childhood's apparently like.

But nothing that good can last. Li'l James Give-me still has a hidden camera on 'im, and his country of Somewhere discovers that the magical energy brings eternal youth. Soon, every country in the world wages war on This Country to take the energy for their own and use it for war because that's what grown-ups do.

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The general spirit of Minky Momo is probably best summarized by this screenshot.

The climax is a strange medley of whimsy and apocalyptic destruction. The imagery of children fleeing as their paradise is assailed by missiles and tanks can be genuinely disturbing, presumably intentionally so, but the accompanying music is unfittingly playful. Maybe it's so all the candy-colored holocaust won't be too scary.

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Most of the film's best animation is saved for the big battles that occur here. The film's most fun and exciting sequence occurs when Momo flies an airplane through the interior of a hotel, dodging missiles that follow her through corridors and ballrooms. It's impossible to capture the sequence's dynamism and imagination through screenshots, but I think it's safe to say it's the most fun you'll ever have watching someone fly an airplane into a tower and blow it up.

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So the movie ends with... I mean, if you're still reading this, it means you're fine with knowing this stuff, right?... The movie ends with Peter Pan and his magical dragons (I forgot to mention, he has dragons) erasing the adults' memories and leaving Earth for somewhere he can just be a kid without everyone trying to blow him up. The movie goes the ol' The Little Prince route of depicting children as the pure, innocent embodiment of happiness and adults as greedy ignoramuses who ruin everything. Which is precisely the thing only nostalgia-blinded adults come up with.

Adults never think of anything other than themselves,” Peter generalizes in an offensive stereotype.
But when we become adults, maybe we can build a world that's not like that,” Momo says, laying out the film's moral.
If we became adults, we, too, would forget those feelings,” Peter responds. “Other than being a child, there is no way to remember the feelings of children.”

While the film's message is one representative of a writer who has forgotten the not-quite-so-rosy feelings of actual childhood, its moral of “Try not to screw everything up by being a douchebag” is admirable. And it has some good laughs and action along the way, so overall I recommend La ronde in my dream as an entertaining movie, or as an entry point for one of the seminal works of the magical girl genre's second wave. Yes, it's apparently categorized in waves.

And hey, I haven't even mentioned yet that the movie got an English dub and release on home video, thanks to Harmony Gold and good ol' Carl Macek. The English version, called Magical Princess Gigi and the Fountain of Youth, is as full of changes as you'd expect. Most of the dialogue is different, resulting in the imparting of two more morals children's movies can't do without. For example, when Peter leaves Earth, he tells Gigi that she can meet him again whenever she wants just by using her imagination, which is either the best or the worst break-up line ever. Also, the movie's opening sequence in which Momo sings as the lottery numbers are revealed is now a dream sequence at the end of the movie in which Gigi sings about how you should aim high and follow your dreams. This reappropriation of the scene means the numbers appearing on the stage now make no sense, but I guess nonsense is par for the course in dreams. More unsettling is that they left in the shot of Momo/Gigi pulling out a machine gun and firing it off into the crowd, making it look like she's dreaming about massacring her audience. Maybe the numbers are her body count.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV5epHHZmos
This would have been the perfect way to close out the article... IF THE CREATOR'S ACCOUNT HADN'T CLOSED RIGHT BEFORE MY PUBLISH DATE!
So, here's a replacement.... But don't tell! It's a secret to everyone!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgyrlSbiFvk

Minky Momo's creator/writer Takeshi Shudo and director Kunihiko Yuyama would later team up again to make that one anime I can't remember the name of. The one with the little yellow thing with the red cheeks and the lightning. Shudo apparently wasn't satisfied with how that one turned out thanks to every writer except him, so if you want to see what they came up with when they had complete creative freedom, Minky Momo's a good place to look.

Also, Yuyama wrote and directed something called Weather Report Girl. So there's that.


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¹Yes, that's what it's about. It's a lot better than it sounds, trust me. I consider it the best Minky Momo work I've seen.
²But not the last ones ever; Momo-related stories continued in a manga and, most recently, a stage musical.


Click here to view the article

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#2 Offline JazzDanceForChildren

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 05:13 PM

Girls' Cartoon for Boys


Doesn't that describe like, half the shit youchew is interested in? Sort of general given the nature of this website.
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#3 Offline Mitsuki

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 05:36 PM

And then there are boy's cartoons for girls...

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Spoiler
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#4 Offline LightningLuigi

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 05:36 PM

Oh haha, I just noticed the YTP you threw in at the very end. Clever, clever.

Anyway, I know I said this before, but that was a great article. A good blend of humor and interesting information.
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#5 Offline Vertyx

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 07:30 AM

Girls' Cartoon for Boys


Doesn't that describe like, half the shit youchew is interested in? Sort of general given the nature of this website.

It's not for girls, it's for adults! You know all those subtle jokes the kids don't get, those are specifically made for us!!!

None of you were safe!

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#6 Offline ♖NAveryW♖

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 03:48 PM

Girls' Cartoon for Boys


Doesn't that describe like, half the shit youchew is interested in? Sort of general given the nature of this website.

Hey, I could have just said "Movie Review". You should be grateful I specified as much as I did.

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#7 Offline Captpan6

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:53 PM

I think this is one of my favorite articles, if only for the "secret" in it.

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#8 Offline JazzDanceForChildren

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:58 PM


Girls' Cartoon for Boys


Doesn't that describe like, half the shit youchew is interested in? Sort of general given the nature of this website.

Hey, I could have just said "Movie Review". You should be grateful I specified as much as I did.

Well, there's also this highly specific "second wave magical girl" genre denominator contained within the review itself. Not a huge issue, but still. I haven't actually seen it so it's not like I'm insisting my opinion comes with credibility.

It's also that the long ass title which contains the name of the movie itself is the only thing in the whole review that isn't grammatically clean.
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#9 Offline Mr.Awesome

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 06:47 PM

I remember this show from so long ago!!!!!!!!!!

#10 Offline Whelt

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 11:24 PM

Nice article.
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#11 Offline Mr.Awesome

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 01:51 AM

DIABEETUS

#12 Offline Mr.Awesome

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 05:15 PM

Good article.

#13 Offline Ride

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:53 PM

Mr.Awesome, are you quite alright?
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#14 Offline tapirPCP

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 09:04 PM

It was hard for me to believe for a long time that any of the Moe shows out there, were actually intended for males. It's weird, really.
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