Tokyo Mew Mew was an oversight in my anime viewing when I was growing up. When I was a kid and watched cartoons with any degree of regularity on Cartoon Network or on Saturday Mornings, the main Magical Girl Show was Sailor Moon. When I got older, 4Kids picked up Tokyo Mew Mew as Mew Mew Power – but by that point I was familiar enough with anime, but immature enough when it came to my opinion of my own taste to dismiss almost anything licensed by 4Kids by reflex. Switch to this year, when we get a remake of Tokyo Mew Mew, appropriately titled Tokyo Mew Mew New, released a little bit after the passing of the original manga’s creator – Reiko Yoshida – and I figured now’s as good a time as any to look into what I missed.
Tokyo Mew Mew New, as with the source material, focuses on a magical girl team of the Mew Mews – five magical girls who draw their power and abilities from various endangered animals. In reverse order of their recruiting – Idol singer Zakuro Fujiwara (Mew Zakuro/Grey Wolf), Bu-Ling Huang (Mew Pudding/Golden Lion Tamarin), Retasu Midorikawa (Mew Lettuce/Finless Porpoise), point of view character Ichigo Momomiya (Mew Ichigo/Iriomote Mountain Cat) and Minto Aizawa (Mew Mint/Tahiti Blue Lorikeet). Together they have to fend off various space aliens who seek to wipe out humanity so they can claim Earth for themselves – by merging alien beings with Earth animals and causing them to attack humans.
As part of all of this, Ichigo is also trying to juggle a school life with her Magical Girl life, including a burgeoning romance with the school prince, Masaya Aoyama, who is the star of the kendo club and a passionate conservationist. This leads to a side plot with the two coming to terms with their feelings for each other, while Ichigo tries to preserve her secret identity, with varying degrees of success. It makes Aoyama a much better “staff” counterpart to Lois Lane than male characters from other magical girl series, as those often end up having a more active role (Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru Chiba in Sailor Moon), to being distant enough as to not be in peril.
Additionally, the series discussion of environmental issues feels better than other magical girl or pseudo-magical girl (like Earth Maiden Arjuna) shows’ handling of the topic. It’s not as hamfisted as Captain Planet (though – admittedly – Captain Planet’s hamfistedness has been demonstrated by later events to be much less unrealistic than I thought at the time) – and admittedly the show also doesn’t get into ways viewers can get into conservationism and environmentalism. Still, it does bring up the topic, which is better than nothing.
Also, while Tokyo Mew Mew New is a remake, and updates some aspects of the series (such as smartphones), there are odd little legacy things in the series – probably one of the more notable examples being that the climax of the series sticks to the old-school anime Tokyo Weirdness Magnet of Tokyo Tower, as opposed to Tokyo Skytree.
The animation for this series is fine. The Yumeta Company, who near as I can tell was the point studio in collaboration with Graphinica (who has done a lot of collaboration and assistance work on other shows) does fine with what we have. However, it’s also something that doesn’t quite rock my socks. It’s definitely a show that is dependent on the writing and chemistry of the characters to do the heavy lifting.
To its credit, the writing of the characters handles that well – while many of the Mew Mews outside of Ichigo and maybe Minto tend to be pretty two-dimensional characters, they still have chemistry that bounces off of each other well, and Ichigo’s internal life is involved enough to carry a lot – especially considering the show is only 12 episodes long.
Tokyo Mew Mew New has already been greenlit for a second season, so hopefully, then we’ll get some more depth to the writing for the rest of the Mew Mews.
Tokyo Mew Mew New is currently available for streaming on Hidive.
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