What They Say:
Morisawa Yuu is a precocious 10-year-old girl who likes Toshio, a boy 3 years older than her. One day, Yuu runs into aliens that have trouble with their damaged spaceship. In appreciation for helping them repair the spaceship, the aliens give Yuu a magical stick with one condition: she must keep it secret, otherwise she will lose the special power.
In order to attract Toshio, Yuu decides to transform herself into an attractive 17-year-old girl! Yuu, with the 17-year-old figure, happens to be discovered as an idol singer and makes her debut as “Creamy Mami.” But she never could have imagined that Toshio would start to be attracted to Creamy Mami, and not Yuu herself.
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release contains the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded at 256kbps. The show is one that certainly shows its age in some ways but it’s the kind of mix that works well as it’s largely a center channel based one with how it comes across. It is a bit louder than I expected considering the source materials but it definitely sound good and serves the original material well as we get dialogue coming through clean and clear and some solid warmth that comes from the music numbers, especially the opening and closing sequences. The show plays to the dialogue well though it only goes so far of course since it is an older show but it works well and comes across clean and clear without any really noteworthy placement of depth.
Note: The eleventh episode of the series has a problem in that the subtitles won’t play. Anime Sols is intending to replace this disc in the near future.
Originally airing in 1983, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with six on the first and seven on the second. Animated by Studio Pierrot, one of my absolute favorite studios in the 80’s, the show has a very good look to it with some high bitrates throughout to give it the encoding it needs. The series is one that has a very 80’s look about it with the soft color palette that works for a shoujo based series but also some very clean line work and lots of detail to the backgrounds. It largely has a very clean and appealing looking, one far better than I expected for a show of its age, and it was just a delight to take in the visuals here with what they did. Colors are solid throughout with nothing in the way of noticeable or problematic line noise or cross coloration. It’s definitely showing its age and you get the natural film elements here, but from a normal seating distance it has a pretty good look about it.
The release comes with an O-card slipcover that replicates the cover art itself, but the slipcover definitely has a very appealing look to it from the materials used. The front cover has a gorgeous updated illustration of Creamy Mami with her outfit giving a soft smile that’s really quite alluring with the color design and the overall softness of the layout. It’s one of those covers that really does say magical about it. With the purples and whites, it’s an eye-catching cover that has a good logo across it and a good clean breakdown of what’s included along the top. The back cover has a similarly appealing image of Yuu looking upwards with good colors from her standard outfit that has a bit of life and excitement about it. The left side features a breakdown of the episodes by number and title while below it in small print you get the staff and cast. The technical grid along the bottom is simple without really going into what’s on the disc – no language listings are here at all nor formats, but we do get the run time and the aspect ratio. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release goes for the obvious but welcome approach of using the cover artwork. It’s set a bit more to the right so that the character artwork is largely unobscured and it has a very appealing feeling to it with the colors and taking up the whole screen. The logo is kept to the upper left side while the left in general has the navigation where you can turn the subtitles on or off from there, play everything or go into the navigation menu for individual episode chapters. The first disc also has a brief supporters credits section where you may see some familiar names. Navigation overall is simple and effective but there’s not a lot here so it’s more about the atmosphere it creates, which is definitely nicely done.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original series directed by Osamu Kobayashi back in 1983 and 1984, Creamy Mami ended up running for fifty two episodes while spawning a brief manga run and a few more OVAs from there over the few years after that. The series is one of those that definitely set the benchmark for what a magical girl show would be like for quite a few years and the hallmarks are all easily here in these first thirteen episodes that make up this collection. I had never seen the show before, though it’s been talked about and referenced many times, and it’s almost amusing to go into it at this stage since so many shows have built off of it in the years that followed as they improved and polished the routine. Most notably with shows like Fancy Lala where it works largely along the same concept. But this is mostly where it all began with Studio Pierrot providing another definitive show of what the 1980’s anime scene was all about.
Magical Angel Creamy Mami is all about girls wish fulfillment in a very simplistic way. We’re introduced to ten year old Yuu Morisawa, a generally pretty good kid who lives with both of her parents that run a Creamy Crepe shop out of their home. It’s a pretty good business that draws in all types and you have to love that the front of their house is basically a food truck. Yuu has a big interest in Toshio, a somewhat taller boy in her class and she’s regularly doing things to try and get through to him that she likes him, but he’s pretty oblivious to it. So much so that he’s doing what he can in his own awkward way to help his friend Midori to confess his feelings for Yuu instead. It’s a potential little romantic triangle of sorts, but one that never really comes together for a lot of the series simply because nobody can be clear about their feelings. Yes, they’re ten year olds, but that’s pretty normal and I see it regularly with all the kids I deal with. Overall, Yuu has a pretty normal and mostly happy life and upbringing here with caring parents, a few friends that wander in and out and some boys that she’s involved with.
Yuu’s life is in for a big change though when she sees an unidentified flying object in the sky and frantically follows it, which leads her to a strange little creature named Pino Pino. He reveals that people cannot see these particular aliens because when people are born, they press just below our noses and make an indentation that makes them invisible to the naked eye. But Yuu is rare in that she can see them and she ends up helping Pino Pino find the Feather Star. To reward her, Pino Pino gives her some magical abilities through the compact she now has that will allow her to transform for example, and to discover other abilities as time goes on as well. To help her with this, she gets two friends that are like little kittens named Nega and Posi who will help her along the way. They can talk with her easily but to everyone else it sounds like kitten sounds. This is only for a year that she’ll have these abilities though, at which time Pino Pino will return to take them back so she can live a normal life.
And like any ten year old kid, Yuu’s wish with her abilities is to be older so she can experience things more, and to be more appealing to those she likes. That has her transforming into the beautiful sixteen year old Creamy Mami, a stage name she chooses when she ends up accidentally getting on TV and doing a little song and dance number (i.e. the opening song). She becomes an instant sensation, but she has no clue how to handle any of this. The immediate problems come in the way that the president of Parthenon Productions sees her as the next big thing and pushes her relentlessly on taking on various jobs and performances, even though she really doesn’t want to, and she ends up with an affable if poor manager along the way. She also ends up with a rival in the form of Megumi, a rising star of Parthenon that ends up being passed over more because of Creamy Mami’s arrival and is intent on figuring out who she is and what her secrets are. Even worse for Yuu though is that Toshio is totally in love with Creamy Mami and has even less of a chance of having an interest in Yuu now because of it. Which of course totally infuriates her since she can’t say anything as the deal with Pino Pino was for never revealing her secret.
So as one can expect, a lot of the show is made up of awkward moments, lies, confusion and frustration as Yuu leads a double life. She’s hiding her Creamy Mami persona from everyone while taking on more and jobs and being booked for things without any real say in it herself more often than not. And because of that, she’s causing friction in a lot of her relationships, but she gets to live the life of a glamorous sixteen year old. The situations run what you’d expect for an episodic series once the foundation is set as there are different kinds of singing competitions and variety shows that she gets put through, photo shoots in all sorts of locations and even a couple of different haunted locations that she gets caught up in. And, of course, Toshio and usually Midori are involved as well since Toshio can’t get enough of Creamy Mami. It’s fairly standard idol material but coming from a young boy, it’s pretty obsessive, especially since there are no parental aspects being explored there. The only adults we get are Yuu’s parents and those from Parthenon as primaries. There are supporting adults throughout, but they tend to be pretty one dimensional.
The rivalry that comes up with Megumi has its cute moments since she is older that Yuu and is uncertain of what’s going on with Creamy Mami. Since Mami really comes out of nowhere to start taking on jobs since Parthenon’s president sees her as the next big thing, she certainly feels slighted after working hard and going through the process. Some of it is certainly entitlement at that point, but you have to feel for her. And even though she does a couple of underhanded things, it’s not choices that really surprise you as it’s common story ideas that you see in just about any country when it comes to modeling, idols and fashion when you get down to it in an entertainment industry. Megumi could use a bit more background to flesh her out which could make her a bit more likable, but mostly she’s just in a bad spot as she’s been dumped into the rival role.
Because of Creamy Mami being over thirty years old at this point, it’s definitely interesting watching it from that perspective. In some ways time has not been kind to it when it comes to certain things. The opening song alone kind of grates in that it has her singing how girls feelings are more complex than boys, which is certainly something that’s still said even though it’s plainly not true. And since the song is used often, it can be annoying as it goes on becomes it reminds of the issue. Similarly, we get the standard aspect of how Yuu has someone that is obviously interested in her and is doing his best in age appropriate ways to express it to her but she never sees it. That plays into the usual stereotype of the heavyset kid with the heart of gold that won’t actually get anywhere, but we have nice feelings towards him. And, of course, we have the problem of how Yuu as Creamy Mami is viewed by a lot of people and some creep factor coming in from the Parthenon president since he hits on her in very simple ways a couple of times. I had the same issue when I watched Fancy Lala since it basically ignores the way a ten year old pretending to be older is oblivious to how she’s being sexualized and objectified and ends up simply accepting it as normal instead of wrong. But this is 1983.
Creamy Mami is one of those series that set the stage for much of what followed in the decades since its debut in 1983 when it came to magical girls. There’s an obvious innocence to things here that definitely makes sense as it’s pure wish fulfillment going on as she gets to be older and do all sorts of things. She has the natural frustration of seeing the boy she likes falling head over heels for the wrong version of her and all that entails. The pressures of leading a double life and having it all resolved in about twenty minutes each week. Studio Pierrot defined a large part of what 80’s anime was all about for me from Urusei Yatsura to Ranma ½ and Maison Ikkoku among others when it came to their style of adaptations and animation. Creamy Mami fits nicely into this range of shows with how it looks here and there’s definitely a lot of appeal. As Anime Sol’s first crowdfunded release, they’ve largely hit everything up right and outside of a quirk or two have a solid release that has us hopeful for how future releases will be polished and tweaked. Fans of the series will definitely be very pleased.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Anime Sols
Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.