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 her 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 40-52.
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.
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 in a white dress with flairs of green coming from it that definitely blends together some great colors. 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 in practice dance clothes as she sits down tying on her shoes. 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)
The concluding act for the Creamy Mami series makes up this set as it works through the final thirteen episodes. Much as one has seen from the series in general, there’s no real overreaching storyline to be had beyond Yuu balancing her life as both her and Mami and the headaches that get caused along the way. The show does bring things to some form of resolution/drama in the last couple of episodes but it doesn’t go for any seriously big or dark moments that feels out of place. Unfortunately, due to ordering issues, I never got to see the second and third sets, but in watching the first and fourth I don’t think I missed all that much in the end. As appealing as aspects of the series are, it’s one that’s certainly more for those nostalgic for the era or the show itself, something that I tend to not fall under.
The first ten or so episodes here largely keep up with the episodic aspect of things with little crossover between episodes. The set actually kicks off with Snake Joe joining up with Kumiko and her food truck to try and drive Yuu’s parents out of business in order to get Yuu to reveal her true self. That makes for some utterly silly competitive moments that again makes it clear just how obsessive Snake Joe is. There are moments where you certainly roll your eyes, but I like that it does in the end put Joe on a better path, something we get at the end of the series as we discover that he really does find something with Kumiko and the life with her in the food truck rather than returning to his entertainment reporter ways. He’s not been an engaging character in general, but at least there’s progress to his overall storyline.
The family side makes a few appearances for Yuu in this set as well, which generally plays well. One aspect has Yuu being set to be a judge for an amateur audition piece and we see her curiosity towards others reveal that one of the producers for it was a manager early in his career and keeps hoping that one young woman from years ago would show again as he wants to propose to her. Now, frankly, that’s obviously creepy as he was an adult that was basically pursuing a teenager girl that he knew briefly that could sing well but couldn’t handle the recording booth. That it turns out to be Yuu’s mother isn’t a surprise as it progresses but that he’s carrying a torch all this time for what was essentially a child just doesn’t work. It does let Yuu’s mother, and her father, have some good scenes together and with him as it comes together.
Similarly, in another rather awful episode, we get Yuu sent back in time to 1973 where she sees her father and her pregnant mother checking out the house that they have now. It’s a cute moment in seeing how Yuu essentially names herself and a few other things, and to see the home before it was modified and lived in. But the rest of the episode drives me batty with its awfulness and feeling out of place – even in a series about a magical girl – as she meets a man named the Time Keeper that has two chained turtles in his video control room and ensures that time flows forward properly. It plays on a couple of different folk tales that are modernized for the time but it just provides for a mess as Yuu ends up causing it all to go crazy as she accidentally breaks the turtles chains and they blend all sorts of time period together in the present. It makes for plenty of silly moments, but as a whole it was just so forced and without consequence while playing to the usual cliches of Yuu seeing herself getting married but not seeing the guy that you just wanted to bang your head on the table.
The series tackles a few other areas along the way, such as her first on screen kiss as Mami that has her hoping Toshio will manage to win the role opposite of her, and a win a date gig as well that the production studio puts together. That’s cute as Midori ends up winning it and he’s utterly nervous about it and tries to get Toshio to go along with him. All of it works towards the last couple of episodes though as Yuu is struggling with the balance of the two lives but also realizing that the year is almost up and she’s going to lose her magic abilities. That has her struggling with her production company since they’re scheduling things for after her own end date as Mami and she just wants to put on one big performance first. Will she be able to? Of course she will. It’s like you’ve never watched magical girl shows before.
Creamy Mami is most definitely a product of its time even as it tries to be empowering with its young characters. There are some bothersome aspects to it where we get her parents fine with her not being smart since she’ll just marry someone to take care of things anyway and there are other dismissive elements there as well. While you do want characters to be inspiring and you also want characters to be flawed, Yuu often doesn’t come across well as the ten year old girl she is. A lot of the time she just feels lazy and flaky and since she manages to get away with so much in the end, it’s not exactly a great message to send. I found a lot of Creamy Mami and its messaging in the first set to be pretty flawed, even owing to the time and culture in which it was made, and watching it through the lens of today doesn’t help it in the slightest.
Creamy Mami gets a lot of attention, and deservedly so, as one of seeveral Studio Pierrot series of the time that started to change things as well as working with Akemi Takada in the design department. The show certainly has its appeal and it’s one that I totally get – even if a lot of it is likely driven by nostalgia. I never saw it before these releases from Anime Sols and I completely get it. But it’s also a show that’s very hard to sell to any other audience in the end. It has some very appealing elements to it but it’s a very simple magical girl show in the end, one that has a lot of flaws and isn’t one that I’d find myself sharing easily with kids – or even many other adults without a knowledge of the time and culture of origin. Fans of the show made out well in getting this series in full though, and I wish I had been one of them to some degree. But I also can’t imagine revisiting this show again either.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Anime Sols
Release Date: January 26th, 2015
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.