Thursday, March 7, 2013

Magical Revisited #3: Studio Pierrot

Now that we have gone over some very successful titles, I think its time to dust off some that you are most likely not that familiar with. Let's take a trip down memory lane shall we? As this article is gonna require a lot of hair spray, leggings, pastel tones, and bangle bracelets. I, readers, present to you my favorite Magical Girl show creators, and probably the birthplace of many modern traits of the anime industry itself. May I present to the works of Studio Pierrot, and their multitude of Mahou Shoujo oriented programming! 

In the beginning, Studio Pierrot was known by some as a small anime studio without a truly big hit on their hands. Urusei Yatsura took a good chunk of their time, but was a collaboration effort with other studios (and also brought about the departure of many future anime stars, including Ghost in the Shell's Mamoru Oshii). But then came 1983, and the creation of one of the biggest Shoujo titles and marketing franchises in Japan, the infamous and lavender covered pop idol "Angel", Creamy Mami.

When I started this blog, I actually posted about my love of the Mami in large volumes. Creamy Mami was created as a show that would also be a marketing strategy to have an up and coming pop idol voice the lead character, and ironically have a plot that is similar. This would be a formula that would become incredibly successful, even outside of Japan and Anime in general (Disney obviously took note, even though they had had similar success in the 60's) This would definitely become a staple for the anime industry in terms of its marketing of music and merchandise as a whole. 

But what about the story? Creamy Mami is the tale of ordinary little girl Yuu. Her parents own a cream puff business, and she happens to crush on the traditional perfect teenage boy, wishing she was older to grab his attention. One day, Yuu comes across a spaceship (just go with it) and gets trapped inside it. Because she helps the aliens within the ship, she is given a gift of a magical item that will allow her to become the grown supermodel looking lady she wishes she could be. Once she is transformed, she gets pulled into the world of becoming a pop idol and thus our story goes forth. 

Creamy Mami is one of the most successful magical girl franchises to date, and because of its success, this made the way for other series to come from Studio Pierrot. Though it has similarities to a show from the US, which I will discuss in the future, it is such a good piece of adorable lavender fluffy. But after Creamy Mami, what would be next? 

Persia, The Magic Fairy premiered in 1984, with also a good push of success. People were hoping for a new series in the vein of Mami, and Persia gave a much more unique take on the idea of Pierrot's formula (which will become apparent), which gives Persia a much more memorable fame. Taking place in Africa, Persia is a 11 year old who is growing up around the animals of the plains, who then is rescued by a family of twin brothers and their grandfather to their home in Japan. 

On her way to Japan, her mind falls into a place called "The Lovely Dream", a fairy tale world of perfection. There she is told that this magical world is dying, and with the request of its people, asked to help save this magical world. This is where the formula comes in! Persia is then given the power to become a fairy herself, along with becoming an older version of her 11 year old self, with the help of a magic item from the world.

If you couldn't tell, this is the beginnings of the Pierrot Formula. Most of the titles sort of dealt with the same basic plot of young girl likes older guy, wants to impress, is given powers by an "alien" force and thus becomes the perfect late teen/early 20's female. This could be considered a sort of anti-feminist story telling, the sort of general Barbie like stereotype that plagues that majority of our current media for young girls. 

But I feel that Studio Pierrot can be forgiven for these traits - because they have mastered the element of nostalgia. The precious feeling of childhood as a young girl is hard to capture in most media, but Pierrot has got it down. This tradition would be continued in the three series that would be soon to come, Magical Emi, Pastel Yumi and 90's series, Fancy Lala.

If you were to compare the Disney princesses to anything in the anime world, I would believe that outside of current magical girls (Pretty Cure Franchise mostly to name!), Studio Pierrot's girls have stayed very famously in the public eye, especially when it comes to merchandise and especially with Creamy Mami's fame. With many of the big number anniversaries coming up, Pierrot's girls (known as the Majokko Club) are perfect to capture the nostalgia wave in the Japanese street fashion movement, and for the ability to showcase these shows to a new generation.

If you are curious on how to watch these shows, many of them are easily available online because they are considered "anime public domain" in the world of the Japanese anime industry. Creamy Mami is easily viewable on demand in Japan, and I believe the other shows would be available as well. If you are curious to take a look at Mami, you can here thanks to Crunchyroll! 

Also to go with the Princess reference, the four original Pierrot girls are actually in a handful of crossover specials (or OVA's) together. These specials are nothing mind bending nor memorable, but they sure are fun and if you get enough into watching the series for yourself, you'll be in for a good set of giggles. With the girls fighting aliens in Flash Gordon styled action sequences, and silly situations that obviously were written in a rush, these are only to be viewed by the dedicated Mahou fan. But they can be easily seen online (here) Also, Creamy Mami was popular enough on her own to get a crossover with other Magical Girl super franchise Minki Momo. 

Studio Pierrot's contribution to the Magical Girl genre would leave a mark on many aspects of future series from other studios and franchises all together, and would also be parodied (as seen in its own OVA's) for many years to come. But at the same time as Studio Pierrot's efforts, an other show across in the United States was making an impression and would be one of the few internationally recognized Magical girls coming from the good ol' U-S of A. Next week, we'll get truly outrageous! Can you guess who?




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