Since I started Allison & Lillia first, you’d think I’d get to ep3 and write about it first, but I had a free morning and decided to start another series. Here’s First Impressions of Shugo Chara!, the hit shoujo series that crunchyroll.com ranks as one of the top ‘all-time crunchiest anime’. Pink-haired girls are popular this year.

Quick Synopsis: Hinamori Amu is a recent transfer student at Seiyo Academy elementary school and has quickly become popular thanks to her punk goth appearance and “cool and spicy” personality. However, that exterior hides her real shy and bashful personality, and she wishes for courage to change and show her “would-be” self. One morning, three eggs appear, each containing a Guardian Character that is a reflection of a part of her true self, and as they hatch, each chibi guardian helps Amu bring out different parts of her personality. Of course, in true shoujo fashion, there is love interest, and Amu’s is the ‘princely’ Hotori Tadase, the leader of the school’s student council, the Guardians, a group of four students who also have Guardian Charas. Their goal is to protect the Guardian egg sleeping inside everybody from becoming corrupted and turning into an X-Egg. There is also a group of “bad guys” whose goal is to find the Embryo, a special wish granting egg, by extracting peoples’ sleeping eggs.

Notable Seiyu:
Hotori Tadase = Takagi Reiko (Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan – Kusakabe Sakura, La Corda D’Oro ~primo passo~ – Hino Kahoko)
Tsukiyomi Ikuto = Nakamura Yuichi (Macross Frontier – Saotome Alto, Clannad – Okazaki Tomoya)

First, Shugo Chara technically started in 2007, but it went 51 episodes well into 2008 and it seems its been renewed for a second season starting this October. Secondly, its always surprising whenever a big name series asks a relative newcomer to voice the main protagonist, so I’ll mention that Amu is voiced by Ito Kanae. I imagine it can’t be easy when you’re just starting out, but I really liked Amu’s character and her voice effectively conveyed the moods she was in. She’s very cute when she’s flustered by silly things or when she’s calling herself ‘baka’.

So let’s break down this shoujo anime starting with Amu. Compared to the other pink haired lead females so far, Amu seems to have the most dimensions as a character. Lala is primarily cheerful and playful while Moka is caring and kind hearted, but Amu is sometimes “cool and spicy” when showing her exterior, sometimes cute and klutzy, sometimes the “maiden in love” as with Tadase, and sometimes argumentative and combatative as while annoyed by her chara or (I think) potentially later with Ikuto. I think deep down, she’s always caring and good natured, even if she doesn’t show it – when her charas told her they’d disappear if she didn’t believe in them, she was totally tsundere. Personally, I think her punk goth looks good (better than her magical girl clothes) and I liked her initial “cool and spicy” personality, except its not very apparent in the later episodes even if people are still descibing her that way. Her cuteness from her ‘baka’ side and from acting insincerity with her feelings make her likability on par wth Lala’s, even when her chest size isn’t (and that’s impressive when ecchi doesn’t have to be thrown around to boost a character’s appeal). And the character’s desire to change herself is universal enough for viewers to relate to easily.

The first three episodes introduce Amu’s charas, and each one brings out/adds some special abilities, especially when she character changes. Ran is cheerful and energetic and makes Amu more honest and athletic, Miki is stubborn and easygoing and makes Amu more level-headed and artistic, and Suu is clumsy and girl and makes Amu more caring and better at domestic skills. The transformations resemble some of the outfits from Cardcaptor Sakura, but some of the actions while transformed, like the purification of X-eggs, feels more like Sailor Moon. Add in the two potential love interests – the ‘princely’ Tadase and the ‘wild and free’ Ikuto – and you’ve put together all the best parts of shoujo anime, which speaks to how popular this show is. And even as a guy probably too old this this kind of show, I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind continuing this show casually. The first three episodes went by quickly without much effort, I found some parts funny, and I’ve watch my share of similar shoujo anime – Cardcaptor Sakura and Full Moon – and liked it, so I won’t mind that this show isn’t in my ideal genre.

Bottomline Impressions:
Shugo Chara! – B+, the appeal of this show to its target audience is pretty clear, and the likability of the main character easily pulls other viewers into the show. Continuing happily.

Reminds me of: Cardcaptor Sakura with Powerpuff girl guardians and Sailor Moon-like special moves.

PS. Thanks Crunchyroll.com for the screenshots (until you tell me to take them down >.<). All readers are encouraged to check out their site to an excellent variety of videos for online viewing.

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