I read Tokyo Mew Mew a while back and it was fun enough. I preferred the manga to Sailor Moon by a large margin but would the same be true of the anime version? Not in this case as the gap between the manga and anime for Moon is like night and day to the point where I would say the anime is really quite good. In Mew Mew’s case I would say the anime does enhance the manga as well but it’s still not quite topping Sailor Moon. This is a fun show all the way through so you should have a good time here.
The show starts by introducing us to a happy girl named Ichigo. Her life has been rather ordinary so far as she tries to balance her school life while also trying to build up the courage to tell Aoyama how she feels about him. Well, that will have to wait as she is blasted with a strange ray along with a few other girls. They are now destined to be the Tokyo Mew Mews. A fighting force of epic proportions that must defend the world from aliens who seemingly wish to destroy it. These powers come with some unfortunate side effects like how Ichigo will gain cat features if she gets too excited. That will make her confession to Aoyama rather difficult. Her only chance is to save the world quickly and put these powers behind her. Will she be able to do this?
At first the show is mainly a monster of the week format. Ichigo will fight a monster and then we move on to the next adventure. Along the way she meets the other fighters in the group and then once the team is assembled we really start to learn more about the villains and their motivations. It’s not quite so simple as just destroying the world and they have some interesting reasons for attacking. You’ll never stop rooting for the heroes but at least you can see where the villains are coming from.
The show does tend to use the same kind of plot cycles like Saint Seiya for a while though. For example, if one character gets a power up, you can bet that the next 4 episodes will be about the rest of the team getting power ups. If one character gets an adventure then the others will each get an episode in turn. It may make things predictable to an extent so I’d like the show to have changed things up more. Fortunately the adventures are all fun though and you’re not really expecting the show to veer off into a crazy direction so it works well enough. The whole episodic kind of experience is one that can always work as long as the writing is good.
One of the reasons why I preferred the show to the manga version is it felt like each of the characters got more personality and development. I usually feel that way for anime adaptions and consider it a strength of the medium. For example I did not like Pudding very much in the manga but thought she was a lot more likable here. Her antics would actually be funny and she did her best to help out. I’m still not a big Lettuce fan in any version but I never tend to like the timid member of the group as much as the more intense ones.
The animation here is solid. In fact I would say it’s surprising just how good it is. The colors are very sharp and the show looks a lot newer than it actually is. I suspect it’s because of the bright color pallete that makes all of the characters stand out at all times. Or maybe this show just got a bigger budget than I thought. The fight scenes that we do get are quite solid too even if they aren’t really the focus here. I definitely had no complaints on that end. Of course there is a ton of recycled footage here for all of the transformations. That always feels like a lazy way to save budget for the show though. Imagine if we got a redrawn transformation every episode. That would take more effort but it would be neat. I’m not a big fan of long transformations though so I wouldn’t mind if you did the DBZ instant change version instead. It’s cool to have a long transformation for the first time though to show what a big deal it is. The soundtrack was also solid. It had quite a few tunes as well so there was a lot of variety here. The theme song is only okay though, I didn’t find it to be too memorable. The best soundtracks tend to be the character themes when they transform and enter battle.
With 52 episodes this means you’ll be seeing a lot of monsters but the show does a good job of not really reusing those. You’re also having fun throughout so it never feels like the show drags on. In fact, I would make the case that it is always good to be a very long show if you’re a slice of life because it lets you get used to the characters. For example Cardfight G may have been one of the weaker seasons for me for a while but it had almost 60 episodes of the characters just hanging out and so when the plot stuff started you were already invested. Perhaps the new Cardfight season could have been better with more than 12 episodes.
So with 50+, you get to know the Mew Mews very well by the time we’re entering the climax. They are all solid characters for the most part too which is important. The writing here is solid from start to finish. Now, I may give the dub the edge slightly because I love how they made all of the characters extremely overconfident and aggressive but this review is really of the subbed version where I saw the whole thing. The writing is still good there as the characters have good dialogue and the episodes don’t drag on. If an episode drags on that usually means either the writer or director did not do their job and that never became an issue here. The show has good humor and dialogue at all times so you’ll be feeling good after each adventure. Now lets talk about the characters.
Ichigo is the main heroine here and she does well in carrying the show. Ichigo has a lot of energy and is a hero through and through as she sacrifices her social life to fight the monsters. She has a bit of the Parker luck at times as things usually don’t work out for her. Fortunately Aoyama is probably the most understanding guy I’ve ever seen in a Shojo series as everything bounces off of him. Ichigo stands him up for 3 different dates? He shrugs and figures she was busy. Ichigo avoids him at school for a few days? Must be a coincidence.
I mean he does get sad at times but he pretty much always gives her a pass. It’s nice to see him be so understanding but at times it feels like he has no real character. He’s just standing around to be the love interest and that’s about it. It’s why I was glad he got some twists and character development since he needed that. Ichigo does well in her spot as the leader here and also appears to be the most determined Mew Mew. So I definitely liked her quite a bit and would even put her above Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon as far as the Shojo leads go.
Since I already talked about Aoyama a bit, lets wrap up his part of the plot. He does have one episode where he has a really good character arc which is when he has to fight Ichigo’s dad in order to date her. The episode wasn’t always played seriously but his resolve was and it’s the first time he really seemed to step out into being his own character. It was satisfying in that respect and it was his best episode. Ichigo’s dad is also cool. The guy doesn’t get to do a whole lot but I do like how protective he is of Ichigo. The guy is absolutely going to make sure she doesn’t get mixed up with the wrong crowd. I also like Ichigo’s mother and how she is always cheering the father on. They have a really good bond going there and it makes for one of the more wholesome relationships I’ve seen for parents in anime.
Next up we have Mint and she is sort of like the rival or Sailor Mars of the group. She is rich and can be rather stuck up at times. She isn’t going to be quite as selfless as Ichigo but she does want friends. Mint is just one of the tsundere types who can’t really admit this. Ichigo helps her reconnect with her family and make more friends so they have a strong bond by the end. Mint also gets a good fight with Zakuro at one point which was really hype. Mint seems like one of the stronger Mew Mew fighters and I liked her tough personality. She’s certainly a standout.
Then we have Lettuce and I never quite warmed up to her. She’s one of those characters who seemed a lot more powerful when she was “evil” than when she formally became a Mew Mew. She has a hard time expressing herself and is really timid which holds her back in fights. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being timid but usually that means that you won’t end up being one of my favorite characters. I tend to like the bold characters and that’s really not her style.
Pudding is a character I usually wouldn’t expect to like very much. She’s the youngest member who can’t really take everything seriously. So Pudding tends to goof off even when things are tough and doesn’t understand that the villains are evil. I think what separates her from some of the other characters though is how she does still have a lot of responsibilities and appears to be a mature character when it counts. She looks after a bunch of orphans and in one episode we see how she has to take care of all fo them in between missions. Throw in the fact that she works in the Mew Mew cafe with the others and she is very likely the busiest member of the group.
I’d still like it if she was a little more serious during the fights or not being oblivious to how the villains are fighting against her but by the end I was a fan. The episode with the orphans is the one that ultimately won me over. Finally we have Zakuro, the most powerful member who is also on the shady side at first. Her character is really impressive here. She gets a lot of powerful imagery like when she appears in the church initially. Now that was a great way to introduce her and she has an aura of mystery that no other character in the show was able to attain. Zakuro gets a lot of cool poses and fights to herself as well which is rare for a supporting character. She seems to be the only fighter who can really take care of herself without Ichigo having to come in and save the day.
I also thought the show was fairly consistent at showing her as the most powerful member. (Aside from Ichigo of course although I do think Zakuro is more skilled but Ichigo has the 1 hit KO moves) Zakuro is the oldest member and likes to play the bad cop routine to get everyone focused. At times she goes a little too far with this though like her attack on Mint and the crew. That felt completely unnecessary and the plan just never ends up justifying that. Should have just stuck with the heroes and attacked the villains from the start. Regardless, she was certainly my favorite character in the series. Definitely a winner through and through.
Then we have the mysterious Blue Knight. The show does a pretty good job of keeping the mystery of who his true identity is. It adds a little mystery to the series and he’s effectively the Tuxedo Mask of the group. He’s strong and makes for a very good ally to the group. He comes in handy on more than one occasion and I like his design. This guy’s certainly someone you can count on to always deliver in his scenes.
I haven’t talked about them much but the Mew Mew girls have two benefactors who set this all up. Their named as Shirogane and Keiichiro and they’re responsible for the alien rays. Basically they needed a fighting force against the aliens and so the girls were chosen. These guys aren’t super apologetic about what happened from the lab experiments but I guess deep down they get worried. Shirogane is your classic tough guy who always keeps an attitude up while Keiichiro likes to appear as a really nice guy. Keiichiro was rather boring for me though and I never liked him much.
Shirogane gets a good character arc though and we learn about the big risks he had to take. He even gets a very emotional backstory that ties into one of the monsters that the group ends up fighting. Shirogane probably had to endure the most before the series starts. I forget what the male version of a tsundere is, but that’s basically him as well. He hides his feelings behind the constant insults but you can always count on him to help out. So he’s a fun character and even Aoyama gets intimidated by the guy and runs off at one point.
I should mention there is a little robot named Masha who helps the heroes by finding Mew Aqua fragments that they need for saving the world and also detects monsters. I wasn’t a huge fan of Masha though as he fails absolutely every time when it counts. By the time Masha senses any incoming monsters they have already arrived so there’s no real point. The heroes are getting absolutely devastated in their home base and this guy’s quiet as a whistle. I will say that episode was really cool though because it makes sense that the villains would eventually attack the Mew Mew home base. It’s hardly a secret and everyone knows about the cafe as it is. Surprisingly the villains never attack after this though despite the overwhelming success of the plan.
It makes so much sense to attack this place directly but maybe it’s against the villain honor code. Not that they all have much of one but at least Kisshu seems like the type of guy who would have unwritten rules. He’s certainly the most popular villain but I was not a fan. His first scene is of stealing a kiss from Ichigo which is always a super annoying shojo trope for villains. How do you end up liking that guy after such a moment? He becomes more and more desperate to be with Ichigo from that point on to the point where it becomes his complete motivation.
It’s not written horribly like in Tokyo Mew Mew Au Lait, but it’s still not a great villain motivation. Especially once we learn his full backstory and what happened to the aliens you feel like he should be staying focused here. He has some good fights and is always ready with the insults but I’d prefer if he had kept his romantic feelings out of this. It ends up completely taking over his character by the end but at least he does get some quality fights in the mean time.
I didn’t care for Taruto either. This villain’s more of a rival to Pudding as he’s the youngest villain who also messes around. He has his whole emotional character arc and all but I just didn’t like him. His romance is even more unbelievable than Kisshu by how much he despites the heroes at first and tries to murder Pudding only to have a change of heart. Nah, I wasn’t on board with this guy. Finally we have Pai as well and he’s also an annoying villain. Ultimately he’s the kind of guy who will follow orders without thinking about it. He’s supposed to be the smart villain of the group who thinks this through but it’s not like he has any big plans either.
Finally you have Deep Blue sama who is mentioned a lot. He is the ultimate leader of the villains after all but rarely appears. For most of the series he is a disembodied voice that just zaps the other villains or reminds them that he won’t give them a 300th chance to beat the Mew Mews. When he finally gets to do something he makes for a deep villain but I admit that for most of the series I only liked him ironically. Your villains can only defy and fail you for so many times before I stop respecting the guy. He did leave Kisshu in a critical state at one point though so he did do something there.
Well that wraps up the characters. So it’s a pretty fun cast overall. As you could tell I much preferred the heroes to the villains here. None of the villains really clicked with me all that much. They could fight which is good but most of the time they let their minions do all of that so it’s not like they are even on the front lines all that much. When they did go there they could usually stalemate or buy some time but they weren’t exactly getting any big wins or anything like that. The heroes meanwhile were putting in the work right from the start.
Overall, Tokyo Mew Mew is a fun show. I had a good time with it and each episode will entertain you from start to finish. It’s the kind of show that could have run for several hundred episodes and you would still have a good time even if the plot didn’t move much. It’s a credit to the writing and characters which were handled well. I can see why the series has such a big fanbase. I’m not going to call it great or boost the score further for being entertaining but at the end of the day an anime’s job is to give you a good time and keep you engaged. This show completely succeeds at that and makes for a very consistent experience. With no real weaknesses to speak of, I can recommend this show to anyone. Whether you like adventure, action, or slice of life, this will tick off all of the boxes.
I was really surprised to hear this was being rebooted. I didn’t see much of the anime, but from what I’ve hear, I didn’t think it was that too far off to need to come back. Will be interesting to hear your thoughts once the new version comes out and see which one is better!
Also, I think you had a typo with “Au Laid” — unless the spinoff goes into a very different direction than what I would have thought!!
Ah definitely a big typo there! The series is definitely way steamier than the main one so it almost could work though.
Yeah the anime was a pretty straight adaption. I know they did get Ichigo’s hair color wrong which was apparently a big thing for some. It’s supposed to be more of a redish color than pink. I wonder if it can really top this one, I’ll definitely be checking it out and hopefully they adapt A La Mode too. The main character of the sequel was always a lot of fun