Ultra Maniac OVA

July 3, 2009

Though I have never really finished watching the TV version of Ultra Maniac (in fact, I have only watch a few episodes of it here and there), it sure does bring back some memories when I decided to go watch Ultra Maniac OVA. Not to say that I can remember much from the TV series but heck, it was one of those magical girl-themed series with 2 kawaii girls as its main lead which made me decided to watch the TV series.
 
In this one episode OVA which lasts only about 21 minutes, I found out that the OVA is actually released way back in the year 2002 prior to the TV series which ran in the following year. Thus both the OVA and the TV series are not related in terms of storyline although the basic premise and the characters still remain.
 
As the OVA begin, we hear Ayu Tateishi narrating how she has grown up and away from all those magical girl stuff and doesn’t believe in those fantagic (combination of fantasy and magic) things. As she is walking through the school hallways, she spots a new transfer student, Nina Sakura, who is crying and thinks she has been bullied. But actually she has lost something pink. Though Ayu offers to help find it for her, Nina says never mind and decides to look for it herself instead.
 
Ayu is at the shoe locker area and we get to see that she is quite popular with the girls as well. Yeah, some junior schoolmates of hers got so thrilled of even talking to her. You know, that girly squeak "Kyaa!!! Ayu talked to me!!!". As Ayu leaves, she is met with her other guy friends, Tetsuji Kaji and Hiroki Tsujiai. We learn that Ayu is a tennis club member and because of her superb tennis skills, she has attracted lots of fans and has been dubbed Cool Beauty. Of course Ayu can’t take all that compliment and tells Kaji the same thing that he too is the number 1 star of his baseball team and attracting lots of girls. That is when Tsujiai points out how he recently got a love letter from a third year student, causing Ayu to fluster a little. But he dismisses it as a sports festival plan. Soon the guys leave for their sports club activities.
 
We can tell that Ayu has a crush on Kaji (for fans of the series, you’ll know this better) and a short flashback of how Ayu decided to be cool as suggested by Kaji because he notices her cool composure during an English exam. She thinks by being cool, Kaji will find her attractive. In present time, Ayu finds a pink rectangular game-like console under a bench at the courtyard and decides to go return it. Nina is on cloud nine once she gets it back and feels indebted for life. You know, Ayu can sense trouble when she said that. For life… Nina finds out that even though Ayu did peek inside a little, she wasn’t interested on what it was as Ayu advised her to be careful as the teacher will confiscate it if they ever catch her with it. And thus, the beginning of a ‘beautiful’ friendship. At least in Nina’s eyes.
 
The next day as Ayu go about in her usual school activities, she notices that Nina is staring at her like a stalker. Yeah, it’s really becoming uneasy. Then, an argument broke out between the boys’ and girls’ tennis club members. Even though there are 4 courts, the girls need to use them for practice and accuses the boys of slacking around. But the boys disagree and decide to settle this through a 1 set tennis match. The winner will get 3 courts while the loser only 1. Though the girls think that there will be a disadvantage if it is boys versus girls, Nina then shows up and says how if it is Ayu, they can do it. With that, all the other girls too rest their hopes and confidence on reluctant Ayu. Ayu gets a little worried to find out that Tsujiai will be representing the boys. Ayu tries to back out but since the baseball club just ran pass by, Ayu gets all flustered up and doesn’t want Kaji to see her in that state, thus agreeing to the match. In class, Ayu is spacing out over this and after class Nina wants to talk to her privately.
 
Besides thanking Ayu for finding her precious gadget, Nina goes on to explain that she is a transfer student from the Magic Kingdom. That is, she’s a witch girl. Ayu and any other sane person would find it hard to believe. Yeah, Ayu’s speechless. Nina goes on to say how she fell behind in her Magic Middle School and seemingly had no hope to graduate. Thus her transfer here was because there are no magic related classes. Nina introduces that pink gadget which is a mobile computer for using magic and her source for doing so. It has a magic dictionary in it and can also be used to download magic from various internet sites. Now that is pretty handy. In short, Nina wants to repay her debt to make Ayu wishes come true. Ayu is definitely finding all this hard to believe. She tries to leave but since Nina won’t be satisfied until she grants her a wish, Ayu has no choice but help her win today’s match.
 
Nina is thinking more of magic spells like attracting the ball to the racquet or making her opponent fall (isn’t that cheating?) but Ayu has increasing her tennis abilities in mind. As Nina looks through her gadget for such a spell, Ayu wonders why witches don’t use magical wands instead. Her reply: Outdated. Yeah, everything is so high-tech now. After finding the right spell, she puts a little chocolate ball into her magical treasure box and connects it to her computer. I know, everyone including Ayu is still finding it hard to believe. A chocolate for a magic spell? However it didn’t work since flowers only popped out of the box. Ayu decides to take this chance to leave but Nina is persistent and tries again. Again and again. Failure after failure. This is getting old… Finally after calming herself down and thinking of her grandma’s words, Nina finally does it. Erm… Looks like that little chocolate before but only thing is that now it is filled with that spell. She wants Ayu to eat it in order for the spell to take effect. She pops it into her mouth (hoping it won’t kill her) and feels some inner transformation, like something bursting open among such.
 
However when Ayu open her eyes, to her horror she finds herself to be turned into a boy! WTF?! Another magic flop? Nope. Nina says that since it was hard to find a spell to change athletic ability, she decided to change her body into a boy so that she could have quicker reflexes and movements. Not what Ayu had in mind. Definitely pissed off. So I guess that was what she felt ‘bursting open’. Hahaha. Just kidding. Of course Ayu can’t go out like this since she turned into someone else so Nina suggests that she go as ‘Ayu’s replacement’. Uh huh. Something about Ayu getting sick and requests her ‘cousin’, Ayuo, to fill in her place. Would anybody believe it? Yeah, the tennis girls seem to think so since none of them has a chance of winning. What about the boys? Not too well. They wonder why not a girl member to replace Ayu instead of some stranger. However Tsujiai is fine whoever he takes on and thus the match begins. Unfortunately with Ayu’s change in body structure, which means her timing is also off. Yeah, she hits the ball too hard and out of court. Useless body! To make matters worse, Kaji is watching! In the end, Tsujiai has an easy match and wins 6-0! OMG! Must be an all time record even if it’s unofficial. Ayu has no chance at all and all the other girls are bloody disappointed and even thought that they could’ve played better themselves. That’s what you get when you leave fate in the hands of others.
 
Though the boys rejoice, Tsujiai shows his fair side by splitting the court for both sides at 2 each. But they have to do running as a condition. Is he trying to win the girls’ heart? Nope. He too chides the boys for wasting time with such meaningless arguments and wants both sides to get along. I guess that’s enough to make everyone reflect on their actions. With that, Ayu thinks how Tsujiai is such a good person, someone whom you’d expect to be as Kaji’s best friend. Later in the evening as Nina apologizes, Ayu forgives her since everything ended well and that it was pretty interesting that she get to experienced something unusual (damn right she has). She wants Nina to lift the spell now as Nina checks through her computer but couldn’t find the right spell. Ayu gets annoyed and yells "Don’t mess with me! You strange chocolate witch!". Well, keep searching Nina. Or else. Finally as Ayu narrated, she stayed as a boy for 2 more hours and thus her everyday life with the witch girl Nina begins. So does she believe in magical girls now?
 
Well for a short OVA, I guess I can’t complain much. It is still a little hilarious and I really love Nina being a klutzy airhead. Though Nina didn’t perform her henshin and her usual red trademark dress here. Of course, there is nothing much in terms of development of the characters. So if you want to know more, you’ll have to continue watching the 26 episode TV series, which is an alternate retelling. You can say that this OVA can serve as a standalone episode and those who want to watch it can do so if you’re a fan of the series or just wanting some little light-hearted moments.
 
I want to mention that though there is no opening theme for the OVA, the ending theme song is an instrumental which sounds very much like a lively swing piece from the 50’s. Perhaps to give viewers a feel of the wacky magic atmosphere? The seiyuus of the 2 main girls too differ from the TV series. Here, Satsuki Yukino (Kagome of Inu Yasha) voices Ayu as opposed to Yui Horie in the TV series and Nina by Mayuko Omimura (Yoshimi in Tsuyokiss) instead of Akemi Kanda in the same case.
 
From my point of view and recalling hard from my memory banks, the drawing and art remains consistent with the TV series. But honestly after watching this OVA, I didn’t have the urge to go rewatch the TV series since I’m currently watching many other animes. Perhaps it has passed its time? Maybe when I’m older and for nostalgic reasons I’ll give this classic piece another chance. And no, I still don’t prefer magical girl genres.
 

Kagami No Naka

January 29, 2009

  Kanashii nara naite ii yo,
  Sono sekai ga aru yoru nara,
  Dakishimeta kanjou wo misete hanashite,
  Kagami no naka
 
Yay! I’m so glad that I still love singing this song, Kagami No Naka (Within The Mirror). Though it has been many years, from time to time I still find this opening theme song from the anime series, Ultra Maniac, to be still an entertaining affair. Sung by can/goo, at first I thought the name of the singer had something to do with that Australian marsupial but I assure you they are not related. It’s just plain weird. Or unique, if you want to look at it that way.
 
  Kagami no naka mitsumeatteta,
  Atashi ga hanashi hajimeru yoru,
  Kagami ni hisomu mou hitotsu no,
  Sekai ga ugoki hajimeru yo
 
The one thing which first strikes me, and the main reason why I like the song, is the way the piano is played. I love the fast frenzy piano finger drilling play which is accompanied by dramatic strings. Both the musical combination sounds like as though they are playing musical chairs. The piano, then the strings, then piano again and then the strings before they both finally come together. This line isn’t played throughout the song though, only at points like before the verses, after the chorus and the end solo.
 
  Aijou mo negai mo jikan sae mo,
  Subete jiyuu sa
 
Now, although this isn’t an easy song to sing but somehow most of the time I am even surprised by myself that I could handle the overall song well. There are lines in the chorus which requires one to sing aloud at the top of one’s lungs. And it’s not just screaming. You have to maintain that voice for around 2 seconds, which may seem short but for an apprentice like me, it pretty much seems like a long time. But other than this part, the other lines in this song are pretty ‘easy’. Yeah, I notice I have to sing those lines with passion in order for me to sound right. Hey, don’t I do that with the other songs too? Perhaps this is the more ‘successful’ ones, huh? But I wasn’t perfect initially because my timing to start of the chorus right after the verse was a little off. Sometimes a little too early and sometimes a little too late. But of course, now I’ve mastered it :).
 
  Itoshii kara furete hoshii,
  Sono sekai ga aru yoru nara,
  Nani hitotsu saegiru mono wa nai yo,
  Kagami no naka hiraku
 
The song starts off on a slow note before setting into its usual dramatic piece rhythm. Due to the nature of the orchestra strings, I find that this tune is mostly dramatic like the solo part and end solo. But contrary to the tune of the song, the lyrics seem somewhat sad and a little depressing. Something about sadness and pain and well, throwing it all away. Well, life is like that. What do you see when you look in a mirror? And perhaps anime reflects so much like real life itself.
 
  Kurushii nara sutete ii yo,
  Sono sekai ga aru yoru nara,
  Dakishimeta kanjou wo misete hanashite,
  Kagami no naka sakebu…
 
Ultra Maniac

Ultra Maniac

December 16, 2005

One reason why I decided to watch Ultra Maniac was because of the 2 pretty and kawaii girls. Well, you know me, I’m a sucker for those bishoujo type of animes. Besides that, I also liked the hillarious comedy that never ceased to make me laugh. So what’s so interesting or funny about this anime you ask? It’s about this girl Nina Sakura who is a witch from the Magic Kingdom, travels to Earth to find 5 holy stones so that she can qualify to be a candidate to become a princess back on her home world. On Earth she befriends a girl named Ayu Tateishi when she learns of her mission and mystical powers and agrees to help her to find the stones. As there are other candidates as well on Earth who wants to collect the stones, Nina has to be fast and beware, especially of her main rival Maya and that talking pet crow of hers. So the two become the inseparable best of friends. In return, Nina would use her magic and try to help Ayu in getting the boy she has a major crush on (think of it as killing 2 birds with 1 stone, as Nina not only gets to help her best friend but practice her amateurish magic as well). Most of the time, her magic backfires or has some side-effect. That’s where the laughter comes in. But they manage to pull through each one at the end. Of course, it’s not just comedy all the way. There’re some parts of the show where it’s serious and dramatic. Like when Ayu suspected that Nina also has a crush on her secret admirer, Kaji and the time when Nina discovers his dark nature and faces a dillema to tell it her best friend. Overall, I’d say this anime has a good mix of magic, love and charming bishoujos (yeah, you’ve heard enough of that already). Oh yeah, I also find it a little funny that Nina uses a tiny portable PC to turn into a witch (her dress changes and she has access to her magic powers). Ah well, modern age technolody combined with magic isn’t such a bad idea afterall.