Everything about this is different, but in a good way.
Nurse Washu | South Burlington, VT United States | 02/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's billed as a spin-off of Tenchi Muyo and while this is not altogether incorrect, Sasami Magical Girls Club is more properly a spin off of Pretty Sammy/Magical Project S. Returning from Magical Project S are our spunky heroine Sasami, her dreadfully shy best friend Misao, Sasami's parents Hanoka and Ginji, Sasami's teacher Mihoshi, and one of my all-time favorite anime characters - the unforgettable Washu. However, the resemblance to the earlier Pretty Sammy material ends rather quickly. Indeed, even before you open the plastic wrap you will notice that the cover artwork and character designs are very different. So different, that I actually checked to see if AIC (Anime International Co.) even produced Sasami Magical Girls Club and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they did.
The basic premise to the story is similar in many ways to Harry Potter. In ages of the distant past, normal humans and witches (magic users) co-existed harmoniously, but over time this changed and non-magical people began to fear and oppressively persecute the witches. So great was their plight that the witches retreated into a hidden world where they could leave in peace. Eventually this was forgotten by normal humans over the course of history, that is until new groups of magic users began to emerge randomly in the human world. And so enters Sasami and her friends.
There is so much about Sasami Magical Girls Club that is different from anything previously associated with Tenchi Muyo, that attempting to use the older franchise as a yardstick to judge this new series would fail miserably. It really needs to stand on its own merits and in that regard it exceeds quite well. The story is told very evenly without revealing too much too early or dragging it out too much. Many themes such as friendship, social acceptance, and self esteem are very appropriate for the age group this show is intended for and provide some lovely drama for us older viewers as well. Like with Magical Project S, the shoujo and angst dimensions are much more pronounced than with the normally shounen Tenchi Muyo. The writing and intricate plotlines are superb, and I did find the anime artwork to be very cute and pleasing, even though it is so different from AIC's previous works like EL Hazard, and Ah! My Goddess. I should also mention that the soundtrack is wonderful and I found the harp music in the theme for Sasami and Amitav especially beautiful.
All in all, I enjoyed Sasami Magical Girls Club a great deal. If you're more of a Tenchi traditionalist and prefer the original works, you might not enjoy it so much. But if like me you love Tenchi Muyo in all forms, especially Pretty Sammy, then this series is not to be missed. AIC did a wonderful job in giving new life to an aged franchise, making it new and refreshing once again."
A Clever, Well-Done Series for Children
W. Ellis | Hazleton, PA United States | 11/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'd agree with the previous review: this is a series that's gotten some hostile reviews on sites like Anime News Network. Nevertheless, it's well worth a watch. It is, to be sure, very definitely a series designed for elementary and early middle-school children, however, and so young adults will find its approach too "kiddy" in its emphasis on "best friends" and cuteness.
However, it is not without its darker moments: episodes explore early understanding of death and dying and the emotional damage of bullying and ostracism. And this series, like all magical girl series, does deal with the mixed threat and promise of one's post-puberty sexual self. This is nicely captured in a scene where the little girl Sasami dances with a magical being she meets in the Witch world and sees, in split-second glimpses here and there, her adult self in a reflecting pool of water.
The supporting cast is also quirky and memorable, notably the slightly scary Tsukasa, who is the most mature of the group, and also has the most multiply traumatized backstory. The need for young girls to negotiate their incestuous desires for their fathers, as often in magical girl series, is often clearly marked in the plot.
As other reviewers have noted, not much happens: the girls hardly ever use their magic, and the grade-school social conflicts work out in mundane, common-sense ways. But they do so in clever, unpredictable plots, thanks to scripts by Mari Okada (a veteran of the classic Goth series Rozen Maiden!). Despite stereotypes, a child's life is not a simple one, and young watchers may well appreciate a series that does not "dumb down" difficult issues for them."