Look, I know some of us have been fans for a minute, so let me get this out of the way: the mahou shoujo (“magical girl”) genre has got some weird ass concepts. I mean, some weird NSFW and even arguably mind-scarring concepts, so Reiko Yoshida and Mia Ikumi’s Tokyo Mew Mew has got a lot of competition when it comes to being the worst of the bunch. That being said, it’s time to remove the nostalgia goggles and really appraise this atrocity for what it is. Oh yes, I hope you remembered to bring back your badly-edited Mew Mew OC from middle school (no? Just me?) ’cause we’re about to pick apart the creation that would become the crown gem of 4Kids’ dubbing horror. Seven tankoban and 52 episodes later, here’s my spoilerific top 5 reasons that Tokyo Mew Mew is the Worst Mahou Shoujo of All Time.
[title type=”h2″]1) Those Names[/title]
Oh, I’m not gonna hit you off the bat with the worst yet. We’re gonna start real light — which is bad enough if you ask me. So anime and manga characters, especially in shoujo, aren’t exactly known for naming their children plausible things. I mean, “Rabbit” of all things, right? There’s even an Ichigo (“Strawberry”) as the main character of shonen series Bleach. But you’re gonna tell me that all these parents sat around in Tokyo at about the same time like, “Word, I’m going to name my child Strawberry/Mint/Lettuce/Pudding/Pomegranate/Berry/Apple and I expect she’ll turn out super all right”?
I don’t think y’all are hearing me: there are 93 — count ’em — 93 Pretty Cure warriors and not one of them has a civilian name as unlikely as this entire group combined (well, okay, Love and Milk are pretty weird, I’ll grant you those). Also, Lettuce. That’s just plain cruel.
[title type=”h2″]2) That Premise[/title]
You want to know why mahou shoujo tends to get away with a lot that doesn’t make sense? Like people breathing in space or turning into cars kind of not making sense? Magic. Even Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which likes to throw around words like “entropy” to sound smart and sophisticated basically shrugs its shoulders in the end and says, “Hell if we know, it’s magic.” But not Tokyo Mew Mew! Nope, here we’re treated to only the most sound of scientific facts that even the love child of Gendo Ikari and Washu couldn’t hope to dream up.
[caption: This lady looks legit. ]
So. A ridiculously rich 15-year-old boy named Ryou somehow comes up with the technology to infuse humans with the DNA of five different endangered species, and it so happens that five preteen girls are the most compatible, which we find out only after an earthquake sets off the beam and randomly hits them.
Now, we could pause here and consider how many sources of said endangered animals had to be tapped to produce sufficient DNA for this machine or the fact that say, DNA literally doesn’t work that way, but you’d be here all day reading if we nitpicked every single detail. No, we have to also take into account that not only does the Definitely Science™ Beam not kill any of these random girls, it gives them the power to
magically scientifically transform into color-coordinated outfits that also happen to make them look like furries. Unless you’re the main character, Ichigo, then sometimes your cat ears pop out when you’re excited or you get stuck as a cat that looks nothing like the actual cat you’re fused with. Also there are aliens trying to take over the planet. Also there is a tiny robot and a boyfriend. Also, everyone works at a cafe that’s a cover for their secret science base.
Okay, where did I lose you?
[title type=”h2″]3) The Weapons[/title]
If you managed to blink your way past that plot summary, know that the
magical scientific battle weapons are designed specifically for maximum letdown. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples of a bow weapon in other mahou shoujo anime:
Now here is Mew Mint demonstrating her version:
Turns out DNA infusion leaves you with some pretty crappy Happy Meal toys to defend yourself, who knew? Other great weapons include Mew Lettuce’s castanets that shoot… something, and Mew Pudding’s rings that literally encase any enemy in pudding. And this monstrosity:
[title type=”h2″]4) NO MEANS NO![/title]
It’s not unusual for manga and anime of all kinds to have difficulty with boundaries, especially when it comes to sexual harassment (the first five minutes of a harem anime will confirm this real quick). But damn, Tokyo Mew Mew seems determined to impress upon its audience that “I love you” means “you gonna let me do what I want ’cause I want it.”
It’s really easy to give our main baddie Kish a pass because he’s an evil alien, so harassment seems to go hand in hand with the character. EXCEPT that for every forced kiss, hug, grope, choke, and God knows what else, we get these creepy ass claims to love and shiny eyes brimming with crocodile tears. DO NOT TEACH CHILDREN THAT THIS IS OKAY BEHAVIOR. THIS IS NOT OKAY BEHAVIOR.
[caption: They’re love swords. You know… for love stabs.]
This wouldn’t be so bad if Ryou, pretty much the one person responsible for the Mew Mews’ livelihood and safety, didn’t also continue to harass Ichigo from day one. Because I know the first thing I do to earn someone’s trust is to lift up their skirt and then continue to push them into unhealthy scenes like this one:
And if you think this problem gets any better in the A La Mode sequel, whoo buddy! Are you in for two long books of disappointment.
[title type=”h2″]5) Actual Child Bride[/title]
I just… what is this? Really. What is this? Y’all, there is literally a magical girl series called Wedding Peach and things did not get this weird. I’ve talked at length previously about how marriage isn’t for everyone, but that’s not even the issue here. The issue is that these children are twelve. Not fresh out of high school, not entering college… twelve. And none of their friends thought this surprise fake wedding for no reason was weird.
Just… what… do you even respond to this?
[title type=”h2″]BONUS: The Mew Mew Power “Rap”[/title]
Remember when I mentioned that this became the crown gem of 4Kids dubbing hell? Y’all, I can forgive some pretty awful lip flaps and erasing the entirety of Japan from an obviously Japanese product. But this? Nope. NOPE. Definitely worth going back in time and erasing Tokyo Mew Mew from existence so this crap never has a chance to surface (sidenote: let’s make 2016 the year that we stop labeling random rhyming “rap”).
Even after all this, let me make something clear: I don’t hate Tokyo Mew Mew. I’m never going to give up its place in my manga collection and I’m always going to be proud of the fanart it inspired me to make (save the Asian black bears!). At a time when the anime industry was desperately trying to fill the void left by the ending of Sailor Moon, I get what good an anime trying to engage its audience in being environmentally friendly could do. But sometimes, for the sake of the planet, you just gotta call the guilty pleasure what it is. It’s what a real hero would do.
Agree? Disagree? What do you think is the Worst Mahou Shoujo of All Time?