Rambunctious Morisawa Yuu is an energetic elementary-school girl who's always on the go. When she's not racing around the small town of Creamy-ga-Oka, she's helping her Mama and Papa in their popular crepe shoppe, Creamy Crepes. Then, one day, she is abducted by aliens and granted the magical power to transform into a teenage idol superstar! But if anyone discovers her secret, she'll never be able to use magic again!
Initially I started watching this series in order to have a more complete report for my senior thesis on the magical girl genre of anime...what I walked away with is a history lesson!
The commercial success of the "magical girl" genre with Mahou Tsukai Sally and Himitsu no Akko-chan from Toei Animation studios resulted in other anime studios of the time to jump on the "magical girl" bandwagon. Studio Ashi released Magical Princess Minky Momo and Studio Pierrot followed with Creamy Mami.
With Creamy Mami, Studio Pierrot developed a formula characeristic to its studio. Most people consider Sailor Moon, Wedding Peach, and Tokyo Mewmew to be the typical "magical girl" genre, when in fact it is simply the most recent evolution of "magical girl" subgenre.
Creamy Mami is the second "subgenre" to be developed in the magical girl franchise, which bases its appeal to the overall Japanese idol phenomemon. This is something that, with the artificial superstardom of American idols Britney Spears and all other knock-offs, is lost on the average American viewer. (For a better understanding on the phenomenon that is the Japanese idol, I highly recommend the article by Aoyagi Hiroshi titled "Pop Idols and the Asian Identity," found in the compilation Japan Pop! Inside the World of Japanese Popular Culture.)
The difference between Japanese idols and American idols is this, and I'll quote from the article:
"Most stars in Western countries are popular because of their outstanding physical or personal attributes. Japanese idols, on the other hand, typically depict images that are 'fairly standard.' Their appearance and ability are above average, yet not so much so as to alienate or offend the audience--just enough to provide their fans with the sense that they too can be stars if they try hard enough."
The Japanese refer to this characteristic as toushindai, or "life-sized." They are "lucky stars" that are chosen, and they are dependent on their fans to support them on their road to success.
In this anime, Yuu is a "lucky star," but in a supernatural sense. What makes Mami exceptional though, is her reluctance to be a star. While Mitsuki in Full Moon o Sagashite dreams of being a singing superstar, Mami/Yuu's good fortune comes completely by accident, and she only goes along with the act because of her ability to make those around her happy with her idol alter-ego.
With the explanation aside, I guess you're still left wondering if I consider this anime to be worthwhile. As a fan of the magical girl genre, I rank this series on the very top of my favorites list, simply because of the charm of the post-war 80's idol boom. Fans of Urusei Yatsura will enjoy the subtle tie-ins, considering that the character designer for Creamy Mami is the same as the early Takahashi works.
But if you're looking for a magical girl series that relies on the ground-breaking formula of superheroes crime-fighting like in Sailor Moon or Tokyo Mewmew, you're going to be either strangely enlightened or sorely disappointed, because, as an early example of the magical girl genre, our heroine's conflicts manifest themselves in things a little more mundane--that is, getting to photo shoots on time, keeping her double-life secret from her two sets of kin, studio co-worker rivalry, and her developing crush on childhood friend Toshio. (Who, ironically enough, is infatuated with the fresh superstar Creamy Mami.)
Come to think of it, y'think that the creators of 80s cartoon classic Jem and the Holograms got their cues from Creamy Mami? Hmm ...
Creamy Mami has everything that a flavored veteran could ask for ... zany sci-fi hijinks, cute, not-too-overbearing mascots, merchandising magical items, catchy music, classic anime schtick, and fantastic Japanese voice acting. Unless all your anime has to be mind-blowing, earth-shattering, melodramatic and angsty, Creamy Mami is some of anime at its best.
A classic anime series, and should be observed by anyone who wants to claim a well-rounded knowledge of the anime medium, or even by someone who wants to observe how the economic boom of 1980s Japan influenced the anime industry. A must-see for any true magical girl fan, and if you like the feel of Urusei Yatsura or 80's anime. If this doesn't sound like you, I'd subtract a star. — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: This anime was intended for little girls, so aside from a brief panty shot in the first episode when Yuu is being lifted up into the spaceship, it's OK for little kids of all ages.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Partial (35/52)
Creamy Mami © 1982 Studio Pierrot
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