Wish Upon The Pleiades (TV)
A pint-sized alien called the Pleiadean grants magical powers to a group of young girls so they can help him collect "engine parts" for his spaceship. They scour the solar system, and places beyond, for the parts, which they grab and shrink to a more convenient size using giant magic circles. Opposing them is a character they call "Horned Cape" (a name-by-description a la "Tuxedo Mask", most likely, though it is actually his HEAD that's horned, not his cape.) Some personal issues get resolved along the way, and there's maybe a stab at (very young) romance. That's about it.
First of all, I have to imitate Phil (Bad Astronomy) Plait's best manner:
The Pleiades is a glorious naked-eye cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus. While the Japanese term Subaru refers to this cluster, it doesn't really look like the star pattern on the car emblem.(The car company paid for the production of Wish, by the way.) Someone who'd never seen it before once asked me if the Pleiades was the "Little Dipper" and I could see why, though its "handle" is awfully short. It's best appreciated in binoculars. (Wish shows a large telescope's picture of it at one point, which only really shows the center.) It's been the subject of some controversy, because one measurement puts its distance at 390 light-years, while theory (and other measurements) put it about 50 light-years farther away than that. (In case you care, the larger distance currently seems to be favored.) Its brightest stars are blue-white giants.
THERE. And some people don't appreciate the educational value of THEM Anime! Maybe I really SHOULD start my own astronomy blog...
Still, whatever I may know about astronomy, I can't really claim any expertise in Magical Girl anime. Melissa is our resident expert on this subject; nearly everything I know about the genre I learned from Sailor Moon, so I guess I'll have to compare this show against that standard.
Let's start with the girls themselves. Their mentor (who I'll get to in a bit) calls them "nothing", which seems rather insulting, and the girls' team leader, herself NAMED Subaru, certainly takes it that way, and gets pretty depressed about it. What mentor meant was that the girls were ingénues whose destinies were not yet set (or maybe corrupted) by many life experiences. He maintains that only such innocent girls (they're younger than the Sailor Moon cast) can work magic. (I guess this is kind of like the idea that only virgins can see unicorns.) Perhaps this innocence also explains the Wish girls' relative lack of distinctive personalities. Face it, the Sailor Moon girls not only actually HAD distinctive personalities, they were actually personality archetypes; they all had romantic interests at one time or other, AND they were older than the Wish girls, and yet they could do magic just fine, summarily disproving the Wish girls' mentor's theory.
But what kind of reasoning do you expect from something that looks like a blue balloon animal? That mentor, AKA "The President", AKA "The Pleiadean", serves as both guide to the girls AND mascot for the series. His own voice is rather squeaky and his speech incomprehensible (as you'd expect from a balloon animal), so he has one of the girls, Nanako, translate for him. For a while, I thought she was just some kind of appendage of his, but later in the series I discovered she actually did exist as a separate entity.
The girls all wear almost all-white outfits (it's the innocence thing again, I suppose), though many Sailor Moon conventions are still observed in the styling of their costumes- they have chest bows AND butt bows, for example- and also in their transformation scenes, which end with "striking the pose" just like in SM. The main change in Wish is the hats. Perhaps it is because they are ingénues that they don't know that hats have not really been stylish (especially on women) since the early 1960s. We have Itsuki, who wears a boater hat; Aoi, who we find out is a close friend of Subaru, who wears a wizard's cap; Nanako, that lavender-haired translator, who wears a British Admiral's hat; Hikaru, a blonde in a stewardess' cap, and Subaru herself, who wears a cap a lot like Hikaru's because the creators ran out of ideas, I guess.
Opposing them is that "Horned Cape" character, who just keeps showing up to steal the -Rainbow Crystals? Talismans?- excuse me, Engine Parts- that the girls are trying to capture. Why is he doing this? I dunno. In Sailor Moon, the villains were always part of some powerful group dedicated to the world's destruction (either the present world or the future world.) You don't get the feeling that that's going on here, though you WILL find out what this guy's deal is, if you can stay awake. I had a terrible time staying awake during this show- I had to go back time and time again and re-view the episodes, which is always a bad sign. In any case, you will begin to suspect that the villain's motivation is rather idiosyncratic, and you may be right.
Everybody here rides, in lieu of brooms, "drive shafts." To be honest, this show is a more subtle form of merchandising/product placement than one would expect in the U.S., though it might just be because the intended audience here (children) probably are neither going to buy cars themselves, nor will they be able to effectively hector their parents into doing so. In any event, the "drive shafts" are metal poles with a large, flat star at one end (not used as the seat, interestingly) and handlebars which spout rocket flames, and yet the thing in flight sounds like a motorcycle.
The "drive shafts" can get our cast around at nearly the speed of light; OR they can do warp speed; OR they can take you anywhere you want to go instantaneously, according to the requirements of the plot. There is a half-hearted attempt at rules for some of this, but they're quite arbitrary, and get broken a lot. The show has some good science- the universe at near light speed DOES look much like it's depicted at one point- but convenient hand-waving is favored over any attempt at creating logical consistency.
Oh, and there's this guy that Subaru runs into, named Minato. She finds him while looking for an observatory, but somehow her magic has obviously put her in the CONservatory by mistake. It's definitely the one rather than the other; trust me, if you saw stars in the place Subaru went to, it would be because Colonel Mustard conked you with a lead pipe.
I do have to give the show credit for a few things, quite aside from the view near light speed. That little song about the constellations that Aoi and Subaru sing in Episode 2 was kind of catchy, and the remark about one of the girls' prowess during a demo (also in Ep. 2) was very clever.
The show has some stories centered on the pasts of individual members of the group, and of course their current adventures help resolve issues from those pasts, but except for Nanako's (which is also the episode where she emerges as an individual except as just the Mouth of the Pleidean), I didn't find these of much interest.
I've been offended by Gainax shows but I've never really been bored by them, so this was a first for me, I guess. It's not an offensive show, it's just a very pallid take on Sailor Moon with a younger cast with weak backstories, including the villain's. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: The girls magically get swimsuits in one episode, but only a lolicon would really find anything in here a turn-on, and the show never really gets violent - or even suspenseful. Safe for kids, but maybe even they would get bored.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Wish Upon The Pleiades (TV) © 2015 Gainax
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