Sunday, May 6, 2012

Anime Review No. 30, "Magical Witch Punie-chan"

Hello, I’m the Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz.

I’ll start off “Guilty Pleasures” Month with a short series that I came across a few years back. I first saw this on Youtube, then later at anime club at university. The title I am talking about is “Magical Witch Punie-chan”.

Done by Studio Barcelona back in 2006, it was released subbed only by Media Blasters/AnimeWorks in 2007. Last summer, they re-released it with a dub track (actually it was my birthday). This show has the distinction of being a parody of magical girl genre. Granted, it is more of a bittersweet satire then a funny comical parody (a la Detatoko Princess).

The titular character, Punie-chan, is the Princess of a Magical Land. She is sent by her parents to Earth in order to pass some vague test or something (not really explained). Once at high school, she meets up with some other characters, some friendly and some not so much. Teamed with her animal mascot Paya, she proceeds to beat the living crud out of everyone and everything within close range, or be conniving as all heck. That’s about it, oh and the series is 8 episodes, each 12-15 minutes long. 

So, what makes this a guilty pleasure of mine? Well, it boils down to the fact this has to be one of the most insanely awesome series I’ve seen. Well, until I saw Panty and Stocking, but this show is still quite insane nonetheless. There are a lot of the moments in the 8 ‘half-episodes’ are truly WTF, with even more insane moments succeeding.

Also, the main cast is also insane or not quite right in the head. Punie-chan and Paya-tan are quite the most destructive pair of anime characters in recent memory. The path of destruction and mayhem rival that of similar escapades of Excel Saga. Punie-chan, at first, seems like your typical magical girl: kind, gentle and likeable girl. But, it turns out she is very much a hard-nosed, merciless, fierce, and determined to beat the utter crud out of everyone. This is due to the fact that not only is Punie a mahou shoujo (magical girl) she is also a martial artist specializing in submission holds.  Same thing can be said with Paya, a cutie one moment then a bad@#$ the other.

The rest of cast though is basically an ensemble of rather flimsy stereotypes. Anego-san, the first episode antagonist, is a gangster girl with her own group of tough and mean girls at the school. However, after the first episode, she gets sidelined. Tetsuko, who becomes Punie-chan’s only friend at school, is a railroad train aficionado so expect some railroad references sprinkled in throughout the series. Punie-chan has two little sisters, Pyun and Potaru, who just seem to be there to grab fans of moe anime. Yeah, really, that’s all.

The story and animation are very standard. Striped of all the insanity and eccentricity, and it becomes a bittersweet satire of the magical girl genre. As expected, the animation is wonderfully clean and crisp, owning to the fact it being a digitally animated product. Even Punie-chan’s transformation sequence is surprisingly safe, without an ounce of fanservice (her tagline is "Lyrical Tokarev, kill them all" which makes sense). But, don’t worry, the creators make up the lack of fanservice with blood, guts, and hyper-violence. I do have to admit the fighting scenes are very well done. Though, they do have those “so impressive it has to be shown off-screen” moments but overall entertaining.

So, is it all good? Well, not really. MWP has two main problems, apart from the obvious one: being too short. I’ll settle that by saying I think it’s the right length of time. This level of insanity couldn’t be sustained past 2 hours, let alone 3. OK, the problems are linked to what I mentioned previously. Well, this show has a tendency of placing scenes of hyper-violence with scenes of anything else but. It is a bit jarring upon first viewing but after a while it’s not as noticeable. In addition, there are scenes that are crazy/insane that are followed up by even more crazy/insane stuff. I call it ‘WTF ratcheting’.

Another thing I like about this is the English dub. Granted, in the original subbed version it is very good. The English dub, done by AnimeWorks, is not that bad. Some of the references get lost in translation, but what can you do about that? Not much. It does feature Veronica Taylor and Dan Green as Punie and Paya (bad!@# version). It’s good to see them still working even if it’s just AnimeWorks releases. Past that though, the rest of the dub cast aren’t particularly well-known, but they do a great job. Some of them do overdo it sometimes, but considering how crazy this show gets can’t you expect a little ham?

Anyway, would I recommend this? Yes, definitely. It has the right mix of crazy, insane and surreal entertainment that works well. It’s a nice 2 hours of fun. Though, it has to be seen to be believed.

Next week is Golden Boy Part I.

The Eclectic Dude  

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