Ultra Maniac: Magical Girl
Ultra Maniac: Magical Girl sums up this series nicely. It’s a crazy series about a girl named Nina who is from the Magical Kingdom and studying abroad in the regular human world. She meets a classmate named Ayu and they become great friends, so great that Nina shares her secret about having magical powers. Ultra Maniac is lighthearted and random as it follows the two girls in their junior high hijinks and wacky magical mishaps.
Episode One, Ayu and Nina, sets the tone for the series. Nina uses her magic to try and get Ayu’s crush to like her. Of course, the spell backfires when the wrong guy eats the magical candy, and wacky mishaps ensue. In Episode Two, Boy Meets Girl, the girls get a visitor from the Magic Kingdom and his name is Uta. Uta is a childhood friend of Nina’s and he manages to con Ayu into showing him around the city on a date. In Episode Three, Change Over, the boys and girls tennis clubs go at it in competition for use of the extra tennis court. But this isn’t any regular tennis match, Nina turns Ayu into a boy to try and give her the edge in the competition! Episode Four, D.C (Da Capo), is the end of disc one, but it’s the beginning of the story and tells the tale of how Ayu and Nina first met.
The animation had a very crisp and clean look, no gritty old school feel here. Ultra Maniac was made by the people who created Marmalade Boy and you can definitely see the same styling. While Marmalade Boy had a slightly unfinished feel to it, and I personally hated how the clothes looked on the characters, Ultra Maniac takes a giant leap foreword in overall appearance. First of all, the clothes actually fit the characters, and in general the animators just raised the bar from their previous work in fluidity and originality. The creators had a lot of fun giving the characters their own personal style and it shows.
Music in this anime was sparse. While there was always music playing, the soundtrack only has a total of about 2-3 songs, which are used over and over again throughout the episodes. This isn’t a new trick for animes, anyone who’s seen Sailor Moon, Fushigi Yuugi, or Card Captor Sakura knows what I’m talking about. The voice acting was also a bit over done. While the main characters Aya and Nina aren’t all that bad, the supporting cast was pretty awful. In an anime, I want to believe that the characters are real and feel like I’m watching a window into their lives, I don’t want to be able to tell that they’re voice acting.
Ultra Maniac is very noticeably targeted at a young audience, primarily young girls. The characters are a bit exaggerated in their emotions. When they’re sad they’re very sad, when they’re happy, they’re very happy. There seems to be only extremes, which can be a bit exhausting to watch at times. The shouting and overly excessive exclamations gave me a bit of a headache. It was just a bit too much and the extremes in the characters reactions and moods drew away from what plot there was. I think I would have enjoyed this series more if I hadn’t already passed puberty. However, those who are younger, or at least younger at heart, will find this series quite enjoyable and will easily overlook the plot’s shortcomings, and enjoy a very sweet and adorable anime.
It could use a more in-depth plot, but its possible it will pick up pace as they series goes along. It was a fun little show and has a lot of potential.
The voice acting was a bit over the top and the same music was used over a lot. How ever I did like the extras, as it came with a preview of the manga version of the series.
DVD Features: Non-Credit Opening