Lil'Pri Episode #01 (of 13) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010
Release Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010

Three cute fairies are sent into the harsh cruel human world in order to find three young girls who can become princesses. Will they ever find them?

What They Say
We Found the Princesses! Pri!

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the magical girl trading card game of the same name from the folks at Sega, Lil'pri is a thirteen episode series that's all about the cute. The show is one that going by the first episode will follow a lot of traditional magical girl rules when it comes to storytelling as you can see it being very episodic, but it also tries to change things up a little bit as well, though I don't think the results are all that good just yet. This first episode largely feels familiar as it deals with the world that needs to be saved and introducing the primary characters who, of course, all become instant friends upon first meeting.

Lil'pri involves the magical place known as Fairyland where elements that make up fairytales exist in some form. Things aren't going well there though as the entire realm is weakening and a lot of things are disappearing. Even more problematic is that as pieces disappear from this realm, their form in the real world disappears as well, which is why we have elementary school students complaining about books involving fairytales disappearing from the shelves, ranging from the Cinderella stories to the Princess Kaguya stories. So the only thing the Queen of Fairyland can do is to get three of her (best?) magical fairies and place in their hands each a jewel that will help them find a princess on Earth that can help them.

That help requires the creation of Happiness Tones, spiritual energy that only those from Fairyland can see that helps ground the things in Fairyland so they can exist. Happiness is harder to find on Earth these days, though you'd think with lots more people being born and growing up every day that it would be increasing compared to decades and centuries past, so the Queen needs the human princesses to help generate those Tones on Earth. Sei, Dei and Ryoku are all set to head down there and find them, but their journey takes them quickly to a trio of elementary schoolgirls named Ringo, Natsuki and Leila. The three are very, very familiar in archetypes as I'm having Magic Knights Rayearth flashbacks here, but amusingly they're told they can't be the princesses because they're not old enough.

What turns it around for them is that the fateful meeting is at a concert of their favorite pretty boy idol, a young man named Wish, and he's late for said concert. The fairies dislike everyone getting so down since it doesn't generate Happiness Tones and they opt to allow the girls to transform into princesses and do a song to help stave off the depression. The girls enter that fun aspect of some magical girl series by getting older when they transform and having a great deal of commercial talent in the entertainment industry. It's through this that they learn some of the deal about making Happiness Tones and that they can lose all their new gifts if they let anyone see them. And there's a countdown timer from when they transform to when they return to normal, cause you can't be a magical girl forever. Just in short bursts.

There are some noteworthy things about the series, even if the actual mechanics of it are pretty commonplace. The three primary actresses are all relatively close to what I guess is the age of the characters in transformed mode. Ayaka Wada, Yuuka Maeda and Kanon Fukuda are able to have a more natural expression as kids because of it. On the flip side, the audio for this feels like a really bad mono mix because it's just loud and there, giving it a very unnatural feeling when it comes to placement as the characters run around or there's a panning crowd sequence. The other thing that made me cringe a bit is the CG animation used for the characters when they perform in their transformed mode. It's not like the Superior Defender Gundam kind of CG material, but you can see some aspects of it in that it's too plastic, too glossy and slick, and like the audio, it just feels unnatural.

In Summary:
With this first episode of the series, if you take into account its origins as a trading card game and the fact that it's adhering to a lot of basics of the magical girl genre, you can see pretty easily how this relatively short run series could go. It's cute, it's simple, it has some slightly wacky little critters to it and it has a trio of standard archetype leads that are in elementary school and can transform into what I'd guess are middle school students at the least, if not a bit older. Nothing here really stands out in terms of the story or characters, but it has some nice little touches to give it a slight boost, but not enough to shake off the feeling of utter predictability. There's little out like this in the US market at the moment so I'm on board for it, but I can't imagine it being of much appeal to a lot of people.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Crunchyroll
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Lil'Pri - Spellbound Magical Princess