The thing about pretty much every magical girl show is that there comes a time when you hit the mid-season rut. It's the part of the show where the villain-of-the-week reigns supreme, and you begin to wonder if the series i ever going to reach any kind of resolution.
Guess what Fairy Musketeers has just reached.
What They Say
Join Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Briar Rose from Sleeping Beauty as they are appointed to be guardians of a sealed key which could control a parallel universe inhabited by characters of well-known fairy tales while rebel clan, lead by a she-devil Cendrilla, desperately searches for the key.
Realising quite how long I've been working my way through this series, I'll be covering the rest of it in batches, and four of the six episodes in this batch firmly fall into the mid-season filler category: a visit to Briar Rose's homeland and some time spent with her parents; a visit to a town, permanently under the cloud of ash being spewed out by a nearby volcano; a musical episode (which the cynic in me suspects was originally intended to plus the show's character image song CD); and a visit to the land of lycanthropes (werewolves, to you and me) - all interesting enough, but all ultimately not really going anywhere.
These episodes are saved from complete forgettableness by two things: the regular appearances of Randagio, who really is worth his weight in gold when it comes to providing comic relief; and the running thread through all these episodes that shows jet how many people are aware of Souta's mother, and the Tale of Two Worlds that she used to tell. All this is quite a surprise to Souta, who would very much like to know why his mother seems to be so well known in Phandavale, but that's a revelation for another time, a little incentive to be dangled over his head.
The final two episodes get us back on track, though, first with Red receiving the traditional magical girl powerup (deemed necessary by the last of Phandavale's Great Sages if the Musketeers are to stand a chance of taking on Trude and Cendrillon) and then with a little reminder that King Fernando isn't completely out of the picture yet. These are much better episodes than the ones that go before them, as you get far more of a feeling that there's character and plot development going on with them. They do raise a few little plot inconsistencies of their own, though: for example, it's pointed out that the girls have so far been unable to deal with lightning users without help from Fernando - but with lightning being the domain of Hansel, one of Cendrillon's minions, you wonder why he hasn't been wheeled into battle far more often. There are other examples of this if you look closely enough. Fair enough, you could argue that since the series is aimed at younger kids who aren't going to pay so much attention to such things, 38-year-old guys like me should cut the story some slack on that front, but that doesn't make the little inconsistencies any less frustrating.
To be honest, though, I don't really mind that much. I've had a soft spot for magical girl shows since I first got into the name habit, and while Fairy Musketeers isn't a visually impressive as some, it's certainly got its heart in the right place and some wonderfully fun characters to carry its plot - even if that plot is decidedly lightweight at the moment.
It may be taking me a while to get through, but I can honestly say that's not because of any lack of enjoyment on my part. These episodes may meander through the Phandavale countryside a bit, but they have fun on the journey, and that's what counts. Add a few little plot points that I suspect will turn out to be important later, and you get another enjoyable outing. Given Crunchyroll are streaming them for no charge to you, it would almost be rude not to at least take a look.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.