When Nina accidentally swallows the Crystal Pearl, she becomes the key to passing the magical exam for the latest batch of students.
What They Say
Nina was just another girl who dreamed of finding a prince to defend her honor and protect her from harm. Little did she know, two such boys would fall from the sky! Zero and Ichii are sorcerers from another world taking part in a test. The only way to pass the curious quiz? Find the coveted Crystal Pearl! It’s going to be tough – other examinees seek the jewel as well, and some will stop at nothing to capture the prize. Oh, and Nina ate the Crystal Pearl after mistaking it for a piece of candy! Ichii and Zero vow to protect her until the coveted bauble can be reclaimed. Nina’s fantasy of a devoted guardian has come to life… but with danger at every turn, there’s a chance this dream come true might end up a nightmare!
At a time when a lot of shows of less popular genres are barely getting released, never mind bilingual releases, Save Me! Lollipop has a pair of language tracks that come across pretty well. The Japanese and English language tracks are both stereo mixes encoded at 192kbps and they're your basic magical girl action/comedy tracks that are mostly dialogue heavy and forward soundstage oriented their design. Nothing really stands out for it but it comes across cleanly and without problems. There's not a lot in terms of noticeable placement or depth on either track but they're just right for this kind of show. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The thirteen episode series is spread across two discs in a seven/six format with the few extras located on the second volume. The series isn't exactly high budget nor filled with detail as it has a pretty basic approach to its design, but it's the kind of show that looks good in general because it's brightly colored with lots of solid areas. Save Me! Lollipop has an appealing look to it but it's not something that's going to really stand out. It's a straightforward show and the encoding here looks good but has some of the usual things such as some noise in various backgrounds and a bit of noise but it and the line noise is never terribly distracting. This is a decent looking release but not one that's going to garner much attention.
Save Me! Lollipop is presented in a single sized keepcase where the interior has both discs overlaying each other on the right side. The front cover is a bright and colorful piece – too busy in some ways – that has the main trio of characters with Nina in the center throwing pieces of candy around her while Zero and Ichii look on. It's light, bright and colorful but just a bit too busy for my tastes but it's clearly oriented towards getting the attention of those looking for something sugary sweet. The back cover is much busier though as it has a manga layout in color with shots from the show and other character items scattered throughout it. The top portion has a decent summary of what to expect while the lower right corner has a clean listing of the discs extras. The bottom of the cover has a very nice simple and clean to read technical grid that's black with white text and borders. The reverse side cover is very nice as it's just the Japanese first volume cover on the right side – complete with the original logo – while the left panel has the breakdown of the discs extras and episodes by number and title. No show related inserts are included
The menu design for Save Me! Lollipop is pretty straightforward as it feels a lot like the back cover of the release. It’s broken up into a lot of boxes with all sorts of colors and designs to them while having shots of candy overlaid on top of them spread all over. One of the boxes features some character artwork which is a plus and another box has the basic navigation. Everything is laid out simply, though brightly, and submenus load quick and easily. Access times are nice and fast and like just about all FUNimation releases, it doesn’t listen to our players’ language presets and defaults to English language.
Save Me! Lollipop features all its extras on the second volume though there aren't a lot so they don't take up much space. The clean opening and closing sequences are included which is nice and we get a trio of interviews. The Japanese voice actresses for Nina, San and Rokka each have their own piece, though it's amusing that Nina and Rokka both run for five minutes while San gets nearly ten minutes. Also included is a series of manga pages from the Del Rey Manga adaptation which gives it a nice little plug for those that may want to follow it up.
Originally titled Mamotte! Lollipop, Save Me! Lollipop is a thirteen episode series that tries to change things up a little bit in the young magic user genre. It's not a magical girl show but it's a pretty standard shoujo series in that it focuses on a young girl as its lead and she has to deal with emotions and all sorts of wacky situations that arise from that and other things. Based on a manga series that ran for seven volumes, it's likely that the bulk of what counted from there made it into here, especially as it completed a year before the anime started.
Save Me! Lollipop revolves around a twelve year old girl named Nina. Nina's a decent young woman, not too ditzy, not too emotional but at that point in her life where she's really starting to think and feel all sorts of different things. Her life gets very complicated when two young men enter her life. Zero is her age while Ichii is two years older and they've ended up in a situation where the Crystal Pearl that they need has landed squarely in her lap. Or more literally, it's landed in her mouth and she's swallowed it whole. Unfortunately, they can't get the Pearl out of her and that means Zero and Ichii must watch over and protect her until the exam is over. If they lose her, the other examinees will hold onto her and use her to pass the exam.
With the need to protect her from other examinees, Zero and Ichii move themselves into her house, or more specifically into her closet. Using magic, they're able to make an extended space within it and through that they can make sure she's safe. Nina's not all into this, but it's something that she gives on rather easily when she realizes that there are quite a few other examinees that want to get their hands on her. And that's what the bulk of the show is about as every other episode seems to bring in a new pairing that wants to try and steal Nina away from Zero and Ichii. The parade of new examinees is the weakest point of the show since they're all “unique” and the way they all have some sort of connection with either Zero or Ichii gets to be annoying after awhile.
The relationship side of the series is fairly amusing at times, though predictable. On the plus side, there's no real love triangle here since Ichii is a few years older. He doesn't make out well though as he's got a five year old in the body of a fourteen year old that's crazy about him and his flashback episode to his past shows us that he's got the hots for his non-blood related sister. The main relationship to watch is that between Zero and Nina. They start off at odds which isn't unexpected nor is it unexpected that they slowly grow closer. They get forced into it rather quickly though when you get the body swap episode which was fairly amusing. They're often thrown together for things and they push back against each other, but both of them admit to themselves and to each other what their feelings are far quicker than one would expect, which is something of a plus for this short run series.
Save Me! Lollipop has a pretty straightforward design with its characters and settings which doesn't help it to stand out or above other shows of a similar nature. The character designs don't have anything really unique and often they bring in elements which don't make much sense. The various examinees that show up are all very different, from victorian to middle eastern style design and a few in between. Some of it can be sort of annoying because when you look at the world they come from, it doesn't really seem to reflect their costume designs. The magical world that they come from, at least from what we see from the flashback for Zero and Ichii, it's a pretty urban area that doesn't look run down. The lack of something really identifiable or unique about where they come from keeps it from giving things a bit more of a hook as well which is unfortuante.
Save Me! Lollipop is pretty much what you'd expect from a magical girl show of sorts. It's not really a magical girl show since the lead isn't one, but she's involved with a number of them and it follows a lot of the traditions in a way. What bothered me the most with the show was that they kept introducing more and more examinees as it went on and they all have some connection to each other that has to get looked at in some detail. Some make out better than others but with only thirteen episodes, there's never enough time. It's very episodic and in a way rather repetitive. The show thankfully avoids too much of a creepy factor which is a plus but by and large it's unmemorable and sometimes hard to watch because it feels so mundane.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanse Interviews, Manga Pages, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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.