Apparently the path of self-acceptance is a little less rocky if you can rustle yourself up some magic guardian eggs, a lock that lets you transform into super-powerful alternate personas, and a mysterious student council. Thankfully I have all of those things in this box, so I’m good.
What They Say
Amu is a 5th grade transfer student. She's fashionably cool, tough and independent. She's a girl who seems unapproachable both at home and school. However, it's just a role she is playing, unconsciously and unwillingly. In fact, like most other girls, Amu is childish, timid and romantic. Desperate to behave the way she really feels, one night she goes to bed praying for a miracle to happen. Next morning, she wakes up and finds three decorated eggs on her bed. Did she produce them herself? From that morning on, Amu is shocked to find herself starting to behave the way she really feels. When each egg hatches, a little Guardian Character emerges to help Amu express her different selves.
To Amu's further surprise, she is invited to join the school's "student Council," the Guardians. Amu discovers that the Guardians, is really a group made up of students who all have eggs similar to hers. What's happening? Amu's adventure has just begun!
If you’ve been curious about Shugo Chara and aren’t sure whether you should check it out, the first thing you have to know about the show is that it’s shoujo. It’s very, very shoujo. The ingredients are textbook: a girl who isn’t happy with herself; a school more reminiscent of a large medieval castle than your typical learning slog hole; a convoluted student government given special privileges, the leaders of which are given titles seemingly picked at random (playing cards? What?); the sudden onset of superpowers. It’s all aimed directly at the typical young female viewer. You could set your watch by it, if your watch was some sort of anime watch with different genres and… well, you see what I’m saying.
I’ve always said it’s more about execution than originality, however, and it’s here that Shugo Chara sets itself apart. Sort of. Amu Hinamori is an interesting character because she has great parents and the respect of her peers. Her self-loathing stems from her inability to express herself authentically, always falling back on her alternate persona, or ‘chara’ – and believe me, you <I>will</I> get tired of hearing that abbreviation – to deal with pressure. Her desire to change brings into being the three Guardian Characters, only one of which is shown this episode, a pink cheerleader named Ran. She represents the more earnest, bubbly, carefree side of Amu, and immediately gets her into some embarrassing trouble.
And there’s a Humpty Lock, something called the Embryo, a boy with a cat Guardian Character trying to steal both the lock and Amu’s remaining Guardian Character eggs, her ability to transform with the help of her Guardian Character and the Lock, the Student Council’s own Guardian Characters, the boy she has a crush on and, although not seen yet in this episode, the evil organization Easter.
The Crunchyroll experience was very similar to watching an episode on Hulu, which is a compliment. The near-simultaneous broadcast of anime is something that I, a longtime fan, still find somewhat mystical. I did have a problem with the 480p stream, where the subtitles were a half-second or more ahead of the audio; very distracting, and after spot checking to see if this persisted (it did) I quickly switched over to the h.264 stream which had no issues whatsoever. I suppose it could have been a problem on my end, but putting all the absurdities of PC Pride beside me, my computer has handled a lot worse with nary a shudder, and the video itself ran fine so I’m going to absolve myself of all responsibility in perpetuity.
It really is an enjoyable start to what looks to be a fun show, but the combined playing card and Easter motifs are a little puzzling. I’m still trying to piece together how they relate to being unhappy about who you are as a person and magical powers. I’ve been wondering, if this show is so Easter-oriented (which it appears to be, aside from the religious aspects of course), where’s the rabbit? Are we going to see a gigantic rabbit somewhere along the line? I almost don’t know what to hope for; if there’s no rabbit, it won’t fit thematically. If there is a rabbit, that might be pretty scary.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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