Til today, Tokyo Mew Mew is still one of the most recognizable and respected entries in the Magical Girl anime and manga genre. The series, which originally ran as a manga for three years, spawned a popular anime adaptation and even some video games. Typically mentioned in the same breath Sailor Moonit’s arguably second only to that franchise in the genre.
Sadly, Mia Ikumi, the artist behind the original manga series, recently passed away from a brain hemorrhage, though her steadfast legacy will no doubt live on Tokyo Mew Mew. Unfortunately, with an anime reboot coming out this year, Ikumi won’t be around to see what it’s all about meow meow that has kept the franchise alive over the years and still so warmly welcomed?
What was Tokyo Mew Mew?
Tokyo Mew Mew started out as a manga in 2000 by Reiko Yoshida and the aforementioned Ikumi. The series follows a girl named Ichigo who, along with a few other girls, is struck by a mysterious light during an earthquake. After being allied with a strange endangered cat, she finds that she now has the power to transform into cat girl Mew Ichigo. Along with the four other Mew Mews, she must fight against the violent Chimera Anima monsters created by her alien controllers to wreak havoc on Earth.
The sequels followed the original manga Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode and the latest Tokyo Mew Mew 2020 returns, the latter of which was Ikumi’s final manga. There was that too Tokyo Mew Mew Ole! Series that traded the girls for a team of boys Mew Mews. The anime adaptation was mainly brought to the West as Mew-Mew power, although it is perhaps best known for its Americanization and censorship. Still, the franchise has a lot of recognition after all these years, with the upcoming anime reboot likely only adding to its visibility. Why does this magical girl series still have so many fans considering how long it’s been out of the “mainstream”?
Why is Tokyo Mew Mew still so respected?
Above all, it is a nostalgic aspect that remains meow meow in the hearts and minds of many. As mentioned, Tokyo Mew Mew is only second Sailor Moon as far as recognizable magical girl franchises go. Indeed, for those too young to get into the Pretty Guardian, meow meow was very much Sailor Moon their generation. To that end, it defined Magical Girl Shows for several young girls in the same way Naruto and One piece were equivalent Dragon Ball Z for some boys.
Given how highly regarded magical girls are in Japanese anime culture, this automatically elevates the status of Tokyo Mew Mew. The same goes for the changes that were made to the American version of the anime since it was released at a time when many children were first introduced to anime. So in the midst of all the shonen shows Mew-Mew power was probably the biggest “girl anime” that some in the West have seen.
There’s also the environmental aspect that made the franchise feel almost like a throwback to the western cartoons of the ’80s and ’90s. Each of the Mew Mews is linked to the DNA of an endangered species, and their overall mission to save the earth from aliens who have mutated and polluted the DNA of animals feels right at home with the growing trends of environmental conservation. Add in the fact that the animals lend themselves to incredibly unique designs for each of the girls, and it’s easy to see why the series, at least visually, caught people’s eye when they first saw it.
Now is the era where animes from the last 20-30 decades are being brought back with hit series from the 90’s Digimon and former colleague of the 4Kids program Shaman King both get reboots. meow meow is next on the list and should hopefully revisit why the series has lasted so long in the first place.
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