Mahoujin Guru Guru : Movie
A short and simple movie derived from a long and simple TV series. It's strange, and quite good fun, but it's really rather lightweight. And many people are going to consider it either ugly, pointless or both.
On a certain clifftop lives a powerful dragon protecting the magic pickle of happiness. This powerful relic, capable of granting any wish to the person who eats it, is simply too dangerous to be randomly bestowed on anyone. Thus the dragon waits for a true hero to brave the dangerous mountain and present a wish worthy of the magic pickle. And when our young hero's hear this they can't do anything less than immediately set out on quest. As much for the confirmation of their hero status as actually getting the pickle.
Along the way they meet various characters from the TV series as well as some occupants of the mountain itself. Even more serious they meet a gang of powerful monsters who have been sent to retrieve the pickle so that their evil master can make his wish. And should the dragon, or anyone else, deny them this opportunity they're more than happy to use force. Then again, what the dragon really has in mind as a worthy wish leads to an interesting result.
As warned this series is mind numbingly cute and cheerfully silly. It's just so weird that this stuff would be animated in the first place. The origin seems strongly connected to the old console games, the old zelda games, with simple characters and simple stories. This is strongly supported by the occassional `boards' that pop up giving levels and hit points for the various characters in a very `role playing game' sort of way. It both draws from the elements of this heritage, and fantasy anime in general, as much as it plays with and parodies the cliche's and components of this material.
The hero's we get to follow include Nike, a dashing and bold (but not overly deep) hero type. Raised as such by his parents because everyone knows hero's are the focus of the story. Alongside him is the young mage Kukuri, the last practioner of the most potent magic Guru-guru. It's just a shame that while her magic circles are powerful she manages to get it wrong as often as not. Also starring are a `fighting' priestess and a wind spirit. Mind you, while they're adventurers, if you visualise playful children you'll have a better idea of how it actually plays out.
In truth it's really hard to describe the feel of this material. Everything is reduced, including the production, to the simplest and most minimal form. The characters look like child-like dolls, the backgrounds look like some sort of set and the action looks staged. Even the monsters, and combat with them, doesn't seem too serious. And nothing is serious enough that it can't be interrupted by a joke or bit of silliness. It's rather weird and almost certainly a specialized taste. And even if you quite enjoy it I can't easily imagine anyone considering it more than just a simple bit of fun.
As mentioned the production is very simplified, almost symbolic rather than pictorial. The shapes are very simple, the coloring flat and the movement and appearance quite strange. It's somewhat like an old console game and partly like a sort of simple cartoon of fantasy silliness. On the other hand it is a fairly unified style, with characters, monsters, magic and world all having the same feel. The dialogue is generally simple and the voices are fairly unsubtle, with Nike like a playful kid and Kukuri sounding like a seiyuu on helium (even given the normal high pitched japanese female voice). The music is cheerful but I don't remember there being too much of it.
None of my regular sources have a review of this title. But then again it's not a title that has made much of an impact amongst anime fans.