Warning: High-powered Class IV laser device anime rant.
Watching the first episode of Shugo Chara!! Doki (2nd season; starts on episode 52) brought back so many memories. I miss the original Guardian cast sooooo baad x__x
This has nothing to do with the text.
But thinking about the original Guardians makes me re-remember the changes each character has gone through, all the hard times they have experienced. Perhaps the changes that the characters go through in Shugo Chara (which isn’t found in something like Hayate no Gotoku!) is what’s really touching about this anime.
Each character learns and develops in their own way. Even though they are mere elementary school kids, 5th and 6th graders, they have their own troubles to face, and their own dreams to chase. What is your dream? What kind of person do you want to become?
With these touching lines, Shugo Chara! was a wonderful, cute, and hilarious anime. It was funny in all the right places, yet it was able to stir up my inner emotions and worries, relating to the difficult situations that the characters face.
As this post indicates, I have just finished the first season of Shugo Chara!. Maybe, first, I should explain exactly what Shugo Chara! is about. Many of you might not care to hear, but that’s probably perhaps due to my meager summary not being able to convey the same feelings a 51-episode anime is able to. Now, where should I start?
Everybody at Seiyo Elementary thinks that stylish and super-cool Hinamori Amu has it all. But nobody knows the real Amu: a shy girl who wishes she had the courage to truly be herself. Changing Amu’s life is going to take more than wishes and dreams — it’s going to take a little magic! One morning, Amu finds a surprise in her bed: three strange little eggs. Each egg contains a Shugo Chara (roughly Guardian Character), an angel-like being who can give her the power to be someone new. With the help of her Shugo Chara, Amu is about to discover that her true self is even more amazing than she ever dreamed.
(I tried writing my own summary, but it didn’t turn out as good as Hatsuyuki’s so I just copied theirs. Tehe.)
Isn’t it nice? With a simple shout of “Chara change!”, Hinamori Amu instantly becomes a perfect version of her naritai jibun (なりたい自分), or would-be self.
I shall be cynical like I normally am, and call the Shugo Chara “plot devices”. Because, truly, that’s what they are. Okay, fine, they also double as characters and gag humor, but for the purposes of this section, I shall consider them “plot devices”.
Doesn’t everyone wish they could grow up to become somebody who does something they love? I know, I’m sure that most of my circle of friends wish they had a different personality, that they could achieve something different, better, more worthwhile? Don’t you wish you could become somebody more athletic? More artistic? Better at math? More handsome, more beautiful?
Writing about something so abstract and emotional is harder than actually working on my Mists of Avalon essay, but I enjoyed Shugo Chara! enough to give it this kind of treatment. Interestingly, the thesis of this section is contradicting with my “The grass on the other side of the hill is always greener.” emotional rant/post.
As for the actual overall plot, there’s an dark, supposedly evil organization, suitably named “Easter”. This is one of the best names for an evil organization ever. I mean, Hypnos (Digimon Tamers) was a great name, but “Easter” totally fits with the theme of eggs, the eggs representing the dreams and aspirations residing in childrens’ hearts.
This has nothing to do with the text, either.
Easter Corporation is collecting these “eggs” for their own purposes, of discovering Blatant Plot Device #1, also known in the series as “the Embryo”, which I find an idiotic name. To do this, they are destroying the dreams of the children, one by one extracting and placing a big “X” on the eggs that don’t turn out to be the Plot Device.
Ta-da~! Enter Hinamori Amu! The popular student at Seiyo Gakuen who posesses three Plot Dev— I’m sorry, Shugo Charas, and is able to heal the hearts (eggs) of the children who have lost hope in their dreams (and thus, had “X”s placed on their eggs).
“There’s no point in healing those childrens’ eggs. Either way, they’ll all end up breaking their eggs themselves later on.” — Tsukiyomi Ikuto
Surprisingly true, most young elementary students have wild, exciting dreams about what they want to be, what they want to do when they grow up. Yet, fast forward to Arcadia High School. What dreams? What aspirations? Do we see any happiness being brought to us? Where are the dreams? Where is the happiness that we seek?
Have we all, then, already long since broken our own eggs?
The main antagonist in the first half (up to episode 26ish) is Nikaidou-sensei, who transferred into Seiyo as a teacher. Laughed at, ridiculed, Nikaidou had lost hope in his dreams long ago, choosing instead to follow more realistic ideals.
Is this the right thing to do?
Failure. Ridicule. Hate. Sorrow. Loss.
Such discouraging words, such discouraging things that these words represent. They exist in this world.
I think that we need to cross the boundaries of disapproval and reach for the heavens, our own clouds, our own stars in the sky, representing the hopes of billions of children across the globe. I think this is what society needs to become.
I’m sorry, I get sleepy this late at night. Where was I again? Oh yes. Amu does her heroine thing, and Nikaidou revives his dreams and quits Easter Corporation. He returns to Seiyo and resumes his teaching, but now, he teaches wholeheartedly and with love and happiness.
Cheesy ending. More than a few of us Arcadians are going to be like him when we grow up, except there won’t be anyone to save us. Nope. There won’t be a pink-haired 5th grader in a frilly dress with magical powers there to save us from our failures. I’m sorry; it’s how reality works.
Buono! does most (or all, I think, actually?) of the intro and outro songs for the first 51 episodes of Shugo Chara!. I do love their songs, they’re so upbeat and Shugo Chara!-y.
I didn’t like the intro (or the outro, really) at first, but it’s so shoujo and girly and upbeat and… shall we say, cool and spicy, it’s totally grown on me, and I love it.
As for instrumental background music, it’s okay; average.
The real reason why I love the music in this anime — Nana Mizuki of course. She plays Hoshino Utau, who’s a singer in the anime itself, and the songs Nana sings for Utau to sing… they’re just EPIC. Of course, there are no Nana songs that aren’t epic, but… these were Nana’s epicness + Utau’s um… tsundere/dark character, so it was especially awesome.
I was planning on writing a HUGE, EPIC LONG rant here. The character development in Shugo Chara! is a definite point of interest, because the situations presented in each episode pertain to the troubles and worries of modern children and teenagers. The main theme, heck, is about how your shouldn’t lose sight of your dreams — something I think all of us have already lost sight of long ago. Of course, I already went over this in the Plot section…
Anyways, this section is supposed to be about the characters in the first season of Shugo Chara!, so that’s what I shall provide.
Hinamori Amu – 5th grader, later 6th grader, who goes to Seiyo Gakuen. On the outside, her personality is described by her classmates as “cool and spicy”. When she first transferred to Seiyo, she was super-shy — but her classmates mistook this as being cold and cool. She didn’t know the rules and dress code of the school, so she wore her clothing differently — of course, her classmates mistook this as her being rebellious; and so on. This is how she earned her reputation, and since everyone things this is what her character is really like now, she has a hard time when she wants to express her true feelings and reactions.
One day, she wishes upon… what, the stars, or something… that she could become closer to her true self (or something like that). This is how her Shugo Chara (Guardian Characters, a.k.a. cliche/archetypal chibi+loli+uberkawaii mascot characters to help rake in the yen) are born. The Seiyo Guardians (basically, the five-member “Student Council” of the elementary school — each seat is named after a playing card: King’s Chair, Queen’s Chair, Jack’s Chair, Ace’s Chair, and Joker) invite her to join their ranks, and blah blah, stuff happens, and several lame magical girl transformations and purified badguys later…
It may be one of those fobby sun visors, but it's not fobby at all. (Maybe because it's transparent and therefore serves no purpose at all?)
Amu is still faced with her old worries; she’s still unsure on what person she would like to become. Would she like to become more like Amulet Heart, an upbeat, outgoing, cheerful personality? We’ve also got to factor in the romance in the story — mostly the love triangle between Tsukiyomi Ikuto and whats-his-last-name Tadase. Of course, Amu’s harem of guys is like, bigger than Tomoya’s; >_<
Anyways, after Nikaidou(-sensei) is defeated realizes his wrongs and becomes a good guy character, the fifth-grade school year ends. Our cast of Amu, Kukai, Hotori, Nadeshiko, and Yaya disband. This was the symbolic “end” and the coming of a “new beginning” — spring. For Amu, it was a tough transition: she lost her best friend and her “older brother” character, the two people she knew she could always rely on.
Can I bring her home?
The new Guardians consisted of Tadase, Yaya, Amu, along with two new characters: Mashiro and um… I forgot his name. Let’s just call him iin’chou for now. ^^
At first, I didn’t like Mashiro and Iin’chou-san either, in fact I grew to hate them because they were so mean towards Amu. However, it turns out that both of them had certain mountains to cross themselves. Once their characters became more developed, I warmed up to them just like Amu did.
Either way, since this was supposed to be emotional, the emotional impact of a new environment, and the loss of friends is something that happens to everyone. A life without change is a life doomed, because change is inevitable. This is an absolute truth. If you want to argue this, post a comment.
At the start of the new semester and new school year, she immediately felt depressed. Mashiro-san just transferred in, and she became the most popular girl in the school, taking Amu’s place. The new Guardians take their places, and they immediately (whether purposely or not) start to alienate Amu.
Also, don’t forget Utau, the new enemy. With so much on her mind, how does Amu manage to find time to fight badguys and save the world?
I know this is Tadase's section, I still feel like sticking Amu images in.
Hotori Tadase – He seems to know Ikuto somehow. I don’t know. Anyways, we’re not here to talk about how handsome he is.
Tadase-kun is Amu’s initial love interest. His “dream” is to, um… take over the world.
However… he is a shy, all A+ kind of guy. He doesn’t have the courage to confess to Amu until… like much much later. He is a master of words and you could say, master of manipulation. Yet, he Peach-Pit still casts him as a “shy” character. In my opinion, this kind of character doesn’t fit together at all.
You can’t have “shy” and “King’s Chair” (basically Student Council President) both in the same sentence. It just doesn’t work. I mean, I admit Hinagiku is actually shy inside, but Hotori-kun is the complete opposite. He is shy on the outside, and his inner character is “AHAHAHA LOYAL MINIONS! BOW TO YOUR KING!”
Maybe this whole post is actually one effing long excuse to post a bunch of Amu pictures. >.<
Yaya + Kukai – They’re our proud supporting characters. I don’t get… how your “dream in life” can be “I want to be a baby all my life.” It just… doesn’t make sense. Yaya is cute, though, so… I’ll let her get away with it.
Kukai is effing cool. I wanna be like him ;_;
Nadeshiko / Nagihiko – Hayate-kun, anyone? I kind of understand… wait, nevermind, I can’t understand his situation at all. I mean… you’re a guy… but your family forces you to dress up and act like a girl… and the girl you like is your best friend… and she doesn’t know you’re a guy… and… yeah. Fun, though. Can’t wait to see where Peach-pit goes with this character.
Ikuto – Boring character? Totally stereotypical character. Probably added just to please the fangirls. And it worked. *insert fangirl raving here*
Utau – NANA MIZUKIIIII
That’s all I really need to say.
If you noticed, the character summaries were getting shorter and shorter... >.<
Ahaha, I didn’t quite finish writing this up right after I finished Shugo Chara!, so I’m finishing it in the middle of Doki, haha. Back to the emotional heart-wrenching speech mode.
I am deeply touched by Shugo Chara!‘s thematic focus on chasing your dreams, and becoming the person you really want to become.