Manatsu & Ichika
Ichika Tachibana is an ordinary 14-year old girl who one day finds that her mobile phone wound up on the other side of a huge mirror at school. When she tries to retrieve it, she sees another girl inside the mirror, who promptly exits it. This girl, Manatsu, promises to take care of her for the summer holiday, as long as Ichika does her "homework" for her.
Being Ichika's reflection and representation of a part of her, Manatsu has some outward semblance to Ichika and shares some of her fears and likes, but is more outspoken and a lot less serious. Ichika takes her home and finds that her parents are strangely willing to accept this girl in their house.
In the following weeks strange things happen related to the yin-yang shaped charm that Ichika received from Sei, one of her homework tutors. Through this charm she can summon spirits that represent various earth elements (called Djinn), so she can see the world through their eyes – which, incidentally, is the "homework" that Manatsu is supposed to do.
This thrills her immensely at first, but the more she uses this power the more she finds that it comes with a high cost, since she starts seeing herself and the world in an increasingly negative light. Ichika also appears to have had dreams about Manatsu for most of her life, but she can't quite remember what she tried to say to her
starts out as a seemingly ordinary Magical Girl
show, but fairly quickly shifts toward a much more serious tone
, when Ichika faces some big issues regarding the use of her powers and how they affect her and her surroundings. The 12-episode anime, broadcasted in 2004, had quite an ambigious ending
that left some questions unanswered. The DVD-release contained an extra OVA
episode in an attempt to bring some more closure to the story. The character designs and animation style are hallmarks of gímik
, a creative threesome consisting of director Keiji Gotoh, character designer Megumi Kadonosono and screenwriter Hidefumi Kimura, who are perhaps better known for their work on Kiddy Grade
and Kiddy GiRL-AND
Of special note is the fact that all of the costumes that Ichika transforms into (twelve of them - one for each episode
) have been designed by different artists, known for their work on other manga, anime or figurines. Also notable is the attention to the beautiful scenery of real-life Kamakura
, especially used to great effect in the beach scenes.
In August 2010, six years after its original Japanese broadcast, Section 23 Films
announced a North American release of the series.
This anime contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Satsuki's step-father.
- Anime First: A one-volume manga adaptation, containing a significantly higher amount of fanservice, was released after the series.
- Attempted Rape: Ryou tries this on Ichika, but his ex, Maki, stops him.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening suggest the series is a fluffy shoujo story. It's a seinen series, and things get very dark later as mature issues are explored in detail. It culminates in the heroine having to choose between killing herself or killing the entire rest of humanity.
- Beach Episode: Two of 'em, plus an additional swimming pool episode.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: Happens to Ichika as the series goes on.
- Between My Legs: Manatsu's legs frame Ichika during her fourth and seventh transformation. Also in episode two, again of Manatsu, when she confronts Ichika.
- Bishounen: Practically every male character on the show. But mostly Sei and Kai.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Blue and Orange Morality: Saya operates according to a very odd set of rules.
- Bonus Episode: To promote the DVD release, a thirteenth episode was produced, serving as an epilogue to the story.
- Book Ends: The TV series starts and ends in autumn with Ichika remembering Manatsu.
- Break the Cutie: And how. Happens to Ichika over the course of the series, but many of the supporting characters qualify.
- But Now I Must Go: Manatsu and Kai, in the OVA.
- Cherry Blossoms
- Christmas Episode: The OVA.
- Class Trip
- Clingy MacGuffin
- Cloning Blues: Sort of, if you see Manatsu as Ichika's clone.
- Coming of Age Story
- Curtains Match the Window: Michiru.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Djinn of Darkness, despite coming late in the series and being rather forbidding-looking, is one of Ichika's more pleasant transformations.
- Distant Finale: In the OVA.
- Driven to Suicide: Ichika seriously contemplates it at one point.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Ichika's prophetic dreams about Manatsu.
- Elemental Powers: Ichika has quite a few.
- Emotionless Girl: Michiru, somewhat. Though not actually emotionless, she does fulfill most of the trope requirements.
- Evolving Credits: The end credits for each episode feature the costume Ichika wore in that episode.
- Extraordinarily Empowered Girl
- Fake-Out Opening: From the opening you might assume it's a fluffy shoujo series; it's seinen, and things get very dark later on.
- Fanservice: The early transformations.
- Fawlty Towers Plot: This drives the storyline, but it's played for drama as Ichika begins to hate herself for lying so much.
- Festival Episode
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: There's a super-quick shot in the opening of Ichika in front of a mass grave.
- Furo Scene: A few, but never blatantly fanservice-y.
- Genki Girl: Satsuki, although not in a classical over-the-top sense. Manatsu is rather genki too.
- Girlish Pigtails: Manatsu
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Ichika.
- Here We Go Again: The OVA ends with a new magical girl about to be chosen.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Happens to Ichika and Manatsu on opposite ends of a life-draining scythe.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Just about every single outfit design, from the school uniforms to the swimwear. However, said designs are completely overshadowed by Ichika's breathtaking magical wardrobe.
- Invisible to Normals: The Djinn, also Manatsu at first.
- Saya can also make herself invisible, although Michiru's little sister Rui (and Michiru herself) can still see her.
- I See Dead People: Michiru can sense spirits. When her friends joke that this is why she doesn't go near the sea, she doesn't disabuse them.
- I Have the High Ground: Saya, all the time.
- Last Kiss: Both Ichika/Manatsu and Sei/Kai, in the final episode.
- Lethal Harmless Powers: Ichika nearly kills someone with flower petals, as they're deathly allergic to them.
- Lighthouse Point
- Loss of Identity: Gradually happens to Ichika, by way of the Djinns' powers and perceptions of humanity.
- Lucky Charms Title: Note that while it's commonly written (typed) as Uta~Kata, it actually uses the much more rare reverse tilde: Uta∽Kata. As for what that symbol means, God only knows.
- Male Gaze: Every other scene.
- Magical Girl
- Magic Mirror
- Meaningful Name: Manatsu can be written with the kanji for "midsummer" (真夏), indicating the time in which she appeared to Ichika.
- The kanji for "summer" also appears in Ichika's name (一夏), which literally means "one summer".
- Memento MacGuffin: Manatsu's mirror shard and her soap bubble pipe.
- Miko: Michiru and her younger sister Rui.
- Mood Whiplash
- Moral Myopia: Saya repeatedly calls others out for breaking the rules of the test she sets up, but has no problems with the harm the test itself causes.
- Motif: Cell phones play an important role in many of the episodes. Ichika also uses hers to carry the yin-yang charm.
- Multiple Demographic Appeal
- Mundane Utility: At first, Ichika uses her powers for fairly mundane tasks, like finding her father's lost watch or retrieving the scattered papers of a windblown school report.
- Mysterious Watcher: Saya.
- Not Himself: Happens to Ichika over the course of the series; she begins as someone who hates lying and slacking off, but increasingly tells more and more lies as it goes on—coinciding with a loss of morality.
- Old School Building: Setting for the first episode.
- Ordinary High-School Student: Sei and Kai.
- Painful Transformation
- Paint It Black: Ichika's final costume is a black-coloured inversion of the white one she wears in the Opening Theme.
- Panty Shot
- Parental Abandonment: Satsuki's mother and stepfather are almost always away.
- Pinky Swear
- Plot-Based Voice Cancellation
- Proper Lady: Keiko.
- Proper Tights with a Skirt: Michiru in her school uniform.
- Purple Eyes: Michiru.
- Real Place Background: Most of the show takes place in Kamakura.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ichika.
- The Reveal: Several, actually.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Although more sisterly overall, the relationship between Manatsu and Ichika sometimes seems to go in that direction. It's more blatant in the manga adaptation, though. Satsuki and Keiko also count.
- Sadistic Choice: In the final episode, Saya forces Ichika to choose between her own death and the death of everyone else in the world. She Takes A Third Option
- Scenery Porn: Using Kamakura as the setting tends to invoke this.
- Secret Test of Character: Apparently, Saya is tasked by some unknown higher authority to test human children. However, the rules of these tests are that the children may not be let in on the fact that they're being tested.
- The Seven Mysteries: The mirror is one of them. The others aren't important (or mentioned).
- Shrines and Temples: Just throwing a rock in Kamakura will likely make it land in one of those places.
- Sinister Scythe: Saya's scarf is this.
- Snow Means Love: In the OVA
- Spirit World
- Spoiled Sweet: Keiko.
- Taken for Granite: Sei, by Saya
- Transformation Sequence: A completely different one for each of Ichika's costumes. They gradually become less and less elaborate as the series goes on (for symbolic reasons, rather than budget). Manatsu also gets a short one which is shown a couple of times.
- Transformation Trinket: The yin-yang charm. Unusually, it doesn't require a catchphrase to activate it.
- Underboobs: Episode 3's costume.
- Virtue/Vice Codification: Part of Ichika's test is to experience the seven virtues and corresponding vices, as the Djinn see them manifested in humanity.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Continued use of the djinn's powers takes a heavy toll on Ichika's emotional and psychological health.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Ichicka finds that even if she tries to avoid using the jins, the transformations will occur even without her consent.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Satsuki's is blue, Manatsu's is green, and Michiru's is purple.