Himitsu no Akko-chan
is one of the first Magical Girl Manga
that ran in Japan in the 1960s.
The Shōjo Manga was drawn and written by Fujio Akatsuka, and published by Shueisha in Ribon magazine with a run from July 1962 to September 1965 culminating in three volumes.
The initial Anime
adaptation had a run between January 6th, 1969 and October 26th, 1970, totaling 94 episodes. Directed by Hiroshi Ikeda for Toei Animation
, the series aired on TV Asahi. The anime
was remade twice, once in 1988 with 61 episodes directed by Hiroki Shibata and again produced by Toei Animation and airing on Fuji TV. The second remake ran from 1998 to 1999, with Hiroki Shibata returning to work on the project for Toei Animation.
All incarnations of the series follow the same premise. Atsuko "Akko-chan" Kagami
, is an energetic elementary schoolgirl who has an affinity for mirrors. One day, her favorite mirror, which was given to Akko by her mother (or in some versions, by her father), is broken, and she prefers to bury it in her yard rather than throw it to the trash can. She is then contacted by a spirit (or in some cases the Queen of the Mirror Kingdom) in her dreams who is touched that the little girl would treat the mirror so respectfully, and gifts her with a magical mirror that allows her to transform into anything and anyone she wants, sometimes copying their abilities too
.A live-action movie
was released on 1st September 2012 to celebrate the manga's 50th birthday. In the movie, Akko-chan attempts to save a company which is about to be sold by using her transformation abilities. She also falls in love as a 22-year-old college student.
Himitsu no Akko-chan provides examples of the following tropes:
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In one episode of the original 1969 series, Akko-chan attempting to be sympathetic to a deaf-mute kid, Akko-chan wishes to be a deaf-mute version of herself. In a really scary turn of events, after merrily prancing around in her deafened state, Akko-chan finds herself stuck with deaf-muteness: since the Literal Genie quality of the mirror kicked in, she loses her ability to enunciate words, and despite her heartwrenching attempts, the mirror refuses to acknowledge her repeated (and silent) pleas. She was ultimately changed back, but only because the magic mirror was revealed to believe Akko-chan's desire for deafness shallow and impulsive, and wanted to show her how serious it is an handicap.
- Big Fancy House: Akko sometimes lives in one, specially compared with Moko's smaller house.
- Completely Different Title:
- In Italy, the three series are known as "Lo Specchio Magico" ("The Magic Mirror"; '60s), "Un Mondo di Magia" ("A World of Magic"; '80s), and "Stilly e lo Specchio Magico" ("Stilly and the Magic Mirror"; '90s)
- The 1980s version was dubbed in French as "Caroline" ("Cah-roh-LEEN").
- The first series was dubbed into Spanish as "Los Secretos de Julie". (The Spanish version of the 1969-70 ED song: "Julie, Julie, Julie es feliz...")
- Cute Witch: Akko
- Disproportionate Retribution: In the second, '80s series Akko-chan carelessly outs herself as a magical girl, letting everyone of her friends know about her power. The Spirit of the Mirror not only takes her magic mirror away, but also her reflected image, thus forcing her into hiding. Amended when the Spirit gives Akko-chan her reflection back, along with an upgraded mirror and offers free Laser-Guided Amnesia for continuity's sake.
- Gender Bender:
- In the '90s series Akko-chan, needing a fast and unsuspecting disguise, turns herself into a statue on a public fountain. Not without being utterly embarrassed by that, she finds out that the statue was meant to represent a male chubby cherub, and he/she was supposed to pee water in the fountain. Apparently that series disregards the limitation set by the mirror in the first one about being able to express clearly another wish, since obviously statues aren't know for their speaking abilities. Or simply the most recent version of the mirror shared with his past incarnation a rather despicable attitude to inflict traumas in poor Akko-chan's psyche.
- In the live-action film, Akko uses the mirror to transform herself into the ex-CEO, a man, of the company her boyfried works for.
- Girlish Pigtails: Both Akko and her best friend Moko.
- Literal Genie: The mirror usually works this way, especially to impart An Aesop, forcing Akko-chan to formulate clear, simple wishes.
- Magical Girl: A possible Trope Maker for the transforming type; she predates Cutey Honey by about half a decade (by comparison, Sally from Mahou Tsukai Sally was a "magical girl", but she just had magical powers).
- Magic Mirror: Doubling as Transformation Trinket.
- Master of Disguise: Akko's main power.
- Meaningful Name: "Kagami" means "mirror".
- Mistaken Nationality: In one episode, Akko-chan is attempting to copy someone who speaks English so she can talk to a lost American child. (None of the Japanese kids know anything but loan words and advertising catch phrases.) She sees an obvious Westerner, transforms into that woman and heads back... only to learn she copied a Spanish woman who knows no English. Later in the episode, she finds and copies an English speaker — not knowing that he is a notorious criminal on the loose. Her attempts to bring the American child back to the kid's parents while in that form get her Mistaken For Kidnapper.
- Older Alter Ego:
- Akko invoked the trope in the very first time she used her mirror by wishing to become "the Queen of the Stars". The result was her becoming a tall and pretty woman in a sparkly gown. From then on, she often transformed herself into older women or men to get her goals.
- The live-action movie has Akko becomes this whenever she transforms into another job.
- Replacement Goldfish: In the original 1969 series, Akko, upon asking her mother for a school assignment, discovers herself to be the Replacement Goldfish of her stillborn, older sister, also named Atsuko.
- Shapeshifter Mode Lock:
- Akko-chan usually had to use the mirror to switch back as well, causing problems when she would temporarily misplace it.
- In the live-action film she gets stuck as an adult after revealing her secret after transforming in front of everyone and her mirror getting smashed after leaping away from a bomb explosion causing the mirror to fall out of her pocket. The Spirit of The Land of Mirrors eventually gives her a new one, though.
- Shout-Out: The end credits of the second show has the character's reenact scenes from Hollywood movies such as Star Wars, Back to the Future, Gone with the Wind and, unsurprisingly, Indiana Jones.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Moko is the tomboy to Akko's girly girl.
- Transformation Trinket: The mirror.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: In many versions, Akko's dad works abroad.