Manga: Nurse Angel Ririka SOS
With courage to despise evil and a loving heart, I can save everyone!
A fighting magical girl
series that debuted in the height
of the mid-Ninties Sailor Moon
craze. Despite the young age
(10-years-old) of the lead character, Ririka SOS courted the cross-demographic appeal
of the genre through a down-to-earth atmosphere, a focus on drama, and a sense of dark-and-edginess
that steadily built over its run. While great for audiences interested in a harder-hitting magical girl, it turned out to be not so great for the corporate sponsors or the show's longevity.
The story follows fourth-grader Ririka Moriya, whose life gets turned upside down when super-cool transfer student
Nozomu Kanou (a.k.a. Kanou-senpai
) gives her a birthday present out of the blue. The gift is a magical cap
that allows Ririka to transform into the heavenly guardian, Nurse Angel. Ririka soon learns that Kanou is actually an alien
whose home world, Queen Earth, has been overrun
by the evil organization Dark Joker. With help from Kanou and her friend and neighbor Seiya Uzaki, she soon learns to fight as Nurse Angel to keep Earth from sharing Queen Earth's misfortune.
The franchise started out as a manga series by Koi Ikeno and Yasushi Akimoto; the anime, a 35 episode series directed by Akitaro Daichi, started airing about six months after the manga began and ran concurrently with it.
Tropes used in this series:
- Aliens and Monsters: Whether human alien mooks or bizarre monsters, Ririka blows them all up. Supplemental material suggests that she might actually purifying them, but canon makes no mention of this.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Perhaps it's better this way - Seiya never confesses his feelings to Ririka. None of the many precocious crushes amount to anything. While the manga settled the relationships in a Dénouement Episode, the anime is left vague.
- Alternate Continuity: The anime seems to use the manga as a springboard more than a model.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Shou.
- Arcadia: Queen Earth is depicted as an idyllic land of green fields and fairytale castles. The core classic set of Woodland Creatures even puts in an appearance.
- Big Fancy House: Ririka and Seiya live near a pretty ritzy neighborhood, and mansions regularly figure into the story.
- Ririka's friend Anna seems to come from money; she lives in a gated house with with a big yard and her parents have a mansion-caliber summer house in the mountains as well.
- Kanou-senpai's mansion is a major location. Occupancy there shifts from him, to Buros, and finally to Mimina so there's continuously reasons to set action here.
- Birthday Episode: The first episode and especially the final episode focus on Ririka's birthday. In the final episode they sing Happy Birthday to You and everything just to twist the knife a bit more.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Courtesy of the Black Vaccine, Kanou/Kanon goes from mentor to tormentor.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: Ririka transforms into Nurse Angel with the incantation, "Holy Power, Holy Prayer, be here!" The transformation sequence concludes (about a minute and a half later) with a Transformation Name Announcement: "Nurse Angel! Messenger from heaven!"
- Call My Name: This is one of those shows where names tend to double as sentences.
- Chekhov's Gift: "Happy Birthday, Ririka Moriya. Here is my present to you."
- Could Have Been Messy: The characters frequently get roughed up, but blood is very rare. In a few episodes where the heroes sustain what are clearly meant to be grievous wounds, this can become somewhat jarring.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Kanon features in one in episode 14. The episode where he dies.
- Distress Call: "Ririka... Ririka... Save us, Ririka!"
- The Doll Episode: In episode 29, Dewey gets a pint-sized fan who remodels her favorite doll to resemble him. That's when things start getting creepy.
- Elaborate University High: White Dove Academy, the school the main characters attend, is purportedly very elite. It certainly looks like it's elite — that tree-lined drive, the fountain, the picturesque bell tower...
- Enemy Civil War: Bad blood develops between Dark Joker mook lieutenants Keto and Dewey. They're in completition for their Evil Overlord's favor, and eventually they come to blows.
- Everything's Better With Spinning: And how! Nurse Angel's transformation is a pirouette extravaganza, and when your weapon is a baton, twirling is inevitable.
- Fill It With Flowers: This is effectively the final goal of Ririka and her friends. It does happen in the end, triggering a World-Healing Wave, but Ririka has to pay dearly for it.
- First Name Basis: Dewey flat out ignores Ririka's request for this when they team up, and persists in calling her "Nurse Angel" for the entire show...until the finale.
- Fisher Kingdom: As Queen Earth Mordor-ifies, it becomes this for Princess Helena. Her health reflects the planet's health.
- Fusion Dance: As depicted in the second opening sequence, Ririka and Helena merge to form an alternate Nurse Angel...who dies in their place to save both of their worlds.
- Good Parents: The maind charzcters' parents in the TV series are very supportive and often provide useful advice. Ririka's dad is kind of awkward but well-meaning.
- Growing Up Sucks: As the show opens, Ririka's life is great. Her family and friends are all wonderful and she lacks for nothing. Then she becomes a magical girl, and the contrast between her civilian life and the struggles and duties of her secret life get steadily wider...until finally she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Ririka SOS depicts dogs more positively than cats. After all, Ririka loves her pet dog.
- Heroic BSOD: Ririka, after Kanon's death. Ririka decides to give up on saving the world; that only lasts until the next time Seiya gets attacked.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Dewey. He wants to help Ririka as much as Seiya does, but he's reluctant to show it when other people are watching.
- Human Aliens: People from Queen Earth and members of Dark Joker are more likely to have unnatural hair colors, but otherwise look just like everybody else.
- The Jeeves: Shion, Kanou-senpai's faultlessly loyal butler.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Kanon has the ability to erase the memories of normals to spare them the burden of involvement in the secret conflict. This is not shown to have any harmful effects, is inferred to work on groups, and probably gets more use than is shown on screen.
- Like Brother and Sister: Ririka and Seiya.
- Living Battery: The Flower of Life is used to make both the Green Vaccine (Ririka's power source) and the Black Vaccine (Dark Joker's power source). The flowers are supposed to grow wherever living things exist, but the protagonists spend the whole show searching for the ones on Earth.
- Magic Enhancement: Nurse Angel has a move called Angel Shine Scroll which she always invokes before using her coup de grace. Its purpose is never explained, but it seems to be a power-up move.
- Mummy Wrap: The mummy monster in episode 21 wraps itself up as its reveal, and then restrains Seiya this way.
- The Musical: Unlike fellow magical girl musical series Sera Myu, though, this musical is obscure. Footage from this production was cobbled into episodes that filled the show's time slot for three weeks, but no one has bothered to subtitle them.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: The scope of the main characters' abilities is not clearly defined; everyone is as Strong as They Need to Be. This is especially true of Ririka, who pulls out one-time-only named attacks every so often.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The crux of a big turning point in episode 26. Ririka defeats Buros once and for all! However, he was the personification of the Black Vaccine, and his last act was to disperse the Black Vaccine worldwide. Ririka can't fight Dark Joker everywhere.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Angel-ballerina-nurse! That's gotta be a winning combination for appealing to little girls, right?
- Official Cosplay Gear: Merchandise for the series includes Angel Caps, Angel Batons, Angel Rings, and a full Nurse Angel dress. Only the baton has any chance actually working in cosplay.
- Once per Episode: Certain reliable bits of Stock Footage appear in every episode. For example, Ririka's Transformation Sequence, Angel Shine Scroll (the baton-summoning move,) and Angel Aid Bomb Beam (the monster-destroying move.)
- Precocious Crush: There are many, but the main plot-driving example is Ririka's initial motivation for being Nurse Angel. She just wants praise from her idol, Kanou-senpai.
- Parental Obliviousness: Neither Ririka's parents nor Seiya's suspect that their kids are up to anything dangerous, no matter what weird incidents go on around them.
- Picnic Episode: In episode 18 the main characters are their families go on a hiking day-trip, but their picnic gets rained out on account of villainy. Ririka goes on to have an epic fight while everyone else is running back to the car.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Ririka to Kanou-senpai in episode 14.
- Seiya and Dewey to Ririka in the last episode.
- Post-Victory Collapse: In Eps. 18, Nurse Angel and Seiya both drop to the ground after fighting a super-powered Dewey to a draw.
- Power Source: The Green Vaccine, which Nurse Angel slowly depletes as she uses attacks. She doesn't have a reserve of it, either, so obtaining more of it is a major plot point.
- Power Trio: Ririka (people-oriented), Seiya (emotion-oriented), Kanou-senpai (goal-oriented). Substitute Dewey for Kanou as required.
- Prank Date: Ririka is so excited! Kanou-senpai asked her out on a date! Too bad she can't see that he's Brainwashed and Crazy and this is a setup intended to put her in danger.
- Put on a Bus: Kanon, though it might not seem like it at the time. How did he come back after the vague death metaphor orange bubble, you ask? Eh, don't sweat it.
- Right-Hand Cat: A sinister-looking black cat appears in a few episodes spying for or being petted by the chessmaster villain Keto. Later, Kanou seems to take up ownership of the cat while he's Brainwashed and Crazy, but after his Heel-Face Turn it's never seen again.
- Red Right Hand: Dark Joker members have spade marks on the right hands that give them away...to the audience. The heroes never seem to catch on to this.
- Rope Bridge: Episode 18 involves a rope bridge that can only support one person at a time. Inevitably, it collapses. Due to a lightning strike.
- Secret Identity: Zig-zagged. Ririka keeps her hero identity secret from her friends and family, but her enemies clearly know who her friends and family are. They just don't exploit it very effectively. They don't really seem to care.
- Shout-Out: Chacha of Akazukin Chacha and Hime of Himechan No Ribon show up in the background in episode 31.
- Sick Episode: Ririka catches a cold and gets put on bedrest for a while during episode 17. Later, Seiya has a serious allergic reaction to evil in episode 34 that only Nurse Angel can cure.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: More specifically, ordinary Ririka vs. rich Miyuki. A minor theme that pops up from time to time is how Miyuki has more advantages, but Ririka has more heart.
- Small Annoying Creature: Maruru plays this very, very straight in the anime. She/he/it has a grating voice and comes with the requisite Verbal Tic: appending "maru" to the ends of sentences.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Seiya and Dewey are accomplished snarkers separately, and have some highly entertaining back-and-forth when they get together.
- Someone Has to Die: No one was able to find the Flower of Life because they are sealed in Ririka, and the only way to release them is for her to sacrifice herself. After a Hesitant Sacrifice moment, Ririka resolves Go Out with a Smile in the knowledge that her loved ones will be safe.
- Space Base: Dark Joker operates out of a weird starfish-asteroid-thing in Earth's orbit. Until Dewey breaks it in a fortunate accident. Buros then moves into Kanou-senpai's mansion.
- Surprisingly Happy Ending: After trying so hard to get the audience to break down in tears from all the tragedy and noble sacrifice, the ending is pretty happy. Ririka succeeds and survives. The only question is if her friends remember her.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Villains often stand around very patiently while the protagonists reassure each other.
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Ririka is not a globe-trotting heroine; the villains come to her in her Greater Tokyo Area hometown (Yokohama, to be precise.) Dark Joker seems to be a little too focused on dealing with Queen Earth remnants early on when they could win by default by keeping a low profile.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ririka's friends Anna and Karin. Karin is outspoken and Anna is demure.
- Total Eclipse of the Plot: Features in a couple of episodes, but most significantly the complete solar eclipse in ep. 16 used symbolize Ririka's mental state. Incidentally, an partial solar eclipse occurred in Japan not long before the episode first aired.
- Trap Is the Only Option: The heroes are invited to a Nasty Party at the Big Bad's house...which they elect to attend, despite the danger. They want to take the fight to him.
- Unobtainium: The Flower of Life. It can be refined into Green Vaccine, the essence of life and well-being, as well as Nurse Angel's power source, and without a stock of it the heroes can't overcome Dark Joker. When the show begins, Dark Joker already has all the flowers from Queen Earth, and mysteriously, the ones that should be on Earth are missing.
- Valentines Day Episode: Episode 31, "Karin's Gift of Chocolate", is the show's only holiday themed episode.
- Visions of Another Self: Mimina accidentally uncovers some dormant past-life memories in Ririka's mind that reveal the fate of a previous incarnation of Nurse Angel — who looks like a Palette Swap of Ririka.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: There's every indication that Ririka and Seiya have a good time at school. Of course, they're both huge targets of weirdness and it disrupts classes kind of a lot, but no one links the incidents to them. The dissonance between normal-school-life and secret-warrior-life gets pretty dramatic toward the end with bouts of Heroic Fatigue and Nothing Is the Same Anymore depression, but the kids do have a good support network.
- Wrap It Up: Despite a strong viewership, the show seems to have missed its target audience, and thus displeased its main sponsor, toy-maker Takara. The Bittersweet Ending was always part of the plan, though.
- Yin-Yang Clash: The Green Vaccine and the Black Vaccine are antithetical to each other; one represents vitality and the other represents death and decay. However, both of them are made from the Flower of Life.