An iconic series that brought the five-girl team of Magical Girls into the 2000s, Tokyo Mew Mew started as a Nakayoshi artist's desire to do a series with a Cat Girl, and ended up as a sweet tale of choosing the right guy, protecting the environment, and throwing some sparkly Stock Footage around to solve the world's problems.Ichigo Momomiya's only care in the world is getting kendo idol Masaya Aoyama to notice her. Since he's interested in enviromental protection, she invites him on a date to an exhibition about "Red Data Animals", a list of endangered species.Little does she know that she is one of five Tokyo schoolgirls "chosen" by the Earth, possessed of a unique DNA pattern allowing her to host the genes of the Irimote Mountain Cat, one of the Red Data Animals. As part of the secret "Mew Project", she is shot by an injection gun from a mysterious cat statue atop a cute cafe.Now the DNA of the wildcat is running through her, and she's picked up some very odd abilities, such as excessive sleepiness and landing perfectly on her feet. Not only that, but she can use a Transformation Trinket to transform into a magical catgirl and defeat the parasitic aliens that are transforming normal animals into monstrous Chimera Anima.Recruited by the masterminds behind the Mew Project, Ichigo ends up working at the cafe as a waitress by day and alien-hunting catgirl by night, with the promise that she will return to normal when the threat has passed. What's more, there are four other subjects of the Mew Project to find, and a sinister extraterrestrial plot to thwart.There is also a manga-only sequel written by the head illustrator after the head writer left. Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode renders Ichigo utterly useless (no, really) so that a shiny new character named Berii Shirayuki/Mew Berry can take her place. Many fans like to pretend it doesn't exist.The manga was licensed by Tokyo Pop and the anime by 4Kids Entertainment (where it's known as Mew Mew Power). Only the first half of the series has been released in the United States so far, and because of Fox's odd airing schedule, you're usually likely to only see the first twelve episodes. More recently, it was given the Gag Dub treatment in Tokyo Mew Mew In A Nutshell. In addition, Kodansha USA has re-licensed the the original manga in omnibus form.4Kids eventually lost the rights to the first half of the show, and they were ultimately unsuccessful in attempting to purchase the rights to the second half. Rumours flew around about ways to get the show relicensed like One Piece was, but as of yet, it's still free. Ikumi Mia loves puns, and Tokyopop's translators are not purists. These factors together create a lot of confusion as to what things are called. Regarding names in the original version:
The Japanese characters have Japanese names, sometimes based on English loanwords. ex. Minto instead of Mint.
The Chinese character Bu-ling has a Chinese name based on a Japanese version (purin) of an English loanword (pudding).
The alien characters have English food names. Tokyo Pop mistranslated Gateau du Roi and Quiche as Gato du Rowa and Kish; they are not supposed to be a Spanish cat and some dude from The Bible.
The Mew names for those characters named for English words have the actual English word. ex. Mew Mint instead of Mew Minto.
The attack word "riboun" is not a cognate of the English word ribbon; it means reborn.
Whatever is written as "myuu" may be either "mew" (as in, a cat sound), "mu" (as in, the Greek letter used by geneticists) or both. "Tokyo Mew Mew" and "Mu Project" have been vindicated by on-screen text (though Tokyopop called the latter the Mew Project) but nobody's quite sure whether the MacGuffin in the second half of the series is Mew Aqua or Mu Aqua.
This program provides examples of:
Accidental Athlete: Episode 5 has Ichigo get drafted onto her school's gymnastics team because they saw her cat reflexes.
Accidentally Broke the MacGuffin: The MacGuffin, Mu Aqua, is supposedly broken on multiple occasions in the anime. Subverted, as Mu Aqua does not break, and the Mu Aqua they thought they broke is not real.
Adaptation Dye-Job: In the manga, everyone has the same hair and eye colours all the time (except near the end, where a red-haired Ichigo is put on the cover of one of the manga volumes). The anime changes this to give civilian Ichigo red hair and brown eyes, civilian Minto midnight blue hair and brown eyes, etc. Their transformed hair and eye colours are also brighter instead of pastel shades.
Subverted with Zakuro. She original had black hair and Icy Blue Eyes. The only thing changed is her hair color.
Adventure Rebuff: In Bu-ling's introduction, she continuously bothers Ichigo to learn how she too can become a Mew Mew only to be sent on snipe hunts or flat-out told to go away. This only stops when Ichigo learns that Bu-ling already is one.
Aliens Speaking Japanese: The aliens all speak fluent Japanese, but it is unknown if they learnt it or it's the language they use normally. Even more confusing when their Inner Monologue is in Japanese.
Anti-Villain: The alien antagonists are upset about humans polluting and want to reclaim their homeland, Earth. Unfortunately, their plans involve killing people to do so. In the anime, Deep Blue just wants the planet for himself, though.
Arranged Marriage: Bu-ling, in one episode, to Long Yuebin, one of her father's students.
Art Shift: Later episodes make the characters aged 14 and up look more noticeably older, and colours get deeper and shinier.
Back from the Dead: The entire cast, plus the rest of the city, in the finale. Mu Aqua is powerful stuff.
Battle Couple: After Ichigo discovers the Blue Knight is Aoyama, this is sort of what they become.
Beach Episode: Episode 19 of the anime has the cast all go to the beach and focuses on Retasu getting over her fear of the ocean.
Best For Last: Ichigo's Mu Aqua, and only in the manga. In the anime, this is averted, as instead of everyone else using Mu Aqua first, every single use is by Ichigo.
Berserk Button: Zakuro always seems calm, even when she is in battle. Mostly she casually fights off enemies with her Zacross. However, when she sees Quiche harming a child, she screams in his face, keeps him from escaping and DECKS him right in the face, giving him a cold stare afterwards. This leaves Quiche stunned that even Zakuro can be physically violent.
Costume Exaggeration: The ending of the manga requires a wedding dress anyway... but why a short, frilly, lace-and-ribbon-covered, giant-strawberry-adorned number, especially when supposedly thrown together in a short amount of time? Simply because it's cute.
Creator Provincialism: Especially prevalent when we learn that the Mu Aqua only exists in the waters of Japan. Attack something else and they can't fix it!
Dark Magical Girl: Retasu begins as more of a Chaotic Neutral Magical Girl; motivated by loneliness and fear, the same emotions as the classic DMG, she strikes out at anyone who might learn or expose her secret and hates herself for it. In the 4Kids dub, Renee (Zakuro) pretends she's a Dark Magical Girl and siding with the aliens only to turn on them, though this doesn't make sense upon examination.
Dark-Skinned Blond: Ryou and Bu-ling are both somewhat darker than much of the rest of the cast, and they both have blonde hair.
Dating Catwoman: Bu-ling and Tart end up as a canon pairing, even though they're enemies.
A Day in the Limelight: Every major character gets a handful of spotlight episodes in the anime, and even in the manga, the Mews get at least two each.
Debut Queue: Episodes 1-12 of the anime consist only of character introductions and filler.
Die or Fly: Die or swim, actually, when Retasu needs to get over her fear of the ocean. She jumps into the sea to save a child (in the manga) or Ryou (in the anime) and discovers her ability to turn into a mermaid.
Do They Know It's Christmas Time?: The anime had a Christmas episode with all the usual trappings — snow, giant Christmas trees, squeeing over date plans, and someone almost dying only to be saved by a Christmas miracle.
Ending Theme: With dancing cats! As a bonus, it takes a while for the dancing cats' significance to be revealed. One is Ichigo's full cat form, another is Shirogane's cat form, and the big one is François.
Faux Paw: Ichigo bats and licks when she first becomes a Mew.
Filler: A lot of episodes are all about the focus hero's dilemma related to the guest star of the week, and it's remembered for five minutes near the end that, oh yeah, there are supposed to be aliens invading or something.
First Kiss: Ichigo sulks about having hers stolen by her stalker for a whole episode.
First Name Basis: Beginning in episode 13, but only on Aoyama's part. Ichigo fantasizes about him insisting that he call her "Masaya," but keeps calling him "Aoyama-kun" to the end of the series. In a filler episode, Retasu knows that the boy she's interested in is in a relationship because he's on a First Name Basis with the librarian.
Flight, Strength, Heart: Okay, this is a magical girl series and therefore Heart Is an Awesome Power. Still, there are some pretty cool powers — laser whips, flight, making boulders rise from the ground — alongside some only sometimes useful ones, like turning your legs into a fish tail, or outright sucky ones like turning into a helpless kitten.
Flower Motifs: The first chapter of the manga gives every girl a different flower background.
Green Aesop: In the end, the heroes stop searching for any more of the rare MacGuffin that would instantly purify and solve everything, because really, humans should be protecting the planet by picking up litter and recycling.
Heroic BSOD: Ichigo can't even bring herself to fight when the genre's requisite Brainwashed Boyfriend Finale starts up.
Heroic Willpower: In the anime, where the girls have more emotion-driven side abilities, Mew Mint can withstand strong winds by feeling either this or just really sad.
Hide Your Lesbians: Minto and Zakuro. Minto fangirls over her when she's introduced, declares her love for her much later when they're fighting, and... if any more ever comes from it, it happens offscreen and goes unmentioned.
In the Name of the Moon: Chikyuu no mirai ni gohoushi suru ~nya!note For non-Japanese-speakers, that'd be that 'future of the earth' thing from the page quote. Also gets translated "For the future of the Earth, at your service!" No way to make it absolutely smooth in English without taking a liberty or two, though.
Intimate Healing: Neko-Ichigo needs to kiss someone to turn human; also, the Mu Aqua kiss.
Meaningful Name: All the main characters' surnames have their theme colours in them. So why is the "ai" in "Aizawa Minto" "dark blue", while "blue" is the "ao" in "Aoyama Masaya"? Well, there's a reason for that, too.
Meido: Minto has her own personal maid squadron, although none of them are fetishy.
Mobile Fishbowl: In the spinoff manga Petite Mew Mew (an Alternate Universe in kindergarten), all the girls show characteristics of their infused animal DNA — in Lettuce's case, her lower half is a porpoise tail. She is always shown partially submerged in a body of water, such as a wading pool or a giant fishbowl.
Mr. Vice Guy: A lot: Ichigo is a glutton who accepts the call only when Shirogane offers her free samples of his cafe's sweets; Aoyama is such a sloth that, unless Ichigo is involved, he never does what he wants because it's easier to just smile; Zakuro's full of Wrath and reacts with violence (physical and psychological) to any problem and her mere eyes are enough to scare the cafe's customers; Minto is a textbook example of Pride, treating everyone but Zakuro and Shirogane with disdain; Shirogane is so greedy he asked for money to help Ichigo with her homework and never paid the ticket of the Tokyo Dome. If they were heroes, we'd even have Lust (Quiche) and Envy (Pie)...
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mew Pudding encases a Mew Aqua droplet in a Puringring Inferno, which accelerates its destabilization and makes it harder for the other Mew Mews to get it under control.
No Guy Wants an Amazon: In the beginning, Ichigo constantly frets that being a catgirl superheroine will scare her boyfriend off. He doesn't mind, actually.
Nonindicative Name: That's the trouble with weird puns for weapons and attacks... What's a Reborn Lettuce Rush got to do with shooting water at your enemies?
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Quiche, Tart, and Pie start out unleashing chimera anima on the heroes and running away when they fail, but their schemes become more effective over time and present a real threat to the lives of the Mew Mews and other civilians. They never completely succeed, but the heroes have to work harder to stop them each time.
Parental Abandonment: For all we've seen Ichigo's parents as "overprotective", they seem to come out of the equation when she has to save the city. At least she still has them, though, unlike Bu-ling, Zakuro, Ryou...
Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Minto, though she's likely bi, and Zakuro. Mostly anime-only, though. In the manga, Minto's affection towards Zakuro was nowhere near what it was made into for the animated series, though that might be because they get more screentime.
Science Marches On: According to the IUCN Red List, gray wolves are listed as "least concern". A couple of subspecies are endangered, but that's it. Finless Porpoises aren't considered endangered anymore, but are still vulnerable.
Secret Test of Character: Zakuro attacks Minto during her 10-Minute Retirement when she claims to have stopped caring about the fate of the earth. She turns to attack her dog, but when Minto goes to protect the dog, she notes that Minto really does care. Zakuro does it again in Episodes 42 and 43 to test the Mew Mews’ commitment to the fight and faith in each other.
Shipper on Deck: The other Mew Mews ship Ichigo/Aoyama and, in one episode, Retasu/Edomurasaki.
Show Within a Show: Strange example: Wish, an horror manga from Mia Ikumi, is revealed existing in TMM's continuity as a four-episode fiction starring Zakuro as the mysterious Angel of theWishes and Ichigo as her cat (Ichigo was not amused when she learned about her role).
Something We Forgot: Episode 24, the one with the jewelry show, Bu-ling takes on one of the aliens to buy the rest of the team time. Fast forward, the fight is won, the jewelry show finishes and everyone is happy right? But wait, where's Bu-ling? Oh, she's still fighting with Tart; lampshaded by the the aliens 'they seem to be having fun, lets leave them alone'.
Take That Kiss: Quiche's introduction is to jump from a roof and crash one of these to Ichigo.
10-Minute Retirement: Minto in one episode, as a result of being discouraged over the chances the Mew Mews have of saving Earth (although the 4kids dub indicates that she's angry over Ichigo's attitude towards work).
Colorful Theme Naming: All the main characters' surnames have their theme colours in them. So why is the "ai" in "Aizawa Minto" "dark blue", while "blue" is the "ao" in "Aoyama Masaya"? Well, there's a reason for that, too.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted in Episode 41; the Mew Mews besides Mew Lettuce completely describe their plan to deal with the fish Chimera Anima, and the plan works.
Verbal Tic: Ichigo occasionally nyas, and Bu-ling says "na no da".
Villainous Breakdown: Quiche has one after discovering that the Mu Aqua does not generate power, but merely stores it. He was already on thin ice with Pie and Tart before then, and they’re not pleased when they learn this. He also becomes increasingly emotionally unstable over time as a result of Ichigo rejecting him, failing his missions, and the aliens suffering in their temporary home.
Later, over the course of the five-part series finale, Deep Blue gradually loses his composure as Aoyama starts to fight back against him from within. The more Aoyama fights back, the more Deep Blue loses his cool, until he is finally dead and Aoyama is therefore free.
Villains Out Shopping: Quiche, Pie, and Tart eat parfaits near a fan while complaining about humans causing global warming.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Ichigo and Minto often bicker, but are willing to help each other when necessary.