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Animation / Balala the Fairies

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China's Magical Girl Show
If you want to see China's version of the Magical Girl genre, then you have Balala the Fairies (Simplified Chinese: 巴啦啦小魔仙). The first season of the series was a live-action show, which is common in China and not so for the genre. Most of the seasons are animated, however. It‘s much like their form of Pretty Cure.

Outside of the human world, there is a magical world where human fairies are capable of using magic, ruled by the powerful Fairy Queen. However, there's also the presence of dark magic, which is forbidden from study or use. Luna, a fairy imprisoned for such research, escapes from her cell and steals a Power Crystal unguarded from the queen's throne room. Despite predicting such an incident would happen, the queen tries the fairy guardian of the stone Xiao Lan (Shirley/Sally in English) who was absent from her duties at the time. As punishment, she is sealed within a magical box and sent to the human world, not able to return until the stone is returned and Luna captured.

The magical box falls into the hands of two sisters, the underachiever Mei Qi/Maggie and the Teen Genius Mei Xue/Michelle, after it scares the owner of the shop where it was found. Xiao Lan emerges from the box and tells them of her mission, disguised as a babysitter so she can train the girls to become magic users themselves. But they encounter Lili, a jealous classmate who rivals the sisters and becomes the pupil of the Big Bad in her campaign to cause havoc.

Currently has seven seasons, five of which are animated. The first animated series featured a fourth main character, Xiao Qian/Sandy, who was replaced with Bei Bei/Emma in the second animated season. The live-action show consists of 52 episodes, first animated season has 36 episodes. And as of Over the Rainbow, they have gone the way of Pretty Cure and made a new set of girls every season, rather than reusing the same characters.

A series of films were also released, starting their release in January 2013.

Tropes include:

  • All-CGI Cartoon: The second Ocean Magic season is the first season of the show to be animated fully in CGI, compared to its 2D-animated predecessors. Subsequent seasons are also GCI as well.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The otherwise mostly live-action/CGI first and second movies have 2D-animated openings featuring the characters. While the second one just shows artwork of the 2D characters, the first one actually does show them doing stuff.
  • Art Shift: Each animated season has a different art style. Unlike "Pretty Cure", this affects even sequel seasons.
  • Ban on Magic: Most specifically the dark kind in the fantasy world.
  • Barely-Changed Dub Name: The characters' English names are Maggie (Meiqi in Chinese), Michelle (Meixue), and Shirley (Xiao Lan).
  • Blue Is Heroic: This is especially played straight in Ocean Magic with Azure being the Blue Fairy and leader of the team.
  • Book Dumb: Mei Qi/Maggie, to the point she fall behind her younger sister. She admits in the first animated series that she can not remember a book even after reading it ten times.
  • Chef of Iron: As long as Xiao Lan uses her magic, she can cook up some very good recipes.
  • Child Prodigy: While Meixue is a decent student, Xiao Qian far surpasses her despite being 9 to 10. It surprises people in how a young girl like her can attend middle school. Justified by how she’s the future Queen, so she’s destined to learn far faster than the others. It's also deconstructed early in the series; many teachers and the sisters see her as a problematic child who fails to learn anything in class. That’s because she learns too quickly, and schools at her level can’t keep up with her learning curve, so she easily becomes bored.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Meiqi/Maggie (blue), Meixue/Michelle (red/pink), Xiao Lan/Shirley (yellow), and Bei Bei/Emma (green).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After Lili was reformed, the Fairy Queen has set her up as a new member of the fairies, but she isn't seen or heard from again in the other series.
  • Colony Drop: An attempt in the first film, when the Big Bad tries to do this with the moon on the human world.
  • Costume-Test Montage: Happens in the very first episode, since Xiao Lan asks the Mei sisters to agree on a convincing human disguise for her. She goes through a few outrageous suggestions before settling on a simple and fashionable babysitter.
  • Cuteness Proximity: The middle school kids adore Xiao Qian.
  • Insufferable Genius: Xiao Qian, though it’s mainly becuase she can’t find any real challenge even when attending middle school.
  • I Work Alone: In Ocean Magic, Azure initially refuses to work with Kaylynn and Finn and prefers to go solo. However, as they start working together, she starts to mellow out of this as she becomes their friend.
  • Jumped at the Call: The sisters are frightened by the box and Xiao Lan's entrance, but are later more than eager to become her pupils.
  • Lethal Chef: It's implied that without magic, Xiao Lan doesn't cook well. It has become a running gag in the live-action series whenever she has something in her mind. The girls' mother is also said to be a bad cook.
  • Magical Incantation: At least in the first series, all magic was prefaced by posing and saying "Balala!" before commanding the desired technique. Luna and her assistant Lili also chant “Gunala”, when calling for the powers of the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Magical Land: Where the fairies come from.
  • The Masquerade: Xiao Lan disguises herself as a babysitter for the sisters.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: First animated season has a box with seven crystals. Two evil ones show up in the same season, but only Once per Episode each.
  • Pest Controller: One of her abilities from researching dark magic, Luna used swarms of insects to break the seals protecting the Power Crystal.
  • Pink Heroine: Only in Over the Rainbow, where the team leader has pink as her theme color. Subverted as she is treated as the red girl rather than pink, though her hair is still pink. For many seasons the team leader was the "yellow", Xiao Lan.
  • Pirate Girl: Hayley's transformation in Over the Rainbow looks like a blue-colored pirate with a matching hat, highlighting her tomboyishness.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Meixue’s blue to Meiqi’s red. Ironically, their theme colors are the opposite!
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Subverted. The fairy queen uses a music box to seal up Xiao Lan, but she's able to get out by her own will.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Meiqi and Meixue. Meiqi is The Ditz and the lazy one while her sister Meixue is more diligent. This is even shown in their powers (i.e. one can only make plants bigger while the other can only make plants smaller).
  • Signature Headgear: Azure is often seen with her straw hat (more premiant in the CGI animation) and Finn with her sunglasses.
  • Sixth Ranger: We had Xiao Qian who joined the team for the second season only, and Princess Beibei played this role in the later seasons before permanently joining the main cast.
  • Super-Deformed: The characters in the animated sequence that opens the first movie are much more chibiesque than normal, specifically on the main heroes who have larger heads, smaller bodies, no noses, and generally more simplified designs.
  • Town Girls: The fairies from Ocean Magic contain energetic surfer girl Finn as the Butch, bubbly and clumsy Kaylyn as the Femme and mature and serious Azure as the Neither.
  • Transformation Trinket: The butterfly-like stones.
  • Under the Sea: The motif of the season Ocean Magic is the sea.

Alternative Title(s): Balala The Fairies