One day Padudu, a young girl from Sea Heaven, decides she wants to become a magical girl and heads out to Sweetland. There she must try to win contests and fight other magical girl candidates to collect "Flower Marks". Once she collects a total of twelve Flower Marks, she has the right to call herself a fully fledged magical girl, with all the fame and privileges that come with the title.
Padudu is accompanied by her companion Uokichi, a fish that she wears as a cloak. She can also use him as an emergency food supply, even though Uokichi is not too happy about that. Padudu bumps into Pipin and Myumyu, with whom she forms an at times uneasy alliance. There is also Nonononn, a former candidate, who appears to have a score to settle with Purulun, Sweetland's rather cruel queen. Add to this Ketchup and Mustard, the inept police officers of Sweetland, plus Zucchini, Queen Purulun's clueless minion, and you have yourself a rather strange bunch of characters indeed.
Magical Play started out as a series of 23 web animation episodes, released in 2001. It's an affectionate parody of the magical girl genre, especially the warrior variety. The character design is by Kiyohiko Azuma, who is better known for his works Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&!. An OVA has also been made, using 3D techniques and with a storyline that diverges quite a bit from the original series.
This anime is available on Hulu.
- Affectionate Parody: Especially in Episode 20, where Padudu plays a simulation game that puts her in the role of a Magical Girl on Earth. A Cliché Storm of Magical Girl tropes follows.
- Art Shift: A few episodes are suddenly rendered in 3D, even though Padudu and Myumyu stay 2D.
- And then of course there's the OVA, although the character designs still rather faithfully follow the original.
- Bunnies for Cuteness: Pipin wears a bunny girl costume and has a stuffed bunny for a sidekick.
- Butt-Monkey: Zucchini
- And Uokichi, poor guy. At least Zucchini deserves what he gets
- Clothing Damage: Myumyu suffers from a very peculiar variation when the cats that make up her outfit... abandon their positions.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Padudu's treatment of Oukichi. In one episode, Myumyu and Pipin even ask her how she can eat bits of her own partner.
- Everything's Cuter with Kittens: Myumyu basically wears a bikini formed by two cat-like creatures. Really.
- FaceHeel Turn: Purulun toward Nonononn, in the backstory.
- It is also hinted with Myumyu's behavior, but it never happens in the end.
- Girlish Pigtails: Mustard wears these, since she's the more childish and inept of the two cops.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: The Flower Marks, although rather than searching for them, the girls compete in contests and duels to earn them.
- Hand-or-Object Underwear: Myumyu's "cat-bikini".
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Myumyu cheats at the eating contest by feeding all the food to her two cats. She wins, but when she stands up at the end, the cats are so stuffed that they pass out and fall off, leaving her completely nude.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Padudu sometimes forgets that Uokichi can fly.
- Late for School: This happens during one of the magical girl aptitude tests, which take the form of an adventure game.
- Magical Girl: Or at least apprentices.
- No Ending: The main series literally has none. The OVA's ending functions more as a sequel hook, although no sequel has ever been produced.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Uokichi (a fish) for Padudu, Lyka and Akyl (cats) for Myumyu, Sekine (a bunny) to Pipin. Nonononn's sidekick is a hammerhead shark.
- Reading Your Rights: In the 3-D episode, when Ketchup and Mustard arrest the girls for being 2-D, Myumyu demands that they get their rights read to them. Mustard does so, but she forgets how it goes and says the wrong thing.
- Remembered I Could Fly: Padudu falls out of the sky and knocks Pipin unconscious in the first episode, costing the latter a Flower Mark (and a great deal of dignity). In a later episode, she saves everyone from falling to their death by flying, and, when asked by Pipin why she hadn't done so in the first instance, reveals that earlier, she forgot she could. Pipin's reaction is priceless.
- The Rival: Purulun to Nonononn. Also Pipin toward Padudu, although technically all girls are each other's rivals. Pipin even openly declares herself to be Padudu's "life-long rival."
- Road Sign Reversal: Zucchini switches a sign with arrows pointing to "Town" and "Desert." However, since the sign was one large board, he does this by flipping it upside down, words and all. The main characters still fall for it.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Myumyu, Pipin and Zucchini are nowhere to be seen in either the Showa arc or the OVA.
- Signature Headgear: The characters are distinguished by their bizarre hair decorations: Pipin's dangley carrot bobbles and Myumyu's cat-paw prints, although it's debatable whether those decs make them look cute or just weird. Part of the show's parody of magical girl shows and the requisite fancy hair accessories they get.
- Sneeze Cut: Happens to Purulun and Nonononn when other people are talking about them.
- Standing in the Hall: In the "Magical Girl on Earth" simulator, Padudu is given this punishment for accidentally tackling her teacher.
- Take Our Word for It: We never actually see Myumyu's wardrobe malfunctions we just see Zucchini's reactions to them.
- Traitor Shot: Both Myumyu and Purulun get a few of those.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Pipin and Ketchup have actual blue hair, while Nonononn's is lavender.