Magical Princess Minky Momo is a classic Magical Girl franchise that began with a 1982 anime and includes a manga series, several OVA specials, a feature film, a follow-up anime series in 1991, and a 30th anniversary stage musical. Known internationally as Gigi, the anime became popular in France, Italy, Latin America and Australia (where the American-produced English dub of the '80s series aired), but had never gotten an official American release outside of a heavily altered version of the film until 2015, when William Winckler Productions acquired Harmony Gold's Minky Momo series and made it into several Amazon Instant Video-exclusive compilation movies. note
Though often overlooked outside of Japan, Minky Momo is among the most influential anime in its genre. It was also one of the first magical girl series not made by Toei Animation, which had heretofore virtually owned the genre since the late 1960s, and one of the first to air on a channel that wasn't TV Asahi (the '80s series aired on TV Tokyo, the '90s series on Nippon TV). It's had some retroactive recognition in the West for being an early team-up between director Kunihiko Yuyama and head writer/creator Takeshi Shudō, who would go on to make Pokémon together.
In the 1982 anime, the magical land of Fenarinarsa is where the characters of humanity's fairy tales dwell. But as humans lose touch with their dreams, Fenarinarsa is in danger of disappearing. To prevent that, the king and queen send their 12-year-old daughter Momo to Earth, tasking her with reviving the hopes and dreams of mankind.
Momo manifests on Earth as the daughter of a young childless couple who run a pet store and care center. Momo brings along her dog Shindobook, her monkey Mocha and her bird Pipiru. The Minky Stick in her pendant gives her the power to transform into an adult version of herself, complete with whichever skill set and outfit are appropriate for the situation at hand (nurse, police officer, etc.). The skill level she recieves is equal to the best human alive at whatever skillset her transformation requires.
Every time Momo succeeds in bringing happiness to a given person, a new jewel appears in the Fenarinarsa crown. Once the crown has 12 jewels, Fenarinarsa will return to Earth's surface.
In 1985, the movie La Ronde in my dream was released. Though usually considered an OVA, La Ronde was given a theatrical premiere. The story takes place sometime before Episode 46 of the first series and sees Momo on an adventure to rescue her parents after their airplane crash lands on a mysterious island. Adapted to English as Magical Princess Gigi and the Fountain of Youth.
A follow-up series was made in 1991, Magical Princess Minky Momo: Hold on to Your Dreams (魔法のプリンセス ミンキー モモ: 夢を抱きしめて), which follows a new Minky Momo from the undersea dream kingdom Marinarsa. This Momo also lives with human foster parents and three pets, but is not limited in her transformations and can become nearly anything, and she also has the ability to cast spells. This series is not an alternate continuity, and the two Momos even meet up on several occasions.
The last Minky Momo anime were the 1993 OVA The Bridge Over Dreams and the 1994 OVA The Station of Your Memories, both of which take place after the end of the second series and have a decidedly wistful tone.
Contains examples of:
- Accidental Proposal: In the culture of Fenarinarsa, if a girl drops her magical pendant, the boy who retrieves it for her will one day be her husband. That's how Momo's parents got together, although it didn't work out as the the future Queen had hoped... she had dropped her pendant on purpose hoping a hunky prince would retrieve it for her, but the future King picked it up instead, much to her (initial anyway) horror.
- Action Girl: Momo engages in a surprising amount of combat for a non-Warrior Magical Girl.
- All Just a Dream: The second half of the first series. In the last episode, the king and queen are shocked to find this out. However, the dream affects humanity's hopes and dreams.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor:
- When toys for the series weren't selling well overseas, the toy company that sponsored the series pulled their support. In Episode 46 of the first series, which could have been the final episode, Momo is run down and killed by a toy delivery truck.
- Episode 53 of the second series is a scathing satire of the anime industry. Momo visits an anime production company where animators frequently work themselves into comas in the hopes they'll eventually be able to make anime with their own Original Characters. The character of the week Momo needs to help is such an overworked animator. He dies at the end.
- Bittersweet Ending: To the franchise as a whole. Throughout the entire of both series, it's implied that people's dreams and fantasies are moving on from what allowed people to see and interact with Fenarinarsa and Marinarsa. At the very end of the series, the Marinarsa Momo gives up everything to become her foster family's true daughter, much like her predecessor was forced to do. This is why the two followup OVAs have such a melancholic mood.
- Canine Companion: Shindobook.
- Captain Obvious: The narrator in the English dub, as anyone comparing the Japanese and English versions of episode 43 ("Someday My Prince Will...") will note.
- Cute Witch
- Diegetic Soundtrack Usage:
- The transformation sequence in the first half of the second series has an instrumental version of "Dreaming Heart", the opening for the first half of the second series.
- In some episodes with the Fenarinarsa Momo in the second series, the Fenarinarsa Momo would sing "Love Love Minky Momo" at a random point in the episode.
- Disney Death:
- Infamously, before Momo can claim the Fenarinarsa crown's final gem, she loses her magic powers, is hit by a truck, and dies. However, she is reincarnated as her Earth family's daughter, now a real human without ties to Fenarinarsa.
- Strangely, the second series has Momo almost die in traffic like in the first series. Several times. You can thank the human Momo (the one from Fenarinarsa) for rescuing her from this in the last episode, but the first time she rescued Momo from danger was when a satellite of Fenarinarsa exploded, possibly due to the fact that the Marinarsa Momo used her magic to save the Fenarinarsa Momo from being hit by a truck during the first time the two met.
- Dub Name Change:
- Momo is called "Gigi" in most international adaptations, with their scripts based from the failed TV dub by Harmony Gold (who only managed to commercially release "La Ronde in my Dream" in the US).
- Sindbook, Mocha, and Pipil had their names respectively changed to "Bonkers", "Coco", and "Yum-Yum" as well in some of the dubs note . In the La Ronde in My Dream English dub, Mocha keeps her name, Sindbook became "Bonkers", and Pipil became "Tweety". In the '80s English TV series dub, Sindbook is Bonkers, Mocha is Coco, and Pipil is Pattycake.
- The La Ronde dub changes Princess Lei to "Fuzzy the Dragon Boy" (see She's a Man in Japan below).
- Fenarinarsa is given the much less cumbersome name of Dreamland in the English TV dub.
- "Everyone Comes Back" Fantasy Party Ending: In Episode 46, Baby Momo's dream is of Fenarinarsa returning to the Earth and all the fairy tale characters celebrating it.
- Evil Poacher: The three main antagonists of "Lord of the Jungle" are these.
- Fanservice with a Smile:
- Several of 18-year-old Momo's outfits. As a flight attendant, she's a Sexy Stewardess; as a nurse, she's a Hospital Hottie.
- Also, the nude transformation sequence in the original 1982 series. While not explicit or frontal, one can still briefly glimpse Momo's 18-year-old alter ego's nude rear end. Certainly no big deal in Japan, but not surprisingly, the English dub of the 1985 La Ronde OVA shortens this sequence to remove the rear end shot. (This was not censored in the Australian TV broadcast!)
- Fictional Country: Most countries in Minky Momo are called by names like Somewhere, Some Country, and Our Country, though occasionally countries will have more realistic names such as Liechtenburg.
- Foil: In the La Ronde movie, Peter Pan is a foil to Minky Momo. Momo's power is almost entirely "You can be anything you want to be when you grow up." While Peter Pan's power comes from never growing up. This doesn't stop them from becoming friends.
- Formula-Breaking Episode: The highly popular episode 31, where Momo's disguise of the day fails to save the day (being a female soldier in military gear pitted against two fighter jets and a submarine), and instead it's Superweapon Surprise that does the job.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: seen in several episodes
- Gory Discretion Shot: The traffic accident.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: The 12 jewels in the Fenarinarsa crown. It may be no coincidence that the same writer and series director went on to work on the Trope Namer's anime adaptation.
- Gratuitous English:
- Several examples, particularly in the 1982 opening theme song.
- Anyone up for a tasty CRAPE?
- There is a ton of spoken Engrish in the second series. For instance, when Minky Momo meets the Fenarinarsa Momo, this is Fenarinarsa Momo's first line: "Hello! (in Japanese) What can I do for you?"
- Several throughout the series. Many characters are based on classic fairy tales, though episodes will often contain pop culture references to anime and movies. The series as a whole is loosely based on the legend of Momotaro.
- One of the late episodes of the second season is an internal homage to the series itself, with both Momo apparently going on an adventure with numerous Call-Back moments.
- Humongous Mecha: Episode 31 of the 1982 series has Momo pilot the Minkinasa in what is an Affectionate Parody of an earlier Takeshi Shudo work: GoShogun. This alone was enough to warrant Minky Momo an appearance in Super Robot Wars X-Ω (albeit as a one-time only feature).
- Inconsistent Dub: Somewhat zig-zagged with the William Winckler Minky Momo movies: Although the movies are called "Minky Momo", the footage used actually refers to the character as Gigi, which each description mentions in parentheses.
- A boy in the Harmony Gold English dub of episode 41 is referred to as both Billy and Paul.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The leader of the motorcycle gang from Episode 3 of the original series.
- Jungle Princess: Momo transforms into one in the episode "Lord of the Jungle".
- Magical Girl: The whole point of the series.
- Magical Incantation:
- Original Japanese: Pipiruma Pipiruma Puririnpa Papareho Papareho Doriminpa! Minky touch de (...) ni nare!
- In Spanish: ¡Diamante mágico, dame poder, una (...) quiero ser! ("Magical pendant, give me the power! I want to be a (...)!")
- In the English TV series: Yahstriki guchiki yawa, ahriki bahtiki brouha! WHEE!note
- Magical Land: Fenarinarsa, Marinarrsa, and Kensington Gardens.
- Muggle Foster Parents: Though in Momo's case, she's aware all along who her real parents are, and why she's in a foster family. Her foster parents, however, have been magicked to think that she's always been their daughter (a trope that dates back to Majokko Meg-chan and would continue in series like Sailor Moon).
- Named by the Adaptation: The family name of Momo's Muggle Foster Parents is not mentioned in the original version. The TV series English dub gives Gigi's foster parents the name Goodheart.
- Older Alter Ego: As noted above, Momo has the ability to transform into an adult. Overlaps with Sexier Alter Ego, given the Fanservice tropes 18-year-old Momo often plays to.
- Princess Protagonist: Protagonist Momo is a princess from a fairy tale kingdom who is sent to earth to use her magical powers to revive the hopes and dreams of mankind which sustain her kingdom.
- Postmodernism: The hodgepodge of characters from legends, fairy tales, anime and movies.
- Recap Episode: The two episodes following Momo's death and reincarnation.
- Reference Overdosed
- Santa's Existence Clause: The plot of the '80s series' Christmas Episode. Momo sets out to prove Santa's existence to an orphan boynote who doesn't believe in Santa because he's never gotten a single Christmas gift in his life. Of course, Momo knows Santa is real because she knows him from Fenarinarsa.
- She's a Man in Japan: Princess Lei became a prince in the English adaptation of La Ronde. A prince who wears an oddly feminine outfit. She remained a girl in the Harmony Gold dub of the series, however.
- Shout-Out: The series is full of references to the ancient Japanese folktale of Momotaro (hence Momo's name), particularly Momo becoming a surrogate daughter to a childless couple and having several animal companions, to name just a few.
- Momo's outfit when she transforms into Snow White is a shout out to the classic 1937 Disney film.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Often surprisingly cynical for its supposed "follow your dreams" message.
- Sudden Musical Ending: Episode 48 of the first series ends with all the characters who had appeared in the series so far dancing and singing the show's theme song. It'd make more sense if it had been the actual finale.
- Swiss-Army Tears: The dragon Kajira is revealed in the final episode to be formed from the tears of all the people on Earth who cried at Momo's death.
- Transformation Sequence: Whenever Momo turns into her 18-year-old self.
- Tuckerization: In the Harmony Gold dub and overseas adaptations based on their scripts, Momo was given the name "Gigi", after the nickname for Jehan Agrama (one of the producers, who had also worked on Robotech). Fittingly, Agrama voiced Gigi in the TV series, as well as performing the theme song.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Both Momo's real parents.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The pendant that gives Momo her magical powers is easily destroyed with a bullet.
- We Help the Helpless: Momo's goal is simply to restore people's hopes and dreams.
- Wham Episode: Episode 46 of the first series, where Momo loses her powers and is run over by a truck.
- Would Hurt a Child: "Lord of the Jungle" has a group of poachers who capture a boy and threaten to shoot him to death.