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Anime / Mao-chan

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Mao-chan (陸上防衛隊まおちゃん Rikujō Bōetai Mao-chanGround Defense Force! Mao-chan or Earth Defender! Mao-chan) was written by Ken Akamatsu (post-Love Hina, pre-Negima! Magister Negi Magi) and illustrated by RAN.

What do you do when Japan is under attack by Ridiculously Cute Aliens? Fight back with even cuter kids! It's the story of Mao Onigawara, Misora Tsukishima, and Sylvia Maruyama, three second-graders tasked with protecting Japan's national landmarks from the aliens... and keeping their grandfathers, the heads of the Ground, Air, and Naval Defense Forces, respectively, from fighting with one another about which one is superior, a problem that often gets in the way of their jobs.


  • Anti-Villain: Yuriko, who really doesn't want to have to fight Mao-chan and the others.
  • Beach Episode: Chapter 16
  • Beautiful All Along: Chinami, something that Yuriko and the Defense Corp girls trick her into discovering.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Sylvia
  • Blush Sticker: Misora
  • But Not Too Foreign: Sylvia is introduced as being "Russian and a quarter Japanese". Curiously, though, her grandfather's name is "Adalberto von Maruyama", suggesting that he himself is of mixed ancestry.
  • Cat Girl: Half-alien spies Chinami Noki and Yuriko Ozora, whose ears and tail come out when they get flustered. This happens quite a bit to Yuriko.
  • Child Soldiers: Well, technically. Done in the most adorable way possible, of course.
  • Christmas Episode: Chapter 7
  • Clothing Damage: Happens to Yuriko and Mao when they are ingested by a snake alien. This is Ken Akamatsu we're talking about, after all, so the former ends up completely naked.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Mao may be the Ground Forces' defense unit against the aliens, but she's hopeless in athletic competitions.
  • Cute Kitten: One of the aliens inovkes this, and later the girls start sneaking around and making everyone suspicious of their goodness, all to protect a mother cat they'd found just before she gave birth to her kittens.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Everyone gets like this whenever the cute aliens show up, which is part of what makes them a threat — it's difficult to defend yourself or the world when you're being distracted by cuteness.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: But not necessarily in that order.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The new prime minister was bullied by the heads of the defense forces back in grade school... so he undermines the Defense Corps with a male trio of elementary school children who manage to get to the scene of every alien sighting first. This is because the Prime Minister's lackeys are sabotaging the girls. ..and also because the aliens aren't real.
  • The Ditz: Sylvia is very spacey.
  • Epic Fail: The Cute Alien's schemes, occasionally. Once one of them missed the Earth completely.
  • Easy Amnesia: Chief Onigawara gets caught in an explosion and suffers amnesia, thinking he's 20 again and mistaking Kagome for his late wife. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Expy
    • Kagome-sensei looks an awful lot like Naru, especially in Chapter 8, when she's not wearing her glasses and has her hair down... and is wearing the exact same outfit Naru was wearing in volume 7 of the manga. No, seriously, it's exactly the same.
    • There's also a couple of appearances by a very obvious Keitarō expy. Like, so thinly disguised you'd think they were Writing Around Trademarks. Unlike the real Keitarō, "Keinosuke" failed the fourth attempt at getting into Tokyo U, though.
      • On his second appearance, he's working alongside his girlfriend, "Nana Nanasegawa", an equally obvious Naru expy, and he points out the uncanny resemblance between Nanasegawa and Kagome.
    • One last one: among the many ridiculously cute animal-shaped aliens is what appears to be an expy of Tama-chan.
  • The Faceless: Mao's parents and grandmother.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Mao's tank, Mi-kun, and Sylvia's submarine, Nah-chan.
  • Friendly Enemy: Yuriko really likes Mao-chan and her friends. Unfortunately, as Chinami keeps reminding her, they're supposed to be the villains.
  • Funny Background Event: At the start of the athletic meet, Yuriko's nametag has "Outer Space Spy" instead of the name of her team, alarming Chinami.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Chapter 21.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mao, Riho
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Chief Onigawara
  • Godiva Hair: Yuriko after her clothes are melted away by the snake alien.
  • Headbutt Thermometer: Mao uses this to check Yuriko's temperature in the manga. She is unaware of Yuriko's heart going all doki-doki.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After Chinami and Yuriko get captured by their bosses as punishment for their failures, Chinami decides to try to help Yuriko to escape and live a normal life, as she is really a good person. Yuriko insists that Chinami come along, too, and both of them join the forces of Japan in fighting off the aliens.
  • Hey, You!: Haru never refers to Mao by her real name, even after being told what it is; she's always "the girl with the funky ribbons".
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: The commanders knew all along that the girls had gone to Hokkaido, and Mao-chan's honesty keeps her from getting punished.
  • Hot Springs Episode: At a run-down place that looks an awful lot like Hinata-sou. Complete with Naru Urashima nee Narusegawa, although they aren't specifically named.
    • Earlier than that, they find a hidden natural hot spring in the jungle, protected by a group of monkeys whose leader looks suspiciously like a simian version of Mao's grandfather.
  • Idiot Hair: Sylvia and Mao both have them, as does Sakura.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Chinami. Yuriko's not even villainous enough to be this.
    • Most of the Cute Aliens in general are this. Often they don't even cause any real damage and sometimes the girls don't even have to try, because some of them outright fail on there own.
  • Interrupted Suicide: "Keinosuke", though after it fails, he admits that this is his fourteenth attempt.
    • Mythology Gag: While he was never suicidal even at his lowest points, Keitaro, whom Keinosuke is a blatant expy of, was Nigh-Invulnerable, making Keinosuke's failure to die seem perfectly reasonable.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The three commanders. Their granddaughters, the ones who are actually fighting the aliens, would much rather work together.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Each of the girls has one. Mao: "I will defend Japan in high spirits today!" Misora: "I will protect the skies of Japan!" Sylvia: "Japan's seas are my seas!"
  • Japanese Delinquents: A gang of dogs, which Mi-kun joins when Mao rejects him after his upgrade makes him too powerful.
  • Joke Weapon: Used by the Chief of Operations: a giant squeaky hammer.
  • Killer Rabbit: all of the aliens are extremely cute. The "Chief of Operations" turns out to be like this as well, and less than a foot tall. And then there was the "legendary alien that can't be controlled or tamed", Omega...which turns out to be Mao's lost cat Mi-kun.
  • Large Ham: Chief Onigawara, down to wearing a cape over his uniform.
  • Lethal Chef: Mao's cookies, made with cement mix instead of flour.
  • Magical Girl: The titular character and her friends are these, curtesy of some alien pendants. Though it's played with at first, as the uniform she gets after the Transformation Sequence, initially seems to be the only thing the pendants give them and it isn't till a little bit after their first deployed, that they discover they actually have powers.
  • Manchild: Chief Tsukishima, what with his constant talking to a hand puppet named "Okita-san".
  • Meaningful Name: "Rikushiro" and "Sorajiro" mean "warrior of the land" and "warrior of the sky", respectively.
  • Mega Neko: The alien from Episode 1.
  • Military Moe: Invoked, where the girls are specifically chosen for their roles because of how adorable they are.
  • Monster Protection Racket: The new Prime Minister, to promote his "Three Aces" team. Turns into a game of Zany Scheme Chicken when the Defense Force leaders launch their own fake alien at the same time to try to get the Defense Corps girls back in the public's good graces and independently, Yuriko launches a real alien for the girls to fight... and all three aliens look like pandas.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sakura, who's practically a Recurring Fanservice Extra. Her normal uniform uses short shorts instead of the skirt that Kagome has, her outfit in the Christmas Episode is a midriff-baring Sexy Santa Top and Skirt Combo (which Kagome asks her about), and she later shows up in a Playboy Bunny outfit to host the Defense Corp Cherry Blossom party.
  • Omake: Two: One that takes place 10 years later, and then a "summer vacation special" after the higher-ups had been introduced.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Chapter 20, when the girls sneak off to Hokkaido.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Chinami and Yuriko
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Emperor Galactica.
  • The Mole: A Defense Corps spy has been on board the aliens' mothership all along. Later revealed to be Mao's father.
  • Sapient Ship/Sapient Tank: Mi-kun, Hayate, and Nah-chan.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: You will not believe some of the things that Sylvia can afford.
  • Shout-Out: Episode 20 is one long Lampshaded shout out to Love Hina.
  • Student Council President: Yuriko
  • Subordinate Excuse: Kagome has a crush on Chief Onigawara. If these feelings were ever returned, it would be a May–December Romance, as she's 27 and he's in his late 60s.
  • Supreme Chef: Sylvia's the best chef in the whole class.
  • Take Our Word for It: That alien in episode 14 of the anime was too cute!
  • Theme Naming: The Three Aces are Haru, Natsu, and Tou — Japanese for spring, summer, and winter.
  • Transformation Sequence: Comes with the territory. Lamp Shaded in one episode, where they realize their enemy managed to get too far ahead, while they were transforming.
  • Transformation Trinket: The smiling clover pins. Unusual in that the Defense Forces obtained them from the enemy.
  • Verbal Tic: Misora ends her lines with arimasu, which is translated as "don'tcha know" and "if you please", while Sylvia's casual manner of speech is translated with the liberal use of "yo" and calling everyone "dude/dudette".
    • In the dub, Misora usually ends her lines with "I say" or "I must say" and Silvia occasionally begins sentences with "I the officer".
  • Vocational Irony: The leader of the Ground Forces is a poor runner; the leader of the Marine forces can't swim; and the leader of the Air Forces gets queasy in high places. The first two seem to have passed these traits down to their granddaughters.
  • Wham Line: "But.. I don't have a mom!"
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: This trope is exactly why the aliens are so tough to take down, and why the military has to use a special force of 8-year-olds to accomplish the task.
  • Winged Humanoid: Misora when she transforms. Justified as her plane doesn't have a cockpit, so she needs something to help her fly.

Alternative Title(s): Mao Chan