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Anime / Spellbound! Magical Princess Lil'Pri

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Fairyland is in trouble. Its princesses and their respective worlds are disappearing, causing a ripple effect on Earth where their stories are popular. In order to save Fairyland, the Queen sends three "mapets" (magic animals), Sei, Dai, and Ryoku, to Earth with magic gems to find three girls who can become the "Super Miracle Idols," the princesses Snow White, Cinderella, and Kaguya-hime. Those "princesses" end up being three very ordinary little girls: Yukimori Ringo, Takashiro Leila, and Sasahara Natsuki. The gems transform them into older singing superstars, and after their accidental debut at their favorite singer Wish's concert, they become known as "Little Princesses," or "LilPri" for short. Now they must use their songs to draw and collect Happiness Tones from humans in order to restore Fairyland.

The anime is based on Sega's trading card arcade game Lilpri - Yubi Puru Hime Chen!, which lets players customize their own idol and sing, dance, and cast spells. On May 29, 2010, Crunchyroll began streaming the series under the title Spellbound! Magical Princess Lil'Pri. There is also a manga that began running in February 2009 called simply "Lilpri", written by Mai Jinna, the game's character designer.

Not to be confused with Hime-chan's Ribbon.

This show provides examples of:

  • Big Eater: All three of the mapets. In particular Dai.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Used quite often with Wish. Episode 24 also had a few scenes like that with Natsuki.
  • Bland-Name Product: In episode 25, there's a reporter who wears a watch made by "Soiko" (a pun on Seiko).
  • But Not Too Foreign: Leila is half-Japanese, half-Italian.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Both the game and the anime use the more traditional "magic words" method (PRIPAL PREPAL PLILIN PUCCHI!).
  • Canon Discontinuity: Even Japan knows that "Ningyo Hime" isn't supposed to be "Ningyaru Hime" (In-universe, even Fairyland would know that). One would think she would magically change back to normal by the end. Nope, she's still a "ganguro" when our intrepid magical idol singers read the picture book.
  • Canon Foreigner: Partly invoked by the anime. "Wish" was created for the show, but "Chris" comes from the game. In the anime, they're portrayed as the same character.
  • Comically Missing the Point: One-shot character Youichi in episode 33 misunderstands what Sayaka (another one shot character) means when she says she would like them to be "good friends".
  • Costume Porn: (Almost) Every time they transform, they use a different costume card, with a song and dance sequence showing off their co-ordinated outfits.
  • Cowardly Lion: Mimiko in episode 19. Subverted at first; it ultimately takes Lilpri to help her realize there's nothing to be afraid of.
  • Expy: There's Chris/Wish, who looks like the White Rabbit in rabbit form and like Zero in human form. And Natsuki who is Kagami with darker hair and a different eye color. Then in episode 19 we see Mimiko, who dresses like Nadeko Sengoku and acts just as shy and easily-scared, and a doll resembling Lilie from Princess Tutu. And in episode 24, Narushi Kizaki, one of Natsuki's suitors, looks just like a younger version of Femio, with purple hair and rose.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: In episode 19, Atsui-sensei's wife's curry turns everyone into one of these. Ryoku is the first to try it, and the girls and Saotome mistake his flame for a Will-o'-the-Wisp.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Played with in episode 31. Ringo, Leila, and Natsuki cosplay Lilpri (in their trademark outfits, the Princess Fairytale ones) for a costume contest. Of course, no one suspects they really are Lilpri since any fan of the group might cosplay them, and Lilpri themselves look much older.
  • Gratuitous English: Most of the Lilpri costume names are in English. Oh, and Uisshuuuu~
  • Gratuitous Italian: Leila's father Marco and his assistant Tomaso in episode 18.
  • Gyaru Girl: The girls meet a mermaid in episode seventeen named Lili, who gets dropped into the human world. She sees some "gyaru" and immediately adopts the style, even returning to Fairyland in it.
  • Henohenomoheji: The janitor's face in one of the ghost stories Saotome tells in episode 19.
    • Episode 25 has it on the "Leila" part of the mapets' disguise.
  • Homage: to the tokusatsu superhero genre in episode 22. The change card for this episode ("Petit Ranger") was even inspired by the Super Sentai series.
  • Insistent Terminology
    Dai: I'm not a squirrel. I'm a dormouse!
  • Is It Something You Eat?: The (amnesiac) mapets ask this about Lilpri in episode 20. It's also present in episode 32, where the girls think the "song's soul" is a kind of dumpling.
  • Joshikousei: The change card Lilpri uses in episode 33, Cherry Sailor, is inspired by these.
  • Lethal Chef: In episode two, to make up for eating all the apple pies Ringo's parents had made to sell the next day, the mapets try to bake some replacements. To describe the result, the customers say it's like your tongue explodes.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Both played straight and subverted. As themselves, the girls wear the same clothes constantly (only changing for summertime), but as Lilpri, they get a new outfit every time they transform. They even, partway through the series, restock their Lilpri wardrobe.
  • Magic Idol Singer: They transform, perform a song and most of the time, whatever problem was going on is solved. They rarely actually have to track down the cause and persuade it to stop.
  • Meaningful Name: Each of the girls' names allude to the princess they are.
    • Yukimori means "snow forest;" ringo means "apple", referring to the poisoned apple Snow White ate.
    • Takashiro, Leila's surname, means "tall castle", something Cinderella is sometimes associated with.
    • Sasahara means "bamboo field," a reference to the bamboo forest where Kaguya-hime was found on Earth, and the "tsuki" in Natsuki's name means "moon" (Kaguya-hime came from the moon).
  • Moon Rabbit: Chris got to play this part in episode 24.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In episode six, Sei has hired for the girls a dance teacher named Michael, who sounds, acts, looks, and dances (a bit) like the beloved late pop star, his body and what he is wearing however are based on someone else.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The mapets Sei, Dai, and Ryoku, and White Rabbit Expy Chris/Wish.
  • Older Alter Ego: Ringo, Leila and Natsuki go from looking like little girls to Magic Idol Singers when they transform into Lilpri.
  • Plot Pants: Inverted. The costume-changing Magic Idol Singers wear a different outfit every time they transform into Lilpri but wear the same exact outfits when they're not regardless of whether they are in school or it's raining or shining. The only exception is their Halloween Princess Fairytale card outfits —which they like well enough to use 5 or 6 times.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: In the game, one of their songs is a techno-infused rendition of "Usagi no Dance" (The Rabbit Dance), a traditional Japanese nursery rhyme. A rendition by the Hello! Project version of Lilpri is later heard in episode 24.
  • Pun-Based Title: Hime Chen is probably a pun on imechen (イメチェン), meaning "image change" or "makeover"
  • Bland-Name Product: In episode 28, Vivi finds a group of kids playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, except the back of the cards is green instead of brown and the design is slightly different. And in episode 34, Leila imagines Natsuki wearing an outfit reminiscent of Sapphire's.
  • Show Within a Show: There's the comedy show and Close-Up Idol from episode 6, as well as all the shows introduced in episode 32 such as Mr. Monkeys, Herahera, Star Trick, Easy Meals...
  • Spell My Name With An S: Although "Leila" is the official English spelling of her name (which is also used on Crunchyroll's subs), there have been people who have referred to her as either "Reira" (based on the reading of her name in katakana), or "Layla". This page for a Japanese Lilpri magazine shows "Leila" as being how her name is officially written in English.
    • The first fansub group also misspelled Ryoku's name as "Ryouku" for some reason, and Crunchyroll once spelled Natsuki's last name as "Takahara".
  • Status Quo Is God: In episode 25, three "junior detectives" deduce that Ringo, Leila and Natsuki are in fact Lil' Pri (one of them even figures they use magic to transform, though he gets called out on it). Eventually however, their secret is safe thanks to a disguise used by the mapets while the girls (as Lil' Pri) make it to their concert.
  • Squee: This is lampshaded in episode 26 when the girls teach the queen of Fairy Land to do the pose. She even has her own version ("OHHHHH, KURISUUUUUUUUUU!!!", referring to Chris, who turns out to be the prince of Fairy Land and thus her son)
  • Temporal Theme Naming: Ringo's seven identical little brothers are named Getsu, Ka, Sui, Moku, Kin, Dou, and Nichi. Add youbi to each of those, and you've got the days of the week.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Sei's response to the girls making fun of Snow White in episode 6.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ringo loves apple pie (she even sings about it in the opening theme), her seven little brothers love fried egg (as revealed in episode 7), Leila loves pumpkin soup and Natsuki loves pudding. Also, it's revealed later on that Chris/Wish loves omelet rice, though it's a plot point unlike the other examples.
  • Transformation Sequence: Not very detailed for a Magical Girl series, with over two thirds of it being a Once an Episode music number.
  • True Companions: To the point where they never transform without each other.
  • Tsundere: Vivi, the cat-like ma-pet, as revealed in episode 28.
  • Verbal Tic: Dai ends his sentences with the oh-so-traditional "desu", while Sei ends his with "desu zo" and Vivi ends hers with "de chi". Also, each episode title ends with the princesses saying "pri".
  • Visual Pun:
    • Maybe unintentional in episode 11. When Atsui-sensei mentions that his bride is a very big woman, Sei, Dai and Ryoku imagine a fire-breathing Godzilla-esque Kaiju wearing a wedding veil, lipstick, and carrying a bouquet. In other words, a Bridezilla.
    • Episode 38: At one point, Mr. Santarou says the number 9 ("ku"), refers to Dai as a squirrel ("risu"), and holds up a box ("masu"), to form "kurisumasu" (the Japanese pronunciation of the word "Christmas").
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Episode 24, a Natsuki-centered episode, is one towards The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (otherwise known as Kaguya-hime, which is the "fairy tale princess" Natsuki represents).
  • Wonder Triplet Powers: While the girls could transform individually in the game, a "Secret Lilpri" segment in episode 37 reveals that the girls have to transform together or it won't work.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: The girls are said to be this after transforming by several magic mirrors.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: In episode fourteen, the Queen brings the girls to Fairyland, and it's not until late that night that they realize no one back home knows where they are. They're promptly told by their tour guide, a fairy named Roo, that when they get back it'll be the same time they left.

Alternative Title(s): Lilpri, Hime Chen Otogi Chikku Idol Lilpri