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Manga / Marvelous Melmo

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Marvelous Melmo is an early Magical Girl Manga and Anime created by Osamu Tezuka about a nine-year-old girl named Melmo, who must raise her two younger brothers after their mother Hiromi is killed in a car accident. To help with this, her mother briefly returns as a ghost and gives Melmo a bottle of magical candies: the blue candies will make her older, and the red ones will make her younger. The story follows Melmo as she attempts to take care of her brothers and navigate the confusing world of adults, despite still being mentally nine years old.

The manga ran from 1970 to 1972, and the anime, co-produced by Yoshinobu Nishizaki of Space Battleship Yamato fame, lasted 26 episodes in 1971-72 on the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) and produced by then affiliate station Asahi Broadcasting (ABC) in Osaka, Melmo was later aired in Italy in the 80's as well.

Being the first production of the then newly-established Tezuka Productions,note  it was the first magical girl anime to not be produced by Toei Animation.

The anime was later rerun in 1998 on WOWOW as Marvelous Melmo Renewal which redubbed the show a new voice cast, music, sound effects as well as new theme songs including a cover of the 1971 series' opening. It should be noted that Renewal is the version of the show that's currently in circulation.note 

This series provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch / Rich Bitch: Nitako, who comes complete with a Girl Posse and is appropriately cast as the wicked stepmother in the school's production of Snow White. Of course, she wants the titular role, and is determined to make Melmo suffer until she gets it, to the point of having her mother try to blackmail Melmo out of the role on the day of the performance by stealing Melmo's candies.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Melmo is often naked, but no genitlia are shown and the show flip flops on whether her adult form has nipples or not.
  • Battle of the Sexes: The plot of episode 5, "Beating the Boys". After the boys are punished for messing with the girls all day, they start a prank war with the girls, getting multiple innocent unnamed extras pranked in the process, eventually leading Melmo, who simply wants the prank war over, to report it to her teacher, but this only results in her getting ganged up on by some of the boys with dodgeballs. Ultimately this ends when Melmo intercepts a prank and turns it into a peace offering with her candies.
  • Christmas Episode: Episode 13 of the anime is this. The plot involves Melmo finding a baby abandoned in a train station. She and her friends help reunite the boy with his parents before they die in the mountains, and Melmo uses her aging candies (and a devil costume) to teach a lesson to a greedy executive (who shut down the father's division of the company).
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Jiro is able to fight off five boys at once, all of whom are much bigger than him.
  • Cool Big Sis: Naname, an anime exclusive character, to Melmo. Melmo's school has an older sibling/younger sibling system, so they are together a lot at school, with Melmo being in third grade and Naname being a sixth-grader. Naname buys her snacks and defends her from bullies.
  • Deal with the Devil: Melmo gives the mysterious man her bottle of candies in exchange for bringing her mother back to life. Unfortunately, it's not really her mother.
  • Disappeared Dad: Melmo's father is nowhere to be found, though her mother does mention he died, assumingly fairly recently, given her youngest child is a baby.
  • Education Mama: Komori's mom, to a seemingly willfully oblivious degree. She wants him to get into a good college, but makes him study far too advanced topics for a nine-year-old, including Chinese!
  • Edutainment Show: The show was set up to be a form of sexual education for young people, without being too graphic about it.
  • Evil Aunt: Melmo's aunt, a hideous woman simply known as 'Obaa-san.' In the first episode, she shows her unpleasantness by forcing Melmo and her brothers to call her mom, and by making them do countless chores not appropriate for their ages, one of the said brothers is a baby. Later on in episode 21, she and one of her goons kidnap Toto after he runs away and is so neglectful that he gets pneumonia, on top of leaving him (and her goon) to die in a fire.
  • Father, I Want to Marry My Brother: In the opening clip of episode two, a mother and daughter are talking about marriage, and daughter first says she wants to marry her father then her brother, with her mother patiently explaining why she can't do that.
  • Faked Rip Van Winkle: in the episode "3,650 Days of Terror," Memo and Professor Asparagus do this to two unsuspecting thieves, making them think they've been asleep for 10 years when in reality, it's only been an hour or so. This goes south fast when the larger thief believes his daughter died due to not receiving a life-saving surgery
  • Fountain of Youth: The red candy de-ages whoever eats them. In the first episode one character was reduced to a zygote.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Melmo makes friends with most that come her way, human or animal
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In episode 4, Melmo fends off a group of attack dogs by throwing de-aging candies into their mouths, all while in her birthday suit. (She had just de-transformed from an animal form and thus was without clothes.)
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Apparently when Melmo ages up, she looks exactly like her mother Hiromi and she has used this to her advantage.
    • Melmo's daughter eats a blue candy and briefly ages up to look exactly like Hiromi.
  • Groin Attack: A boy is about to attack Namame in episode 5, and she kicks him in the crotch, giving us a good shot of her legs.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Toto still wears a red coat and sometimes a hat when he gets stuck in frog form.
  • Happily Adopted: In the final episode, Jiro's parents offer to take Memo and her brothers in.
  • Hidden Depths: Melmo can play the flute very well for a nine-year-old.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Melmo is improbably good at throwing candies into the mouths of people and animals alike, even if they're a good distance away and/or trying to attack her.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Melmo finds very inventive ways of using her candies to defend herself, usually by tossing them into people's or animals' mouths or by dissolving them in water and then splashing the water on a relevant plant or animal.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Melmo sometimes ends up in this situation and rarely shows a sign of shame.
  • Limited Animation: As expected of an anime from the early 70's, that said there's some fluidity in the movements, but it's still mostly limited animation.
  • Magical Girl: An early example.
  • Magic Skirt: Melmo had this in the manga, the outfit she needed would magically appear on her, but in the anime, she does not.
  • Missing Mom: Melmo's mom, Hiromi is hit by a car and dies in the first episode.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: In the Christmas Episode, Memo tries to turn into a dog, but makes a mistake and ends up becoming a kitten with the lower half of a puppy. This form is sufficient for her purposes, however, and she assumes it again later in the episode.
  • Obviously Evil: The man in episode 8 who offers to resurrect Melmo's mother has blue skin, pointy ears, angry eyebrows, a thin mustache, and dresses all in black.
  • Official Couple: Melmo and Jiro, to drive this home even further, they're married in the final episode.
  • Older Alter Ego: The blue candy ages Melmo into a 19-year-old version of herself.
  • Overnight Age-Up: Anyone who eats Melmo's blue candies grows older.
  • Power-Up Food: The blue and red candies.
  • Precocious Crush: Melmo gets a crush on the resident Hot Teacher in episode 19, and is utterly crushed when she finds out he's engaged.
  • Promotion to Parent: At age nine, Melmo must take care of her two little siblings.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Melmo's spiky-haired butt-kicking motorcycle-riding boyfriend, Jiro, is usually seen wearing a bright pink shirt.
  • Reincarnation: In the final episode Melmo, now a married woman, witnesses her daughter eat the last of the candies growing into a carbon copy of Melmo's mother, who is able to briefly take control of the body to have one final moment with her daughter.
  • Replacement Goldfish: In one episode, a mysterious man seems to bring Melmo's mother back from the dead. "Mom" turns out to be a doll implanted with a snake's soul. But then the snake-doll actually develops motherly feelings towards the children and ultimately commits suicide by immolation to keep them warm.
  • Sexophone: Adult Melmo's serviceman scenes are accompanied by a sexy saxophone leitmotif.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock:
    • As soon as Melmo discovers the shapeshifting powers of the candies, her younger brother Toto shapeshifts himself into a small frog. Too bad he's then unable, for almost half of the series, to eat the required candies (that now are bigger than his mouth and stomach).
    • When Melmo starts abusing the power of the candies by using them for selfish reasons, the angels responsible for empowering them withhold their blessing. Too bad Melmo had just transformed herself into a dog. After refusing to change her back for a whole episode, eventually the angels settle for giving Melmo her powers back, but with a finite number of candies (before, they used to renew themselves in the jar).
  • Shapeshifting: Early in the series, Melmo discovers that, by consuming both types of candies at once and thinking to a certain animal, she could de-age herself to embryonic stage and re-age as the animal she was thinking to, as, according to the evolutionary theory, a human embryo is genetically connected to every other lifeform. That's not exactly how science works, but for Melmo is close enough.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Melmo's candy do not affect clothing. When she turns into her Older Alter Ego, her clothes remain their original small size, and when she becomes a baby or shapeshifts into an animal, her clothes become huge on her.