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Video Game / Wonder Momo

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Released by Namco in 1987 as an arcade title, Wonder Momo is a Beat 'em Up about fighting off baddies as Momo Kanda, a Henshin Hero spoof who fights with kicks when un-powered, and a special "wonder ring" when transformed. The first game was framed as the set of a hero stage show, where "Momo" was really an actress playing out the in-universe character's fictional exploits. It was Namco's final 8-bit arcade game, and was notorious at the time for its fanservice; a major gameplay mechanic involves cameramen in the audience trying to take pictures of Momo's panties. The game was eventually ported to PC Engine in 1989, followed by the Wii's Virtual Console in 2007, and the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch via Arcade Archives in 2022.

Momo's legacy was revived as a webcomic in 2012 for Namco's comic hub ShiftyLook. Fully titled Wonder Momo: Battle Idol, the comic is a comedy and action based series with ongoing story arcs. Rather than an actor, Momo instead is a struggling idol that gains Wonder Momo's powers by accident, meaning this time, she has to fight the monsters off for real. It's later revealed that this Momo is, in fact, the daughter of the original Momo.

In terms of crossovers, her only other video game appearances were as a playable character in Namco × Capcom and Queen's Blade: Spiral Chaos, followed by several years in limbo. Things weren't all bad for Momo after that — Bandai Namco and ShiftyLook briefly brought back the character in 2014 with an anime series based off of the webcomic continuity, consisting of five 7-minute ONA anime shorts by Graphinica streamed via Nico Nico Douga with a simulcast on Crunchyroll. In addition to this, a sequel game called Wonder Momo: Typhoon Booster was developed by WayForward Technologies that same year for Android, though it was taken off digital storefronts shortly after.

Tropes common across the whole series:

  • '80s Hair: Momo has huge, fluffy '80s bangs as part of her signature look. It carries over to when we see her in the webcomic, though not in the present day.
  • Badass Adorable: Wonder Momo is a cute young lady who can kick serious ass. Especially in her Bravoman cameo.
  • Casting Gag: Halko Momoi sang an official cover of the game's theme music, which was naturally called "Wonder Momo-i". She also voices the original Momo in the ONA and Spiral Chaos.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The comic to the Bravoman comic. Both involve normal humans being granted power by helpful (if goofy) aliens to battle evil.
  • Henshin Hero: Momo, Momoko, and Amazona change from regular girls to armored action heroes note .
  • Hour of Power: Momo's superpowered form only lasts a short while before she's changed back to normal. This is averted in Namco × Capcom and Spiral Chaos, where Momo is given the power to transform in real life for indefinite periods of time.
  • Mooks: The Modokis, humanoid goons in black tights with red facemasks.
  • Rings of Death: Momo's Wonder Ring (a glowing hula-hoop), which is also her weapon.
  • The Rival: Amazona is Momo's main rival and, in the game, is a powerful mini-boss that she has to contend with several times.
  • Show Within a Show: Momo isn't really a superheroine, but just an actress playing one in a stage show, as indicated by the curtains rising and falling after each level, and the levels being referred to as "volumes" broken up into "acts". In the webcomic, Momo's powers are real, but she coincidentally receives them during a stage show where she's playing a superheroine.

The original arcade and PC-Engine games provide examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The game's backstory and the names of every character apart from Momo are only told on arcade fliers and the PC-Engine manual.
  • Artwork and Game Graphics Segregation: Wonder Momo's boots are red in official artwork, but blue in her in-game sprite. All of her later appearances stick with red boots.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The only way to damage Mozuu is to hit his floating brain while dodging attacks from his robotic tank body.
  • BFG: Cannonporter carries around a bazooka as big as he is tall.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Mozuu, the leader of Warudemon, is a floating brain controlling a robotic tank.
  • Curtain Call: The ending, such as it is, has Momo and a few other characters come out to take a bow.
  • Damsel in Distress: The schoolgirl kidnapped by Warudemon in Volume 3. Amazona makes her first appearance disguised as her before attacking Momo. The girl herself is rescued at the end of the volume.
  • Degraded Boss: Crab Fencer, Junk Rock and Shamoan (the first three bosses of Vol. 1) and Acroball (the boss of Vol. 2-1) all make return appearances as Mid Bosses multiple times throughout the game.
  • Dual Boss: Crab Fencer, Junk Rock and Acroball, as part of their Degraded Boss shtick, are often fought in pairs. Cannon Potter, a boss from Vol. 2, makes one of his two return appearances alongside a twin as the boss of Vol. 4-2.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Warudemon's HQ, which is used as the setting for the final level.
  • Fanservice:
    • Wonder Momo was one of the first arcade games to have fanservice as an overt selling point, with Momo occasionally appearing in a towel between levels. It figures into gameplay as well: some photographers in the audience will try to get a peek at Momo's panties. If one succeeds, she gets temporarily stunned.
    • The PC-Engine port of the arcade game goes a bit further, with extra interstitial scenes showing Momo in a swimsuit, taking a bath, and so on.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If Momo takes one too many bumps from her fellow actors, she'll enter a sobbing fit, prompting the stage curtain to descend down and abruptly conclude the show in an awkward attempt to help Momo save face. The cutesy/fanservicey designs of Momo on the stage curtain only accentuate the awkwardness.
  • Kick Chick: When not transformed, Momo only attacks using (very) high kicks and split kicks. Transforming lets her toss a hula hoop around, but still has her primarily attack through kicks.
  • Male Gaze: In-universe. A game element used to stun the Momo is a photographer in the audience who tries to get a shot of her panties.
  • Mid-Boss: Amazona's two appearances in Vol. 3-3 and 4-2 have her show up in the middle of the act rather than the end.
  • Modesty Towel: Whenever the curtain falls, different illustrations are shown, one of which shows Momo reclining while wearing nothing but a towel.
  • Recurring Boss: Most of the bosses show up more than once, sometimes being degraded to standard enemies.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The whole game is one to Ultraman: Momo's time limit, the overall space theme, and energy weapons are all based on aspects of the series. Momo can also perform a Specium Ray to fight off enemies if she doesn't have her hoop on her.
    • The opening has Momo popping out of a ring and roaring Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer style.
  • Timed Power-Up: Momo can transform into her Henshin Hero form, Wonder Momo, when she builds up her "WONDER" bar and touches a tornado power-up. Being in this form gives her a Wonder Hoop projectile and other extra attacks in addition to her standard melee attacks, but slowly drains her "WONDER". When it runs out, she returns to her regular form. Since the whole game is a parody of toku, it serves as a reference to the timed transformations of heroes from Ultraman and similar series.
  • Video-Game Lives: One of the many inversions that popped up in the mid-late 1980s: Momo has a Life Meter (listed as "VITAL"), but if it runs out, the game ends.

The web comic provides examples of:

  • Action Mom: The original protagonist is the mother of the main character and was also able juggle being a mother and taking care of Momoko when she was young.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: As Robo-Momo begins to feel less and less appreciated, she becomes lonely, and decides to defect to the Waru to destroy the real Momoko and keep Natsuhiko all to herself.
  • Alien Among Us: Glieger, the original Momo's mentor/sidekick, has been living on Earth since the last Waru invasion. Momoko's sidekick Glooder probably counts, too.
  • Animesque: Omar Dogan's art looks like it wouldn't be out of place on a Japanese site. Naturally, the designs worked well enough to show up in an actual anime down the line.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The comic was in the middle of a storyline which saw Momo and her friends and family against the newly appointed Waru Princess who sends robot duplicates of Momo to attack them. However, Namco decided to close up ShiftyLook. So the story was hastily finished with the heroes managing to easily beat the bots and the Princess beating a hasty retreat. After which we get an epilogue from Momo about how un-normal her life is but she will continue the good fight. End comic.
  • Art Shift: When in flashback to the original Wonder Momo, the art (provided by guest artist Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz) more closely resembles the official art of the game.
  • The Bait: As the object of the rogue Robo-Momo's newfound affections, Natsuhiko is forced to be this.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The introduction of the Waru princess revealed that female Waru look like blue-skinned Earth women — very much unlike the seahorse-like male Waru.
  • Boyfriend-Blocking Dad: Gender-inverted. Momoko's mom is none to pleased when she learns that Natsuhiko has been investigating Wonder Momo, especially when he refers to her as "his angel". Given her own past experiences with photographers like him, it's understandable why she'd think he's a perverted stalker.
  • Camera Fiend: Natsuhiko. He often takes pictures when he should be running for dear life. This causes Team Momo no shortage of headaches.
  • Canon Immigrant: The "Momoko's best school chum" character Yumi was added for the anime to serve its significantly greater interest in Momoko's school life. She showed up in the comic shortly after the first episode of the show premiered. The comic ended shortly after her introduction, so she only just barely got in there.
  • Clark Kenting: Defied; when the original Wonder Momo appears, Momoko is immediately able to tell that it's her mom.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Wonder Momo and Amazona in their costumes. Mostly averted in their civilian clothes though.
    • Momoko/Wonder Momo: Red/Blue
    • Aki/Amazona: Black/Purple note 
    • The Robo-Momos that the Waru Princess sics on Momo's mom and friends also apply.
      • Cat Girl: The Pink Robo-Momo asks for "Date Time" with Momo's photographer boyfriend and gets lured into a car wash where the fake fur on her costume gets poofed up enough to immobilize her for a photo.
      • Blade Enthusiast: The Yellow Robo-Momo has this as her weapon and skill against Aki. Becoming her Amazona form, Aki then uses her own Laser Blade to gut the robot.
      • An Ice Person: The Light Blue Robo-Momo has ice power and cold-based dialogue against Glieger. He takes her apart with a drill tipped with a screwdriver bit, and puts her somewhat back together.
      • Playing with Fire: The Orange Robo-Momo has fire coming out her fingertips facing Momoko's mom. The robot then gets a fire extinguisher emptied against it, then smashed in the face with the extinguisher.
      • Glooder's Robo-Momo is Green but we don't get to see its power, just hinting she's more a hand-to-hand robot, before Yumi's spilling iced coffees on the robot causes it to short-circuit and explode.
  • Cut Short: The comic was in the middle of the Waru Princess arc when word come down from Namco they were ending the Shifty Look brand. So the writers had to hastily finish up the storyline.
  • Evil Costume Switch: From the incident on the Waru homeworld to the resolution of the Robo-Momo storyline, Momoko had a distinctly different "Dark Momo" costume due to absorbing the powers of both her mother and Akiho.
  • Fangirl: Akiho is a huge fan of the original Wonder Momo, who inspired her to take up the mantle of Amazona (whose power orb Akiho retrieved from the original during the stage play) and become a force for good.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Momoko and Aki, after working together to make the world love Wonder Momo again and recharge their power orbs. Once the orbs are recharged and they stop the Waru invasion, Aki and Momoko have the latter welcoming the former to "the big time" while the crowd at Momo-Palooza calls for an encore.
  • Generation Xerox: Aside from their age difference, present-day Momo and Momoko look nearly identical. However, '80s Momo looks much less like Momoko due to the Art Shift (Momo as a teen has the '80s Hair that Momoko does not).
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Turns out the power orbs are charged by love: the Waru's love for the original Wonder Momo and Earth's love for the successor. Too bad Robo-Momo going bad trashed Momo's reputation... until Momo-Palooza made enough to bring back Wonder Momo and Amazona for a public fight against the invading Waru.
  • Glory Hound: Akiho ends up with the film role of Wonder Momo, and seems intent on rubbing it in the real Momo's face! Doesn't work out when Robo-Momo makes Wonder Momo look like a villain... When the Robo-Momo trashes Wonder Momo's good name, the film winds up getting shelved, much to Amazona's annoyance.
  • The Hero's Journey: The plot of the webcomic. Wonder Momo even experiences a symbolic death twice in succession; first Robo-Momo ruins her reputation, then the attempt at splitting the power orb and returning Aki's powers results in the orb being discharged Momoko then experiences apotheosis during the Waru attack on Momo-palooza when she refuses to run away despite having no powers and, in the process learns what it means to be a hero. This act is what then causes the world to love Wonder Momo again, recharging her power orb allowing her to transform into Wonder Momo (and Aki into Amazona) again to defeat the Waru.
  • Legacy Character:
    • Momoko is given an upgraded version of the Wonder Momo power suit by an alien who mistook her for the original (despite being two decades younger). Turns out Momoko is the daughter of the original Wonder Momo.
    • Amazona is a variant: the original Amazona was Momo's nemesis. After their final battle, a young girl (and Momo fangirl) found Amazona's power orb and decided she could be a new, heroic Amazona.
  • Loony Fan: Akiho, a major fangirl of the original Wonder Momo. Her meeting Momoko was the result of thinking she was playing imposter.
  • Male Gaze: Natsuhiko gets an unintentional eyeful of Pink Robo-Momo's breasts when she pops out of nowhere in front of him.
  • Meaningful Name: In context, Momoko basically means "Momo's child/daughter".
  • Must Have Caffeine: Glooder tasks Yumi with getting some iced coffees which become how Yumi takes out the green Robo-Momo when she spills them over the robot, causing her to short circuit and explode.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The original game's premise of being a stage play within a game is referenced as the first actual invasion by the Warudemon forces happening during a high school stage play, something constantly lampshaded by the narrator.
    • The first thing Momoko does in the comic was audition for a part as an Ultraranger, paying a bit of tribute to the original Momo being a character for a ranger-like stage show.
    • Momoko's mom is wary of Natsuhiko's obsessive photography of her daughter, since in the original arcade game, leery photographers trying to take upskirt shots were a common hazard for her.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Momo going power mad was the result of Akiho rudely snatching Momo's phone away as she was trying to talk to her model manager and claiming "Momo quit". Needless to say Momo's anger wasn't without justification.
    • Turning off the power suit's restraining bolt brought very bad consequences.
    • Using a robot version of Momo seemed fine at first. Then it started developing feelings, and Momoko acting like a jerk towards it did not help matters.
    • Trying to split the orb to restore the powers of Amazona and the original Wonder Momo broke it, meaning NOBODY got any powers. It would take "Momo-Palooza" to bring enough love to make new orbs to restore Momoko and Akiho to their super-powered forms.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Glooder is an alien resembling a humanoid, shell-less turtle. He blends in with humans by wearing... a wig and a high school student's uniform. Glieger's been living on Earth for a lot longer and doesn't even go that far. It seems likely that the people around Momo know Glooder's an alien, but are polite enough to not say anything about it.
  • Redeeming Replacement: Akiho, a huge Wonder Momo fangirl, finds the power behind Momo's rival Amazona and decides to become her successor, while following in Momo's footsteps in fighting for the forces of good.
  • Restraining Bolt: Turns out the power orbs' time limit was intentional, as wearing the armor too long led to a loop of increased aggressiveness and an uptick in power.
  • Retraux Flashback: Flashbacks to the original Momo's heyday are done in the same '80s anime style as the original game's promotional art.
  • Shout-Out: When Momoko asks why her suit has a 4-minute time limit, Glooder states it was an upgrade from the 3-minute model.
  • Teen Idol: Akiho is a successful actress and model in her senior year of high school. Momoko's attempts to become one are met with failure prior to becoming Wonder Momo.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: After being fed some humble pie and being forced to work with Momoko, Akiho becomes a lot nicer and even becomes close friends with her former enemy.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Akiho refuses to talk about how she survived getting blown up on the Waru homeworld. Due to the comic's premature ending, we'll never know as well.
  • Written Sound Effect: Played with, some of the sound effects don't spell out a sound but rather describe what caused them.
  • World of Buxom: Every remotely mature female character is very well endowed. This includes the Robo-Momos and the Waru Princess.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: One comic almost references Superman, stopping short of anything copyright-infringing.