Reviewby Amanda Hahn
Hime-chan no Ribbon
In the first episode, "I became a witch", our heroine, Nonohara Himeko, is surprised one day by a girl riding a talking broom who looks just like her. This girl on the talking broom is none other than Erika, Princess of the Magical World, who gives a ribbon to Himeko (hence the title) that allows Himeko to transform temporarily into any person on earth. As with any time a magical item is given to a mere mortal, difficulties arise...being able to turn into someone else doesn't solve problems (as Himeko hopes) - it only creates more!
The next three episodes - "Shock! Hasekura-senpai's Confession", "Turning into Senpai", and "Turning into the Principal" - introduce the main set of characters and sets the plot well into motion. The real focus of the show isn't Himeko's ribbon, it's the relationships between Himeko and the other characters around her - Himeko transforms according to what her interactions with other characters have been. There's no one threatening Earth, no evil monsters that rush onto screen trying to suck energy from people. This story is almost entirely about character interaction.
The main characters of the show and Hime's screwing things up while trying to do good is what makes this series great - unlike other magical girl shows. So far, there's no villain trying to take over the world or any such thing, which makes the series much more believable. Although Pokota, Himeko's stuffed animal that comes to life when she wears the ribbon, is the typical semi-arrogant sidekick, the rest of Hime-Chan's Ribbon has lots of character development (always a good thing) even within the first four episodes. Kobayashi Daichi, the class clown, is simply hilarious.
The opening song and ending songs, Egao no GENKI ("The Liveliness of a Smiling Face") and Burabura Sasete ("Make Me Swing"; both performed by SMAP), give a really odd start and end to the anime because SMAP is a group of guys! It's unusual for shoujo anime to have an OP and ED performed by guys, and it took me completely by surprise. Both songs, however, are great - you might find yourself singing along after the first verse or so.
Seiyuu-wise, Ohtani Ikue, best known for that creature we love to hate, Pikachu from Pocket Monster, voices both Himeko and Erika. Himeko doesn't have the typical squeaky anime girl voice, further adding to her tomboy status - she doesn't squeal when she gets mad, either, something that often annoys me with typical seiyuu portrayals of girls that age. Ikura Kazue who had roles in Outlaw Star, Magical Emi, and Orphen voices Pokota. Shiratori Yuri voices Himeko's sister Aiko, who was Nagisa in Iczer, Mokona/Primera in Magic Knight Rayearth, and Cherry in Saber Marionette.
Even in my third generation or so sub, the animation comes across clear and sharp. The main colors used are very earthy tones - red, yellow, brown - and show what anime looked like when it was in transition from the style of the 80's (huge round eyes for girls) to the 90's style (anything goes). Hime ran in 1992-3.
The fansub job I have is great - Tomodachi does a great job before each episode explaining Japanese culture references and honorifics for those of us that might not know already. One of the biggest problems with fansubs, horrible spelling and grammar, is fortunately absent.
Hime-chan no Ribbon is a tragic example of an anime that, despite being highly popular as a fansub and having great potential for the US market, has never been picked up by an American distributor. However, with the past year's influx of shoujo, I wouldn't be surprised if it does head for US shores. It certainly gave me a great first impression - I want more!
Overall (sub) : B+
+ Interesting characters and deviates from the typical "save the world" magical girl mentality
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