As a person grows up, there are going to countless questions, issues and feelings that need to be face with and possibly accepted. The message in Shugo Chara is that change is possible with a lot of heart and courage. Amu Hinamori is a girl that is admired for appearing to be a cool badass. Internally she certainly doesn't feel that way.
One morning she discovers three eggs on her bed. Apparently these are eggs that her heart magically formed. These are Guardian Characters, reflections of a possible future Amu. With these guardians, Amu is elevated at her school to being the Guardian Joker of a special council. With this council and new friends, she discovers a world where protecting other childrenís eggs is important in the face of an evil corporation.
Other than the anime that is available on Crunchy Roll. There are 12 volumes of manga for this series, and a follow up series title known as Shugo Chara Chan. This is a title definitely meant to add a variety in the much loved magical girl genre. Peach Pitt is a mangaka team of two female artists. This is not their first work in the United States. Zombie Loan, Rozen Maiden, Dear S is other works that they have completed that have seen English translations or licensing into anime.
If you enjoyed reading Shugo Chara, Sailor Moon in terms of a heroine finding out the strength in herself and her friends to grow up, or S.A. for the "special" privilege group that is admired by the rest of the student body.
Reviewed by Linda Yau, September 2012
From genre staples like Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura to newer hits like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the magical girl genre runs on the idea of using magic as a metaphor for growing up. This is equally true in Shugo Chara!, one of the most popular magical girl anime of recent years, but there's a difference: rather than hinting at the fact that all of these flashy special attacks and powers are symbols for attaining maturity, Shugo Chara! makes it blatantly obvious. Heroine Amu Hinamori uses the potential power of the person she'll grow into to combat evil, and she fights to protect the sanctity of children's dreams for the future. It's a little more complicated than that in practice, but let's just say the series doesn't exactly trade in subtlety.
That said, Shugo Chara! is a very enjoyable show, fusing ideas from its genre predecessors with a charm all its own. While it's primarily for children, it manages to subvert the typical monster-of-the-week format often enough to keep things interesting for at least some adult viewers, and it's characters are usually strong enough to keep viewers engaged throughout some of the more clichÈ plots.
Amu herself is a great protagonist, unusually layered and complicated. While she's actually quite shy, her lack of confidence manifests in a detached attitude that her classmates mistake for confidence. Combined with the punk-rock style clothes her mother buys for her, Amu's attitude has given her a tough, bad-girl reputation, and rumors, of course, have a habit of spreading. At the beginning of the series, even though Amu would like people to know that she's actually a nice girl, she can't help but play into the idea that she's actually the cool gunslinger of anime schoolgirls.
Tired of feeling too shy to express her true nature, one night Amu wishes to become stronger, and summons the presence of three magical eggs. These "Eggs of the Heart" hatch into three Guardian Characters that represent the kind of people Amu would like to grow into. Ran, her first guardian, is cheerful and athletic; Miki, the second is intelligent and artistic, while the adorable Su is girly and domestic.
On the egg theme, Amu ends up possessing a Humpty Lock (corresponding to a Dumpty Key, but of course), and fights against an evil corporation called Easter that's searching relentlessly for a magical egg called the Embryo; saying that the series went a little nuts with egg terminology would be an understatement. Overall it works with the themes of the series, but the constant egg references can be a source of unintentional humor for English-speaking viewers. We know we laughed a little when the villains kept saying "Easter" as though the term were imbued with incredible malice.
Of course, Amu isn't the only one with Guardian Characters. It's not long before she finds out that the members of the student council each have their own "Shugo Chara," as well as some of Easter's minions. Unlike most "character bearers" however, Amu is imbued with the ability to merge with one of her characters, transforming into a magical girl with the appropriate powers for each of her three forms. She quickly joins the council and uses her new powers to cleanse X-characters, Guardian Characters who have been perverted by pessimism due to Easter's dastardly agents, back to their original forms.
The Guardian Characters themselves are a lot of fun. In addition to being about as adorable as miniature anime characters get, they have personalities often above and beyond that of their human owners. We especially liked Yoru, one of the "evil" (hint: not really) Guardian Characters with a catlike appearance, who bribes the neighborhood cats to do his bidding with the aid of catnip.
When Amu Character Transforms and uses her magic attack- both provided by frequently recycled stock animations- the series can start to feel like a slightly dull villain-of-the-week affair. However, the plot does take some unexpected twists, and sometimes it's fun watching Amu cleanse an X-Character just to see how adorable their true form turns out to be.
There's even a fair amount of romance, which can sometimes feel a little odd due to Amu's young age. Ikuto, a mysterious teen who can't seem to decide if he's Amu's friend or foe, was clearly designed with the looks to appeal to tween girls; however, when the story starts, Amu is in fifth grade (and looks it), while Ikuto is several years older. Whether or not the relationship between the two ever crosses into inappropriate territory is a matter of personal opinion, but be warned: there is definitely some flirting going on there.
With adorable mascots and more than a hint of an old-school gothic romance, the show may be like catnip for young girls, but is Shugo Chara! one for the ages? Hard to say; adults who already like magical girl shows will likely be charmed, but this may not be the show to convert a non-believer. There's a fair amount of filler, and the message about holding on to your dreams- very important for children- may just be flat out annoying to some older viewers. Still, while it's not for everyone, those who do enjoy it are likely to find it highly addictive.
Maybe we should be too old for this show, but when we found ourselves wondering what our very own Shugo Chara might look like, we just went with it. As Amu might say, hey, you got a problem with that?
Shugo Chara! is currently available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Reviewed by Karen Gellender, March 2012
Below: Scenes from Shugo Chara!.