Shugo Chara!

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therik's avatar By on Jun 27, 2009

Story

I have absolutely no business liking Shugo Chara!. The series is aimed primarily at an audience with approximately half my age and precisely double my X-chromosomes, and at no point does it betray its target market by veering wildly off the well-trodden mahou shoujo path. As such, the fact that the show found a place deep with in my heart - somewhere between ice-cold beer and mid-week football - is the result of either luck or utter, blinding awesomeness. And I don't believe in luck.

It would serve this review well to point out that the series' allure is not down to it resonating with the mature sections of my cranium or gratifying the unabashedly masculine reaches of my brain. Instead, Shugo Chara! makes a simple but irresistible appeal to my inner child, who is only too happy to leap out at the first mention of the show, and greedily guzzle down its contents like they were vanilla milkshake. There's nothing clever or considered about the plot, the characters or the humour and yet this anime makes me gasp, smile and chuckle just as much as any other you could care to mention.

It may seem an odd thing to highlight, particularly for what is essentially a textbook mahou shoujo romp, but Shugo Chara!'s ability to present action scenes is worthy of praise. Although there are no enormous robots or fancy martial arts moves to be found in the traditional "transform and battle" sequences, the series borrows from the library of shounen tropes in order to augment its combat. As well as a powerful sense of timing, Shugo Chara! has a habit of establishing unspoken rules on how battles will proceed and what capabilities the characters have before breaking said rules with such panache and glee that the only natural reaction is a dropped jaw, clenched fist, and silent mouthing of the word "awesome".

But the fighting is not even Shugo Chara!'s strongest point. Perhaps what makes the show so endearing is the irresistible and irremovable feelgood atmosphere which pervades its every nook and cranny. Of course the anime is every bit as cute and lively as you would expect but it also has an unerring ability to deliver some fantastic moments of emotion. The series is, after all, about attaining one's dreams, and - while avoiding the saccharine sweetness which could have easily consumed it - Shugo Chara! offers many heartwarming moments, which more often than not form a hugely satisfying conclusion to the episode.

Equally ubiquitous is the humour, which tends to make the show an absolute blast to watch. Although many of the jokes are repetitive, there is enough genuine wit on display to ensure at least one honest chuckle per episode. Surprisingly for a show that isn't primarily a comedy, Shugo Chara! has a habit of springing jokes at the most unexpected times, including during serious story moments and intense fights. Unwelcome though this comic intrusion may seem, more often than not it serves as a reminder that this show's primary aim is simple, commendable, and can be summed up just three words: to have fun. There is drama and there is action, but the anime's often rambunctious energy is spent wisely, and it never loses sight of this goal.


Animation

The animation is nothing you won't have seen many times before, but to call it competent would be an understatement. Movement is sleek, details are respected and the character transformation scenes are as delightful as you could expect. The show also makes use of quirky but amusing facial faults to support and enhance much of the humour.

Where Shugo Chara! truly shines however, is its bewitching sense of style. The character designs are absolutely exceptional and strong enough to draw attention to the anime by themselves. Equally, the costumes are verging on perfect. Every character dresses in a believable but eye-catchingly stylish way, in particular the heroine, Amu Hinamori, whose razor-sharp punk-goth fashion sense supplements her character marvellously. Needless to say, the outfits which she transforms into are similarly well-designed, even if the frilly green tulip dress of Amulet Clover doesn't suit her quite so well as the other costumes.


Sound

The anime may not present the most significant acting challenge imaginable, but this shouldn't detract from the fact that all characters are voiced with skill and dynamism. Of note is Yuichi Nakamura's performance as Ikuto Tsukiyomi, with his smooth, casual tones fitting the enigmatic bishounen to a tee. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that - with this being a shoujo series full of floating fairy-type characters - there are some voices which will grate or possibly even annoy. Precisely how many will depend on individual tolerance levels, but even the most venomously anti-kawaii anime fan should be able to put up with these as just a minor irritant.

When it comes to OPs and EDs, Shugo Chara! is nothing if not consistent, with each of the tracks being the work of j-pop outfit Buono!. The fact that I enjoyed all six and still feel a burning urge to dance to them on occasion should be taken with a pinch of salt, as my taste in music is not to be trusted. More objectively, however, the tunes fit the mood of the show like a glove, matching its liveliness and pep with sugary sweet cute pop and a couple of slightly edgier tracks which make good use of the electric guitar. The background music is just as appropriate, and contains a couple of pleasant numbers which help to deliver the series' more heartwarming moments. In addition, there are a few insert songs (as one of the characters is a professional singer) which are worth listening to in their own right and make for a seamless, believable addition to the show's world.


Characters

Because each of the principle characters has at least one "shugo chara" floating around them at all times, it's unfortunate but unsurprising that some members of the cast lack development or complexity. Around half of the shugo charas are entirely one-dimensional, and most of their lines can be accurately predicted some ten minutes in advance. Although this proves frustrating on occasion, they represent but small blemishes on an otherwise colourful and interesting cast.

In addition to her fantastic dress sense, Amu boasts a great personality, which makes her fun to watch and enjoyable to empathise with. On the outside she's "cool and spicy": indifferent, independent and widely respected. On the inside, she's excitable, frequently lovestruck and everything else a magical girl should be. Rather than making her seem schizophrenic, this dichotomy paves the way for humourous and intriguing interactions while also turning her into a compelling and sympathetic figure. However, when it comes to personality traits, even Amu takes a backseat to the smouldering Ikuto, whose sexual magnetism borders on the overwhelming, filling scene after scene with shivering emotional intensity. Although the show never really takes a turn for the mature, Ikuto embodies male sensuality and - almost inevitably - engages in a scene of what can only be described as "metaphorical intercourse". His appearance and demeanour may be hard to look past, but beyond that lies a personality brimming with mystery and intrigue, further adding to his appeal.

The remainder of the protagonists are, almost without exception, pleasant to be around and fun characters in their own right. From Amu's family - comprising an attention-hogging baby sister and hilariously indulgent parents - to her allies - who each have a distinct and colourful personality - there's always room for great interactions and fulfilling developments.


Overall

A fellow reviewer claims that Shugo Chara! is like a CardCaptor Sakura for the new millennium. She has a point, of course, but to me it's a little bit more like CardCaptor Sakura's older sister. It offers edge, pizazz and acute style. It's cool, sharp, and clearly trying to be mature. But at the same time, it's every bit as cute, endearing and cheerful as its hypothetical younger sibling and it doesn't want the world to forget that just yet. If you enjoy mahou shoujo, Shugo Chara! is a must see. If you're considering giving the genre a try, this title may well ease you in. Above all, however, this is a fun and refreshing series, and I personally found it a blast to watch. I hope you do as well.

8.5/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
hotspot's avatar By on Jun 26, 2013

I thought this anime would be interesting, so I gave it a shot. I actually haven't seen this anime for like two years, so I don't remember all of the things I didn't like about this anime, so this will be a short review. But I know I tried to like this anime, but I just couldn't. I found this anime to be so incredibly boring, and believe me I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. 

I was actually in awe that so many people liked it, because I just don't understand how. I just don't get the hype, I found it really boring and un-interesting.

5/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
6/10 characters
3/10 overall
DuskFey's avatar By on Feb 16, 2012

Anime in 200 Words: Shugo Chara!
   
Premise: Amu is a young girl who has trouble expressing herself and is widely admired for her stoic and aloof demeanor. Inside her heart, however, live several dream selves, and when they physically manifest, the adventure begins!
   
Guardian Characters: These floating chibis are possible selves, and they embody their owner’s desired traits. It’s odd that Amu has four.
   
Character Change: Several characters can chara change, which causes an accessory to appear and grants them their guardian character’s personality. Useful for small problems (shyness, cleaning, sports, etc.) The person and their character are still distinct beings.
   
Character Transformation: Amu is unique because she can use this ability to merge with her shugo charas and gain new attacks. For example, when she’s transformed into Amulet Heart, Amu and Ran are one being, and Amu can use the “Spiral Heart” attack.
   
Romance: There’s a little love triangle with Amu, Ikuto, and Tadase. I ship Amuto- it’s meant to be (lock + key).
   
Overall: Shugo Chara! is a refreshing magical girl anime. Things are more complicated, the art is sleek and bright, and the message is “believe in yourself” not “teamwork/love will save the world!” I loved it. ^_^

9.5/10 story
9/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
Kuroikarasu's avatar By on Jan 25, 2012

This anime was great! It's good for all ages. This is the right anime for people who like comedy school life and slight romance. It has a good storyline and such a good plot twist. I suggest you should watch.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
FreddyCrab's avatar By on Oct 29, 2011

Story: As far as Mahou-Shoujo goes, this could have been the top of the top. Don't get me wrong, is IS good, but it was too overwrought with fillers for me to call it as one of the best. Amu, a girl labelled as something she is not, comes across 3 eggs in her bedroom and ends up with them hatching to reveal small little people known as Shugo Chara's. Usin their power, she transforms into various superheroes and fights Easter, a corporation out to capture Shugo Chara's. When I first came across this it sounded very good, albeit long. For me Mahou-Shoujo's tend to get too long at the 40-episodes mark, and more than that and the fillers come in and wreck everything, but I was pleasantly suprised at how much I liked this, even with the endless fillers.

Animation: THIS is what irritates me with Shugo Chara- because its the exact same problem that my fellow other Mahou-Shoujo favourite- Tokyo Mew Mew, falls down with. Animation. Like Tokyo Mew Mew, at times the animation was very good and beautiful to look at, whereas other times it was awful. The designs could go from majestic to sloppy in 3 seconds flat, completely changing the look of the characters and making me feel like I may as well just draw them myself >.<

Sound: An array of openings and endings are used in Shugo Chara, and I liked every single one of them. They all had a good rhythm what suited the show and the music in the actual show was good also, if a little repetitive.

Characters: Of course the one thing that makes this show this popular is the female-fan base, all mostly dedicated to supporting either Ikuto or Tadase in the Amuto/Tadamu love triangle. However, to my dissapointment no actual romance actually happens much in season 1. (Its not till Shugo Chara Doki! that these love traiangles start moving, and a LOT too!) The other characters are also very good, and you could say that the characters are the saving grace of this anime. Half-way through the series half of the main cast changes, this may be a turn-off for some viewers, but I found that by that time I was glad of the new characters, as they just managed to stop the series from turning stale. And anyway, watching the new (as well as old) characters develop is a enjoyable experience. Because thats one thing Shugo Chara is great at- character development, especially as its for younger viewers who usually don't give a flying fladoodle about who the hell any of the characters are- the fact that their there is all that matters!

Overall: This is a good Mahou-Shoujo thats well worth watching, I've even heard guys say they really enjoyed watching it! The only flaw is that its full of repetitive fillers, but ignoring that, its a lovely, heartwarming show for people who, I would think, are of all ages! :D

8/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall