After suffering through a recent deluge of epically engrossing shows, I was looking for a quick anime fix. Having seen several amusing AMVs related to a short series known as Bottle Fairy, I knew I'd found what I was looking for. However, with adorable characterisation that quickly became a vomit-inducing bowl of sugar-coated aspartame, Bottle Fairy's short length was ultimately a god send. In this case, the AMV creators clearly had far more creativity than a professional production studio.
While the story follows the quirky daily adventures of four bottle-occupying fairies, the girls' naivety soon wears thin as sweet innocence turns into borderline stupidity. The pixie quadruplets add their own spin to Christmas, Golden day and New Year celebrations as they interpret many human, and more specifically Japanese, cultural events. I learned a great deal about festivals and customs, and although it becomes obvious that Bottle Fairy's target audience is pre-teens, there is still much a non-nippon native can glean. As an older viewer, I found the childish jokes to unfortunately be hit and miss; while I sometimes cracked a smile, the puerile shenanigans and trite one-lilners mostly caused me to frown in disbelief or gaze with a blank expression.
Bottle Fairy's writers had every intention for viewers to fall in love with their adorable and innocent creations, but any self-respecting pervert will instead see them as a lolicon's dream. In particular, the July swimsuit episode screams more of fan-service and less of cherubic purity. Numerous costume changes are quite often the focus of a pretend plot-line, adding to the paper-thin story. Every episode consists of a rinse and repeat visit from the farie's neighbour, Tama-chan, who sets the dense girls into a spin as they attempt to understand her lacking explanations. To top it off, the ending feels far too sudden; although the final episode holds a glimmer of promise that would benefit from a second season, the banality of the preceding twelve-episodes make me question my own conjecture. Perhaps it's because I’ve indulged in too much cuteness recently - the exceptional Shugo Chara Doki topping the bill - but Bottle Fairy proved one of the weakest moe comedies I have seen since Paniponi Dash!. Cuteness and silliness without substance does not a good anime maketh.
Clean lines, bright colours and a simplistic artistic approach suit the overall tone of the series. The diversity of the mystical girls culminates in four identical faces framed with different hair and blotches of eye colour. Although simple and inoffensive, the artists take no risks with the artwork; routinely recycling the backgrounds, very little variation is furnished on the visual lives of the fairies. Instead, the show focuses on the chibi mannequins parading round in charming cosplay-type outfits.
In a heroic attempt to sample more animation with a dubbed cast, I plunged into the deep-end to embark on what can only be likened to a painful crawl through a bed of nettles. For some reason, the Japanese language and seiyuu always seem well suited to the high-pitched kawaii-ness of young girls - if only this were true for the English voice actors. Instead, the sub-standard vocal performance heightens the shrieky shrillness of the fairy four and makes me question how these people make a living out of a career in dubbing.
Chock-full of intelligent lyrics such as “Lan, lan, lan, la, la, la” sung by Chipmunk wanna-be’s, the opening track is going to appeal to only those with hearing impairments. For people with more reasonable musical tastes, be prepared to skip the first one minute and ten seconds of every episode. However, the lyrics should be read at least once to get the background to the bizarre story. The closing track is bearable, consisting of crooning romantic lullabies that help obliterate the aural rape that came before.
Bottle Fairy, as a story written for younger viewers, moves the focus away from character development and instead becomes a competition to discover which charismatic sprite you prefer. The fab four each have their own distinctive personalities designed to make the viewer favour one of the group. I found the militant Sarara the most affable, with her determination and drive often causing trouble for the innocent additional trio of sprites. Although, this was not a difficult choice when faced with the backward Hororo, bossy Kururu and overly emotional Chiriri. The idiosyncracies of each fairy complement the others perfectly and the teeny troupe would be engaging, if not for the fact that they irritate the hell out of you. To make matters worse, the girls’ human companion, Sensei-sama, serves no real purpose in the show. His two-dimensional character could be easily replaced by a non-speaking cardboard cut-out and nothing would be lost.
For a show aimed at a juvenile crowd, Bottle Fairy lacks action/romance/comedy/plot-line to appeal to most anime fans. That said, there is a certain innocuous charm in a show that will teach the viewer much about Japan. If there was a little less immature comedy and a little more character development, this could have been an excellent gag-filled apprenticeship in culture. Instead, frivolity takes the lead, both obscuring the dainty leading ladies and making Bottle Fairy as a whole an annoying chore to watch, rather than a pleasurable pastime.
Kururu, Chiriri, Sarara, and Hororo are four faries who aspire to become human. To do this, they leave the fairy world to study for a year in our world. Aided by their friends Sensei-san and Tama, they have fun learning about topics ranging from school graduation ceremonies and sports festivals to romance and caring for flowers. But as the end of the year of study approaches, will they have learned enough to realize their dreams?
As a not-so-closet perv, I love watching anything involving panty-shots, handfuls of cleavage and an innuendo fuelled plot. Although most of my reviews will err on the risque, I also love the obscure, the twisted and things that make you think - drop me a line if you want to discuss any of them!