Here's an anime that was very successful in Japan but whose success could not be repeated upon its release in North America. Is it because of the quality of the anime itself? It's not the case here at all as what we have is a solid anime with some charming attributes.
I think its lack of success in America resides in the fact that when it was brought over, a certain show named Sailor Moon was still immensely popular and regarded as THE only magical girl people were taking notice to. As such this and some other shows (including Wedding Peach) were not nearly as popular as they might have been.
Let's start with the animation of this little series. This is one of the best aspects of the show. Aesthetic wise, it looks something like a refined predecessor of Cardcaptor Sakura. This means the art is crisp and detailed. The series overall is very well animated and the character design is beautiful.
This is also one of the most consistent titles I have seen as the show very rarely drops in animation quality. The repeated footage is thankfully never that frequent as it would take away from the show, and the transformation/attack scenes are never long enough to get on your nerves.
The sound is something of a mix bag at first. For the first few episodes I felt like the only piece I liked in the show was the excellent outtro. As I kept watching though, I realised that the intro was also growing on me and that the background music was used very well for the corresponding scenes.
Emotions are conveyed very successfully when need be and the sound overall is very good at switching gears (emotion wise) when required. The "It's ShowTime" music is also excellent and really feels like a magician's symphony.
The story is interesting overall. In a broad way it is basically a magical girl Robin Hood. This is because Saint Tail only steals from bad guys and returns said stuff to the good guys who have been manipulated/blackmailed/stolen from. The ones in trouble go and confess what happened to a nun (Seira) and she in turn tell Saint Tail what has happened and then "It's Show Time!"
Following this concept for most of the series dragged the overall effect of the series a little bit. However the secondary cast was interesting, and so were the backstories... That made this one quirk bearable but also necessary as it structures the anime successfully. The story really picks up towards the end when it loses its episodic nature and moves into a storyline that involves about 6 episodes to its conclusion.
The characters in this are the show's strength as they are interesting enough to keep you entertained one episode after the next. Their respective storylines are never overplayed for emphasis and overall are successful.
The most successful characters were Meimi and Asuka Jr as their storyline was the most interesting and dealt with very appropriately for their age. Secondary characters were used wisely in this as they very rarely are overused but rather are there to move the story along.
This series has very good value for me as it is something I would not mind watching again but would rather enjoy it. If just for the detailed artwork or the fun story, it works very successfully to be in one's anime collection. It is also the only Magical Girl show I have seen where the lead does not use magical powers. Rather what Saint Tail uses are magic tricks. Her dad being a magician, she learns his tricks and uses them on her missions. And her transformation is actually just getting changed when you think about it since she does not get extra power from it.
As a recommendation, I think this series has a very broad appeal that does not just lie with the Magical Girl genre. Aspects of it reminded me a lot of Cat's Eye (the thiefing theme, calling cards) and City Hunter (the episodic nature, dealing with one "customer" each episode). If you are a fan of either of these two titles and don't mind a bit of a magical girl spin on them, then give this a try.</div>