Fancy Lala

Alt title: Mahou no Stage Fancy Lala

TV (26 eps)
3.423 out of 5 from 634 votes
Rank #7,508

Miho Shinohara is a typical 9-year-old who is fascinated with showbiz and dreams of stardom. One day she meets a stranger who gives her 2 dolls, who later reveal themselves as magical dinosaurs named Pigu and Megu! They give her the special ability to draw clothing on a special drawing pad and turn it into reality, as well as transform her body into a teenager’s. One day, by chance, she is spotted by the president of a talent agency, Lyrical Productions. She lands her first job as a model, hence taking her first step into showbiz; but the road to stardom is still long and challenging. Can she, disguised as Lala, become an idol?

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This series easily ranks among the most surprising anime experiences I've had. I got into it thinking I would get the same fluffy fun that made Wedding Peach and Saint Tail huge hits in my books, what I got was so much more than that. Fancy Lala is fun and quite fluffy at times but it is balanced out impressively well with more mature themes such as longing, loss, growth, time and family. It actually didn't hit me until the very end, once I could picture the series as a whole in my mind I could see how well executed it was! The animation for this series is very good for the most part. There are times where unevenness occurs; however as it is quite rare it looks good and professionally made overall. The character design is simple and appealing, the backgrounds do get repeated but the bright colours and the quality of the drawings do not make it a drag. Thankfully, other than a few background getting repeated here and there this series relies on new footage. There are transformation sequences but as this is not a "monster of the week" series, they are few and far between. The sound is easily the most enjoyable part of the series. Miho/Lala's voice actress pretty much sings all the main vocal tracks and she does it amazingly well. It feels like a Pop Idol competition (appropriate here) where the singers actually GET INTO what they are singing about. Some of the other voice actors also get a chance to shine with original tunes that suit their voice like a glove. Miho/Lala's voice actress was 14 at the time of recording the series and she brings that childish yet completely infectious tone to every song and every line she delivers. She is easily the standout performer here but the support given is almost just as good. The story has an interesting premise as it is not about chasing demons. Rather, Miho uses her powers to live out her dream of becoming an idol(Lala). We insightfully get to see what the team behind a star go through to help their client make it to the top. This really gets the series going and makes for one of the most interesting ideas to happen to Mahou Shoujo in a long time (I've heard of the show's similarities with Creamy Mami but having not seen the latter, I can't really draw comparisons.) The pace of the story does slow down towards the middle though as a more human approach is taken to develop Miho's relationships and the kinks of her double life. When I first saw the show I thought it was a bit of a shame that they took that approach. But as the last episodes hit me, I could understand what they were building to and how appropriate and how well-executed the story was. This anime has one of the most heartfelt and subtle endings I have seen in a long long time (Think Haibane Renmei). I was not expecting it to end the way it did at all, and it was all the better for it. A truly original and satifying ending that many series fail to deliver is given here. I could go on for days about the great characters. This is because they ARE the driving force behind the show. Everyone of them is explored really well in the timeframe and they come out as coherent human being, not carboard cutout. Miho is obviously the stand out, she never appears inappropriate a character for her age and, her flaws and wishes just play with her childishness and responsibilities satisfyingly. The secondary cast is also excellent as their problems never feel out of place or contrived. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and I am dying to see it again. This is a real gem in my collection. I would recommend it to anyone who is mahou shoujo inclined. Ones who aren't fans of the genre will find something to their liking here as there is no "monster of the week" premise that plagues most shows of its genre. A high recommendation from me.

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