Sasami Kawai is almost a normal ten-year-old. Gemini, blood type A, big brother (Tenchi) and a karaoke-mad mother called Chihiro who runs a CD store. The only thing about her that isn't normal is the fact that she's a magical girl. Her alter ego is the heroine Pretty Sammy, into whom she changes by waving her magic wand and shouting, "Pretty Mutation Magical Recall." It's Sasami's job to save the world, whether she likes it or not!
She doesn't. It's embarrassing.
Pretty Sammy could best be described as a Tenchi Muyo offshoot. It started out as a throwaway parody of the magical girl genre, but ended up growing into an independent franchise in its own right. After these OVAs she went on to full-length TV series like Magical Girl Pretty Sammy (1996)
, known in America as Magical Project S, and Sasami: Magical Girl Club
(2006). The full roster to date is:
- 1. The Sound File, later used in the closing credits of...
- 2. The Mihoshi special (1994)
- 3. A parallel-universe segment in Tenchi Universe episode 12
- 4. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy (1995 OVA series; 3 episodes)
- 5. Magical Girl Pretty Sammy (1996 TV series; 26 episodes)
- 6. Sasami: Magical Girl Club (2006; 26 episodes)
Needless to say, every single one of those exists in its own separate continuity. The Sound File was only a music video and Magical Girl Pretty Sammy is just one of many gags in the Mihoshi special
and Tenchi Universe
, but here she got her own show. Watch all of her anime and you'll have seen the equivalent of nearly 60 regular episodes' worth of television. Sammy's ten-minute guest spot in Tenchi Universe
is more or less a crossover with these OVAs, incidentally. Some of the details have changed. Tenchi isn't Sasami's brother and the school uniforms are different, but Ayeka and Ryoko are still rival schoolgirls, Ryo-Ohki is still Sasami's talking magical familiar, etc.
Would I recommend these three OVA episodes? Yes, definitely. They're a lot of fun. They're an alternate retelling of Sammy's 1995 TV series (which came out in its entirety between OVA episodes two and three), but unlike that show they feel like Tenchi Muyo instead of Pretty Sammy with cameos. Everyone's present and correct, including one or two characters who don't usually show up.
- Tenchi = Sasami's brother
- Washu = mad scientist
- Ayeka & Ryoko = schoolgirls fighting for Tenchi's affections
- Kiyone & Mihoshi = students working part-time at Sasami's Mum's store
- Ryo-Ohki = Sasami's talking magical familiar
- Tsunami = queen-elect of the magical realm of Juraihelm
As an in-joke, many of these characters got named after their voice actresses. This might be the most brazen Ryoko yet, while Kiyone is a loser, Tsunami is an airhead and Ayeka is practically a female Mendou Shutarou from Urusei Yatsura
. She's preposterous. In the full TV series, she'd actually turn evil and become the end-of-season big baddy.
However new characters are introduced too. Sasami's mother Chihiro is amusing, not to mention being to date the only mother for Tenchi who's not dead. Then we have the villains: Ramia, Rumiya and Sasami's best friend Misao-chan. Misao's sweet. She has a troubled home life, poor health and an uncomplaining nature, but also a magical alter ego who's as mad as a bag of hatters. As Misao you'll adore her, but as the intelligence-impaired Pixy Misa she's hilarious, with her garbled Engrish and Love-Love Monsters.
This is funny, but also interesting enough to have powered the entire franchise. Sasami and Misao are endearing and would do anything for each other. Sammy and Pixy Misa are sworn enemies. All four personas in this two-man relationship have very different opinions and personalities. The TV series would take this further, but even here there's a "comrades in rivalry" thing going on between Sammy and Misa. Despite being foes, they're oddly close and can even team up when necessary.
Episode one sets up the cast and their world. The serenely airheaded goddess Tsunami comes to Earth to tell Sasami that she's to become a magical girl, which doesn't go down as well as you'd expect. Magical girl genre conventions don't go unchallenged. This is funny. Sasami's a sweet girl, but she's fully capable of sarcasm when embarrassed. Meanwhile the Tenchi crew are indulging in their usual hijinks, although fortunately there's no scary inappropriate nonsense since Tenchi's now Sasami's brother. If you want to be creeped out, you'll just have to rewatch the Sound File or the ten-year-old breasts and skirt flip in the title sequence.
Episode two is probably the weakest, although I liked it more on second viewing. It parodies Microsoft and Bill Gates. Thus my expectations weren't high, but to my surprise, I laughed. It's a good episode.
Episode three is the dramatic one. It's funny, but at the same time also the series climax, which incidentally hit the shops only after the 26-episode TV series had run its course and taken these characters on its own emotional journey. Ramia gets amnesia and for once isn't just played for laughs. Tsunami proves herself to be a good person as well as blissfully retarded. People get hurt and it's a proper story with villains who mean business. I really liked it. Apart from anything else, at last Pretty Sammy gets to be cool. She's my hero, you know.
Speaking as a Sasami fan, I thought these OVAs did her justice. Even the middle episode is still fun, while the series ends sufficiently strongly that I was disappointed to find the TV show a reboot, not a sequel. The main difference between them is the Tenchi Muyo links. Ayeka and Ryoko in particular are scene-stealers, guaranteed to pull focus by their very natures, and it was probably a good move to sideline them in the TV series. Hell, even here they're not in episode two. However having said that, I'm fond of all of them and you'll never see me complaining about getting more Tenchi Muyo. Despite its short length, to date this is probably my favourite Pretty Sammy series.