Yoko HikasaNana MizukiHiroshi NakaMayumi Shintani
Manaria Friends
Also known as: Mysteria Friends
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Director: Hideki Okamoto
Writer: Satoko Sekine
Actor: Ayaka Fukuhara, Chiharu Sawashiro, Hiroshi Naka, Kikuko Inoue, Kimiko Koyama, Lynn, Mayumi Shintani, Nana Mizuki, Rie Hikisaka, Wataru Hatano, Yoko Hikasa, Yuki Hashimoto, Yuma Uchida, Yurika Aizawa
Keywords: fantasy, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 10 fifteen-minute episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=17601
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 22 August 2020
mysteria friends
It's a gentle, beautifully animated bit of nothing. Two magical princesses are friends. Anne wants it to be more and Grea's more reticent. She's scared to drink tea at the end of an episode where Anne found a love potion and wondered aloud if it would work on same-gender couples. There's no plot. Ten vignettes pass pleasantly and soothingly, but without really adding up to anything.
The show's production was a mess. It's the second or third anime adaptation of the Rage of Bahamut game, after a two-season anime that I avoided in 2015 and 2017. (It's also linked with Granblue Fantasy.) Manaria Friends was announced in 2015, then delayed indefinitely in 2016, re-announced in 2018 and then eventually broadcast in 2019. Oh, and the show has two names because it's set in a magical academy that's called Manaria in the original Japanese, but Mysteria in the game's official English translation.
Anyway, it's nice. You'd struggle if you tried to marathon it, but it'll provide peace and relaxation if you dip into it occasionally. (Ep.5 appears to be an action-packed monster assault, but isn't.) Anne's a powerful magician-in-training, but she hasn't yet learned the art of not destroying things. Meanwhile, Grea's a timid half-dragon with horns, wings and a tail. They drink tea, play the piano and explore Anne's fear of learning to swim.
Oh, and Grea moults. She's embarrassed about it.
If you want a story, the nearest you'll get might be ep.6. (No, not the fake action of ep.5.) Everyone goes to a tropical beach and Anne's promised to learn to swim, but she's trying to back out of it. It's drama. Low-stakes, lovable, light-hearted drama where the only thing at stake is "will she get in the water?" but that counts.
Oh, and Anne has a bodyguard called Owen. He gets introduced... and then only ever appears fleetingly in the background in random shots. Maybe he's a sort of joke?
Also, each episode had an "extra part" that streamed for a week after the main episode's broadcast. For me, this meant weird interminable staggered endings. It keeps not ending! You'll reach the end credits, sometimes presented as framed pictures like oil paintings in a gallery. After that, the copyright notice and an announcement of what's coming next week. A closing illustration... and then the apparently dead episode resurrects itself for that "extra part", which eventually ends by turning into sepia pages in a storybook, which closes.
The art and animation are gorgeous. Everything is beautiful, from ambient light to the snow.
Would I recommend this? Not really, but it's worth trying a random episode to see if it's your cup of tea. It doesn't have a story for you. It's ten pleasant opportunities to immerse yourself in a magical world with likeable people.