The maho shojo, or magical girl genre has never been unpopular among anime fans. It was especially poignant in the early and late 1990s when the likes of Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena were released to widespread acclaim.
Although Utena and Sailor Moon are great anime and enjoyable for many, Tokyo Mew Mew is as equally important to fans of the magical girl genre. Here’s why Tokyo Mew Mew is worth more attention and a watch for newcomers and veterans alike.
Tokyo Mew Mew’s Ichigo Sets a Great Example for Young Girls
Ichigo Momomiya is an excellent protagonist and main character for Tokyo Mew Mew. She may not be much different when compared to other magical girl and shojo protagonists, but she does have a heart of gold and is willing to do anything for the ones she loves. Ichigo’s ditzy attitude and air-headed personality may seem similar to Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon, but Ichigo still manages to show viewers she’s her own person and there are many qualities that set her apart from other protagonists in the genre.
Ichigo is caring and stubborn but knows how to love with all her heart; she shows it a lot throughout the series, especially when it comes to her friends. She’s very personable and can make friends with almost anyone. There are many episodes within the anime where she is shown befriending strangers — usually young girls around her age or women who have gotten themselves into a sticky situation.
For example, in Tokyo Mew Mew Season 1, Episode 14, Ichigo meets her boss’s ex-girlfriend, Rei Nishina, by accident while the latter is trying to catch a butterfly. Ichigo also learns it is Rei’s birthday and remembers seeing the same date circled on her boss, Keiichiro Akasaka’s calendar, too. Eventually, Ichigo puts two and two together and realizes Rei is Akasaka’s ex-girlfriend. Throughout the episode, Ichigo and her teammates try to help the two get closure in their lost romance.
Tokyo Mew Mew Sends an Excellent Message About Environmental Protection
The main theme of Tokyo Mew Mew is environmental protection and saving the environment, and the whole point of the Mew Project is to fight evil aliens and defend the planet. The series doesn’t really touch on the environmental aspects at first, save for a few lines and scenes. For example, in the first episode, Ichigo goes on a date with her crush Masaya Aoyama, and they visit an endangered animal exhibit.
This is how Ichigo learns there are many endangered animals living on Earth — and some are at risk of going extinct. This trip changes her in a way and not only makes her fall deeper in love with Aoyama, but she gains a new appreciation for her planet and wants to protect the environment in any way possible. However, as the story goes on, the girls soon realize how important the Earth is and how humans take advantage of its resources every day.
The “abuse” of the Earth is meant to parallel how the aliens were forced to leave the planet themselves many years before the start of Tokyo Mew Mew. They moved to another inhabitable world but suffered barely livable conditions, and many died. At some point, the leader of the aliens, Deep Blue, awakened and ordered three of his alien henchmen, Quiche, Pie, and Tart, to reclaim Earth. When Quiche visits Earth, he’s disgusted with the way humans treat the planet, vowing to reclaim it. However, in the English dub of the series — titled Mew Mew Power — the aliens’ motivation was changed, likely for localization purposes. Instead of previously living on Earth, the aliens are jealous of Earth’s living conditions and want to take it away from humans, leaving their own, inhospitable planet.
Tokyo Mew Mew Perfectly Showcases The Power of Friendship
Tokyo Mew Mew‘s primary message is to protect the planet and treat it better, but the power of friendship is also a huge theme shown throughout. As mentioned, Ichigo cares deeply for her friends and hates watching them suffer. This is shown quite often and may be portrayed differently from other shojo series within the magical girl genre.
In Season 1, Episode 21, Minto temporarily leaves the team. Zakuro talks to her and fights her in an attempt to get Minto to reveal her true feelings – that she’s afraid to fight the aliens. Zakuro’s plan works, and Minto apologizes for leaving the team. The episode ends with the girls having a pillow fight at Minto’s house, further solidifying their friendship. This episode is a great example of how much the girls mean to each other and want to help one another solve their problems. It is also one of the few times viewers see the usually stoic and cool Zakuro cares for her teammates and wants them to grow more and change.
Another great example of how Tokyo Mew Mew stands out comes in Season 1, Episode 19, where the girls go to the beach. Unlike most beach episodes, this one isn’t bogged down with unnecessary fanservice and meaningless romance. Instead, it spotlights Lettuce’s growing confidence as she faces her fears and tries to learn how to swim.
Throughout the episode, Lettuce befriends a young girl named Iruka, who’s being bullied because she can’t swim. Lettuce confesses she can’t swim either, so they try to learn together. Their swimming lessons are cut short when one of the bullies gets stranded out at sea and Iruka jumps in to save him. Lettuce ends up saving both the children with the help of a magical new crystal called Mew Aqua. This episode perfectly showcases Lettuce’s growth as a character and lets viewers see she’s always willing to protect others no matter what.
Tokyo Mew Mew may not be as popular as other magical girl series like Sailor Moon, but it still carries many great messages that resonate even today. It teaches people of all ages to care about the environment and shows the power of friendship in a memorable way.