Posted by psgels on 2 November 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews



Next-up in the category of underrated gems: Fancy Lala, a charming mahou shoujo from the late nineties. It’s understandable why not many people are interested in it: the premise advertises a girl who coincidentally meets up with two miniature dinosaurs, who give her the power to grow up and become an idol so that she can meet up with the guy she admires. It’s not exactly a premise that screams “Watch me!!”, and you really need to watch this series in order to understand its strengths. Fancy Lala is a definite recommendation for those who like slice-of-life dramas; it feels like a cross between Kamichu and Full Moon wo Sagashite, grabbing the best from both.

And really, this isn’t necessarily a series about idols; the premise would also have worked with construction-workers (although the end-result would probably end up a lot more GAR that way). In contrast to a series like Full Moon wo Sagashite, where the growing up was just a tool to get to the idol-part of the premise, Fancy Lala uses being an idol just as a tool to get to the growing up-part. The essence of this series is that it’s a look at adult problems through the eyes of a child, and there is so much potential for such a premise.

Basically, all of the good things in this series can be traced back to one thing: the awesome character of Miho. I gave the characters a rating of 10 for a good reason: she is an incredibly strong lead character for a girl of only ten years old. She’s able to carry both the weight of being an idol and the weight of the series and yet she remains an innocent child. We get to know her through and through, and it’s because of her that the major theme of adult problems works out so well.

The creators also make use of a lot of subtle drama, where nothing important is said, but you can see from the characters’ expressions that a lot is going on inside their mind. It’s because of this that this series never vetures into the world of cheese and melodrama, an oh so common pitfall of shoujo-series (and any other genre for that matter, I guess). This is such a genuine series, and you can feel that the characters are feeling down because of the problems they face, instead of acting down because of the creators’ wishes. Miho’s voice-actress also does a very admirable job: children in this series really do sound like children, rather than squeaky 30-year old voice-actresses.

And also let me say this specifically: Fancy Lala has the downright best ending of any mahou shoujo I’ve ever seen, and perhaps it’s also got my favourite ending of any shoujo-series for that matter. It’s a true example where realism works so much better than cheesy Deus ex Machina because creators are too afraid to kill off characters in the fear to upset said characters’ fans. Fancy Lala’s final two episodes are something that should happen in nearly every single mahou shoujo-series, and yet none I’ve seen so far even dared to address its topics.

But yeah, this really is a series about Miho. Apart from that, it doesn’t have much else to sell, as shown by the premise: the reason why Miho got her magical powers is just pure coincidence, we never get any concrete explanation of where those dinosaurs came from. In addition to growing up, Miho also somehow becomes incredibly proficient in singing, posing and acting, without any practice whatsoever. These things are going to make it a bit difficult to care about the characters in the beginning, though at least the series makes up for it with quite an accurate portrayal of the local idol-scene once it gets going.

Obviously, if you’re not into slice of life, you’re not going to like this series, but nonetheless it’s an incredibly genuine shoujo series with some adult themes. It’s got a wonderful lead character. And sure, the animation looks a bit outdated for those of you who are only used to series from the last four years, but nonetheless the character-art is very expressive, and tries to convey even the smallest of emotions, and it looks great in my opinion. Simply said: Miho Rocks.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

12 Responses

  1. EXEgo says:

    To be honest it’s been about 8 years or so since I watched this, and it was on a low grade VHS fansub.. but I still remember this being one of the most enjoyable shows I have seen. I may try to dig up a DVD quality version to rewatch this show again :)

  2. namaiki says:

    Since I watched Fancy Lala, no series has been able to convey the warmth and realism that I yearn for…

  3. Erin says:

    I bought the brick set blind several months back when you could still find it for twenty bucks or so. Price aside, it was probably the best blind purchase that I’ve made. Though for some reason, the episode that sticks in my head is the one with Chisa and… well, whatever her boyfriend’s name was. Either way, it’s nice to see this one getting some reviews.

  4. Anomalous says:

    I love Fancy Lala! I’m glad to see you enjoyed it as well, especially since you’ve been able to capture just what makes this series so special.

  5. usagijen says:

    This is definitely one of the better mahou shoujo series out there, or more like one of the best, considering how endearing it turned out to be. Have to agree with Fancy Lala’s ending, I can still remember it so well despite having watched this almost a decade ago :)

  6. AlexS says:

    The best about this blog are the recommendations on anime I would otherwise never even hear about (Mahou Shoujotai, Simoun, etc). This is a very good series, and I basically agree with the review completely.

    One of the things that struck me are the ellipses the authors decided to create. Many things are alluded, but never actually shown, which I find striking, specially for a “children”‘s series. The best example is the cat episode. For me that was the defining episode of the series, but most of it plays in your head, not in the episode itself. The economy of it is breathless, and I wonder how kids viewed that episode…

  7. Matej says:

    My comment is not related to this theme – I really like your reviews which doesn’t necessarily mean i agree with them. For instance Mahou in my opinion was interesting for some time but more it progressed that anime for me was utter disappointment and no matter how flawed “main stream-s” like death note or code geass are in my perspective so much better then that particular anime. But degustibus :) . What i recommend is and what is wierd in my opinion is that u haven’t reviewed Bebob, Trigun or Last Exile. i would really like to hear your opinion because those three are my favorites. I have a feeling that lots of people are asking the same thing so i would understand accumulated resentment towards those 3 anime – You have to watchit – after 1000 times becomes – I hate it and I even don’t know what is about. Maybe u become conditioned to dislike them :)

  8. psgels psgels says:

    Matej: as for Trigun, it’s a series that I watched before I started this blog, so I never wrote a review about it. It was a nice series, but my problem was that it took itself a little too seriously in its second half. It felt out of place with the energetic first half.

    Bebop and Last Exile are on my to-watch list. I’ve yet to watch them, but I’ve heard some great things about them. :)

  9. jackk says:

    I sometimes find myself puzzled about your tastes and assessments of shows, but watched this one based on your positive review (and the mention of kamichu).

    You were spot on with the review. Best shoujo I’ve ever watched!

    Thanks for sharing the review!

  10. Firechick says:

    If you like this one, there’s other ones like this that exist, such as Creamy Mami, Magical Emi, Pastel Yumi, etc. Though they were made in the 80’s and I think japanese versions are gone by now. You should check those out if you want (though I dunno if Japanese versions are around now…). I did see a few episodes of this, and it’s quite good so far, but I haven’t been able to keep up since I have so many other anime I need to finish up.

  11. Firechick says:

    I finished watching this a few days ago, and it is wonderful! And you’re right, that ending IS awesome! It even made me cry a little!

  12. shikha says:

    I wanna see more episodes of fancy lala….26episodes are not enough seriously….I m a big fan of this serial …

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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