I’m getting a little tired of constantly typing “this series is not suitable for young children”, or words to that effect. So here is one that won’t require me to write that.
This is basically a charming children’s show, but one that can also be entertaining for adults, provided that the adults have a high degree of tolerance for cute characters and sentimental story lines. If mainstream America ever starts to take anime seriously this may come to be considered a children’s classic.
Original TitleChicchana Yukitsukai SHUGAA
GenresFantasy, Comedy, Coming of Age
Contents24 Episodes on 6 DVDs (1 boxed set) plus a two-part “Special” on another DVD
LanguagesJapanese with subtitles, English
Animation StudioJ. C. Staff
Region 1 PublisherGeneon
You can forget anything that you may have heard about El Niño, cold fronts, temperature inversions, etc. All meteorological phenomena are actually caused by tiny invisible people called Season Fairies.
There are a few people who can see the Season Fairies, which is nice because they are awfully cute. A little girl named Saga discovers that she can see them. She isn’t actually too pleased by this at first, but eventually she becomes attached to one of them.
This story is set in Germany, and the writers make a point of showing us the many cultural differences between Japan and Europe. For example, Europeans are less formal than Japanese people; Europeans wash themselves off in the bathtub; etc.
Nevertheless it seems to me that the characters are more Japanese than European. I don’t count this against the show; in fact I think it adds to the charm.
One thing bothers me a bit though. I’m pretty sure that major typhoons are not nearly as common in central Europe as the writers seem to think. The dialog mentions “Typhoon #13” which suggests that the typhoon season in Germany that year must have been extraordinarily busy. However I guess there is a perfectly logical explanation if you stop to think about it.
DVD #3 includes a video tour of the real German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which the artists used as the model for the fictional city of Mühlenburg.
Regrettably the DVD boxed set includes only the 24 episodes of the regular television series and not the double-length “special” which is sold on a separate DVD. Most viewers would consider the “special” to be necessary to provide a completely satisfactory ending.
This program is not recommended for diabetics. ;-)
Seriously, I can recommend this without hesitation for anyone seven years old or older, and I have only one minor caveat regarding younger viewers. Near the end of DVD #5 there is a short flashback to the death of Saga’s mother. Younger children often have great difficulty dealing with stories involving the death of a parent. They tend to watch in silence, say they liked the movie, then go to bed and wake up crying.
In this case the treatment is much less disturbing than in Bambi or The Lion King. The flashback is wordless and the images are sufficiently oblique that those young enough to be upset probably won’t understand what they are seeing (unless a “helpful” older sibling insists on explaining it to them.) Nevertheless this might be a good moment for a parent to introduce a distraction.
Characters and Premise
(As everyone knows, Germans are very informal and are usually addressed by their first names–even by children.)
Anime News Network.
Wikipedia entry (Spoilers!).
Steven Den Beste has written extensively about this series, including a non-spoiler review here, and two detailed spoiler-laden analyses of What It All Means here and here.