Tokyo Mew Mew New Season Two

Tokyo Mew Mew New Season Two

Tokyo Mew Mew New‘s second season makes a good point: humans have been terrible stewards of Earth. Whatever you think of this particular franchise being chosen for a reboot, it’s hard to deny that it’s a timely one – the planet is not in a good place right now, and humans are very much involved in that. So on one level, it’s all too easy to sympathize with Kish, Tart, Pie, and their leader Deep Blue, because they aren’t telling any lies when they say that humans have done a lot of damage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that humans ought to be entirely wiped out, and that’s where the girls of Tokyo Mew Mew come in.

It is, however, worth mentioning that the aliens aren’t just after Earth on a whim. One of the stronger episodes in this second season is when Lettuce journeys back through time to an Earth where the now-aliens are the dominant species. Some of them left to escape natural disasters, and they became the ancestors of the current aliens, who could be looked at in one sense as simply wanting to return home. On the other hand, they left rather than trying to stay and fix the problem, so who are they to be upset that the world they left behind eventually evolved into the human race? The entire situation is more complex than the first season might have suggested, and when you get right down to it, it’s much less of a stereotypical battle than it initially appears. Everyone involved has a vested interest in the planet persevering; they don’t agree on what that might look like, although given what we see of the aliens’ planet in the final episode, we have to wonder if they’ve done any better at preserving their world than the humans have with theirs.

In that sense, Tokyo Mew Mew New gives us an overarching question with no honest answer. While many magical girl stories are open-ended to a degree, this one feels much more so than usual. We know that the girls and Aoyama will work towards helping the environment, and we specifically see Aoyama and Mint take steps in that direction. But we don’t know if they’ll succeed or if they’ll be enough. Yes, the alien world gets better, but that’s a direct result of Ichigo’s magic, and we don’t see the same level of rebirth from the love bubbles in Tokyo. That’s a very solid decision on the part of the series. If this was rebooted to help prod viewers in an environmental direction, it’s important that the finale leaves room for understanding that this is something we have to work at. You don’t need Mint’s money or the Mew Mews’ powers to make a difference. It can start with something like Lettuce teaching people as a docent. There are, the final episode suggests, things that we can all do if we can motivate ourselves to do them.

Overall, this second set of episodes feels much stronger than the first. In part, that’s because we get to know the girls a little better, and the boys also develop more. Lettuce and Purin’s episodes are some of the strongest, partly because they got the least character work in the first half. (And yes, Purin’s name is now spelled that way; no more “Bu-Ling.”) As the quietest member of the group, Lettuce tends to fade into the background of team fights, so having her learn about the truth of the past while also getting to the emotional core of the separation between the later-aliens and their Earth-bound counterparts gives her a depth that’s very much needed. Purin is in almost the exact opposite situation; as the loudest and bounciest Mew Mew, it’s easy to overlook the fact that she’s essentially raising her younger siblings on her own and has her emotional struggles to deal with. Purin turns out to be the most nurturing of the group, as her relationship with Tart shows.

All of the girls have a particular person they’re most often shown with in a couple, and that’s worth paying attention to. Despite there being a boy for every girl in the cast, Mint and Zakuro are always paired up, like Ichigo and Aoyama (and Kish) and Purin and Tart. (Lettuce and Pie are also a set, but their relationship feels underdeveloped.) The implication is that the girls are a couple in the same way the cross-gender pairs are, and although it’s understated, it’s also a lovely piece of representation. Mint calling Zakuro “oneesama” feels like a Class S shoutout and another acknowledgment of them as potential girlfriends. However, the English subs’ reading “my queen” does take away from that reading somewhat.

With its shorter episode count and more faithful adherence to the original manga, Tokyo Mew Mew New‘s second season may not fully live up to nostalgic viewers’ memories of the first anime adaptation. But this half also makes it feel much more complete, with characters getting more development, the stakes rising significantly, and much less of that creepy “bell the cat” feeling to Ichigo and Aoyama’s relationship. The animation, with more than a few off-model incidents, isn’t always spectacular. Still, there are some stunning images (two of Lettuce in the ending theme alone) and a solid message. Add in the catchy opening and ending songs, a lot of insert songs, and a nice color contrast between the candy brightness of the girls and the depressing color theme for the aliens and their attacks, and this is a pretty good package. It may not be the best magical girl series of recent years, but it’s still a good one and one that improved in its second half.

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