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AKA: Rikujou Boueitai Mao-chan, Earth Defense Force Mao-chan
Genre: Magical girl comedy candy
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 15 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Geneon out of print.
Content Rating: G (nothing objectionable)
Related Series: Love Hina
Also Recommended: Azumanga Daioh, Card Captor Sakura, Pokemon, Steel Angel Kurumi
Notes: The character designs are by Akamatsu Ken, creator of Love Hina.

Editor's Note: In episode 20, the characters of Mao-chan actually visit Hinata-sou in a series crossover.



Sometime in the future, Japan is under attack from cute aliens. In order to face this *ahem* national crisis, the Chief of the Ground Defense Force trains his 8 year-old granddaughter to be Japan's first protector! Together with her friends Misora and Sylvia, Mao will protect the peace of Japan!


Remember when you were young and your mother told you not to take candy or sweets from strangers? Somewhere along the line, I got old and forgot that saintly wisdom passed down from generations of mothers to their children. So, when this group of strangers called XEBEC handed me this piece of cute sugary sweetness called Mao-chan, I took it.

Needless to say, bad things did happen.

I am in great pain as I write this, recollecting the horrible experience I went through with this title, but since the victim's reviewer's testimony holds weight in the Anime Court of Law, I must go on. Behold : 8 year-old Mao-chan - granddaughter of the Ground Defense Force Chief, and protector of Japan. There's supposed to be a story why Mao-chan was put in this post, but basically it's because Japan is being invaded by cute aliens, so cuteness must be fought with superior cuteness. Eventually, the Chiefs of the other forces (namely, Air and Sea) catch on to the idea and put their own granddaughters in defense posts too. Naturally, the three girls have some kind of magical powers given to them by the clover leafs they wear on their chests, and use vehicles corresponding to their area of influence : a tank, plane and a submarine.

These, er, cute aliens aren't like pink SD Zerglings running around - they're just...normal creatures like a cat or a bat. Each "invasion scenario" is as follows : alien enters Earth's atmosphere in a capsule; capsule breaks open; cute alien pops out and does absolutely nothing; relevant "authorities" are dispatched; Mao/Misora/Sylvia bonk the alien on the head; Japan is saved from disaster once again.

It's so horribly mind-numbing that seeing the rubber suit's zipper in an Ultraman movie just doesn't seem as eventful as it used to be.

If you haven't guessed it by now, the show is meant for really young children. No, in fact, they should include a bar stool with the DVDs and say "You must be below this height to watch". The art is colorful and everything is cute and funny, from the antics of the old Defense Chiefs to the squeaky voices of Mao-chan and gang. It could have been worse, and to my great horror, it WAS - the characters are designed by Akamatsu Ken, creator of Love Hina. In case you were wondering, that's *not* a good thing, because his "character designs" are basically Xeroxes of characters from his other series (namely, Love Hina) and he uses flying turtles. AGAIN.

Like I implied earlier, there isn't any plot - just cuteness. There seems to be something going on involving aliens masquerading as female students, but *no*, it's not as interesting as watching the girls bonk aliens on the head, or cry pathetically because they *missed* (dangit, where's the button to turn off the sarcasm?). There's also a long transformation scene for the girls in EVERY EPISODE, and until Futari wa PRETTY CURE came along, held the record for "Longest Magical Girl Transformation Scene. Ever". At the end of it, Mao-chan cheerfully shouts, "I will protect the peace of Japan!", and with equal vigour I reply, "I will run to the toilet and retch violently!"

Inevitably, comparisons to Azumanga Daioh will appear because of the same subject of cuteness, but Mao-chan came first, so we can't say that it ripped off AzuDai's Chiyo-chan. We can, however, say that it has 3 times more cuteness than what AzuDai had : 3 cutesy girls - two to plug your ears with, and one to cover your eyes as you grope for the flush handle.

In summary : no, Mao-chan is not for you. If you're old enough to surf to this site and read this review, you're too old for it. It's perfect for young kids (I'm really not kidding here) but unless your day is powered by the joint efforts of Energizer and Cuteness, you should drop all that you are doing and run away. Forget that - just run.

The producers knew what they were doing when they aimed this at a very young target audience. But then again, the targets are just *sitting there* at point blank range staring at the bright colors! Murderers. All of you.

Add two stars if you like cute stuff. Even if you like Azumanga Daioh (like I do), it doesn't mean you'll like this.Enoch Lau

Recommended Audience: I don't know - would "retching violently" be a concern to you?

Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Partial (8/26)
Mao-chan © 2002 Xebec / TV Tokyo
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