Mahou no Stage Fancy Lala ( [email protected][email protected] Studio Pierrot/TV Osaka/Bandai Visual, 1998 Bandai Entertainment, 2002-2003 Directed by Takahiro Omori (Oh! Super Milk-chan). Rated 7-Up for some mature situations. Miho Shinohara is a care-free third-grader and an aspiring manga artist. One day, she encounters Mogu and Pigu - two lost fairies disguised as stuffed animals. In exchange for staying at her home until they find a way to return to their own world, the fairies give Miho a special sketch pad and pencil that enables her to magical create real objects from what she draws. With the pen, Miho can also transform into Lala, a beautiful teenage girl created from her manga art. As Lala, she is discovered by a talent agency, and so begins her adventures from an ordinary school girl to a model to an idol singer. Story: B+ Fans of Studio Pierrot (Fushigi Yuugi, Yu Yu Hakusho) will be familiar with Fancy Lala's premise - girl meets fairy and obtains magical powers - as it's very reminiscent of the studio's titles Magical Angel Creamy Mami (1983) and Magical Fairy Persia (1984). As a matter of fact, Fancy Lala is an homage to Pierrot's line of '80s magical girl anime. With an excellent mix of comedy, drama and romance as well as a unique cast of characters, Fancy Lala puts Chance Pop Session to shame. Animation: A Akemi Takada's (Mobile Police Patlabor, Kimagure Orange Road) character designs shine brightly in Fancy Lala. The animation is also very impressive for a TV series. Soundtrack: A- The down-to-Earth music by Michiru Oshima (Full Metal Alchemist, Magic User's Club) blends well with the anime along with the catchy songs performed by Reiko Omori. Sub vs. Dub Fancy Lala features Reiko Omori as Miho/Lala, Omi Minami (Hyatt in Excel Saga, Ruri in Martian Successor Nadesico) as Akiru, Atsuko Tanaka (Motoko in Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Sayoko in RahXephon) as Yumi, Michiko Neya (Melissa in Full Metal Panic!, Nancy in Read Or Die) as Mogu and Ririka, Shinobu Adachi (Kayla in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack) as Pigu, Kappei Yamaguchi (Ranma 1/2, Inu-Yasha) as Taro, Hideo Ishikawa (Ryoma in Getter Robo Armageddon, Kintaro in Tantei Gakuen Q) as Hiroya, Mayumi Iizuka (Sora in Escaflowne: The Movie, Nanaka in Magic User's Club) as Anna, Fumie Kusachi (Luffy in Gall Force: The Revolution, Uzuki in Idol Defense Force Hummingbird) as Miki, Yuji Ueda (Keitaro in Love Hina, Abarenbou in Di Gi Charat) as Yoshio, Eiko Kanazawa as Emiko, Kyoko Tsuruno (Sho in Figure 17, Millennium in Lost Universe) as Chisa, Yoshiko Sakakibara (Sylia in Bubblegum Crisis, Integra in Hellsing) as Mamiko, and Noboru Hoshino as Yoichiro. Fancy Lala is best experienced subtitled, as The Ocean Group screwed up big-time on the English dub. DVD Extras: D Nothing but the textless opening animation. The Bottom Line If you're looking for some feel-good anime, check out Fancy Lala. Much like Jem, it's "truly outrageous."