Review of Figure 17: Tsubasa & Hikaru (2001)

Moving picture, 13 hours

A shy ten-year-old, recently rendered motherless and uprooted from Tokyo, is drawn into a clandestine alien operation serving to clean up the consequences of a wrecked creature transport. She is accidentally fused with an intelligent combat accessory which lets her win a battle against the first of the critters. The weapon then copies her body and her memories.

Hypertech magical girl combat against bioengineered horrors, with a strong parallel mundane story. Somewhat melancholy. Repetitive but very good music, including a rocking opening theme.

It’s cute, tragic and respectfully told over a broad range of elements. There is little innovation, but constant momentum in the skillfully mixed “friends and school” and “pseudosister and aliens” aspects of the story. It looks like a video game from time to time and there are plenty of clichés—including moral lessons and a dungeon crawl—and screwy science, but that is all remarkably tolerable. Episodes are twice the typical length, which adds to the solidity of the overarching story and which was apparently the subject of a pretentious commercial for the show in Japan, souring some reviewers. Originally broadcast on TV at a rate of one episode per month, which helps explain the show’s remarkable solidity and beauty.

References here: Hilda (2018).

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction series magical girl