Written by: Nicole Castro
Published on: February 10, 2022 at 15:12 PHT (GMT+8)
The 2000s was an era of magical girl anime and coming-of-age stories (think Ojamajo Doremi, for example). It was also an age of romantic comedy (think...oh wait, there are too many examples...). So, why not have both in one show?
Today, it's time for a throwback of the 2003 romcom anime about teenage witches: Ultra Maniac!
About and Plot
Ultra Maniac (Japanese: ウルトラマニアック) is a romantic comedy manga series written by Wataru Yoshizumi. It features seventh grader Ayu Tateishi, a tennis club member, and her transfer student friend, Nina Sakura, who is actually a witch trainee witch from the magical kingdom.
The manga was serialized in Shueisha's Ribon manga magazine from February 2001 to January 2004, after which it was also published in five collected volumes. Viz Media licensed and released an English translation of the series in North America.
The series was first adapted into a 20-minute anime OVA, released Aug. 6, 2002. Later, it was also adapted into a 26-episode anime television series. Both were produced by Ashi Productions and Animax.
The anime adaptation has a very different plot starting after Ayu and Nina first met. Instead of coming as a witch failure who is trying to prove herself to be more than she is said to be, Nina has come to Earth to find the five "Holy Stones". She tells Ayu that whoever collects all five will qualify to marry the prince of the Magic Kingdom. Nina's childhood friend Maya Orihara is also on Earth, competing with Nina to find the stones. Though Nina does collect them all first, she learns that the prince and Maya are truly in love with each other, so Nina gives up the stones and her dream, allowing Maya and the prince to be with one another, while Nina stays on Earth with her friends.
1.「鏡の中」 (Kagami no Naka) by can/goo is around 20 years old, but it still sounds incredibly awesome
In the early 2000s when anime primarily aired on TV, having a catchy opening theme song was key to getting the viewers' attention. We think this song captured the slice of life shojo feelings of the characters perfectly coupled with the magical themes of the show.
The ending theme, Hitotsu=Unmei Kyoudoutai, also by can/goo, lends a more serious, angsty vibe that's perfect for when the characters (especially Ayu) get contemplative.
2. If you thought Tetsushi Kaji was hot, well, of course he was. He was voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya!
Who could forget Kaji-kun when 50% of the plot revolved around Nina helping Ayu attract the attention of her long-time crush, Tetsushi Kaji? Levi Ackerman's seiyuu has been voicing hot bishounen since the early days of his voice acting career. Do not sleep on Kaji-kun!
3. No magical girl anime is complete without a cutesy, elaborate transformation!
Of course we need a routine magical girl transformation scene! Nina makes it look chic and teenager-appropriate with her playful flirty wink at the end. The anime also gives the witches a more modern design since they use small computers that resemble Japanese electronic dictionaries to transform into their costumes and program spells.
We personally give this show a 4/5 stars rating for being a healthy balance of teenage angst and comedic magical mishaps, grounded by a thoughtful plot with themes of being true to yourself and your feelings. Ayu and Kaji's relationship give the show the classic "Do they feel the same way? Will they like me for who I really am?" drama, while Nina's clumsiness and bubbly personality drive most of the funny chaos as she tries to avoid getting discovered as a witch. Meanwhile, the finale between Nina and Maya to collect all of the Holy Stones adds a touch of seriousness as they both come to terms with what (and who) they really want in life.
If you're looking for a light-hearted romcom show to relive your high school days with a dash of magic, give Ultra Maniac a try!
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