Mahoutsukai Sally is a franchise that goes way back. It started as a manga in ’66. And then got turned into a Toei anime from the end of ’66 to the end of ’68. From there, Toei decided to revive it in the late 80s. This film was made in 1990, about midway through that run. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of the franchise before browsing random films. So, let’s take a look at its only film and see what it’s about.
We open with a young girl dreaming about her lost birth mother. I’m sure that will have nothing to do with the events of the film. It’s an unseasonably cold spring. A young girl, Sumire, calls Sally to discuss a strange picture book she’s going to bring over. Probably just cutesy PharMercy pictures and completely unrelated to anything else. Don’t worry about it. Sally contacts her parents, who tell her that the cause is trouble in the fairy realm. Sugar, stop playing your piccolo. You’ll kill us all. Sally’s parents explain that they’d investigate, but they’re very busy trying to bring the spice back into their marriage before they split up to find younger partners. Actually, they can’t enter because the fairy realm doesn’t allow adults. She returns home to find everyone who’d gone over is missing and there’s a picture book about faeries on the table. Naturally, she gets sucked in and finds herself on a quest to save the fairy realm from a witch.
The biggest issue with the film is just that everything’s kept far too easy. It’s like they decided that, because it’s for children, there can’t be any kind of credible threat. So, there are some relatively minor problems where the remedy is really simple. And it’s just not compelling. I’m not asking for something grandiose or super complex from a half hour film for children but at least have something.
I can’t complain about it too much since it is, clearly, for young audiences and there’s nothing seriously wrong with it.
The characters don’t come across as super complex, but they do seem passable given the target audience. You even get the impression that they have a little more to them than just the basic archetypes, but you don’t really get to see many hints of that due to the length constraints. I appreciate that the witch has sympathetic motivations, but what they ultimately do with it is pretty mundane.
The art style is very much that old fashioned, kind of low effort fare with wide-eyed innocent character designs. Which is fair enough. It probably looks exactly like the anime. Unfortunately, it’s not a style that has aged well.
The acting is okay. You won’t find Sumire listed as one of Hisakawa Aya’s greatest roles. I’d be surprised if Sally was considered one of Yamamoto Yuriko’s, but I’ve heard her in only a few very minor roles aside from this, so I can’t say for certain. The music is, likewise, all right.
There might be some in the series, since most magical girl anime possess some level of les-yay, but if there is it doesn’t come across in the film.
Mahoutsukai Sally, the film is, ultimately, pretty average. It doesn’t have much in terms of attention grabbing, interesting content but, for a short children’s film, it works. It’s inoffensive and will likely keep their attention. So, I’ll give it a 5/10. Maybe at some point in future I’ll watch the series proper and give a more complete picture of how that holds up. Tomorrow, I’ll keep the week going with a look at the Futari wa Precure: Splash Star Movie.