Tokyo Mew Mew

Tokyo Mew Mew

Tokyo Mew Mew ran from 2001 – 2003

Ichigo Momomiya is out on a potential date with her highschool crush when an odd incident changes her. Literally. Her DNA becomes merged with that of a Iriomote Wildcat on the verge of extinction. At the same time that day, four other girls have their DNA changed with various endangered species. When the group come together and realise that their fates were no mere accident, they discover that they are only a small part of an even bigger plan. Ichigo and her team have been chosen to participate in a secret scientific project: The Mew Project. Meanwhile, Deep Blue and his aliens are attacking the planet, and these girls are the only ones with the power to stop them. They are Tokyo Mew Mew!

Written by Reiko Yoshida and illustrated by the wonderful Mia Ikumi, the first of seven tankobon volumes was originally published in Feburary 2001, and was translated into English by Tokyopop just over two years later.

I discovered Tokyo Mew Mew just before my GCSE’s, which was inconvenient to say the least. I’d pretty much got my hands on everything Sailormoon that was humanly possible, and here was another Tokyopop gem to keep me getting my fix. Whilst holding many similarities to Sailormoon, it had a more modern, down-to-earth feel – which was surprising regarding all the extra-terrestrial activity it usually had going for it.

The main reason that I took to – and stayed with – Tokyo Mew Mew was the character of Ichigo herself. She’s spirited, strong, and although getting your DNA spliced with a wildcat is going to bring a lot of weird stuff into your life, she has enough wits about her to question things, and doesn’t just blindly go ahead with anything she is told to do. She has a little bit more of an edge to her than Usagi from Sailormoon, or Momoko from Wedding Peach, and this is what kept the magical girl storyline from following the exact same path as the ones I had read before it. In the same vein I found that Ichigo’s love interest, the mature and eco-friendly Masaya, was a lot more tolerable than Mamo-chan (and I have found that, in the last ten years, every magical girl love interest generally is), and I never gave a mental sigh whenever he appeared – which is a huge bonus.

tokyomewmew1However, her supporting cast of mew mew’s are, overall, a little bit lacklustre. The beginnings of their personalities are established quickly, but there is no real build on them throughout the story. The only character truly developing is Ichigo, and it is apparent from very early on that everyone else is going to take a back-seat. Even panel-wise, the main focus is Ichigo in all sorts of poses and outfits. While I did enjoy Ikumi’s style, I was hoping for just a little secondary-character attention. Zakuro the Grey Wolf, the last mew to be discovered, may as well have not existed at all in the manga. She’s a model, she’s beautiful, she’s arrogant, she’s distant – but why, why, why? With so much other stuff in the plot to attend to at the same time, all of this stuff is very much neglected.

Overall, Tokyo Mew Mew was very well received, both in Japan and in Europe, and I can see why. It’s two-volume sequel, Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode, was also popular. Though neither mangas were considered groundbreaking within themselves, it took a few fresh elements and a slightly different angle to the textbook mahou shoujo genre and it made for an entertaining read.