As my Facebook friends have probably surmised I’ve been heavily binging on a cute magical girl (mahou shoujo) anime series called “Shugo Chara” over the past few weeks. Despite being a 7 volume manga with an additional 5 volumes added as ‘Encore’, the franchise spawned three seasons with a whopping 130 or so episodes. While this does allow the anime to last longer, which can be an issue for sponsors and ad campaigns, there often isn’t enough plot to flesh out that long a series, something that seems to crop up frequently in magical girl shows. As a result the producers churn out scads of monster of the week/filler episodes to fill the gaps in between actual plot development. ‘Shugo Chara’ is not alone with this problem; ‘Sailor Moon’ was notorious for it, especially in early seasons, and the practice is a staple for the genre. For viewers like me it gets dull and plodding given that I’m not young enough to be excited by new opponents and stock footage transformation sequences.
When it comes down to it magical girl shows aren’t really my preferred brand of shoujo anyway, so maybe my tolerance for filler is lower than those who love ordinary girls being gifted with magical powers. Shounen series aren’t exempt from filler, but ironically, shounen manga also has a tendency to stretch fights out over many chapters, so it feels more like a direct translation than a desperate attempt to flesh things out more fully.
‘Shugo Chara’ has a lot more issues beyond the filler (the unintentionally (I hope) sexual dialogue (still reeling over the implications of the Humpty Lock (carried by a girl) and Dumpty Key (carried by a young man), yes, I’m a perv), the oddness of no one caring that a teenage boy is almost stalking an eleven-twelve year old girl (‘Sailor Moon’ has the same problem though given that Mamoru is in college and Usagi is fourteen when they first meet), and totally clueless parents), but I’m still riveted. I just wish the series hadn’t been stretched so much with episodes that added nothing to the plot.