This show had quite the bumpy journey reaching its conclusion. Long story short it was revealed the staff were being horribly mistreated during production to the point that the animation quality in later episodes got worse and the pacing felt extra rushed (more than usual for the show). Because of that the final two episodes were repeatedly delayed for over a year until they finally aired in May 2019 (the show premiered Winter 2018). Was the wait worth it? Was the show as a whole any good? Let us find out as we take a look at Maerchen Maedchen or Märchen Mädchen.
Update: As the first person in the comments (cirno9fan) pointed out the author of the light novel passed away before finishing the story. That also played a role in the pacing issues.
Genres: Action, Comedy, Ecchi-ish, Fantasy, Magical Girl, Yuri.
Themes: Magic, Tournament
Number of Episodes: 12 (11 and 12 are marked as Special Episodes)
G-Rating: 8/10 (Favoritism), 7/10 overall (probably)
Plot Summary: Hazuki Kagimura is a normal girl who is usually alone. Her relationship with her new family is not going so well, so she retreats every day to the world of stories and books. One day, after school, one of the library’s bookshelves sends her to another world with a magic school, where she meets Shizuka Tsuchimikado. She finds out that girls (called “mädchen”) who attend the school are selected by old fairy tales and folk stories to wield their magic, and are taught how to wield it in the school. Hazuki herself is chosen by the Cinderella story. She begins her new life at the school to become a magic user and grow closer with Shizuka.
Without going into spoiler territory the setup is Hazuki joining the above mentioned Magic Academy and learning to become a magic user and roped into competing in a magic tournament where teams of mädchen/mäedchen from around the world do battle for the grand prize of a super wish. Oh and something about academic supremacy but that is not important. This being a supernatural tournament there is of course something greater brewing behind the scenes Hazuki and her new allies must inevitably face. As far as the main story goes it is good enough to keep viewers interested in seeing what obstacles, personal and magical, our heroines must overcome. Nothing worthy of anime awards but still an enjoyable tale.
The magic battles are one of the main attractions of the show, seeing what kinds of magic attacks the girls use and seeing how they connect to the Origins (magical storybooks) they wield. Some of the magic makes sense based on the storybook protagonist while others are tied to the theme of the story, even ones where writers took “liberties” with the stories. Unfortunately because the show is only 12 episodes long and there are 8 teams total not everyone of them gets their time to shine on the battlefield. Some teams are relegated to Squash Matches of the battles take place off screen. I am personally sad Team India did not get to show their full power. On a somewhat bright side the team captains get their time to shine in different ways outside of the tournament in either unsanctioned battles or other events. It is not much but it better than simply being there I suppose.
As mentioned in the introduction the staff were mistreated behind the scenes, resulting in the deteriorating animation quality. It started off solid but worsened as the show progressed. I recommend picking up the Blu-Rays of this show over watching the original broadcast of Episodes 1-10 (8-10 is the animation and pacing at its worst). It is far from the worst animation out there but the badness becomes especially noticeable in the aforementioned 3 episodes. The soundtrack is solid. OP and ED are neat.
The cast of characters are mostly likable with my personally disliking only one of them (Team America’s captain can buzz off). The rest of the characters are cute and/or sexy with moe and cool charms. Again not all of them get enough time to shine but it is enough to enjoy seeing them on screen (except that American brat. Fans of hers need not waste time singing her praises to try and convince me otherwise. She sucks).
Now we come to the leading ladies of this tale. First we have Hazuki. She is a token timid and socially awkward protagonist. As the plot summary explained when interacting with people she initially retreated to the safety of her beloved storybooks she grew up loving thanks to her mom (Remember this while watching the show). Of course as Hazuki grows accustomed to her time at the magic academy she slowly becomes less timid and more sociable (emphasis on slowly). This is all thanks to her fated encounter with the love of her life, Shizuka (and her adorable face. It is no wonder she fell in love with her). Speaking of, Shizuka is a kind and polite young lady with a huge chip on her shoulder, being the daughter of a legend (Remember this too). Because of this she feels like there is a huge burden on herself, bringing honor to her family. Like with Hazuki Shizuka’s life slowly changed upon meeting her that fateful day.
As for the yuri. Put simply Hazuki is a lesbian, made clear by her reactions to sexy ladies and especially her token yuri fantasies. The show even goes all Re-Kan with HazuShizu as the story progresses. There are of course some potential side-couples.
Lastly we have the final two episodes. As mentioned it took over a year for them to be released. Was the wait worth it? Personally I would say…yes. Nothing was tarnished and I was left hopeful for the future. Basically I was satisfied. Somethings could have been better but taking the mentality and ages of everyone it ended as well as I hoped and left me feeling optimistic.
Overall Maerchen Maedchen or Märchen Mädchen is a cute and fun show. It has some cool battles, nice ecchi goodness, a decent story, a mostly likable cast with an adorable main couple with some potential side-couples. The presentation is solid but it is highly recommended watching the show on Blu-Ray as the animation quality of the original airing gets worse over time. The conclusion was personally satisfactory. Not an epic but I am glad I remained faithful and patiently waited for it to be completed. Dunno who to recommend this to as so many things plagued the show and many understandably lost faith in it because of everything that happened. Maybe the curious can give it a try.