Girl from Phantasia Anime Review
US Release By
Paranormal High-school Romance
What's In It
- Magic Carpets That Don't Fly
- Dimension-Hopping Sprites
- Violence: 1 (mild)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 2 (moderate)
- Language: 3 (significant)
Akihiro is pretty much an average guy until he finds a nice looking rug in a pile of trash. He takes it home figuring it'll impress his girlfriend and, luck being what it is, it turns out to be a magic carpet. It doesn't fly, but it is a gateway to the world of Phantasia, a land of magical sprites (who can fly). It's also guarded by Malon, a cute, energetic, somewhat ditzy sprite with a thing for humans. One thing leads to another, and pretty soon Akihiro's gotten mixed up in a magical vendetta between Malon, the vengeful, exiled magician Roll, and Malon's sexy friends Short and Monbran.
After you read the synopsis you are probably thinking The Girl from Phantasia is just another anime about a high school student who meets a girl from another dimension/planet. Well, you're right. That's exactly what it is, but it is an exceptionally good one. If you can't stand cute romantic themes, or if the whole concept turns you off, then you will probably hate this, but oddly enough I am usually that way, and I ended up being surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
To start with, the animation, by famed studio Production IG, is superb. The music, while nothing special, fits the mood and settings nicely. But what really makes it interesting are the characters. At first Akihiro just seems like a greedy, perverted jerk, but as the film goes on we see that he has some deep feelings and there is a lot more to him. Also, you may be fooled into writing Malon off as a typical fairy-style airhead, but, as with Akihiro, we find out that's not entirely the case. Roll certainly plays his part as the "pissed-off exiled wizard obsessed with revenge" well enough to make him a solid villain.
Overall, the story is not too original but it still holds up and moves along pretty well. I really think this is the type of story that both an 8 year old and a 20 year old can enjoy. (Though admittedly, some parents might object to the large amount of profanity in ADV's subtitles and the mild sexual themes.)
A final thing to point out is that The Girl from Phantasia is just 30 minutes long, and ADV never made a dubbed version or released it on DVD. All three are things I can't stand about some anime, but I will overlook them all in this case because the movie really is that good. Still, unless this type of anime is your thing I strongly suggest you rent.
Notes and Trivia
Based on the first volume of a 5-volume manga series by Akane Nagano (not available in English as of this writing). The manga ran between 1993 and 1996.
The original title was simply "Fantasia," written in Hiragana as if it were a Japanese word. No doubt this was adjusted a bit in the English release to avoid running afoul of (or just being confused with) Disney's films.
The original subtitled VHS tape was one of the earliest releases of ADV (then A.D. Vision). Like all of their early tapes, it came in a plastic clamshell case; unlike the rest, it had an incredibly garish box with red and yellow stripes (shown above). The tape was later re-released with less-blinding packaging, but it never made it to DVD.
The characters' names are all references to cakes; "Maron" (Malon) is "chestnut" (comes from the French word; popular in Japan), Roll and Short are obvious, and Monbran or "Mont Blanc" comes from a version of the French cake also popular in Japan.
Formerly available in North America from AD Vision on subtitled VHS, both an original edition in a clamshell case with garish box art and a later re-release in a more traditional-looking cardboard slipcover. Both are long out of print but relatively easy to find used copies of on Amazon.