Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland Anime Review
Fushigi no Kuni no Miyuki-chan
Miyuki of the Mysterious Country
Lee Production / Studio Mark
US Release By
Fan-service Shoujo Fantasy
What's In It
- Sexy anime girls
- Skimpy outfits
- Lots of falling (poor, poor Miyuki...)
- Fist fights (well, a brief one at least)
- A skateboard-riding Playboy Bunny
- Violence: 1 (mild)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 3 (significant)
- Language: 0 (none)
Poor girl. While rushing to school, Miyuki finds herself side by side with a skateboarding bunny girl and before she knows it, they've both fallen down a big black hole! Unfortunately, that's the most normal thing that happens to Miyuki. Lost in a "Wonderland," Miyuki desperately tries to find her way out, but instead encounters a series sexy women who instantly like her. Maybe a little too much...
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Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland does an interesting job of creating a really strange, pervasively quirky atmosphere loaded up with fanservice and thinly-veiled lesbian overtones. There is basically no plot, and no characterization, either--Miyuki is just plain confused all the time, and everyone else is a seductress to some degree, hitting on Miyuki left and right. The work is categorized as shoujo, but if it hadn't been done by CLAMP you'd probably call it 30 minutes of fanservice--certainly no romance to be found, and there isn't a male character in it. The visuals are appropriately quirky and imaginative, and while the characters feature trademark CLAMP eyes, they're a lot more curvaceous than the average CLAMP female. The acting (Japanese-only) features several notable talents and a likable, harried Miyuki, but there's not a whole lot of dialogue. The music is also interesting, in that there's a single, long, playful melody that plays from beginning to end, with queues fitting the various situations--some will like it, others will be begging for a moment of silence.
It has little to do with the classic stories on which it's based, but Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland was quirky enough to keep me amused and entertained throughout its 30-minute run. I'll admit that it does have one fatal flaw: it's not a title you'll end up watching many times. As such, I can only recommend it if you're up for something offbeat, weird and, of course, quirky
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Made up of two short episodes that total about 30 minutes, the concept of a Japanese-style Alice in Wonderland sounds quite appealing. However, right off the bat you know you're not going to get something that even resembles the classic books or even the Disney version. Those of you who have read the Alice books may not find this show to be very appealing. Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland is pretty strange, but not in the way the original books or even the Disney movie were. That's because this title is very fan-service oriented.
To emphasize my point, I'll compare the two briefly. Alice in Wonderland featured a Cheshire cat that questioned madness in general. The way it was written was very weird and almost unsettling. Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland featured a Cheshire cat as well. The only difference is that this cat was actually a sexy cat-girl who wasted no time in asking Miyuki her name and then coming on to her. That's what almost all the characters in this show do when they meet Miyuki. If you've read the novels and this concept doesn't appeal to you, then you shouldn't bother with this show. If you haven't read the novels and this concept doesn't appeal to you, then you shouldn't bother with this show either. On the flip side, if taken on its own merits and watched in the right frame of mind, Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland is an amusing, strange little trip that's worth watching at least once.
Before I go into that, I have to stray a little. This short OAV series was created by CLAMP, the ever-famous all-female art team. To the best of my knowledge, CLAMP titles are shoujo (girls anime) creations. While Miyuki-Chan is definitely female-oriented, I wouldn't call it shoujo, for the reasons mentioned above. There are no male characters to be found and any attractions in this series are strictly physical, thus there's no actual romance of any kind. Plus, I wouldn't think the general female population would be interested in a manga or anime with so many thinly veiled lesbian overtones. However, every fansite I've been to regarding this title has said that it's shoujo, so what do I know? I just wanted to get my confused ramblings out in open. It certainly made an OAV that was ideal for ADVs early licenses.
Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland does an interesting job of creating a really strange, quirky atmosphere. All the basic elements of this show are used to achieve that goal. The first is the characters. In terms of characterization, this anime features none. Miyuki is just plain confused all the time, and everyone else is a seductress to some degree. A lot of the characters from the Alice novels are not easy to recognize here. For example, I didn't initially realize that the Chinese ninja sisters To-Li and Cho-Li were actually this shows parallel for Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Some of the characters are obvious, like the above-mentioned Cheshire cat, as well as the Queen of Hearts. But as I've mentioned, they all contribute to the thinly veiled lesbian overtones. I realize this subject matter won't appeal to everyone, but to be fair, none of this show's content was outright tasteless. It's simply there to be funny and it succeeded in getting a chuckle out of me quite a few times. The most notable character, besides Miyuki, is the Queen of Hearts. She's not the queen of a kingdom, but rather an S&M Queen. For some reason I found her to be especially funny out of all the femme fatales featured in this show. For example, instead of immediately running around screaming 'off with her head!' this Queen immediately orders Miyuki to lick her boots. That was the farthest this show went with the mature subject matter, thankfully, but I thought it was a funny replacement that fit right in with the show's nature.
The second quirky element is the technical production. The animation itself is decent, though there's not much in the way of really fluid movement. However, being a CLAMP production, you can expect plenty of appealing designs. The character designs have the trademark eyes that CLAMP is known for, although the females are drawn much curvier and sexier than usual. The designs for Wonderland and Mirrorland (the land where Miyuki ends up in the second episode) are effectively strange, imaginative and quirky, thus fitting in well with the rest of the show. Mirrorland is definitely the more interesting of the two, but the Wonderland universe is still copied and adapted well. The backgrounds are a little bland and low-detail at times, but they're mostly quite interesting to look at.
Thirdly, there's the acting, which is only available in Japanese. The original performances are certainly nothing to write home about, but given the short running time of this series, that's hardly a surprise. The effectiveness doesn't lie so much in the performances as much as it does in the actual dialogue. The script is made of very brief dialogue. There are very few, if any, long sentences spoken. I felt this contributed quite well to the strange atmosphere of this show. If they had tried to make the dialogue any more complicated, it probably would have been too distracting. Getting back to the actual cast, Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland features several noticeable female talents, such as Megumi Ogata and Ai Orikasa. Since there's not a whole lot of dialogue in this show, the performances come off somewhat quiet and low-key, which did add a little more to this quirky show. As for actual notable voices, the S&M Queen was pretty funny, but the only voice really worth mentioning is Miyuki's. I didn't talk about her much when I was mentioning the characters for a reason. Miyuki, like all the other characters, doesn't experience a lot of character growth. Since she's the focus of this series, however, if she didn't come off as likable, then this show would have surely flopped. Thankfully, the actress portraying her did a good job of making me feel really sorry for poor Miyuki. This was accomplished by Miyuki's awkward, shy introductions and retreats, but the real winner was her cry. Miyuki's cry had a bit of a whine mixed in that didn't come off as annoying but kept making me think, in-between chuckles, 'Oh dear, that poor girl.'
Fourth and finally, there's the music. The music in this series is a real like-it-or-hate-it situation. The music is one long, continuous melody that plays throughout the entire show. There are specific music cues that occur when something significant is happening (like Miyuki being chased by the S&M Queen) that help keep the music from being monotonous and annoying, for me anyway. I know others will feel just the opposite and will probably be begging for a moment of silence. I thought that the constant music helped make this show something different from any other anime I've seen. I also felt it was well composed and fit the worlds well. There's also an ending song that's fun, but appears to tell a story about a girl stealing another girls boyfriend. It doesn't fit the show at all, but that's far from uncommon for anime.
All these basic elements blended together to give Miyuki-Chan a distinctive feel that I've never really experienced with anime before. The plot is essentially non-existent and there's no real resolution at the end of the day. The total lack of faithfulness to the Alice books will bother some people, and the simple design and concept of the show will bother other non-Alice fans. However, Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland was quirky enough to keep me amused and entertained throughout its 30-minute run. I'll admit that it does have one fatal flaw: it's not a title you'll end up watching many times. As such, I can only recommend it if you're up for something offbeat, weird and, of course, quirky.
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Can't say I can think of anything to compare to this one.
Notes and Trivia
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland is based on a single-volume CLAMP manga of the same name, serialized between 1993-1995 and published in book form shortly after the anime was released. It was available in English from Tokyopop, but is out of print as of this writing. I'm told that the manga version is also weirder then the anime, which certainly makes me want to check it out.
A note on the title: The Japanese title of "Alice in Wonderland" is "Fushigi no Kuni no Alice" ("Alice of the Mysterious Country"), hence the Japanese title of this anime, "Fushigi no Kuni no Miyuki-chan." The two parts of this OAV (even in Japan, they were released and sold as a single volume) are, of course, based on "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and its sequel "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There."
US DVD Review
I want to state right from the get-go that I think ADV did a good job on this subtitled disc. However, I do have a flaw and a couple nitpicks that I'd like to get out of the way first. The actual flaw is in the packaging. From previous announcements and discussions, ADV never really considered a dub for this title. However, the back of this disc indicates that there's an English language track. I thought that it was really strange that slipped through the cracks, as it's a rather obvious flaw, one that will end up with many confused costumers.
My first nitpick is that my Sanyo player lists the language track as "Others" while my PS2 lists it as "English." It doesn't really make any difference, but ADV could've properly listed it as "Japanese." My second nitpick is actually formed off a positive aspect of this disc. Despite the lack of an English track, the subtitles on this disc are optional DVD subtitles. However, there's no selector for them on the menu. They simply start up with the show. All the other subtitled-only DVDs I own have a subtitle selector in the menu and I felt it should've been here too, but again, it doesn't really matter.
Now for the positive aspects. From what I've seen on ADV's disc and from what I've read about the Japanese disc, ADV's DVD is almost like the Japanese disc with the region coding changed. The video on this disc is pretty decent. The colors look nice and solid, but there's a little cross coloration (rainbows) that are usually minimal, but become noticeable in a few panning scenes, which caused some ugly jagged edges. It wasn't unbearable and the majority of the video is generally pleasing. Reportedly, the Region 2 Japanese disc looks about the same. The audio, due to the show's nature, is soft, but comes across clean and clear. There aren't any extras aside from a PDF file that lets you print off a picture of Miyuki and some costumes so you can dress her up. I haven't had the chance to try this out, unfortunately.
When I said ADV's disc was a lot like the Japanese disc, I meant that if you were to turn the subtitle track off, the video would be exactly the same as it was in Japan. All the episode titles, text and credits are left in Japanese and translated with DVD subtitles when needed, with follow-up English credits at the very end (with a Japanese cast list no less). So in the end, ADV's DVD is almost exactly like the Japanese DVD (which also lacks extras) and that's why I think they did a good job with the material. Add the fact that this disc is priced at a low MSRP of $12.98 and it's hard to pass up (heck, I got it at under $20 Canadian at a retail store).
Rated 15+ by ADV.
Violence: 1 - Miyuki falls down a lot and gets into a little scrap with a couple of the Wonderland folk.
Nudity: 2 - A fair bit of skin, but any actual nudity is pretty low detail.
Sex/Mature Themes: 3 - All of the girls come on to Miyuki with varying degrees of forcefulness, but it never goes too far.
Language: 0 - Not a swear word to be found in the subtitles.
Staff & Cast
Miyuki-Chan: Mariko Kouda
Queen: Kikuko Inoue
Cheshire Cat: Ai Orikasa
Hatter: Megumi Shinohara
Door: Hekiru Shiina
To Li: Megumi Ogata
Cho Li: Yumi Youma
Bunny: Yuko Nagashima
Humpty Dumpty: Masaki Katsuo
Flower Girl: Rika Matsumoto
Yuri: Sakura Tange
Additional voices: Miki Nagasawa, Yumi Fukamizu, Mariko Onodera