Fantasista Doll Review

This is review number two hundred and forty five. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. First of all, the letter “E” in my keyboard just broke off. It’s frustrating trying to write a review where you have to type to a space where a key was once in. It’s like the anime gods want me to stop reviewing. Well I won’t. Not until I reached my goal. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is called Fantasista Doll. For some odd reason, there are two doll themed anime for this season. This one is a bit different though. This is a twelve episode anime about a girl with a cellphone that reads cards that summons some girls. It’s a pretty cool thing, actually, but the show somehow botched it. Let’s read on.

Story

This anime is about a girl named Uzume Uno. She is a shy girl that lives a pretty normal school life. One day though, while riding a packed subway train, she suddenly discovered a device in her bag after she thought someone has robbed her. To her surprise, this device actually has the power to summon five magical girls. When Uzume was suddenly attacked by a mysterious person, she was forced to make a pact with some magical girls and asks them to save her. It turns out that the girls are actually “dolls”. They are data that can be summoned to help serve and protect their masters. The idea of having some girls with artificial intelligence call you master sounds like a wonderful dream. It’s not like that for Uzume though after she finds out that a mysterious organization is out to get her for owning the special device in the first place.

Taking the Pants Off

I’m a bit confused with this show. It legitimately looks like a magical girl show with all the fluff and sprinkles that goes along with the genre. It feels like it was simply catering to its core audience which, in the case of the magical girl show, is a bunch of preteen kids. It’s a bit mind blowing that such a show exists without any hint of sarcasm. As I keep watching this show, I was seriously feeling a bit iffy. Is this show seriously about the magic of friendship and girls dressing up in costumes? If it is, then can you imagine the cynical mindset of most anime watchers being served with something like this. I can already tell that some people will hate this. I even had the same knee jerk reaction. I was like “dude, seriously? Why does this show exist?”. The idea of such an overly sweet kind of anime coming out in a time where cynicism is running rampant is actually pretty funny. I’ll say it right here. This show has nothing big offer. It is simply about a lighthearted magical show with a shallow plot and half-baked concept. Its main appeal is the alluring idea that preteen girls can own a cellphone that can summon some girls that would call them master. The show is nothing but friendship and the power it holds. There is no twist, no shocking ending and no food for thought that can make it feel deep. This is simply just a cute magical girl show. It’s full of innocence and bright dispositions that seriously makes you want to poke your eye out. I’ll also say this though. This anime is good. My own cynicism is holding me back but this show is good. In terms of how it works with its preferred genre, this show was entertaining and that’s really what’s important here.

The concept of the show is a pretty weird one. The show has transforming magical girls that are called forth by someone that holds this cellphone like device. There is a transformation scene and the girls fight in cute costumes. It’s your standard magical girl affair with a hint of some modernism with the use of a device to call forth the girls. The girls are more than just artificial intelligence with great faces though. They are also cards. The owner of the device gets some cards stashed inside the device then summons the girls. There is very little explanation as well as to why the magical girls needed to be in card form and engage other magical girls that are also summoned from a card. The audience is just asked to go along with it. The concept is actually pretty easy to follow but the show never really seems to incorporate the idea smoothly. It’s like a cross between a magical girl show and a card battle show. With the owners fighting other device owners, they call forth their girls and they also use different kinds of cards to use during battle. Some trap cards, equipment cards and other cards to help tip the battle in their favor. The idea is simple enough. The only problem is that this was just a plot device for the show. It never focused the technicalities of the card battles and it said very little on the actual girl fights. There were no mention of the girls getting stronger, no powerful enemies to hate and no strategic moment for the anime to focus on. Despite the intriguing concept of a card/magical girl battle, the show simply wanted to showcase its lightheartedness and display the infinite power of friendship. I’m not being sarcastic with that. I bet you read that with a bit of sarcasm and that’s honestly how the anime feels to me. It’s seriously too innocent for its own good.

The show has two main plot points that goes hand in hand together. The anime had a stale progression but there were still some key points in term of story to give the anime some direction. The first plot point is the mind numbing concept of “friendship”. The central focus of the anime has always been Uzume’s ability to grow into a better person. She is a shy girl that can’t properly convey what she really feels. This is a big problem because she can’t seem to get really close with people. She went through some transformation thanks to the five magical girls that now calls her their master. As the show progresses, the five girls would do their best to help Uzume on almost everything. They would give her advice, be stern with her if needed and comfort her when she needs some tenderness. With the help of her new friends, she was able to grow as a person and actually has enough courage to be true to herself. She was even able to make some new friends thanks to the girls. This is a pretty straight forward story. I personally think the show lacked a bit of finesse in terms of execution but the strong idea of friendship comes through really well despite the fact. We are able to see Uzume make some wonderful bonds with a lot of characters and it helped her become a better person.

Under the first plot point, there was also some focus on Uzume’s relationship with the five magical artificial girls. At first, Uzume wasn’t really sure if she wanted to be masters of the girls and her indecisiveness caused some tension between her and her girls. She made the contract and now she has a duty to be their master. She’s going to have to learn to be a better master for the sake of her new friends. As the show progresses though, it would appear that Uzume isn’t the only one being indecisive. It seems that the five girls are pretty unsure of themselves as well. They had a master before Uzume and they really loved that person. That owner suddenly abandoned them though and it left a pretty big scar emotionally on the girls. While they are happy that they have a new master, they can’t help being attached to their old master as well. They also can’t forget how they were abandoned. The anime was smart by dedicating most of the first half on the five girls finding their resolve. The story is still pretty shallow and massively predictable but there were enough fluff and lightheartedness yet some balanced seriousness as well to make the episodes pretty fun to watch. The five girls would often display their own vulnerability and Uzume would swoop right in and make things a little bit better. It’s a nice give and take the show was pretty mindful of.

Still under the big umbrella of the first plot point is Uzume’s bond with some fellow device users. This one pretty much fall under the familiar idea of a club. The show also displays its strong power of friendship by having Uzume create a slow connection with the members of the card club. It’s a club about cards and the members all happen to own some magical girls of their own. This one has a simple setup. It’s really just about Uzume trying to get close to this girl named Kagami Totori while their club leader, Manai Hatsuki, gives them some chances to be alone together and to slowly become friends. Uzume is a shy girl but Kagami is a bit of a snob towards Uzume so the two is having a hard time to be closer to one another. The show proves though that even the most opposite of people can be friends if they tried. There is a lot more to this club themed plot point but I don’t want to spoil much of it. This is a really cute part of the anime and I love how the club comes together with their dolls in one room practically overcrowding the place. It’s a fun and playful aspect of the anime that comes through pretty nicely.

The second plot point is about this group called the Mutual Dream Association Group. This group has one thing in mind and that’s to steal Uzume’s cards and the five girls she owns. This mysterious organization would have other device users do their bidding. They would lure these people in by telling them that they can make their dreams come true but only if they help steal the cards away from Uzume. The second plot point is mostly about the desperate device users that are baited by the Mutual Dream Association Group to confront Uzume. The process is pretty easy. A bad guy would appear trying to take Uzume’s cards and she will be forced to engage in some card battles. This is where the five girls would go up against some artificial girls in really colorful costumes. This is also where the owners would use some kind of trap or equipment card to try to get the advantage. As I said before though, the show lacked depth in terms of the card battles. This was merely a way to progress the first plot point. There were no steady pacing for the fights and it was really just about the girls swinging their swords or whatever. I still like the idea though. The colorful cast that targets the girls, the ridiculous trap cards (like freaking fish cake that attacks the enemy) and the seemingly random tidbits about the card battles popping out of nowhere (we were told of a finishing move half way through the series as if the show just made it up in that particular episode) all make for one pretty interesting moment. I think this is where my cynicism would act up and just laugh blatantly at the show. It really does look stupid. Dear god, why did I watch this show? It’s actually the reason why it’s so fun to watch. I guess, it’s so bad that it’s good. I mean, I can ignore the shallow story and the predictable progression of the anime but the card battle segments proved a bit too ridiculous for me. I think the thing that was hard to take was that the show was actually being serious. It wasn’t poking fun of itself. It was seriously try to progress the story with no hint of sarcasm and it just makes it even more fun to watch.

Under the second plot point is also the slow reveal as to exactly why the mysterious group wants Uzume’s cards. In the second half of the show, there were a stronger focus on this plot point and it was revealed that one person is actually behind all of the attacks. The person was slowly revealed and the reason was also explained as well. I also like the small explanation behind the devices when the reveal was presented. The show is pretty predictable so I think you can see the big reveal coming long before they even mentioned that one person was pulling the strings. It was a nice element to make the story well rounded though and I appreciate that. It also gave the show a decent ending. It was able to make the two plot points mingle playfully and deliver a pretty satisfying ending.

The characters are all pretty one dimensional. It’s actually one of the things that really affected the anime a bit negatively. If it had really compelling characters or just some well-rounded ones then I’m sure the show is able to actually sell its lightheartedness approach a lot more easily. With such a saccharine idea the anime had, it needed to balance it out with some well thought out plot or really engaging characters. Both those things aren’t in the show and that is a bit of a bummer. Anyways, it was still the characters that made you watch the show though. The visuals made this show good and I’ll explain that later on. The main character is Uzume Uno. She is the typical main character who seemingly just got herself in a situation where her life changed forever. There’s not much to tell about the character though. Her shy personality was a nice treat at first but the show wasn’t able to expound on it much further. She also lacked the needed energy during card battles to truly get the audience going. The show was aiming for a bit more fluff so I guess the stale personality Uzume has on matches what they trying to reach. It’s a bit sad though because there is a lot of potential for Uzume and the show just wasn’t interested in bringing them out. They could’ve at least made her reliable. One thing I hate about the show was how dependent Uzume was. She would spout words of friendship and togetherness but that’s all she really does. She would be ordered by her dolls to use specific cards at specific moments and it ruins the card battles a bit. Not once does she think of a way to win for the team. Almost every victory was made by her dolls and I think the show just wasn’t mindful of the potential the card battles could’ve given to the anime and how engaging it would be if Uzume was more of a passionate card battler like she actually claims she used to be.

The five dolls that Uzume own are one dimensional as well. There is Sasara, the blond girl. She would be the sternest girl among the group when it comes to interacting with Uzume and she would be blunt on what she thinks isn’t right. Her iron fist personality works well with the submissive personality of Uzume. It’s a shame the show wasn’t able to feature it more. There is Madeliene, the tall big breasted girl. She would often give advice on Uzume during fights and she would also be the team’s brain during fights. There is Shimeji, the pink haired girl. She is the super energetic one in the group and she is the most insecure of all. She is super hung up about her old master that she can’t seem to move on. The show wasn’t able to focus more on her but she was able to leave a pretty decent impression. I think among the group, she’d be the most forgettable though. Then there is Katia, the small cute one in the group. She doesn’t really do much in the group other than look cute and very dangerously loli. The episode where she was focused in was cute though. Lastly, there is Akari. She is the kuudere of the group and she wears pretty gothic outfits. Again, the show doesn’t feature her much as well but she still keeps the interaction in the group pretty balanced. I’ll admit that there are a lot of colorful yet generic characters in the show. The show could’ve done more with them though. The show could’ve focused more on the group dynamic since the main theme is friendship anyways. Sadly, the characters didn’t do much in the show to really make a big difference.

The rest of the characters are massively generic as well. While the main characters didn’t do much, the side characters are just plot devices for the show. Most of them just function for the progression of the story. Uzume’s club friends didn’t do much in the show. There was a side story with some of the side characters but the show never properly developed them. I guess the important thing is that the characters where able to display their own brand of friendship with all the fluff and sprinkles that goes along with it. They were also good enough to give the different plot points enough intrigue to keep you watching.

This is really an odd anime. I know that the story is shallow and the progression is predictable yet I am still entertained by it. It’s all a matter of how you process this show, to be honest. I won’t blame you if you think this show sucks and I really think that it was just too damn hard to take seriously. I leveled with the anime and I saw what it was trying to present. The anime wanted to be full of nothing but friendship and lightheartedness to permeate throughout the show. It did that splendidly so I can’t be too hard on the anime. Here’s the scary part about the show though. This was made by Hoods Entertainment. This is a studio that is proud of its Ecchi titles. I still remember this boobs show called Manyuu Hikenchou from this studio. It was nothing but fanservice and almost every good title from this studio is all about fanservice. I can’t imagine this particular studio doing something so wholesome and so sugary sweet. I was honestly waiting for the punch line to happen but I guess this studio wanted to grow out of the Ecchi genre. I think that’s a good thing. The one thing Manyuu Hikenchou had going was that it was serious about its ridiculous story and I can see the same seriousness in this show as well. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed watching it.

Sight and Sound

This is one of the wonderful parts about the show. It has a lot of cute girls in really cute outfits. Anmi, the original creator, really knows how to create pretty girls. Anmi often puts a lot of emphasis on the face of the characters and the light colored hair that goes along with it. The characters would have really pretty eyes that often become the focal point of Anmi’s design. The cuteness would then be drawn out by the rosy cheeks and the big space of the forehead that gives attention to the beautiful hair the characters have. The characters may have cute face but the body gives off a different vibe. Here’s the fun part though. There are a lot of characters in this show. With just counting the girls, I think there are more than thirty characters and they all have standout features that set them apart. There is a wide range in terms of character design that it’s really amazing seeing so many girls in one show. There are a lot of girls from busty ones to sexy ones to frail and flat ones and up to a loli character. You’ll see all those kinds of characters in the show. Coupled with the cute face are different body types that set the girls apart. This is then complimented with a colorful outfit the girls would wear. There is also a wide range of design here. From gothic types to sporty girl costumes, there are a lot of outfits to adore in this show. I am seriously a bit excited seeing so many great designs in one show. Granted, the amount of cool designed girls doesn’t do much in terms of the overall appeal of the show. It was still a treat to see the show has an active imagination that clearly doesn’t run out. The dolls are designed with a pretty wild imagination just being unleashed. It was different for the normal girls though. There was a bit of restraint when it comes to the normal girls. There was a touch of sophistication in their design with how the school uniform makes them look formal. I am also a bit attracted to the main character. Her design reminds me of a clow card wielding girl with the brown hair and the way it splits to the side. I think this was done on purpose. I think Hoods Entertainment was giving a nod to that particular girl show and I like that part of Uzume’s design.

The animation is pretty decent. It was able to make the girls retain their cuteness while they fight and I do admire that. The show was a bit inconsistent at times though. One episode would feature the girls doing some flashy moves that boast some serious animation and attention to detail that you can’t help but stare in admiration. The show would then let the quality decline where even the placement of the mouth looks awkward. The show would have flashy transformation scenes and awesome sequences that make you want to see more of it but then the show would re-use most of these scenes. It looks really cheap and a bit of a disappointment because I think some really high quality animation would’ve been enough to draw people to this anime. I was also waiting for the show to exploit the girls. I was seriously waiting for some fan service and I’m a bit bummed that the show doesn’t have any. I honestly think that some teasing from the show would’ve done wonders. I respect the wholesome friendship approach but with such eye candy characters, it was really just missing some fan service. I do understand that the show doesn’t want to be trashy and adding some fan service will make it look trashy. I get that but I still want some boobs. That’s just me though. The animation was pretty consistent on normal scenes. If the girls aren’t fighting then there really isn’t much to animate so the show was able to present all the good things about the girls and the anime itself.

The anime’s OP is “Ima yo! Fantasista Doll” by Fantasista Doll Cast. This is a pretty cute song. Uzume sung most of the lyrics and she has a pretty cute voice. The verse was decent and it has a solid beat to it. It then builds up to a really catchy chorus. I even found myself swaying my head to the beat. The OP sequence features a summary of the events of the anime and the important characters of the show. It also featured the cute girls in a really nice montage that nicely gives us a small serving of what the anime has to offer.

fantasia1

The anime’s ED is “DAY by DAY” by Fantasista Doll Cast. This has a more mellow beat than the OP song. It has the same cuteness to it though. It is still about the main character singing a cute song with a steady verse and a really catchy chorus. The ED sequence was pretty good as well. It features Uzume looking cute and resembling that certain clow card girl a lot and the rest of the cast in some random outfits as well. The character design in the ED looks a bit different though and the animation was for the lip sync was pretty bad. It threw me off completely, to be honest. It’s still a cute sequence though.

Overall Score

4/10 “It’s shallow, predictable and half-baked. It has cute girls though so that’s something to ponder over.”

This show has a wonderful concept in mind but it just wasn’t able to present it clearly. In the end, this show felt a bit mediocre and stale. I do appreciate the wholesome approach but it’s not enough to save this show. With such a weak story and a predictable progression, there wasn’t much that the show can offer. If you like cute girls in your anime then you might like this show. If you enjoy the sugary sweetness of the magical girl genre then you should try this one out. Hold back your cynicism when you watch the show though because this particular show is just too easy to poke fun of.

4 thoughts on “Fantasista Doll Review

  1. All the characters are really cute, the costumes & the dolls & masters. The story is not so bad but it gets confusing because you don’t know where the story leads too, the story just ended like “meh, let’s just end it because I don’t know what to write on the next episode”

    I always thought that Uzume is a great card player becuz at the beginning of the show she was a champion on games like that.

    The next thing I noticed is that Sasara and the rest is annoying,, They are too bossy.And I pity Uzume for being stucked with those dolls.I feel so sorry and hurt becuz of the mean words those dolls say to her.

    In the end, It shows that Uzume isn’t the main character but Komachi -,- lolz since the story is about her and her doll…mehhh

Thoughts~

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