Name: Akazukin Chacha
Genre: Shojo, Magical Girl, Fantasy, Comedy
Length: 74 episodes (1994-1995)
Author: Min Ayahana
Developers: Nihon Ad Systems and Studio Gallop
Akazukin Chacha is a slapstick comedy television anime series which is based on a manga under the same name. The show itself can be seen as Japanese’s attempt to make a parody series out of the original concept of the fairy tale about a happy and naive young girl wearing a red hood and a wolf who tricks the girl into eating her and her grandmother. While the series does contain signature characters from the original tale, the creators made a lot of changes that the casts are now their own characters. By adding more wacky characters and situations along the ride, Akazukin Chacha is a showcase of Japanese’s silliness that work beyond imagination and it results in funny, memorable experiences, as well as smiles across audience’s faces.
Chacha the Little Red Riding Hood is a lighthearted, fantasy tale resolving around three young children: the titular Chacha, an extremely clumsy and ditzy witch trainee under the powerful magican named Seravy; Riiya the Werewolf, a heroic, friendly werewolf neighbour with a cuddling wolf form; and lastly, Sheene, a tricky wizard in training under Seravy’s ex girlfriends, Dorothy. The initial episode concerns the certain Demon Lord who wants to conquer the world, but is unable to do so because of Seravy the Magician. In response, he sent Dorothy the cursed mirror that turns her evil, and captures the magician. With Chacha’s, Riiya’s, and Sheene’s afford, and the magical artifacts that temporary turns Chacha into a powerful Valkyrie-like warrior, Dorothy’s curse is lifted and the day is saved. The Demon Lord acknowledges the hidden power the three children possess, and changes his target to them instead, setting up the plot of the whole series where he sends a minion of the week to annihilate Chacha and her two best friends
The basic idea of Akazukin Chacha is a slice of life story about Chacha and her friend’s wacky and hilarious adventures in everyday life as the Demon Lord tries to send his minions to sabotage their activities. Most of these villains are a bunch of weirdoes like moles, vampires, gigantic bears, and joker twins who have rather unique ways to carry out their missions, mainly by using pranks and lies, similar to how the original Big Bad Wolf deceives the Little Red Riding Hood, and the consequences the children face can be threatening; however, due to the show’s nature, the heroes usually find a way to solve the problems hilariously.
While the villains are easily eccentrics, everybody else in the show itself seems to as eccentrics as they are. In Akazukin Chacha, we have characters like a whip wielding, scary looking, but kind and sensitive teacher, an absent minded headmaster, a stalking, shapeshifting mermaid with a crush, a jealousy Little Black Hood, a pink, little kunoichi, and many others whose personalities and traits are intentionally exaggerated for a comedic purpose. There’s also a daily bickering between Riiya and Sheene’s love toward Chacha, and some other girls who involve in the love triangle and end up with hilarity. While the characters are not as original and wacky as those in the show like Ranma 1/2, most characters related to Chacha are much less grubby and less questionable in term of moral values. This makes the show a lot more family friendly and cute to watch. While the show has a huge amount of randomnesses similar to Ranma 1/2 and Keroro Gunso, they are kept at a considerable amount to allow good laughs and an innocent yet sensible journey. People do not watch Akazukin Chacha because of panty shots or half-wit crab hunting contests, they watch the series to observe how these innocent children living their everyday life, how they getting into crazy adventures, and how they trying to get out of the messes with teamwork and their trusts between each other.
That is to say; even though large portion of the is a mind-bogging slap stick comedy, Akazukin Chacha is still an idealistic series that deliver practical ideas and morals to audience, and the show can get pretty serious when it needs to. Usually, this is invoked during a confrontation with a villain or a controversial situations where the main characters have to decide their actions.. Unfortunately, these moments can be a bit jarring with the ridiculous situation surrounding the characters, and simply doesn’t fit. For example, when Chacha starts to give a speech on how she trust her friend and then said friend start making puppy eyes on the audience while his face’s all bruised up. While I do appreciate the serious moments in the show; it doesn’t work very well, to say the least.
Another weak point of Akazukin Chacha is its tradition to end an episode with Magical Princess Holy Up, or the magical Valkyrie’s transformation battle against a villain of the week. Powered with three magical accessories that draw a link between Chacha, Riiya, and Sheene, Chacha can transform from the Little Red Riding Hood into the Magical Princess, an attractive Valkyrie with magic abilities to vanquish the Demon Lord’s minion in one hit. The main problems with the transformation are that, firstly, it is running on the same stock footage every time it happens, and it gets longer and longer and Magical Princess Chacha receives new abilities, and secondly, it seems not so crucial to the plot at all. It turns out that the transformation section was exclusively added to the anime adaptation of the manga to pay homage to a magical girl series; this is one of a very few things that doesn’t work well with the show thanks to its nature as a parody series. Because of the execution, the whole 2-3 minutes of the process seems like filler than anything, and the developers could have come up with a better mean to deal with an episode’s ending.
Akazukin Chacha does itself the best for what it is: a family friendly slap stick comedy-parody. It has all the elements they can make a fun out of the original Little Red Riding Hood characters and theme, it has lists of creative and unique characters. The plots are crazy and over-the-top ridiculous yet lovable; and finally, it’s very funny and it’s safe for everyone at every age to watch. There are some serious moments in the show, but sadly those moments are sometimes misplaced. The magical girl element added in the story is also not very effective because how repetitive and how unnecessary it is. Akazukin Chacha is a great story with a very few flaws, and it guarantees to make you laugh and smile at these children’s innocence and craziness. The show is highly recommended.