Forgotten Licensed Anime: Saint Tail
Ever since Japan started making cartoons, they’ve been brought over to the West. After the runaway success of Pokémon and Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, anime began to explode here in the West, giving us animated exploits that have never been seen before. Unfortunately, with all the series that are brought over, many are lost in the shuffle and have become extremely rare to find even in Used Bargin Bins. Sometimes this is for the best, other times a criminally underrated gem is ignored. Today, we’ll take a look at one of these forgotted licensed anime.
In a small Japanese town, there are crooked people who try to screw innocent people out of their prized possessions. Normally, this would go unchallenged, since the police can’t lock up any evidence. Luckily, a mysterious thief has come forward to right these wrongs, stealing the prized possessions back from the robber and giving them back to the good. This theif is the plucky young girl known as Saint Tail. Using her amazing acrobatics and many, many magic tricks, Saint Tail is able to get the upper hand on foes twice her size very easily. To capture her, the mayor has appointed Junior Detective Daiki Asuka Jr. to investigate this good-hearted criminal. To give him a fair chance, Saint Tail always gives him a personalized warning note saying where she’ll strike next and when, though it does Asuka no good since Saint Tail escapes from any trap he set up. Little does Asuka know that Saint Tail is really Meimi Haneoka, a 14-year-old girl attend the same class he does at St. Paulia’s Private Academy, and the daughter of an acrobat and a magician. Assisting Meimi in her escapades is the nun-in-training Seira Mimori, who is the sole propriator of the local church and is the #1 place to turn to when one needs help and the police are no good. From jewels to dolls, Saint Tail will always retrieve that one possession a person can’t live without. With God by her side, Saint Tail will steal your heart.
When you think of magical girl anime, you undoubtedly think of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura. Maybe you’d think of Cutey Honey and if you’re an old school fan, then Magical Project S (or Pretty Sammy) as well. Unfortunately, other magical girl anime tend to suck horribly or are riddled with clichés and the surprisingly few good ones never make it over here (looking at you Precure). That’s part of what makes Saint Tail stand out from the crowd. It breaks a lot of the clichés rampant while adding some new wrinkles to the proceedings. It’s rather refreshing to see the heroine face off against regular bad guys instead of space aliens all the time and that her powers are mainly illusionary tricks rather than real powers. While it does fall into the trap of having very formulatic episodes (Random victim tells problem to Seira, Seira tells Meimi, Meimi sends warning note to Asuka, Meimi’s dad shows off some new trick, Saint Tail uses said trick to make a fool out of everybody and returns the stolen item) they never really get boring because Meimi and Asuka have a purity about them that makes the chase extremely fun to watch even if you can predict everything that will happen down to the exact frame. The fun Saint Tail has while she’s evading Asuka Jr. and the random bad guy of the week is shared with the audience, which is something few magical girl series do anymore. The best part is, if you have any young ones, this show is perfectly safe for them. The religious aspects are typically only reserved for two sections of the show and neither of which are all that offensive unless you find religion in a kids show at all offensive.
The biggest problem with Saint Tail is the lack of development for the supporting characters. I know the show focuses on Meimi and Asuka Jr., but it would have been nice to have one of the episodes take place, say, wherever Meimi’s father is performing that night or have part of the episode take place at the police station where Daddy Asuka works. Typically Asuka Sr. will come into the end of the episode and arrest the really evil bad guys with a throwaway “We’ve been investigating this guy but don’t have evidence until now” line, which is kind of wasteful since he never really seems to help his son out directly. Meimi’s parents are even worse, as neither of them tend to leave the house