Review: Shugo Chara!

Genre: Action, Adventure, Supernatural, Drama, Fantasy
Author: Peach-Pit
Manga: 10 Volumes
Original Run: February 2006-January 2010
Shugo Chara! Encore! scheduled to start April 2010
Anime: 51 Episodes
Original Run: October 2007-September 2008
Shugo Chara!! Doki- 51 Episodes
Original Run: October 2008-September 2009
Shugo Chara!!! Dokki Doki ongoing

(Original from Wikipedia | This is an edited version)
Amu Hinamori, is a student at Seiyo Elementary. At first glance, her classmates refer to her as "cool and spicy" and rumors speculate about her personal life. However, her real personality is that of a very shy girl who has trouble showing her true personality.

One night, Amu wishes for the courage to show her "would-be" self, and the next morning finds three brightly colored eggs—red, blue, and green—in her bed. At first, she is alarmed, but realizes she must have really wished to change. These eggs hatch into three Guardian Characters: Ran, Miki, and Su. Amu's Guardian Characters—Ran, Miki, Su, and Diamond—aid her in her quest of self-discovery. Each Guardian Character represents an aspect of Amu's true self. Ran represents Amu's desire to be more honest and athletic, Miki represents Amu's desire to be more level headed and artistic, Su represents Amu's desire to be more caring and improve her domestic skills.

However, Amu is not the only one with Guardian Characters. Each of the Guardians—Tadase Hotori, Nadeshiko (Nagihiko) Fujisaki, Kukai Souma, and Yaya Yuiki—have their own Guardian Characters. Finding that she has guardian characters, the Seiyo Elementary's Guardians recruit Amu as the Joker and trained and helped her to search for X Eggs and X Characters, the corrupted forms of peoples' dreams, and purify them.

Amu also encounters Ikuto Tsukiyomi and Utau Hoshina (Tsukiyomi), two siblings who also have Guardian Characters and are employed by the Easter Company to search for the Embryo. The Embryo is believed to grant any wish to the one who possesses it. However, the process creates X Eggs and X Characters. It is described as a white egg with a heart and yellow wings.

Later on in the series, Amu obtains a fourth (yellow) egg. This egg contains the Guardian Character Diamond. Diamond represents Amu's desire to shine in front of others and be a good speaker and singer.

Amu becomes close friends of Ikuto and Utau as she learns more about them and the reason why they work for Easter. She also begins to interact more with the guardians and get to know and accept their real selves.

Eventually, Nadeshiko Fujisaki and Kukai Souma leave the Guardians and are replaced by Rima Mashiro and Kairi Sanjo respectively. Kairi later leaves and is replaced by Nagihiko Fujisaki, Nadeshiko's real identity, as the third Jack's chair, with his new Guardian Character, Rhythm.

Story: The story of Shugo Chara! is very simple. However, contrary to what you might think, its simplicity makes it intriguing and appealing. The very core of the plot is the path to the discovery of one's true self. One can relate very well to the series especially since most people have gone through situations that put to test one's knowledge of one's self. This may happen more frequently for one person than for the other but in one time or the other, we are brought into the challenge of being ourselves. It is a plus for this series that the concept of the plot is unique. The story might sometimes seem too slow-paced but it is definitely well-developed.

Characters: The character designs are very wonderful and fitting for a shoujo series. It is also note-worthy that the personalities of each character is unique not only to that character but for the series itself. While most magical girl series showcase klutzy and sweet romantic heroines, Amu, as the series' heroine is in contrast very stubborn, short-tempered, and sometimes even rude. The guardians also have their own unique characteristics. Tadase appears as a soft-spoken and kind young boy. However, with his guardian character, Kiseki, he can change into a completely different egoistical king who wants world domination. Kukai is the energetic and sports-minded senpai (upperclassman) of the group who tends to act as the carefree big brother of his underclassmen. Yaya is the childish baby of the group while Rima is the petite yet confident and strong-willed queen. Kairi is the calculating type of person who goes from ordering around people to hiding in the corner when Amu is around. Nagihiko, on the other hand, is very troubled with keeping secrets from Amu while as Nadeshiko, he was the perfect example of a lady. The background of each character is individually detailed out while making sure that the family history doesn't take away the main plot of the story.

Romance/Romantic Relationships: The romance in the story is absolutely one of the most audience-grabbing factor of the series. The most notable relationships are those of Amu and Tadase; and Amu and Ikuto. Aside from the romantic moments of the pairs, their love triangle appeals to a lot of viewers, particularly those in for suspense. Some series start out as one genre and because of a romance side story, it turns into a romance series all the way. But not Shugo Chara! Peach-Pit definitely did a good job on maintaining equal amounts of romance while keeping the real core of the plot, which is self-discovery.

Guardian Characters: Although the story is unique in itself, what makes it truly unique is the way it brings the message to its readers that everyone sometimes act as someone they are not. That is, the concept of the Guardian Characters. The Guardian Characters in the series are the representatives of the real selves of each character to whom they belong to. They are born out of the character's wish to be him/herself. It is not unusual for one to have more than one Guardian Characters, as many characters have 2. Although, only Amu has more than that, which is 4. Just as Amu's guardian characters represent aspects of her real self that she wants to show, the guardian characters of the rest of the cast also represent their real selves.

Animation: In terms of animation, Shugo Chara! is fairly average. It has good quality images and motion, however, compared to the new and other graphic-excelling anime titles, Shugo Chara! doesn't stand out very much. Despite this, you are not left unsatisfied because it isn't so poorly made or flat. The quality is enough to bring out the atmosphere of the series. Timing is also very good.

Voice Acting: The seiyus and voice actors/actresses of each character in the series did a good job on the acting. You will really feel like they are the real voices of the characters. Aside from the well planned out casting, the series boasts of a star cast. This includes Nana Mizuki as Utau Hoshina(Tsukiyomi) who is the famous seiyu also behind the voices of Hyuuga Hinata from Naruto, Tamao Tamamura from Shaman King, Aria from Sister Princess, and Cisqua from Elemental Gelade among many others; Hiroyuki Yoshino as Daichi who is also the vocie of Kai Miyagusuku from Blood+, Pete Pumps from Ginban Kaleidoscope, Zed from KIBA, and Hibiki Tokai from Vandread among others; Ryoka Yuzuki as Temari who also voices Ruby Moon from Cardcaptor Sakura, Ino Yamanaka from Naruto, and Marie from Sister Princess, with many others; Miyuki Sawashiro as Yoru/Yu Nikaido/young Ikuto whose other notable roles were Shinku from Rozen Maiden, Puchiko from Winter Garden, and Mint Blancmanche from Galaxy Angel among many others; Yuichi Nakamura as Ikuto Tsukiyomi who also voices Tomoya Okazaki from Clannad, and Tesla and Muramasa from Bleach; and also Riko Takagi as Tadase Hotori who also voices Kahoko Hino from La Corda d'Oro and Sarugaki Hiyori from Bleach.

Soundtrack: For the soundtrack, I give a rating of 7/10. While the songs are pretty catchy and somehow lively, the styles of each opening and ending themes are very much the same with each other that sometimes it almost feels the same when they're not. However the singing voices receive my praise, especially Buono!. They did a job well done. The lyrics also fit in very well. As for inserts, Nana Mizuki once again displayed her talent for us to enjoy.

Like my previous review and all other reviews, this is nothing more than a general overview from one point of view and that is mine. There may be aspects about this series that I like but you don't or things you like but I don't. That's all up to you.