Red Riding Hood Chacha
Genre: Comedy
Format: 74 Episodes
Allegiance: NAS/Shueisha
Director: Tsuji Shoki
Vintage: 1994-1995
Intelligence Agency Report by: Lady Sage
Twelve-year-old witch Chacha is thrilled about starting magic school along with her friends, Shiine-chan the wizard and Riiya the werewolf, despite her clumsiness with magic. But on her first day of school, her teacher Seravy gives her a necklace, a bracelet and a ring so that she can use the power of love, courage, and hope to “holy up” into the magical princess and fight off the minions of the Evil Magic Lord. But why does the Evil Magic Lord want to hurt her?

Field Agent Report by: Lady Sage
Plot
Characters
Impact
Visual
Audio
8.00
8.75
8.75
7.75
7.75
Overall 8.25
(not an average)
Akazukin Chacha is one of those anime that’s more than the sum of its parts. It is many ways no better than your standard mid-90’s mahou shoujo: passable animation and music, unthreatening-villain-of-the-week, a glowing transformation sequence “in the name of” this that or the other. Yet there is something about it that saves it from the black pit of the unremarkable that so many of its kindred of the time fell into.

One of Akazukin’s Chacha’s One of Akazukin’s Chacha’s main problems is that its episodes tend to be formulaic. They’re usually fine at first: the school-oriented episodes are very cute and fun, with plenty of endearing characters and it’s always entertaining to see what legendary character you’ll see next. But then in the last few minutes, the minions of the Evil Magic Lord attack, and Chacha, using the powers of love, courage, and hope, transforms into Captain Planet… errr, the magical princess and defeats the bad guys with the same footage of the same attack every single time. The recycled footage is blatant and not particularly well-done, so it’s particularly odious. But once the main plot kicks in, some of the formula leaks away, and eventually the whole magical girl plot is dropped in favor of pure school adventure, which is much more enjoyable.

The animation and music of Akazukin Chacha are acceptable, but by no means state-of-the-art, even for their time. The art is super-cute, with twelve-year-olds that look more like seven-year-olds and glompable werewolf puppies. The background music is thoroughly forgettable, although some of the insert songs (if you could call them that) sung by the characters are cute. The themes range from purely obnoxious to rather sweet and pleasant. Notably, the opening theme song never actually changes, although the accompanying animation does.

What shines most about Akazukin Chacha is its characters. Everyone in the fairly large cast has a distinctive personality, with the only common trait being that they’re all absolutely nuts. It’s amazing fun just to watch the way they bounce off one another and see how they all grow throughout the course of the series. The nuttiness of the characters brings a zany energy to the series that cannot be found anywhere else.

The ending of Akazukin Chacha is frustrating and asks more questions than it answers. But in a show that really only wants to h ave fun and doesn’t take itself seriously, as in this case, it is not the destination so much as the journey. In the case of Akazukin Chacha, the journey is fun for the whole family!