Tokyo Mew Mew (東京ミュウミュウ Tōkyō Myū Myū?) is a Japanese shōjo manga series written by Reiko Yoshida and illustrated by Mia Ikumi. It was originally serialized in Nakayoshi from September 2000 to February 2003, and later published in seven tankōbon volumes by Kodansha from February 2001 to April 2003. It focuses on five girls infused with the DNA of extinct animals which gives them special powers and allows them to transform into "Mew Mews." Led by Ichigo Momomiya, the girls protect the earth from aliens who wish to "reclaim" it.
The series was adapted into a 52 episode anime series by Studio Pierrot and Nippon Animation. It debuted in Japan on April 6, 2002, on both TV Aichi and TV Tokyo; the final episode aired on March 29, 2003. A two-volume sequel to the manga, Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode, was serialized in Nakayoshi from April 2003 to February 2004. The sequel introduces a new Mew Mew, Berry Shirayuki (meaning "White Snow Berry"), who becomes the temporary leader of the Mew Mews, while Ichigo (meaning "Strawberry") is on a trip to England. Two video games were also created for the series: a puzzle adventure game for the Game Boy Advance system and a role-playing video game for the PlayStation.
Tokyopop originally licensed the manga series for English-language publication in North America and released the complete original series as well as the sequel, with Kodansha Comics USA planning to re-publish the series with a new translation in September 2011. 4Kids Entertainment licensed the anime series for North American broadcast under the name Mew Mew Power. Heavily edited and dubbed, 23 episodes of Mew Mew Power aired on the 4Kids TV channel in the United States and 26 episodes aired on YTV in Canada. 4Kids Entertainment was unable to license the remaining 26 episodes of the series, thus were unable to complete its broadcast. They have never released the series to home video.
Well received by English-language readers, several volumes of the manga series appeared in the Top 50 sales lists for graphic novels in their respective months of release. Critics praised the manga as a cute and entertaining series with free-flowing style and character designs. A la mode received praise as a good continuation of the series, but was also criticized for offering nothing new. The anime adaptation received high ratings while airing in Japan, resulting in numerous marketing tie-ins. Despite criticism for extensive editing that removed most of the Japanese elements, the Mew Mew Power dub became the highest rated 4Kids show during its broadcast. It was licensed for regional release in several other countries instead of the original Japanese series.
At the start of the series, a young girl named Ichigo Momomiya attends an endangered species exhibit with her 'crush' and future boyfriend, Masaya Aoyama. After an earthquake, Ichigo and four other girls are bathed in a strange light. A cat appears before Ichigo, then merges with her. The next day she begins acting like a cat and, after meeting Ryô Shirogane and Keiichirô Akasaka, learns that she was infused with the DNA of the Iriomote cat. Ryou and Keiichirou explain that this allows her to transform into Mew Ichigo, a powerful heroic cat girl. She is ordered to defeat chimera animals—alien parasites—which infect animals and turn them into monsters. Ryou and Keiichirou instruct Ichigo to find the four other girls from the exhibit—the remaining Mew Mews. Mint Aizawa, a spoiled, wealthy ballerina who is infused with the genes of the blue lorikeet;[n 1] Lettuce Midorikawa, a shy but smart girl who endures constant bullying and absorbs the genes of the finless porpoise; A hyper and yet young girl named Pudding Fong, who receives the genes of the golden lion tamarin; and Zakuro Fujiwara, a professional model infused with the genes of the gray wolf.
The five Mew Mews battle the Chimera Animals and their alien controllers, Kisshu, Pai and Taruto. Kisshu falls in love with Ichigo; he tries to gain her love despite the fact that he is trying to eliminate the other Mew Mews. Two more aliens, Pai (Pie) and Taruto (Tart), later join Kisshu (Kish) in trying to destroy the Mew Mews.
As the fighting intensifies, the Mew Mews are tasked with finding "Mew Aqua", a material created from pure water that contains immense power for combating the alien attacks. During a battle with Kisshu (Kish) at an aquarium, Ichigo is in danger of losing when the mysterious Blue Knight appears and rescues her. He returns periodically throughout the series, protecting Ichigo from various dangers; it is later revealed that the Blue Knight is in fact Masaya. Shortly after this discovery, Masaya collapses and transforms again, into Deep Blue—the alien leader who wants to destroy humanity. After explaining to Ichigo that Masaya was a false form for temporary use, Deep Blue attacks the Mew Mews. Masaya's personality briefly reappears and he uses a nearby mew aqua drop to destroy Deep Blue, killing himself in the process. Crying over his body, Ichigo pours her power into Masaya to save his life, losing her own in the process. Masaya kisses her, changing her back to a human, and revives her. Ryou gives Pai the remaining Mew Aqua to save the aliens' world, after which Kisshu, (Kish) Pai (Pie) and Taruto (Tart) say their goodbyes and return to their own world.
In the two-volume sequel, Tokyo Mew Mew à La Mode, Ichigo and Masaya move to England to study endangered species. The remaining Mew Mews continue to eliminate the chimera animas left behind by the aliens. They face a new threat, the Saint Rose Crusaders: humans with special powers who desire to conquer the world and create a utopia. Berry Shirayuki becomes the sixth Mew Mew and temporarily takes Ichigo's place as the leader. Berry is the first Mew Mew to be infused with the DNA of two endangered species, the Andean mountain cat and the Amami rabbit. As one of the strongest Mew Mews, Berry is targeted by two of the Crusaders, who attack her at school. Ichigo returns to provide assistance during this battle. For their final attack, two Crusaders hypnotize the citizens of Tokyo and set them against the Mew Mews. Berry and her childhood friend Tasuku Meguro use their new-found feelings of love to reverse the hypnosis and cause a change of heart in the Crusaders.
Mia Ikumi spent a year designing the Tokyo Mew Mew manga before the release of the first volume in February 2001. The story she originally presented to her editors, Tokyo Black Cat Girl, featured a heroine named Hime Azumi. An intergalactic police officer named Masha gave her the ability to transform into a cat-girl and asked her to aid him in defeating alien invaders called the Bugs. After the production team decided to focus on five female superheroes, Ikumi was asked to reconstruct the lead character. She had reservations about the changes, as the character was originally designed for a more dramatic series.
As Tokyo Mew Mew became a viable project, Kodansha hired Reiko Yoshida to be the series' scenario writer and story supervisor. Yoshida and two other editors determined each volume's plot, created a scenario by adding stage directions and dialogue, and presented it to Ikumi. Ikumi added her own ideas and changes, creating the manuscript's first draft, which was taken to the publishers for final review and approval. This differs from most manga series, in which the manga writer also creates the scenarios and stories before submitting to their editor for approval.
After the first volume's release, a two-day Tokyo Mew Mew festival was held during the Golden Week holiday—a week-long span in late April and early May during which four public holidays occur—to promote the series. Events included a Tokyo Mew Mew art gallery and the release of new merchandise. Ikumi, the series' artist, created a special poster for the event, featuring all twelve characters. She also cosplayed as characters from the series, as Mint Aizawa on one day and Lettuce Midorikawa on the other.
Main article: List of Tokyo Mew Mew chapters
Written by Reiko Yoshida and illustrated by Mia Ikumi, Tokyo Mew Mew was first serialized in Nakayoshi magazine between September 2000 and February 2003. The twenty-nine chapters were then compiled into seven tankōbon volumes by Kodansha. The first volume was released on February 1, 2001, with the final volume released April 4, 2003. In April 2003, a sequel called Tokyo Mew Mew à la Mode premiered in Nakayoshi. Running until February 2004 and written solely by Mia Ikumi, the sequel was published as two volumes. Tokyo Mew Mew and Tokyo Mew Mew à la Mode are licensed for an English-language release in North America by Tokyopop. The first volume of the main series was released on June 1, 2004, with volumes released subsequently until the seventh volume was published on December 15, 2005. The two volumes of Tokyo Mew Mew à la Mode were released on June 7 and September 13, 2005, respectively. Unlike the Japanese releases, each Tokyopop chapter is named. The main series is licensed for an English language release in Singapore by Chuang Yi. Carlsen Comics has licensed the series, through its regional divisions, and released the series in German, Danish and Swedish. The series is also licensed for regional language releases in French by Pika Édition, in Polish by Japonica Polonica Fantastica, and in Finnish by Sangatsu Manga. Tokyo Mew Mew was one of the first manga series released in Spanish in North America by Public Square Books. Kodansha Comics USA released an omnibus version of the series, featuring a new translation in September 2011.
Pierrot, Tokyu Agency and AEON adapted Tokyo Mew Mew into a fifty-two episode anime series, directed by Noriyuki Abe. Broadcast on both TV Aichi and TV Tokyo, the series premiered on April 6, 2002, and aired weekly until its conclusion on March 29, 2003. Most of the music for the series was produced by Shin Yoshimura and composed by Takayuki Negishi. Two pieces of theme music were also used for the anime series. "My Sweet Heart", performed by Rika Komatsu, was the series opening theme. The ending theme "Koi wa A La Mode" is performed by the five voice actors who play the Mew Mews. In Japan, the series was released across nine Region 2 DVD volumes. The ninth volume included a bonus DVD containing extra content. At some point during the TV broadcast, AEON changed its name to We've.
Tokyo Mew Mew was later licensed for an English-language dubbed release by 4Kids Entertainment. In its announcement about the series, 4Kids noted that the show would be renamed to Hollywood Mew Mew and that they would be heavily editing and localizing episodes so that viewers would not recognize its Japanese origins. Subsequent 4Kids press releases about the series referred to the new series as The Mew Mews and its original name Tokyo Mew Mew. When the series premiered on Fox Kids on February 19, 2005, it aired under the name Mew Mew Power. Characters and episodes were renamed, scenes were cut and story lines were modified. The music was replaced with a new score and the opening theme was replaced with the song "Team Up", performed by Bree Sharp. Twenty-six episodes of Mew Mew Power aired on 4Kids Entertainment in the United States because 4Kids was unable to get a merchandising deal for the series and the English dub had stopped production. The 4Kids episodes aired on YTV in Canada and on the Pop Girl satellite television channel in the United Kingdom; these included three dubbed episodes not broadcast in the United States. Although Mew Mew Power has not been released to home video in North America, ten of the 4Kids episodes have been released to Region 4 DVD in Australia and New Zealand by Magna Pacific and all twenty-six 4Kids episodes were released to Region 2 DVD in South Africa. Mew Mew Power was licensed for regional airing in French by Arès Films, which released nine dubbed 4Kids episodes to DVD in February 2006 as a single volume through Warner Home Vidéo France. The French dub aired on Teletoon as part of their Code F block. The company also licensed the remaining twenty-six episodes of the series that 4Kids had not obtained, releasing them in two DVD box sets through AK Vidéo.
The series also aired in Hungary under the name of Vadmacska Kommandó.
Two video games based on the Tokyo Mew Mew series were launched in 2002 by Takara. The first, Hamepane Tokyo Mew Mew (はめパネ 東京ミュウミュウ Hamepane Tōkyō Myū Myū?), a puzzle adventure game for the Game Boy Advance, was released in Japan on July 11, 2002.
The second title, Tōkyō Mew Mew – Enter the New Mew Mew! – Serve Everyone Together (東京ミュウミュウ 登場 新ミュウミュウ！みんないっしょにご奉仕するにゃん Tōkyō Myū Myū - Tōjō Shin Myū Myū! Minna Issho ni Gohōshi suru Nyan?), was released in Japan on December 5, 2002. It is a PlayStation turn-based role-playing video game in which the player controls a new Mew Mew, Ringo Akai (赤井 りんご Akai Ringo?), as well as the original five heroines. They must defend Ringo's island from Kish, the chimera animas and a new alien named Gateau du Roi (ガトー·デュ·ロワ Gatō deyu Rowa?). Both Ringo Akai and Gateau were created by the manga's artist, Mia Ikumi, following design specifications from Takara. The game uses voice actors from the anime series, with the two new characters voiced by Taeko Kawata and Ryōtarō Okiayu, respectively. Ikumi was pleased with how both characters turned out and expressed a desire to use Ringo as a regular character in a future manga series. Ringo later joined the other Mew Mews in the Petite Mew Mew bonus story in the second volume of Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode.
Multiple music and character CDs have been released for the Tokyo Mew Mew series by King Records. The first, a CD single, contained the full and karaoke versions of "Koi wa A La Mode", performed by the five voice actors who played the Mew Mews, and a second song performed by Saki Nakajima, who voices Ichigo.
On July 24, 2002, a five-disc limited edition collector's box set was released containing character songs for each of the Mew Mews, performed by their respective voice actors and a remix of "Koi wa A La Mode." The individual character song discs were released as standalone CDs on September 4, 2002. An additional character CD set, containing remixed versions of two songs from each individual album, followed on December 25, 2002. A second character CD for Ichigo, containing five new tracks performed by Nakajima, was released on February 26, 2003.
The first full anime soundtrack, Tokyo Mew Mew Original Soundtrack was released on September 25, 2002, by NEC. The CD included the series opening and ending themes and twenty-seven pieces of series background music. NEC released a second soundtrack on January 22, 2003; it contains the opening and closing themes, along with an additional twenty-nine tracks of background music. On March 26, 2003, two "best of" CDs were released for the anime series: Tokyo Mew Mew Super Best Hit – Cafe Mew Mew side and Tokyo Mew Mew Super Best Hit – Tokyo Mew Mew side. Each CD includes ten of the series' "most popular" musical pieces.
The Tokyo Mew Mew manga series was well received by English-speaking audiences. In March and April 2003, the first volume sold an estimated 1,597 and 1,746 copies respectively. This put the volume at the low end of the top 50 sales for each month. By 2004, with most of the series released, it became a mild success for licensor Tokyopop. It was ranked number 16 on the list of Manga Top 50 for the first quarter of 2004 in the ICv2 Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga, based on sales from both mainstream bookstores and comic book shops. Sales of the sixth and seventh volumes dropped slightly; however, both were among the top 100 best-selling graphic novels in March and May 2004. The first volume of Tokyo Mew Mew à la Mode debuted 63rd on the list of top 100 best-selling graphic novels of May 2005, with nearly double the sales figures of the last volume of the main series. On the Nielsen Bookscan charts, the volume debuted at rank 39 before quickly climbing to the 14th spot. The second volume of à la Mode saw similar success, debuting in the 69th slot before advancing to the 12th position, a result of the Mew Mew Power show appearing on 4Kids TV.
Tokyo Mew Mew was generally well received by reviewers, who described it as cute and entertaining. Though AnimeFringe's Patrick King notes that it is not a very intellectual series and that it avoids complex plot points, he lauded it as engrossing "brain candy" and an "endearing action-romance" that has no "delusions of grandeur". Critics praised the artwork in both Tokyo Mew Mew and the sequel Tokyo Mew Mew à La Mode. Ikumi's "free flowing" style and character designs were seen as a perfect fit for the series. Criticism of Ikumi's art focused on images which regularly spilled out of panel borders and speech bubbles with ambiguous speakers. Patrick King of Animefringe stated: "one of the most attractive aspects of Tokyo Mew Mew is easily Mia Ikumi's ultra-cute artwork. Big eyes, cat ears, fuzzy tails, and short skirts all come together in a cuteness combo that's hard to resist." According to Carlo Santos of Anime News Network, "Mia Ikumi's artwork is perfectly suited to the story, and it's not even all that wispy and frilly compared to other shōjo material. Like many budding manga artist, Ikumi's greatest strength is in carefully posed character portraits, and her prolific use of tones creates unique effects while also sidestepping the challenge of backgrounds." Conversely, in writing for Manga: The Complete Guide, Shaenon Garrity criticizes the series, calling it "uninspired", "insipid" and "creative[ly] bankrupt" and feeling it was "clearly designed by its publisher to ride the magical girl tsunami for all it was worth: the creators' marginal notes are filled with references to big book signings, photo shoots, and models hired to dress as the scantily clad preteen heroines." She also remarks that the series makes poor use of its endangered species theme, while still having a "preachy environmental theme".
Over all Tokyo Mew Mew à La Mode had more mixed reviews. Critics praised it for being a modern manga that typifies the magical girl formula, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. Mike Dungan, of Mania Entertainment, considered the original series to be "quite charming" and felt that à la Mode was a good continuation of the series with the "same fun and excitement" as its predecessor. Others felt Berry was an overly shallow heroine and that the sequel offered nothing new for readers with the Saint Rose Crusaders' costumes and plans being nothing more than concepts borrowed from Sailor Moon. Janet Crocker, Shannon Fay and Chris Istel of Animefringe criticized A la Mode for having the character Duke dressed in a white robe similar to those used by the white supremacy group, the Ku Klux Klan. Garrity felt à La Mode was a vehicle for referencing Tokyo Mew Mew fandom and merchandise and that Berry was a "transparent wish-fulfillment protagonist".
The anime adaptation has been compared to Sailor Moon due to both having female protagonists; five original team members with signature colors and powers, and similar plot lines. Tokyo Mew Mew received high ratings in Japan with extensive merchandizing tie ins and marketing events to promote the series. When 4Kids announced their licensing of the anime, heavily edited and localized, fans of the series were openly dismayed and began multiple campaigns to convince the company to release an uncut version of the series. After previews of the retooled series were released, viewers were less disappointed, but still annoyed by the cultural shifting and still desired an uncut DVD release. Mew Mew Power became a successful broadcast series for 4Kids, becoming the highest rated 4Kids show at the start of the fall 2005 season, but it was never released to DVD in North America. The 4Kids dub, rather than original Japanese version, was subsequently licensed for broadcast in France, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Greece, South Africa and Israel.
- 1: Tokyopop translated Mint's fused species as the ultramarine lorikeet; however in Mew Mew Power, Kodansha USA volumes, and the Finnish adaptation of the series, it is stated to be the blue lorikeet, a distinct species. In Japanese materials for the series, the kana is ノドジロルリインコ, which is the kana name of the blue lorikeet, versus コンセイインコ which would be the ultramarine lorikeet