After finishing the anime, I went scrambling to Google to find out more about Hime-chan no Ribon's manga. To my immense disappointment, there's nothing out there. At the time this page is created, Hime-chan no Ribon is not licensed in the U.S. The manga has 10 volumes. WAAAHHH!
I was about to go and buy the original manga and resolve to learn Japanese at a highly advanced rate when I stopped and gave myself a mental shake. And instead resolved to move on to another anime to get over my Hime-chan no Ribon hangover. But first, I have to do this page ^_^
Hime-chan no Ribon was based on the manga, which was created by Mizusawa Megumi. The manga is 10 volumes long, while the anime has 61 episodes. The manga was released in 1991 while the anime was released in 1992, so this is a pretty old title. Imagine, it's older than Sailor Moon @_@ But they're definitely around the same dominant-style era. Recognize the general trend in artwork? >.<
When Hasekura-senpai's birthday was coming up, Hime-chan bought a good luck cham to help him on his high school entrance exams. However, she was too shy and ended up not giving it to him. Later, when she was berating herself in her room, a girl who looked just like her appeared at her window, much to Hime-chan's shock.
The girl's name is Erika, and she is a princess in a faraway land called Magic World. And yeah, people in Magic World are capable of magic :P In order to be a worthy ruler of her land, Erika had to create a magical object, find her lookalike in the Human World (every person in Magic World has a lookalike in the Human World), and have that lookalike test her magical object for a year. At the end of the year, she would be evaluated to see whether her creation is a significant contribution to Magic World.
Hime-chan agreed to help Erika. She had to wear a red ribbon and a matching watch. Using these items with a mirror and an incantation, she could transform into any person in the Human World. Once she is transformed, the items turn into a pendant that she wears. The catch is, she must switch back to her own form within an hour, or else she would be stuck in the transformed body forever. Three minutes before her time is up, the pendant would start beeping. The beeping would get louder as the hour draws closer ^_^ To switch back to her own form, she needs to utter the incantation in reverse while facing a mirror. In addition, nobody in the Human World is supposed to know about her powers, or else all involved humans' memories will be erased to protect Magic World.
To help with the magical responsibility, Erika animated Hime-chan's stuffed toy lion, Pokota. He had been with Hime-chan since she was born, so both of them were really excited to finally talk and play with each other for real ^_^ Erika then returned to Magic World and proceeded to watch Hime-chan through her crystal ball and make notes (with her magic broom ^_^).
Hime-chan found that the ribbon is very handy in helping out not only herself but also other people. However, things don't turn out the way she wants them to. While impersonating her school principal, Hime-chan forgot the reverse incantation and was freaking out over being stuck in an old man's form, until Pokota came to the rescue. While impersonating her older sister, Aiko, she finds out that Hasukura-senpai is actually in love with Aiko :( And for some reason, Hime-chan started getting harassed by her mischievous (but hot enough to have his own fan club) classmate, Kobayashi Daichi.
It was only a matter of time before Daichi found out Hime-chan's secret. Thankfully, due to a bunch of unusual circumstances, the king of the Magic Kingdom (Erika's dad) allowed Erika's test to continue. Since then, Daichi has been a significant figure in Hime-chan's adventures. Because he's so shrewd and wily, he easily talked and manipulated their way out of tight situations. Soon, the two of them grew closer. Daichi gave Hime-chan a duplicate key to his hideout, an old and abandoned house ^_^ They both braved their classmate and president of Daichi's fan club, Hibino. They both even braved other individuals from Magic World who just had to come and check out Hime-chan and her ribbon ;)
As time went on and a bunch of unusual and unexpected circumstances unfolded, Hime-chan gained more magical gadgets that let her do cooler transformations ^_^ She also gained insights about herself and others, which includes realizing that Daichi's not as terrible as he initially seemed ;)
A lot of anime combine magical abilities and strategical thinking, and Hime-chan no Ribon in particular does it pretty well. It may be due to the fact that its characters always had to go around the limitations of their abilities and make do with what they have ^_^ A lot of comical stuff happens then. My favorite is when Daichi still doesn't know about Hime-chan's powers, and she accidentally got stuck in Daichi's form. When they ran into each other and Daichi grabbed her (while she looks just like him), she tried to bluff her way out by snarling, "I AM Daichi!" They had a spirited argument that consisted of "I am Daichi!" and "No, I am Daichi!" After it went back and forth for about two dozen times (with the same dialogue. I think the writers had a nice creative breather then), Hime-chan pointed and said, "Look! There's another Kobayashi Daichi!" Daichi fell for it and she was able to make her escape. Whee.
Hime-chan no Ribon's pretty episodic, with miniplots spanning one or two episodes. It's clear that Daichi and Hime-chan are growing closer to each other with each adventure, but things for the most part stay at the same level. Hime-chan is always genki, helps people, and gets pissed at Daichi from time to time. Daichi usually goofs off, shows up when Hime-chan needs him, and never fails to set her off when opportunity strikes. Hibino's always annoying, Pokota's always the loyal sidekick, and everybody else also stays constant. It's not as much of a weakness, but it does get frustrating to watch miniplot after miniplot while nothing really develops with the main storyline (and yeah, by main storyline, I mean the relationship between Daichi and Hime-chan). Hime-chan no Ribon is a very general-audience friendly show because you can fairly count on absolutely nothing happening between Daichi and Hime-chan. There are hints of what they would be to each other in the future, tho'.
Hime-chan no Ribon does have one flaw that's kind of hard to overlook. Near the end of the anime series, the TV people resorted to lots of flashback episodes. If I didn't have fast-forward for my videos, I would've been pissed ^_^ It looked like the anime had low budget or something, because the climax also feels kind of rushed.
Oh yeah, and to a minor extent, the addition of new magical gadgets appeared to be an effort to keep reinventing the same thing, namely, adventures using various transformations. I'm tellin' ya, the Hime-chan no Ribon people could've focused on Daichi and Hime-chan and their relationships with other people ^_~
Nevertheless, this is a great anime, considering it's pretty old and doesn't have a single kissing scene. The graphics are surprisingly good. And Daichi's cute ^_^ The music is nothing extraordinary. Actually, the music seems nondescript, but that's probably just me ^_^ Some of it's done by SMAP, a boy band that also made a cameo in one of the episodes. If you're into shoujo anime, couldn't stand a lot of angst, and just want to take it easy, Hime-chan no Ribon will be a good choice ;)