Sasami Magical Girls Club
An alternate universe spin-off of the Tenchi Muyo! series, Sasami Magical Girls Club focuses on a magical girl version of Sasami Iwakura (not to be confused with the Sasami from Magical Girl Pretty Sammy/Magical Project S). Several Tenchi characters have appearances in the show, including Washu, Misao (from Pretty Sammy), Mihoshi, and Ryo-Ohki. Washu and Mihoshi take on the role of teachers, Misao is again Sasami's best friend, and Ryo-Ohki is Ryo-Ohki.
In Sasami Magical Girls Club (SMGC), a group of 5 fifth grade girls discovers that they each have magical powers. They are half witch, half human descendants from the World of the Witches (so "witches" are pure witches and magical girls have human ancestry). Many, many years ago the witches lived with the humans on Earth, but they suffered at the hands of the humans who feared and hated them. They created their own world where they retreated to, and some of them brought human lovers and friends along with them. These humans, who had no magic powers of their own, became known as story tellers. Eventually some of these people returned back to Earth, and that leads to the present day. Magical girls around the world are awakening, including Sasami, Misao, Makoto, Tsukasa and Anri.
Washu and her assistant Daimon (both story tellers) are sent from the world of the witches to watch this particular group of magical girls. Originally they were instructed to help the girls control their magic, with the object being to restrict their powers. But these orders seem to be discarded when all the magical girls (and boys) are invited to the world of the witches for a training camp, much to Washu's confusion. The witches begin to show particular interest in Sasami and her friends, who appear to be able to use a rare form of light magic. The girls then become caught up in a dark plot by the Chief Sorceress who plans to use their talents to further her own goals.
The series focuses mostly on Sasami and Misao, who represent the light and dark sides of magic. Sasami's innocence and kindness contrasts with Misao's loneliness and jealousy. Sasami's light magic is a pure form of magic, while Misao's dark magic is fueled by feelings like hate, jealousy, and sadness. Throughout the show each of the girls (though Sasami and Misao in particular) must sort out their feelings and learn about the strength of friendship. It stars a group of fifth grade girls, so the show does have a child-like feel to it, and it's probably geared toward preteen girls and young teenage girls. That doesn't mean it isn't suited for anyone older, because the show doesn't overwhelm the viewer with a sort of dumbed down view of the world. It's serious issues that are seen through the eyes of children, but with that child-like maturity that often makes them more receptive than those of us who are much older. What I'm trying to say is that it's not just some "kiddy show." It's very cute, but it's also very charming. The ending of the show felt rather weak to me, but otherwise I enjoyed the series very much.
SMGC has a fitting animation style, cute and colorful. The songs are good as well. Though I think I would have enjoyed them more had I been listening to them in Japanese and not a horrid English rerecording. Again, I understand why this is done, because they want to appeal to a wider audience, but they could at least get some decent, real singers (ps - I'm available). There is also a rather charming song sung throughout the show (which serves as a main them as well), performed by various characters, with a lovely addictive melody.
I watched the 26 episode SMGC on the FUNimation channel, with English dialog. I was pleased by the voice over for the most part; the young girls are voiced by some FUNi regulars (Brina Palencia, Brittney Karbowski, Cherami Leigh, Monica Rial, probably a lesser known Alison Viktorin in the title role, with the excellent Caitlin Glass voicing the Chief Sorceress). A little weak and confusing at the very end, but otherwise a good all around show.
In the image: at the top are Misao (left) and Tsukasa, with Makoto, Sasami and Anri at the bottom, and of course Ryo-Ohki in the corner.