Shugo Chara is currently one of the series being streamed for free on the Crunchyroll website. The story which has been created by the manga-ka duo Peach Pit, who are also responsible for creating other successful titles such as DearS and Rozen Maiden. The first four episodes introduce the main character, Amu Hinamori and the initial foundations of the story to the viewer. The main character of the show has earned herself the odd English title of "cool and spicy" (n.b most anime titles on Crunchyroll are only available in Japanese with subtitles), however this is not the real Amu as inside she is a shy girl who has trouble expressing her true self. It is after she has had a hard day at school that she wishes that she could have the courage to show her true self to her friends and family. The next day she wakes up to find three eggs which hatch into three Guardian characters - Ran, Miki and Su.
Each of these Guardians represents a part of Amu's real personality and
it is with their help that she will learn more about herself. Amu
also has the ability to character transform with each of her guardians,
which causes her to take on a completely different personality.
This can sometimes work to her disadvantage though, as her Guardians can
"Chara change" without permission. For example, in episode one,
Ran takes over Amu so that she will confess her love to Tadase.
when these eggs appear that she is recruited into the Guardians as the
Joker. Each member has their own Guardian character, but it is
only Amu who has three. It is her role as the Joker to stop X eggs
and X charas, which are the corrupt forms of peoples hopes and dreams.
Very early on in the anime you realise there is someone sinister pulling
the strings in the creation of these X eggs. It is only later
though that you find out that these are created in order to find the
Embryo, which can be used to make your wishes come true.
There is, as with most shojo series a love triangle between the main
character Amu, and Tadase and Ikuto.
This provides another level of interest to the viewer, as in these
first couple of episodes you begin to find out more about these
characters and make decisions about who you wish Amu to be
Ranís transformation being amulet heart, Mikiís transformation being amulet spade and Suís transformation being amulet clover. There is of course the additional reference to Amu being the Joker, however this does not refer to her as being funny as she is the most powerful Guardian and is the only person who can purify the X eggs and charas. Another cute element added is the fact that Amuís hair accessories change shape when one of her guardian characters takes over her personality. This often lead to comic results as you often see Amuís inner self reeling at the fact that she would never do that herself.
Finally, it is impossible not to review a magical shojo anime without referring to the transformation sequences used. In the first four episodes of the series only Ranís amulet heart transformation is shown. It is one extremely pink animation sequence, with the end result being Amu in chav sports / cheerleader outfit. However, with sneak previews of the Amulet Clover and Spade outfits in the opening sequence there is plenty to look forward to in the up and coming episodes.
Overall, these first four episodes are
a promising start to the series. The pace at the start is what
I would consider to be just right; as it is not so quick that you
end up being lost within the plot, but not so slow that you lose
interest in the series. Amu is an interesting character who
will make you want to continue watching in order to see how her
character will further develop. At present there are 81
episodes available on Crunchyroll to watch, with every week a
new episode being added as it is screened over in Japan.
As this is streamed on a website there
is no extras available unless you count the BUPA advert shown before
the episode begins.