Review: Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene / Cert: PG / Director: Takayuki Hirao / Starring: Sumire Morohoshi, Ai Kakuma, Miyuki Sawashiro, Takahiro Sakurai, Takako Honda, Rio Sasaki / Release Date: TBC
Scotland Loves Anime is an annual festival that takes place in Edinburgh and Glasgow, showcasing the new and the classic while celebrating all the weird, wild and wonderful worlds that Japanese anime has to offer. Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene was among its offerings.
Yoyo and Nene are the Cursery Sisters, witches with a freelance curse-breaking business in the magical realm of Sorceria. When odd buildings begin falling from the sky, Yoyo takes it upon herself to investigate, bringing her to Yokohama in our world. When buildings continue to disappear and drop into Sorceria’s forest, along with anyone becoming cursed if they make a wish using a mysterious mobile game, Yoyo must uncover the cause of the chaos if she ever wants to be able to go home. But with magic in our world considerably less potent, she may need help.
Billed as a mystery film and with very few specific details given, Magical Sisters still managed to almost sell out the screening; such is the power of challenging people to take a chance. It’s very much a family film; one that children can watch by themselves, but also one where parents certainly won’t get bored if required to sit through it with them. The story is simple and undemanding, but never once even approaches boring, even during lull points where it figures out where it’s going next.
The vanishing buildings and spreading curses provide most of the conflict, the danger for the most part remaining in the background, with Yoyo’s antics in investigating instead providing much of the events of the story. Her boundless enthusiasm for this world, which to us is mundane but to her is a mysterious adventure, makes her impossible not to love. That, along with her dedication in doing the right thing, means you’ll never stop rooting for her. It’s a long way into the film before any adults even appear, and even then it’s still only through the combined efforts of the kids that things are resolved. From this, children can take away the message that even young people can and should always do what they’re able to in order to help others.
The animation is bright and colourful but not so much as to induce a sensory overload, while everything is portrayed with the innocence of a child’s perspective and the welcoming acceptance that goes with it; despite having a bare skull for a head, Yoyo’s pet cat Bikhau is still cute and adorable. There are a few emotionally poignant moments that may upset very young children, but they are swiftly moved past and shouldn’t affect anyone’s enjoyment.
Although Yoyo and Nene are referred to as witches, they are not the hex-slinging hags of western tradition: the term is instead a rough and ready translation for the anime convention of so-called “magical girls” (think Sailor Moon). Magical Sisters is a colourful, vibrant and joyous delight from start to finish, and it's impossible to be left cold by its infectious energy.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10