Although anime fandom both in the west and Japan may be immersed in constant discussion of the recent rise in "darker" magical girl offerings like Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Day Break Illusion, or series aimed towards a younger audience but somehow reappropriated by older fans such as Nanoha and Pretty Cure, it shouldn't be forgotten that most magical girl shows are, in fact, aimed at children. This is a fact that really comes to bear via the mystery film for Scotland Loves Anime's 2013 visits to Glasgow and Edinburgh, which brought us a theatrical adaptation from Ufotable of a magical girl manga aimed squarely at that younger audience.
As its name suggests, Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene stars a pair of magical girls who are sisters - although at first glance you'd assume that Nene is the elder and Yoyo the younger, the opposite is actually true, and Yoyo is both older and immensely more talented than her sibling. These abilities are soon put to the test as a routine job soon becomes of secondary importance as all kinds of weird and wonderful junk (that we would recognise as parts of a city) come crashing into the world from goodness knows where. Of course, Nene and Yoyo investigate, and as they try to figure out what's going on Yoyo ends up being dragged into a very strange world that we would recognise as modern day Earth.
Once there, Yoyo comes to meet two brothers who are understandably rather concerned by a strange and sudden fate that has befallen their parents, turning them into something decidedly otherworldly. Yoyo instantly recognises this as the result of some kind of curse, and vowing to help the brothers as she figures out how to return to her own world, the focal point of this strange and growing phenomenon of humans being cursed is ultimately traced to a mobile phone game that has exploded in popularity. With her powers seemingly waning and some curious links between this world and her own emerging, does Yoyo have what it takes to help her friends, save the planet and return home to her sister in one piece?
As you might expect from a magical girl film aimed at kids, the ultimate goal of Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene is to be engaging and fun, and the movie certainly succeeds in that - its colourful depiction of both of the worlds within its scope is suitable eye-catching to look at, and the film as a whole is filled with movement, comedy and no shortage of imagination as it builds up its story.
This is, perhaps, where being a grown-up has its disadvantages - as this story pans out, so you can't help but feel a little as if it's making things up as it goes along from time to time, particularly when inconsistencies in the plot begin to manifest themselves while other story elements are introduced without sufficient explanation to make them plausible. This is coupled with a suspicion that the film is perhaps underestimating the intelligence of its audience - its key theme isn't so much illustrated as daubed carelessly across the entire film, with every possibly way to shoe-horn in its discussion of the importance of selflessness and a willingness to help others utilised to the point where you start to feel like you're being preached to.
Still, such moments don't detract from a solid and enjoyable film as a whole that doesn't outstay its welcome (a problem we've seen with other films for children such as Welcome to the Space Show) and delivers a distinctly enjoyable quota of fun that might not have quite the level of imagination of, say, Oblivion Island, but still strikes out in its own regard to create its entertainment.
Finally, it's also worth considering that the cut of Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene we've seen here isn't actually the final one, as the film is still yet to find its way to Japanese theatres. In truth, this is only notable in one or two places (one in particular where two takes of the same brief cut are left sat side-by-side), but it could be that further aspects of the film will be tweaked or changed slightly to improve or otherwise alter the flow of the film.
From what we've seen though, Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene is a colourful little movie that fits pretty much perfectly in appealing to a family audience - we're not sure it's the kind of thing that will stand up to multiple repeat viewings, and some of its cultural references would probably need explaining to younger children, but none of this should detract from a film that is ultimately fun, and led along by a wonderful central character in Yoyo.
Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene was screened in Glasgow and Edinburgh as the mystery film of Scotland Loves Anime 2013