When listing the tropes of the magical girl genre, certain traits come to mind. Shows are generally targeted towards mainly a female audience. Romance is usually a focus. Magic is used in some manner of wish fulfillment, either by the characters or the viewers or even both. Cosmic Baton Girl Comet-san, a 2001 anime about an extraterrestrial princess with the power of the stars, can easily fit these descriptions and more, but none of them quite do justice to young Princess Comet and her story. Comet-san defies its own categorizations without betraying any of them in the process.
All stars have their own radiance, their own personalities, their own lives. And in the vast sea of the universe there are those who understand and communicate with these stars. One of them is Comet, a young princess of Harmonica Star Country, who is set to marry the prince of the neighboring Tambourine Star Country and unite their lands for the sake of their peoples. When the prince runs away to Earth, Comet is tasked to follow him and ask for his hand in marriage personally. Comet is quick to accept her mission, though what no one other than her mother knows is that she doesn’t care one way or another about chasing princes or fostering peace between nations. Comet is a girl full of curiosity and enthusiasm, eager to see what life is like on a new planet far away from her home.
Comet-san has a certain magnetism to it. While many magical girl anime are very episodic, or have a focus on the daily lives of normal girls (albeit with magical powers), very few of them can match the (ironically) down-to-earth nature of Cosmic Baton Girl Comet-san. Rather than Cardcaptor Sakura or Shugo Chara, the pacing of Comet-san is closer to that of shows such as Kino’s Journey or Aria. The show pulls you into its own deliberately slow pace, and you may find yourself being dragged along willingly. Each episode finds Comet-san learning more and more about life on Earth. People, plants, animals, customs, weather, art, love, anything and everything is a joy for Comet to experience, and every day is a new opportunity for discovery.
Comet-san is a show that is blessed with strong characters all around. The primary rival, a short-tempered princess from Castanet Star Country named Meteo who is far more interested in finding the prince, provides a nice foil for Comet, though it is Comet’s even-handedness that frustrates Meteo more than the other way around. A young life guard reminiscent of Li Shaoran named Keisuke provides one of many potential romances for Comet. Comet has her requisite animal mascot in a bear-like creature named Rababou (a take on “rubber ball” due to his elastic body), who is there to remind Comet of her true goal, but is also a valuable friend and at first her only companion from home. Comet’s host family’s children are fraternal twins named Tsuyoshi and Nene. Their nickname for Comet is “Komatta-san,” with komatta meaning “troubled.” They are two of the most endearing and non-irritating child characters in anime all the while while having the maturity one expects of children.
Comet herself is an inspiring main character whose personality could probably be best described as “subdued enthusiasm.” Comet shows a wide range of emotions, some of them completely new and unfamiliar to her, and expresses them in a way that can be very cathartic to watch, especially because of her pleasant voice, courtesy of Maeda Aki. In the end, nothing contributes to the slow pacing of the series more than Comet.
This is not to say, however, that the show is without progress or continuity. The feeling of the show is such that often times I found myself thinking that all it would take is one big twist to turn it all upside down, and most likely this twist somehow involves the fact that no one knows what the Tambourine Star Country’s prince actually looks like.
Sadly, that is all speculation from me, as less than half Cosmic Baton Girl Comet-san is available subtitled, and the fansubbing group that has been slowly plugging has been doing so since 2002. If there is an end, it is way off in the distance. I hear that this show was actually dubbed into English as “Princess Comet” though, and broadcast around the world, so it may be possible to obtain it in that form more easily. That said, even with completion nowhere in sight, I urge anyone and everyone to watch a few episodes and see if life doesn’t start looking a little brighter.
I watched this on Italian tv a couple years ago. It was a cute heartwarming show with a satisfying ending. I hope you manage to find the remaining episodes.
“[Magical Girl] Shows are generally targeted towards mainly a female audience.”
I don’t think that’s been true for at least like, a decade. Just like the fujoshi established a solid chokehold on nearly all things shonen such that they’re not actively catered to, the lolicons have dug their talons into the magical girl genre such that they’re now an intended target demographic. Not so coincidentally, CLAMP is largely to blame for both of these things coming to pass.
I think the reason Comet-san feels somewhat different from contemporary magical girl shows is that it’s a remake. The original Comet-san is from, what, 40 years ago? Back then, Mitsuteru Yokoyama–who I mainly know for creating Tetsujin 28/Gigantor, Giant Robo, and everything referenced within–wasn’t really creating Comet-san with any demographic in mind other than kids. Nowadays you pretty much have to cater to the otaku viewers as well, and if you think that doesn’t amount to much, go ahead and compare Comet-san to Taruto, which also came out that same year. On second thought, DON’T. Because then you’d have to actually watch Taruto.
Sure, there has always been and always will be creepy folks who obsess over magical girl stuff (and they’ll be the majority of the people dominating Internet discussions), but we’re now at the point where I wonder “is anyone else other than otaku REALLY watching these shows anymore, considering so many air at like 2 AM?”
Bleah. I meant to say “such that they’re NOW actively catered to” in that second sentence.
Funny, I always thought Taruto was the one catering heavily to the otaku than Comet-san.
When I say “mainly a female audience” I don’t mean solely a female audience. There are definite concessions towards a male, otaku-oriented viewership, though I think the main goal is still to appeal to girls when it comes to the majority of magical girl shows.
Pretty Cure has over 200 episodes already, and has obvious otaku appeal, but it’s from girls buying magical rainbow toys that it finds the most success. Futagohime is adorable, but I could hardly call it a moe anime. Sugar Sugar Rune, the designs are definitely not in favor of male viewers.
It’s there, but I don’t think it’s a dominant force beyond a few shows like Nanoha or Tweeny Witches. In these cases, it’s using aspects of magical girl anime to make show for otaku.
Must everything be a conspiracy? I’m rather tired of hearing about the “hidden agenda” of every anime and manga.
Pretty Cure is one of the biggest anime franchises in Japan. “The Pretty Cure franchise earned 18.8 billion yen in sales” between March 2007 and March 2008. That has nothing to do with the small portion of people watching for less than innocent reasons. It is the modern Sailor Moon! And Sailor Moon had the same small following that is completely eclipsed by all the people who loved it for exactly what it is…a cute, fun magical girl show. Magical girl shows still largely live or die on their popularity with pre-teen girls.
I hold off on weighing in on the theory that all shonen is aiming itself at fujoshi for a more appropriate time. But for the record I don’t agree.
I am now very interested in Comet-san thanks for bringing it to my attention!
i watched this show on animax every morning during breakfast two years ago. there was something incredibly annoying about the show, but i watch it religiously. the ending was satisfying enough for me, especially considering my mild interest in it.
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