Reviewed in April, 2001 by Mark Vallen, Jeannine Thorpe, and John Lentini . Screen shots generously provided by John Lentini.

(Comments by Jeannine Thorpe) When it comes to anime, one of my weaknesses has always been the realm of mahou shoujo (magical girls). And another valuable lesson to learn in regards to anime, is just because no one has heard of it, doesn't mean that it isn't fantastic. So while some may be just discovering the joy and depth of the more popular mahou shoujo tales like Sailor Moon or Card Captor Sakura, there is a whole world of relative unknowns worth exploring and promoting. So to the list of hidden gems like Kaitou St. Tail, Magical Stage Fancy Lala, or Hime-chan no Ribon, I add Super Doll Licca-chan.

Spinning off the popularity of the Rika dolls in Japan, came this great little show about young Rika and her doll bodyguards, the Super Dolls. Living in a fanciful city which has both European and Japanese accents (but which celebrates Halloween), Rika slowly discovers that she is the Princess of Doll Land, and as such, has a trio of bad guys after her, namely, Dr. Scarecrow and his henchpeople. But the new spin in this mahou shoujo tale is that Rika herself does not sport the magic, but her Doll protectors do. Whenever Rika is in danger, her "magic calling ring" alerts her Grandmother to activate the Dolls to come to her rescue.

While there are three Dolls in all, Doll Licca, Doll Izumi, and Doll Isamu, Doll Licca features most prominently (she is pictured directly below). The dolls are in small Doll Knight form until called into battle, at which point they transform into both adult size, and funky multicolored battle costumes! Although the series is obviously for a younger target audience than the other series previously mentioned, Super Doll Licca-chan is still a very enjoyable show.... for the cool design of the dolls, the humor of the villains, and most of all, the wonderful opening and ending theme music by the all girl J-Pop band Rooky. I cannot emphasize enough the need for people to get the word out about this and other hidden treasure series, and prod your fansubber friends to take on this project as well.

(Comments by Mark Vallen) This is a really good shoujo series originally meant for a very young Japanese audience. Doll Licca, being a magic Doll, has amazing powers she uses to protect her charge, Kayama Rika. Doll Licca uses a Yo-Yo as her primary weapon when attacking the minions of the evil Doctor Scarecrow, when Doll Licca leaps into a fray... watch out! She swings that Yo-Yo at a frightening speed, twirling it in front or behind her so quickly that it looks like an airplane propeller, and then BAM, she lets it fly to knock out an opponent or tangle up their feet as they try and run. When I first saw Doll Licca using her Yo-Yo to vanquish an opponent, I was struck with the memory of something I had read in a fascinating book by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook titled Secrets of the Samurai - The Martial Arts of Feudal Japan.

That book contains a description of a samurai weapon called the manriki-gusari... or 10,000 power chain. Basically it was a length of chain with weights on each end that was whirled and used to stun an opponent. The manriki-gusari could be used to "bring a man crashing to the ground when twirled around his ankles, or it could be used to choke him or to immobilize his forearms and wrists. The weapon could also be used to parry and deflect a sword by stretching the chain taut before an oncoming blade, and then proceeding to hit the wielder of the sword with the weights of the chain itself, stunning with accurate blows... even, by deft handling, using those chains to hit a man from behind while still facing him." So there you have it, Doll Licca's weapon is actually based upon the ancient samurai manriki-gusari, and her fighting style loosely based on the school of those who employed chains in combat!

(Comments by John Lentini) Super Doll Licca-chan is the absolute best mahou shoujo anime series that you haven't seen. A shame this show isn't known to the anime community, because it features the three best characters... err, dolls, you will ever find in a box. All three dolls have the most unique sets of clothes and weapons you'll find in any anime series. From their very well tailored 'in box' formals, to their '80's Retro,' fighting clothes, these three would even make Barbie's wardrobe jeolous!

Not only are the trio dressed well, but these dolls come with very versatile weapons. Mark went into detail about Doll Licca's killer Yo-Yo, Doll Isamu (pictured directly above) has a very magical sword and Doll Izumi will attack her opponent with a fast spinning baton. So if you're looking for a unique style in Mahou Shoujo, then you owe it to yourself to check out Super Doll Licca-chan.

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