Shugo Chara! is insanely cute. My first impression of it was kind of a Lizzie McGuire with a bit of magic thrown in, and set in late elementary school instead of high school. The main character, Hinamori Amu, doesn’t know how to present her feelings to those around her, and often acts like a tough girl around everyone at school, when inside, she’s really a quiet, delicate girl who likes boys and pink frilly stuff and is just scared to express herself. The first episode starts off with her rescuing a nerdy kid from a couple bullies, just by showing up and stating they were blocking her path. Her reputation as a tough girl precedes her. The bullies, upon realizing who she is, rattle off some stories they’ve heard about how tough she is and run off scared silly. Amu says “Who actually starts these rumors?” The nerdy kid is in awe and asks for an autograph, to which she scoffs at him for also blocking the way, and walks off. But this doesn’t deter him, as he still thinks she’s the coolest girl he’s ever met. The scene at the above right is as she’s walking away from the cutest boy in the school after telling him off for daring to talk to her when she first met him. “Don’t act like we’re buddies or anything” she told him. The little “Chibi Amu” coming out and attacking herself for not being nice to him is where my Lizzie McGuire reference came from (this happens frequently throughout the show, where the “Chibi Amu” will come out and tell the audience what she’s really thinking when she’s too scared to say it). In private, she continually tells us and herself about how she’s really a nice person and just wishes she could drop the tough girl act once in a while, but she worries that no one would believe it was her. The magic part comes in when she finds three eggs in her bed that turn out to be “Guardian Characters” (hence the name of the show – Shugo is Japanese for guard or protect) who, through various magic, help her to act out her real feelings. This is obviously aimed at a pre-teen audience, but it’s sooo cute, and my 6 year old daughter is already begging me to let her watch the next episode.
Clannad is aimed at a much older audience (late teens to adult probably). It’s a high school drama based on a manga that’s been out for a while and is really popular, apparently (I’ve heard about it all over the place even before the anime was announced). I’ve never read the manga, and have no idea what the storyline is about other than what’s on the short descriptions on the various anime sites, so I have no idea what I’m in for. The story description on Wikipedia makes me wonder if I’ll really like it (it doesn’t sound like something I would normally watch from that description), but having seen the first two episodes, it’s certainly intriguing enough to draw me in and make me want to continue watching. We’ll see how it goes. So far it’s really good. Hopefully it’ll turn out better than School Days did (which had a very good story until the last two episodes when everything sort of went crazy and it had a very freaky ending).