Floral Magician Mary Bell (花の魔法使いマリーベル Hana no Mahōtsukai Mary Bell?), also known as Flower Witch Mary Bell or Mary Bell for short, is the fourth and last magical girl anime by Ashi Productions. The 50-episode series first aired in Japan from 1992 until 1993. It has also been broadcast in Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, Taiwan, China, Poland, Thailand, and in most Arab countries. The series was adapted as a theatrical movie and two educational films. The DVD version was released on March 20, 2004.
Many other magical girls are primary-schoolers or middle-schoolers, but Mary Bell only looks like a preschooler (although she is actually about 500,000 years old). She is a "native" magical girl just like Minky Momo and Sweet Mint, other magical girls by Ashi Productions from the same period. However, she is not a princess. The operatic approach is notable, each main character has his or her own leitmotif, and they sometimes sing instead of speaking, like a musical.
Mary Bell, a magical girl who looks around five years old, comes to the Human World from a magical world called the "Flower Magic World." Using her Flower Magic she helps and encourages people.
The story starts with two children, Yuuri and Ken, who are reading a fairy tale about Mary Bell finding two children who are lost in the woods, and helps them find home. Yuuri and Ken love the story of Mary Bell so much that their parents have named their flower shop after the fairy.
But the flower shop isn't doing well, and everyone is worried. Yuuri and Ken wish that Mary Bell would appear and help them. Both are surprised when she sprouts from a flower. She tells them she has learned of their plight, and will help them. After creating a potion to grow her house, she uses her magic to help the flower shop and people in town.
Mary Bell is the central characters of the show, but actually she just helps children or others when they are trying to do something. A little girl, Yuuri, her younger brother, Ken, and Ribbon, a puppy, are the ones who first met Mary Bell. Other three children, Vivian, Bongo, and Tap, frequently appear too.
- Mary Bell (マリーベル Marī Beru?) Voiced by: Chieko Honda
- A "floral magician" from the Flower Magic World (花魔法界 hanamahō-kai?) who looks like a little girl, but actually is about 500,000 years old. She uses both (ordinary) magic and flower magic. She is a fairies' friend, but is not a fairy herself. Her catchphrase is "Just leave it to Mary Bell!" (マリーベルにおまかせよ! Mary Bell ni omakase yo!?)
- Technically, her name is Mary Bell (two words), not Marybell.
- Tambourine (タンバリン Tanbarin?) Voiced by: Chika Sakamoto
- Mary Bell's "magical companion." He is from the seelie court, and also about 500,000 years old.
- Yuuri (ユーリ Yūri?) Voiced by: Satomi Koorogi
- Mary Bell's friend. Her exact age is unknown, but apparently between 6 and 10 years old.
- Rose (ローズ Rōzu?)
- A nice, old lady, who believes in fairies. She lives alone (with her dog, Ribbon) next door to the flower shop "Mary Bell". She is the actual owner of the in-anime Mary Bell Picture Book. When Mary Bell first appeared, Yuuri and Ken were not ready to believe that she was the real Mary Bell, whereas Rose, when she met Mary Bell, immediately told her, "I always wanted to meet you, Mary Bell. I am a big fan of yours." Children usually call her "Grandma Rose."
- Remi (レミ Remo?)
- The mother of Yuuri and Ken.
- Takuro (タクロー Takurō?)
- The father of Yuuri and Ken.
- Bart (バート Bāto?)
- Another neighbor, living in the house next to Grandma Rose’s. A crusty and stubborn old man, who doesn't like flowers.
- Jito (ジート Jīto?)
- Bart’s nephew, living in Bart’s house. He looks about 20 years old. When he was a little child, he got lost and helped by fairies. His friends didn’t believe him and called him a liar. Since then, he keeps trying to capture a fairy to prove that he told the truth. He is a “fairy hunter” and so Mary Bell’s and fairies’ enemy (at least at first).
- Vivian (ビビアン Bibian?) Voiced by: Akiko Yajima
- Bart’s granddaughter, living in his house. She is about the same age as Yuuri. She is realistic, and does not believe in fairies at all (at least at first). She is mean to Mary Bell (at least at first).
- Bongo (ボンゴ Bongo?)
- A friend of Vivian’s.
Floral Magician Mary Bell is influenced by Mary Poppins or Mary Poppins (film), or both. The protagonists of Mary Bell Picture Book are Jane and Michael, the same names that appear in Mary Poppins.
The TV series was planned and produced by TV Setouchi, Big West, and Ashi Productions. It was directed by Tetsuya Endo, with series composition by Takao Koyama and Hideki Mitsui (both from Brother Noppo). The animation directors include Masashi Hirota, Kōichirō (新羽高一浪?), Yuriko Chiba, and Kouji Fukazawa. These four supervised about 80% of the 50 episodes. The true identity of "Kōichirō" is unknown and people do not even know how to read his family name, but it is widely believed in Japan that "Kōichirō" is a pseudonym of Takeshi Ito, who later worked as assistant animation director on Cowboy Bebop: The Movie and Tactical Roar.
Fifty episodes were broadcast from 1992-02-03 to 1993-01-18.
The soundtrack album, Mary Bell to Utaō! ("Let's Sing with Mary Bell") was released on July 17, 1992.
Floral Magician Mary Bell has been released in some other countries and areas, as:
- In Cantonese (Hong Kong), “Nifty Fantasy-Magic Little-Flower-Fairy” (俏皮幻法小花仙) on TVB Jade.
- In Mandarin (China Mainland), “Nifty Little-Flower-Fairy” (俏皮小花仙).
- In Korean, “Floral Angel Mery Bell” (꽃의 천사 메리벨) on MBC.
- In Italian, Mary Bell on Mediaset.
- In Polish, “Fairy from the Land of Flowers” (Wróżka z Krainy Kwiatów</i>) on Polsat 2 and others.
- In Arabic, “Adventurers of Nagham (Melody)” (مغامرات نغم, moghamarat nagham (mo'3amarato na'3am) ).
Notes and references
- Floral Magician Mary Bell (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Hana No Mahoutsukai Mary Bell (Henshin: The Mahou Shoujo Genre) - fansite
- Hana no Mahōtsukai Mary Bell (Japanese) - fansitear:مغامرات نغم