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Pucca may have started life as a Sanrio-style merchandising project for character company Vooz, but her new television show proves there's plenty of possibility behind that round, rosy-cheeked face.
The premise is about as wacky as they come these days, and any fan of The Powerpuff Girls or SpongeBob will feel perfectly comfortable here. Little Pucca is a delivery girl for the Go-Rong Restaurant in the middle of Sooga, an Oriental village that looks decidedly medieval, and yet has modern accoutrements like electricity and plumbing. Pucca is madly in love with the young "pretty boy" Garu, a serious ninja who'd rather build his chi than chase girls. Pucca just can't take a hint, though, and almost every episode revolves around her unflappable determination to steal kisses from her crush.
Barring the way are naughty ninjas who seek to topple Garu in battle, including Tobe, the scar-faced warlord, and Chief, the pretty but petty leader of the Vagabond Clan. Where Garu's impressive swordplay falls short, Pucca's powers of love rise up to save the day (and her man).
There are plenty of colorful supporting characters, some of them clever (like Abyo the Bruce Lee wannabe), and some of them crazy (like the cheerful but clueless Santa Claus). These characters provide not only comic relief but necessary exposition, as neither Pucca or Garu actually speak. In a smart carry-over from the internet Flash animations in which they first appeared, Pucca and Garu express themselves through grunts and giggles only. Nevertheless, their personalities are incredibly rich, thanks to lively animation and musical cues.
Episodes are fast-paced and action-packed, with lots of dramatic close-ups and whizzing single-color backgrounds. Though puppy love is at the show's core, there's a whole lot of running, jumping, and kung fu-fighting going on in the crust. Thankfully, the animators never fail to keep it all stylized, humorous, and exciting - and no one really gets hurt. Whether Pucca has to fight a flesh-eating fern with a taste for ninjas, or stop a volcanic eruption by purchasing a magic crystal from Santa, you can always expect to find her doing what she does best
chasing and cuddling her beloved Garu - by the time the credits roll.
Which is comforting, because it proves that the show's makers have effectively built upon the foundation laid by Vooz, and stayed true to the spirit of the characters in a most admirable way. Watch and smile.
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