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  Gigi and the Fountain of Youth
 
1987 | Harmony Gold U.S.A. Inc.
Gigi and the fountain of youth Video Gems

One for the girls today. Have your "heart charmed" or so the inlay claims, by this fantastical tale of a magical Princess and her animal chums.

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Fenarinarsa is a floating fantasy kingdom in the sky sustained by the positive feelings of the people on Earth. This positivity begins to dwindle putting Fenarinarsa in jeopardy so the king and Queen of this fairy tale land send their young daughter Minky Momo to Earth to encourage the inhabitants to regain their hope and love of life. On Earth Minky Momo is adopted by a childless couple who own a pet shop. Along with her magical friends Sindbook, a dog, Mocha the monkey and Pipil the bird. Being as she is Magic Minky Momo can cast a spell to transform herself into her teenage form.

Mahou no Princess Minky Momo (Magical Princess Minky Momo) debuted on TV Tokyo on 18th March 1982. Created by Ashi Productions Minky Momo was a big success with young girls slotting neatly into the popular 'Magical Girl' genre. The TV series lasted a year and spawned two Video specials; Yume No Naka No Ronde (La Ronde in my Dream; also received a brief cinema release) in 1985 and the musical special Hitomi No Seiza in 1987.

Hiroshi Watanabe (director of Slayers and Video Girl Ai) worked as character designer on the TV series and then as director for the La Ronde in my Dream OAV with Fist of the North Star's Toyoo Ashida taking over his original role.

Following the death of the original Minky Momo, who is reborn as the actual child of her adoptive parents, a second series with a different Magical Girl but a familiar plot began in 1991.

Magical Princess Minky Momo was introduced to the West as Gigi. The translated TV series was broadcast around the world including France, Africa, German, Spain and Italy. The latter two countries also received the La Ronde in my Dream OAV in an uncut translated form.

In the USA Harmony Gold redubbed and slightly re-edited La Ronde into the video special Gigi and the Fountain of Youth hitting shelves in 1987. Staff working on the project included Ahmed & Frank Agrama, Carl Macek and Gregg Snegoff practically the same group who created Robotech two years prior. As with most Harmony Gold dubs the same voice artist's appear most notably Lynn Minmei's Reba West in the title role. Fountain of Youth was re-released in 1994 by Celebrity's Just For Kids under the different title Magical Girl Gigi.

Released first by Embassy Home Entertainment in the UK as The Magical World of Gigi in 1987 and then a year later by Video Gems as Gigi and the Fountain of Youth.

 

 
La ronde in my dream magical princess minky momo comic la ronde of my dreams poster celebrity just for kids magical girl gigi
Japanese VHS release
 
Comic book of the movie
 
Japanese movie poster
 
USA Video sleeve
 

Everything you needed to know about Gigi's back story is relayed over the opening credits via the narrator and with frequent interruptions from Gigi's royal parents. Basically Princess Gigi has been sent to Earth to discover the true meaning of life. To assist her she has Mocha, Tweety and Bonkers her three animal friends.

With all that out of the way the story can begin. Gigi's adopted human parents are leaving for a two week holiday in Tahiti and are leaving the house and Pet Shop in the youngster's hands. Gigi's human parents don't actually know about her magical powers, despite her being followed around by three talking animals, so it seems more than a little irresponsible to leave the day-to-day pressures of running a home up to an eight year old but I guess I taking a kid's cartoon too seriously. She follows them to the waiting taxi and waves them off.

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To Earth's orbit now. A shuttle floats around above the planet checking for abnormal energy readings. There are unbelievable readings coming from an area near Tahiti and it seems most of the nations of the world are keen to claim it for themselves.

Back on Earth Gigi plays with her father's model plane, imagining it is the one her parents are flying in. Accidentally dropping the toy it falls apart on the ground. After a little slapstick house work the Magical Princess learns, from a TV news report, of playing-imitating-life - her parent's plane has crashed! Into the ocean near Tahiti. Gigi isn't an average child so rather than cry her head off at the prospect of being an orphan with a childhood in a children's home ahead of her she decides to go search for her parents taking her helicopter/camper van and flying to the location of the crash, Bonkers, Tweety and Mocha in toe.

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Nearing an uncharted island their flying camper is struck by an unforeseen energy bolt and they too crash into the sea but are almost immediately picked up by a passing submarine. It surfaces on the Island's shore and the two passengers disembark. It turns out they are a couple of old-timey, pinstripe gangsters. And they're not alone. A white suited secret agent walks out of the sea followed by a magician and his junior sidekick who parachute onto the beach. Gigi and her odd collection of associates are finally welcomed by a native tribe and taken to their hotel. All seated in the conference room, the tribe leader attempts to sell them time share properties. Gigi asks about her parent's crashed plane and everyone in the room falls off of their chair, for some reason.

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The next morning a race is almost underway. Racers in all types of cars are preparing to grab as much real estate as possible or so we are told. Elsewhere the magician, Slight O'Hand (that's right), the gangsters and the secret agent Percy Fleming are preparing for a race of their own. In hot air balloons they're gonna battle it out between them to find the mysterious power source. Gigi decides to tag along with Slight and his boy assistant in the hopes of finding something of her parent's missing plane. Nearing the island's central volcano the balloonists come under attack by brightly coloured dragons. All huddled together into one balloon for safety the oddballs drift into deep cloud. After drifting for some time they finally come to rest on the side of the volcano. It is there that Gigi discovers her parent's downed aircraft, laying deserted below a mysterious looking floating city.

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Suddenly the dragons re-appear and they seem to be leading a crowd of happy children. Having no time to run Gigi and the gang are caught by the flying monsters and are blasted by the same blue flames which had engulfed the racers a few minutes earlier. But rather than die in unbelievable agony the victims are instead transformed into children. Not questioning what is going on they join the queue of kiddies marching to meet Lord Kensington, ruler of the upside-down floating city in the sky.

Everyone is allowed in except for Gigi and her animal chums who are ejected by a clown security guard. They wait until nightfall, Gigi transforms herself into her teenage alter ego using the magic candy cane her real parents gave to her. Disguised as a cat burglar she sneaks into the floating kingdom while all the children sleep. Inside the palace she discovers a giant, blue swirling larva lamp, the power source everyone's been talking about, but before she can find out more a Peter Pan-esque figure makes an entrance and challenge's Gigi to a duel. They swash and buckle for quite a while until Peter finally gets the upper hand and disarms Gigi but rather than run her through he instead spills the beans on his operation.

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He is Lord Kensington and the power source inside the Larva Lamp is the water from a magical spring discovered by his father. The spring is actually the legendary Fountain of Youth. Peter vowed to use the power of the fountain to create a childhood wonderland where everyone can stay as children forever far away from the wars and stress of adulthood. But what Gigi really wants to know is what happened to her parents. Well, Peter allowed them to stay as adults because they remind him of his own parents. They now take care of all the children in the kingdom which to me sounds a lot more like punishment than a gift.

Peter takes the adolescent Gigi to see them, they fly over the night time roof tops of his kingdom as fireworks burst in the distance. They find Gigi's mother reading a bedtime story while her father, being the only doctor on the island (something they've seemed to her managed without for a long time) is tending to the kiddies minor aliments. Returning to her child form Gigi is reunited with them. They seem to have settled into their roles, not to mention this scientifically improbable world, very quickly when you consider that they've only been in Kensington Gardens for less than a day. When Momma and poppa begin to recant the story of their crash to their adopted daughter Peter cuts them short only stating that no one was injured in the crash which he caused. I'm starting to think that maybe this is not a wondrous childhood utopia but actually a cult!

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Lord Kensington offers to take Gigi and 'her friend' (actually her grown-up form which they need to keep a secret from Momma and Poppa) for the full tour. Gigi transforms out of sight and, upon returning, makes her excuses for the absence of her younger self. She and Peter take to the sky again and dance amongst the fireworks. Peter asks Gigi to stay with him but she refuses. She needs to return home to make all her dreams come true, or so she says. I'm starting to worry about the moral implications of their blossoming romance...

Rejected, Peter turns a little weird. He starts ranting on about how he needs Gigi's magic powers so they can battle 'his enemies'. He is convinced that 'they' want to bomb his kingdom because they fear the peace he's peddling. It's looking more and more like a cult as we go on!

Morning comes remarkably quickly. Gigi walks the streets of Kensington Gardens amongst a veritable Beniton ad of racially diverse children all sleeping together peacefully. She contemplates Peter's words and her dream of becoming a singing star.

Elsewhere a shadowy conglomerate of evil men watches a live feed from within the Kingdom. It seems one of the children was originally a spy and while his intentions have since turned to that of carefree play his original objective is still operating. From a camera within a Teddy Bear's eye, the Mr Big's learn of all Lord Kensington's secrets. It seems it wasn't all paranoia after all! The bad guys fear the power contained within the kingdom could threaten to destabilise their evil grip over the world's governments. They don't want this namby pamby peace getting out and spreading the globe!

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They occupy the island and have their own conference in the hotel's function room. Having planned their attack they begin the offensive sending in troops and jets to invade the peaceful floating kingdom. The alarm is sounded and Lord Kensington sends out his first wave of defence- Flying Remote Robots! The tiny gray robots swarm the the flying war machines and slowly, methodically dismantle them screw by screw. Next the dragons attack the jets and tanks, magically transforming their operators into children with their blue fire. The baddies counter attack from the sea, shelling Kensington Gardens from a battleship. Peter doesn't seem to have planned for this and the landscape is devastated by the explosive projectiles.

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Gigi's parents do their best to ferry all the children to safety rounding up every one except Gigi herself who is of course unaccounted for. Her magic is a fire safety risk! Adult Gigi races to Peter's palace to help him battle the M.I.C. threat. In her absence Lord Kensington has been crafting his final, ultimate attack- Hand Grenades. Gigi is relieved to hear that these aren't the kind that maim with shrapnel but are instead powered by his magical spring to turn the victim into a child.

A wacky assault begins with the child army (the happy kind not the real life kind) fighting back in tiny kiddy cars. Gigi, returned to her less appealing child form helps out in a miniature plane rescuing her parents from certain death by Happy Nuking an attacking Battleship. She's then drawn into a prolonged dogfight that stretches from the skies over the ocean, through the jungle and then finally all through the tribe's hotel resulting in it's spectacular destruction.

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With help from brightly coloured dinosaurs the battle is won for Lord Kensington. A bright blue glow spreads from his kingdom to the island below, returning everyone to their correct age and everything back to normal. Momma and Poppa are returned to the plane and Kensington Gardens mysteriously disappears. Peter bids young Gigi farewell giving her the usual advice about "using her imagination" when she wants to see him again- that sort of thing. It seems the world wasn't ready for his brand of peaceful, childhood innocence... Together with his dragons he flies off into the sunset.

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Life returns to normal. Gigi and her foster parents continue their everyday lives. One night, while attempting her maths homework, Gigi falls asleep and dreams of her teenage self performing a concert, at The Big Special, for an enthusiastic packed audience. Fortunately Reba West isn't doing the singing in this show. As usual the new English lyrics don't even remotely lip synch. Gigi knows how to put on a show- constantly changing costume and even gunning down the crowd with a tommy gun at one point. The song is a little schizophrenic leaping from one style to another but the audience loves it! Loves it enough for an encore.

The show finally comes to a close with an incredibly tone deaf and lyrically confused ending theme to restore your faith in childrens anime adaptations:

#She may look just like you, talks just like me, but she's made of moon beams!#

... just one of the many great lines.

 
Missing videos Missing videos

Gigi's Dream Concert
Gigi sings for a packed crowd.
What a performer!

The Terrible Ending Theme
#It's Gigi's World!, Her Magic World!,
It's Gigi's World!, Her Magic World!#

 
Nice animation
 
Good dubbing
  Non-irritating script
  Not too long
  Crappy theme song!
 
Mostly for girls ...

Gigi and the Fountain of Youth is, of the videos I've watched so far, the best suited for it's intended audience. While it does mix some odd themes, childhood fairy tale lands with reasonably realistic depictions of military action, the translation is pitched perfectly for the family audience. While it does share some of the absurdist humour of the fellow Harmony Gold adapted The World of the Talisman it never over does it with the jokes or the vocal characterisations.

The English adaptation perfectly fits the original and helps bring a great, lighthearted and breezy family film to western audiences. Personally I just enjoy the eighties character designs and synth music as it reminds me of the good old days of the Anime video revolution. Nostalgic fun and suitable for all ages earning it yet another...

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