Story: Ken Akamatsu
Genre: Comedy / Fantasy
Volume Count: 4
Version reviewed: English Translated
Date of Review: 15 May 2009
revised 21 Jun 2010
The full title for this series is Ground Defense Force Mao-chan.
A surprisingly good read for an adaptation of a television series. Keep your toothpaste handy.
Japan is being invaded by aliens who are trying to steal all of Japan’s famous landmarks. Who will protect them from this threat? The government has agreed to let the most qualified soldiers take on this task: a trio of 8 year old girls. Only second-graders Mao, Sylvia, and Misora can protect Japan from the onslaught of these vicious, threatening, and extremely cute aliens!
I was a bit surprised to learn that this sugar-laden series was created by Ken Akamatsu, perhaps best known for his penchant for fanservice. Mao-chan manages to keep this element in check, but Akamatsu being Akamatsu, some still creeps in. Oddly enough, it’s not by Akamatsu’s pen that these characters are drawn. An artist by the pen name of Ran, who was personally chosen by Ken Akamatsu, handles the illustrating of this manga.
The story couldn’t be simpler. Japan is being invaded by super cute aliens, and the people of Japan do not approve of using the military to take care of this threat. So, three of the military’s Chiefs of Staff decide to ask for approval for their granddaughters to take on the alien threat, with the idea that they must use cute to fight cute. The public approves of this idea, and the Elementary Defense Force is born. From there, the story is pretty straightforward, as the trio of girls deals with each alien that lands on earth. That’s about it, really.
The Mao-chan manga is actually an adaptation of the anime series of the same name. This is a case where the television series came first, and the manga serialization came afterwards. Often, this results in a manga that doesn’t hold up as well as stories which have been written as comics first. In Mao-chan‘s case, it doesn’t seem to have suffered at all. It’s actually more of a series of side stories not seen in the anime rather than a manga retelling of it. For an adaptation, Mao-chan stands up pretty well on its own.
So what is the draw of Mao-chan? Cuteness. If you like cuteness, you will probably like Mao-chan. The story is light and comical, and that’s all you really need for a title like this. Just remember to have your toothbrush handy.