The most interesting thing about Animal Detectives Kiruminzoo is the show’s unique take on the structure of the magical girl team, as well as its use of multiphasic transformations.
In typical magical girl fashion, the series starts with two young girls–twin sisters in this case, discovering a pair of adorable plastic toys which allow them to transform into costumed heroes; in this case, themed after animals–(a rabbit and a cat)–and granting them some of those animals’ properties. What first sets these transformations apart, though, is that whereas most magical girls will grow taller (sometimes even becoming adults), or take on battle armor and long, shining hair when they transform, the girls in Kiruminzoo actually shrink, and are outfitted in adorably oversized kigurumi which make them look more like stuffed animals than heroes.
This isn’t even their final form, however, as the girls can also fully transform into animals if they experience something similar enough to the emotions that those real animals feel. This grants them the full ability set of those animals, going so far as to leave them unable to speak–and if they stay in these forms for more than 99 minutes then they become the animal permanently.
It isn’t just our magical girls who can transform this way, however. Their powers are actually based on scientifically recreating the abilities of an alternate species of humans called Animalians, who are freely able to transform between animal and human forms–though they don’t have the middle-stage transformations that the main girls do. This in itself is pretty different from most magical girl transformations, in that it arguably isn’t even magical at all–their powers are based in science, and aren’t even completely unique to themselves.
Where Kiruminzoo really mixes things up, though, is in the structure of its team. Joining the twins in episode two is their older sister, who transforms into a dog. I’m not sure I know of another magical girl show which involves this big of an age gap between members of its magical team–but it doesn’t stop there, as later one of the boys in the girls’ class also gains the power, and transforms into a mouse. This guy not only has as much presence in the team as any of the other main characters, but could even be said to be the main protagonist much of the time, given that his passion for detective work is what drives most of the episodic stories. Really, it’s his doing that the magical girls end up becoming animal detectives at all–which isn’t even really a thing in the early episodes until he leads them to form a detective club.
All of these elements are what allow Kiruminzoo to stand out as a unique magical girl series, even though its structure, episodic stories, and overall tone are about as standard as the genre conventions get. Just having an older girl and a guy character around adds a lot of variety to the ways that characters can interact with situations–and that’s not even to mention the greater presence of parental figures, police, and a really bizarre team of antagonists as compared to most magical girl shows. Kiruminzoo may not be a groundbreaking series by any stretch of the imagination, but as a magical girl fan, it’s definitely interesting to see how the formula can be shaken a bit just by adding a few things to the core structure of it.
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