Wonder Momo 001 - 20140129Earlier today, Anime News Network reported that Wonder Momo will receive a new lease on life. The series, which is based on a 1987 beat-’em-up game, will receive a series of five anime shorts, as well as a new game for iOS and Android. The show will be directed by Yutaka Kagawa (Nightwalker, Flame of Recca), and animated at Graphnica. Character designs and animation direction will be handled by Yuichi Yoshida (Accel World). The show’s roles will be filled as follows:

  • Momoko Kanda/Wonder Momo: Yuka Fujiwara
  • Akiho/Amazona: Misaki Komatsu
  • Original Wonder Momo: Haruko Momoi (Shameless plug: check our interview with Momoi-san! She’s awesome!)
  • Natsuhiko: Atsushi Tamaru
  • Glooder: Atsushi Imaruoka
  • Glieger: Rob Pereyda
  • Yumi: Anju Inami

Namco Bandai explains Wonder Momo’s plot as follows:

One day, a group of aliens planing to take over the Earth invade Tokyo. Momoko, who aspires to be an idol, gets involved in the fight in an unexpected form. Warudemon, king of the alien empire, uses various tactics to hunt down Momoko and the people around her. Momoko has decided to stand up to the Warudemon plain and simple.

In the west, the anime series will stream on Crunchyroll every Thursday at 7:30PM eastern starting next month.

The game will be developed by WayForward Technologies, and is described as an “Eighties arcade-style 2D side-scrolling action game.”

…See? We just reduced ANN’s piece from five paragraphs, to about eight sentences! Seriously, the original story read almost like a press release, didn’t it?

Wonder Momo 002 - 20140129Joking aside, it’s pretty interesting to see Namco returning to Wonder Momo now, after so many years of dormancy. The original arcade game was unspectacular at best, and seemed to have little interest outside of the main character, and the catchy soundtrack. Well… “soundtrack” is a bit too kind. The game featured two core music tracks: one for pre-transformation, one for post. Still, it proved catchy enough to inspire remixes, and a full-on cover by singer-songwriter Haruko Momoi.

After her début, Momo, as a character, became somewhat of a C-Tier legend for Namco. She made cameos in games like Marvel Land or Tales of the Abyss, and her costume appeared in games like [email protected] Her actual playable roles, though, were pretty much non-existent. She appeared in a few smaller strategy titles, and the original game was ported to a few other platforms, but that’s about it. It was never released in the west, meaning that outside of Japan, the title was just a quirky curiosity.

If we flash forward to today, things are vastly different. Namco’s been pushing the brand surprisingly hard in the west, with the Shiftylook comic reboot that saw countless promotional adverts across more popular anime fan sites, like Anime News Network. As a result, it’s become one of Shiftylook’s most popular webcomics, with over 150 installments, and a growing fanbase both in the home market and abroad.

Some may be wondering just why Namco would do this, and potentially alienate the diehards that have kept the property two thumps from “dead” for the past thirty years. Personally, I can’t help but argue that it was wise for Namco to just move on and re-make the property from scratch, as they have.

Remember what I said many moons ago about old properties? After about twenty years of stagnation, they may as well be new, since much of the original core market has moved on to other areas at this point.

C-Tier Heroine Wonder Momo is finally getting a chance to grow into something larger, something that could actually have a bit more of a legacy than “the game with the doot doot doot music and teeny tiny skirts.” Don’t believe me? Take a look at some gameplay:

Now, let’s compare this to the upcoming mobile game. Seriously! It’s like night and day, in regards to the presentation and scope!

Wonder Momo Game 002 - 20140129

Anyway, where was I? Something, something panty shots.

Oh, right! the fact that the company is able to give the brand a new lease on life allows Namco to attract new audiences, while maintaining some ties to the original to make the remaining original audiences smile. Rebuilding the identity of a second-string franchise is always a risky proposition. If the revival fails, then the company can easily salt the earth, and poison both the original fanbase, and kill any attempts at attracting new markets. Any investments in the property would be wasted, and the money (and time) invested would be for naught.

If it works, though, the rewards are immense. New markets are exposed to the property, and new revenue streams are created with a lower investment cost than the average new property. On top of this, is the opportunity to leverage the older iterations of the property, netting revenues from those looking for the nostalgia aspect, or for those seeking to invest in the history of the franchise. In the case of Wonder Momo, it’s clear that the gamble had paid off. The dividends are being paid, and what was originally a has-been, long-forgotten relic is being revived as a vibrant and fun property for the modern market. Hopefully, the game and anime adaptations are up to snuff, as this is a break point for the franchise. If Wonder Momo excels in either spot, it will likely secure a spot in the hearts of fans for some time to come. If not, it’ll be remembered as a decent webcomic, that just couldn’t make it outside of the printed realm.