Mini Moni the Movie: The Great Cake Adventure! (Review)

Mini Moni the Movie: The Great Cake Adventure!

aka Mini Moni ja Movie: Okashi na Daibouken!

Directed by Shinji Higuchi

What in the name of all that is holy did I just watch?

This film is BONKERS! Members of the JPop group Mini Moni work at a bakery, and get turned into cartoon characters who have to fight an evil queen who hates cake. It’s full of trippy musical numbers, CGI weirdness, and more sugar than Frosted Flakes. And, like Frosted Flakes, it is part of a complete breakfast and is GRRRRRR-reat! First we’ll try to explain Mini Moni and JPop groups from the Hello! Project in general, and then jump into the film.

Mini Moni is a spinoff of Morning Musume, one of the biggest rotating lineup girl bands in Japan. Morning Musume is the flagship group of the Hello! Project, which is responsible for unleashing hordes of JPop singing super cute acting Japanese girls upon the nation. The juggernaut Hello! Project contributed most of the cast of Yo-Yo Girl Cop and contributes the entire cast here. Besides this being an excuse to explain the departure of one member of Mini Moni and the joining of another, the movie also introduces a new underage group named 4KIDS, the four members (Sugaya Risako, Hagiwara Mai, Suzuki Airi, Sudou Maasa)would later become members of Berryz Kobo and °C-ute. I am not making any of these band names up. (Sugaya and Sudou are now members of Berryz Koubou; Suzuki and Hagiwara are members of C-ute. )

Mari Yaguchi had an idea in 2000 for a subgroup whose members were 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 inches) in height or shorter, and they soon picked up Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji to join. The fourth member was Mika Todd, who is not native Japanese and was added to give them some international flavor. Mini Moni gained some notoriety for acting crazy during their media gigs, including grabbing people’s butts. They are also popular on the internet for their show being the source of the Dramatic Chipmunk image. The group eventually disbanded in 2004. A great loss to the music world, indeed.

Here, we have an adventure where Mini Moni is turned into little CGI girls, meet magic fairies, fight an evil queen who hates cake, befriend a refrigerator, and try to get back to their bakery in time for it’s second anniversary. So basically it is the Gone of the Wind of the JPop world. And it’s insane. Completely insane. Get a bucket, your brain will melt.

Mari Yaguchi – Leader of Mini Moni, heads the Mini Moni Café in the film and is portrayed as having a bad temper. Leaves the group at the end of the film, which was made to explain why she left. It was based on a true story. Mari Yaguchi is currently hosting at least three TV shows. She’s the Ryan Seacrest of Japan.
Mika Todd – The chef of Mini Moni Café, Mika Todd is also the member of Mini Moni that seemed to have a quite impressive musical resume before getting caught up in the Hello! Project. Her father is Johnny Todd, a jazz pianist, and is currently doing her own work in jazz.
Ai Kago – Ai Kago plays one of the waitresses in the film, who also sneaks into the café at night to eat treats with her pal Tsuji. Ai Kago was fired from the Hello! Project for dating a 37 year old and for smoking. If she had only done one she’d still have a job.
Nozomi Tsuji – Tsuji plays the other of the waitresses in the film, who also sneaks into the café at night to grab snacks with Ai Kago. Tsuji got knocked up by the star of Ultraman Cosmos and has left show business for now.
Ai Takahashi – Takahashi plays a local girl entranced by the great food at the Mini Moni Café, and is determined to find the secret ingredient. She gets caught up in all the magical shenanigans, rescues the group, and by the end of the film is the newest member.
Queen Nakajelinu (Yuko Nakazawa) – She hates cake. She hates it so much she sings songs about hating it and turns cake to stone. Commands an army made of sweets and lives in a giant cake castle but hates cake. Someone has issues. Yuko Nakazawa is another Morning Musume alum. As for the Queen’s name, Nakajelinu? What the crap kind of name…
Mr. Fridge (?????) – Refrigerator who used to play with the Queen, locked up because she hates cake. Or something, it’s not explained well.

Thanks to the magic of fansubs, we have a translated version of Mini Moni ja Movie: Okashi na Daibouken! to watch today!

Everything starts out normal with a CGI city zoom, except this city is nothing normal. It has crazy buildings because this is a cartoon magic land. The pan ends at a rabbit-shaped building where the Mini Moni girls own their café, the Mini Moni Café (duh!) The girls perform a song about cake, dance around, and generally act insane. Brain cells literally rot away for those who see this. Peeling off your head, piling on the floor. In between sections there are short Laugh In-styled segments where the various Mini Monis dance and usually ad lib something goofy. I thought theses would happen throughout the film, but they quickly forget about them after about ten minutes in (once everyone turns to cartoon.)

Some actual plot begins with some cute CGI critters enjoying cake at the Mini Moni Cake House Place. Typical Japanese super-cute goofy animals. Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji are bumbling waitresses who serve the CGI cakes to the CGI rabbits and the lone human customer, Ai Takahashi (playing Human Customer Ai Takahashi). Ai Takahashi loves the cake and wants to know the secret recipe, which the waitresses neglect to tell her (it’s CGI rabbit souls.) So begins plot point A, which would be at home in the Bratz movie.

Chef Mika Todd goes nutso about security due to missing cakes (Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji are eating all the profits!), setting up some ridiculous system with red laser sensors everywhere. All this is necessary because Chef Mika Todd has made a super-fancy castle-shaped cake for the second anniversary of the Mini Moni Cafe, and it will be guarded by the new system as it is stored in a freezer.

That night, a CGI Fairy Queen (who looks like Princess Peach meets Final Fantasy) named Queen Nakajelinu sings about how beautiful she is as four other fairies sing backup (these are the 4KIDS girls in CGI fairy form.) The Queen cannot forgive any living thing that is ugly (direct quote from her song) and jinxes the cake castle to become her new home. Queen Nakajelinu also hates cake. She hates it so much her palace is going to be made out of it. That makes sense! See the Queen hate cake. Hate hate hate. The fairies turn the rest of the cakes in the shop into stone, which will probably last until a random CGI Queen who hates stone turns them back into cake..

By now, Ai Takahashi has sneaked into the cafe as a cat burglar (complete with cat ears and tail, and midriff-baring costume. So A for Effort on this part!) to get the secret recipe, and Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji sneak in the store as well to eat cakes, because they are greedy pigs. They are so greedy their fat stomachs set off the laser tripwire alarms, alerting Mika Todd and Mari Yaguchi that someone is in the cafe. (no, I am not calling them fat, their stomachs expand like they have those rapid pregnancies from Species 2 except they don’t explode.) Everyone human and fairy has a huge mess/collision/confusion, which results in fairy dust hitting all five real life girls and turning them into little CGI constructs similar to the fairies.

The movie has moved into all CGI territory here. It’s like we are watching Pixar, if Pixar was run by a bunch of PCP snorting spider monkeys with their faces caught in glue traps. So basically like the Disney team that made Chicken Little. The best part about the Mini Monis being turned into CGI avatars is now I have to figure out which one is which all over again. Luckily Mika Todd and Mari Yaguchi are distinctive, but Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji took a bit to figure out which one was the purple-haired one (Tsuji). The Mini Monis tie up the fairies, and demand to know what is going on.

The fairies agree to take the girls into the castle after threats from Mari Yaguchi. Takahashi tags along with no one really wondering why she’s there. JPop blares as they fly to the castle. The whole journey to the castle itself is over a land made of desserts, is like some child’s fantasy come to life. The castle is also made of candy and cake (like it was originally) except a spell made the castle more vast.

The Mini Monis enter the castle, only to fall down a trap door immediately and get captured by guards. Guards in the castle are little gingerbread men. Did Mika Todd bake this cake to be this complex? Because that’s freaking ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as some guy on the internet questioning the plausibility of a dessert castle in a movie where JPop stars are turned into CGI to fight a fairy queen’s war on cake. The Queen send the girls to the dungeon, where they are held prisoner in a room with Skittles for flooring and forks for bars. (why not eat through the Skittles to freedom? Taste the rainbow, bitches!)

Ai Takahashi has escaped capture because she didn’t go in the front door, and befriends a talking refrigerator named Mr. Fridge. Mr. Fridge helps Takahashi rescue the captive girls, first distracting the gingerman guards with a song about biscuits in pockets. The gingerbread men figure out they can reproduce by breaking in two (after which they instantly grow a new half making two gingers) and are soon spawning like gremlins in a thunderstorm.

Everyone runs, but the Queen sends a Cream Puff Man. In a nod to Galaxy Quest, the cream puffs roll together and form the monster like the rock monster from that film. The Cream Puff Man pukes cream on the girls, which is either really gross or really erotic, depending on your preference for depraved Japanese porn. Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji dive for the monster and eat its legs off, but it is only slightly stopped and begins to reform. The girls escape up a ladder, and Mr. Fridge will hold off the Cream Puff Man. He won’t be able to defeat it, but Takahashi jumps down to help him as the Mini Monis escape.

The Mini Monis reenter the castle, only to fall down the same trap door again. What in the bloody monkey-spanking hobo-hell is this? Did their brains get shrunken down faster than the rest of their bodies? Luckily for these dolts, the gingerbread men have reproduced so much that they lift the girls up and out of the trap door pit. The Queen then just captures them with other troops made out of different candy. The Queen refuses to give back their real bodies and turn the stones back into cake. Because she’s a jerk.

Mari Yaguchi is so angry she slams her head into the Queen’s, which is rendered to us in stunning The Streetfigher-style x-ray vision. The troops surround the Mini Monis again, but everything is interrupted when the Queen’s stomach growls…she’s hungry! Mr. Fridge and Takahashi arrive just then, and thanks to ingredients in Mr. Fridge they can make cake for the Queen and her troops. So they do. While singing the cake song again. And the Queen lets them cook. Even lending them an oven. Instead of just killing them. Did you know “because sweets are shy you can’t ever really talk to them”? Because I learned that from the cake song. The Mini Monis feed the army, and the orange fairy girl managed to feed the Queen some cake after resistance. This causes all the Queen’s spells to be undone blasting all the troops back into pieces of candy. Quite a high death count for a kiddie film. The Queen becomes pint sized as well, and as the castle begins to revert to cake the Queen orders the fairies to get the girls out of the castle. They fly them away, and Mr. Fridge even saves them from getting squashed by a large chocolate heart.

Everyone wakes up back to normal in the Mini Moni Café kitchen. The fairies are there as well, but have been turned into human girls. Also, Mr. Fridge is there as well, but he isn’t turned into a human girl. Yaguchi gives uniforms to her coworkers, but then gives her uniform to Takahashi, because she is quitting the Mini Moni Café to go show the fairy girls what it is like to be human. And that’s the end…

Wait! We can’t end without one last video!!! A video about good times, fighting, and reminiscing. It’s long, it’s goofy, it’s crazy. Japan is weird. But the song is still better than anything Ashlee Simpson could bleat out between nosejobs.

We got bloopers during the credits because it’s really over! Hooray! It was crazy, but entertaining, but it needed to end quickly before it killed every last brain cell. I still got a few left, so as long as I miss According to Jim I should be okay until I recover. Until next time, have fun, enjoy life, and may all your monis be mini!

Breakdown of the Queen’s Army by the Too Much Time Analysis Board:

Gingerbread Guards – The original soldiers met by Mini Moni, are easily turned good thanks to a rousing round of a catchy song. Reproduce by splitting in two, which could potentially make millions of troops in a day.

Cream Puff Man – Large, strong, and puking cream, the Cream Puff Man is a giant powerhouse. His only limit is that he is but one warrior. That and he got beaten by a talking refrigerator and a girl in a cat suit.

Cupcake Troop – Shortest of the troops with a pointy spear and the Na Katakana emblazoned across their chest. The pink frosting is traditon that dates back to the original Cupcake Troops who fought in World War 1.

Chocolate Troop – Hershey’s Bar body with a Hershey’s Bar head. This troop is the least cool of all the troops (because he’s so square, man!)

Chocolate Troop 2 – One of the standard troops used today, is the most common unit used in modern engagements against enemies of Nakajelinu’s Empire. Enhanced speed, strength, and resistance to melting.

Chocolate Troop 3 – Similar to Choclate Troop 2 except for their head design, with a spikier nose and horn on top of the head.

Wafer Troop – The Wafer Troops have a reputation for crumbling under pressure, but enough of them sent layer after layer can defeat any foe. Usually used best as support troops for the other forces.

Chocolate Bean Troops – Their bean shape and outrageous hair and lips are designed specifically to make other forces underestimate them, a fatal mistake. Only the most elite of troops make it into the Chocolate Bean Troops, but only the wisest of foes know to fear them like no other.

Pencil Troops – The Pencil Troops have dedicated themselves to becoming living weapons to the point that they have fashioned themselved into weapons! Not only does a unit of Pencil Troops make a forminable foe to any army, but they can soon become weapons that enhance the larger Choclate Troops, showing a type of teamwork that most armies can only dream of. The weapon enhancemean even works after the Pencil Troop have been killed, and many different Choclate Troops are seen carrying around long dead Pencil Troops so they can bring honor to Queen Nakajelinu by continuing to be weapons of her will.

Four Fairies – The four fairies have the power to turn things to stone and to fly. They have served the Queen since childhood, but are actually ancient in origin. Their recent loss during the Mini Moni Cake War is a blow to the Queen’s power, leaving her vulnerable enough that the Atrox Army has attempted to sieze some of Nakajelinu’s territory. So far all advances have been repelled, and the Four Fairies in human form continue to perform as JPop entertainers.

Here are some Mini Moni music videos on YouTube:

Mini Moni – jankenpyon
Mini Moni – Telephone Ring Ring Ring
Mini Moni – Hina Matsuri

Rated 5/10 (customer, customer, fairy fairy, fairy Queen!)

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