SUBARU, THE ANIMATION: Houkago no Pleiades

February 1, 2011 8:09 pm Published by

Yes, you are looking at the right website. No, I didn’t upload the wrong image.

While American car makers like Dodge prefer commercials that show General Washington leading the charge in a Challenger, Subaru Japan’s latest advertising campaign involves animation and magical girls. Who’d have guessed it?

Houkago no Pleiades (放課後のプレアデス) or “Pleiades After School” is the name of a new ONA (original net animation) series comissioned by Subaru and made by Gainax, the same studio that made Neon Genesis Evangelion. As most Subaru fans would know, the company logo is a representation of the Pleiades star cluster, uncoincidentally called “Subaru” in Japanese, which is found in the Taurus constellation.

The series, which consists of four episodes that run for about five to seven minutes, is the story of a girl named Subaru who discovers her friend is in a team of magical girls who are searching for shooting stars called “Engine Fragments”.

It’s not too surprising that they chose this genre, as characters from similarly-themed shows like the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha series are quite common on itasha decorated vehicles, and the premieres of their movies are almost exclusively attended by adults. One can’t help but think something less like Sailor Moon and more like Initial D would be more appropriate though!

Before you ask, the answer is no. There’s not one single Impreza, Legacy or even a Pleo seen in the whole show! However, there are a couple of Subaru references, such as the room key looking like a car key, the engine sounds and front grille shapes of the girls’ battle staffs and the bus stop signs with locations of Subaru manufacturing plants.

I’ve included all four episodes and wrote a little synopsis, since they don’t have subtitles.

EDIT: Official subtitled versions have been released, so I’ve replaced the videos below with them. If you want to watch the unsubbed version, click the “original version” link below the video.

Episode 1 (Original version)
Subaru is out doing some astronomy and witnesses a large group of shooting stars. The next day after school, she unlocks the door to the school’s astronomy club room, but somehow reveals a beautiful conservatory with a mysterious girl named Minato in it who wonders how she was able to unlock the door. After exchanging names, Minato seems troubled and tells Subaru that it’s time to leave. Subaru asks if she can come back to the room some time.
In another room, a group of strangely dressed girls having afternoon tea discuss the imminent arrival of a new member of their team as announced by their “boss”, and wonder what sort of person she will be.
In the stairwell, Subaru slips and falls on a strange blue blob, which gets hooked up on her compass and runs away with it. While wondering if what she saw was a ghost, Subaru accidentally opens another magically locked door, revealing the girls, one of whom is her friend Aoi.

Episode 2 (Original version)
Aoi wonders how Subaru managed to find the room. Upon asking why Aoi is dressed the way she is, Aoi tells her it’s none of her business. The blue blob is revealed as a Pleiadian, an alien. As Aoi argues against Subaru joining their team, Subaru hears a strange noise that alerts them of an imminent starshower. Hikaru throws her a staff and the Pleiadean transforms her into her battle uniform. The team ride their battle staffs into the sky to catch a large shooting star called an “Engine Fragment”. Just as they capture it, Minato appears and is revealed to be the team’s enemy, claiming the Engine Fragment is hers.

Episode 3 (Original version)
As the girls battle Minato, Subaru loses concentration for a moment, allowing Minato to disappear with the Engine Fragment.
Back at the school, the girls discuss the battle. The Engine Fragments are parts of the Pleiadean’s space ship, which it needs to get back home. Aoi apologises for getting Subaru mixed up in it and says she doesn’t need to come back, but Subaru refuses. Aoi gets angry at Subaru, calling her clumsy and useless.
The next day, Subaru opens the astronomy room again, but finds the beautiful conservatory has disappeared, and starts crying.
Subaru finds Aoi at the bus stop and proclaims that she doesn’t want to give up. The group returns to face Minato.

Episode 4 (Original version)
Minato reveals that she was struck by a star and needs the other fragments to become “whole” again. She warps them all into space and begins to destroy the school in search of the other Engine Fragments. As Aoi runs to protect the Engine Fragments, Minato launches a massive attack, which Subaru throws herself in front of, blocking it. Subaru embraces Minato in hope of freeing her of her evil posession, but Minato’s good side is overpowered, and she runs away, leaving only her jacket behind. Subaru returns to the conservatory and finds it empty apart from a small blooming flower. She says she’ll be waiting for Minato’s return.

Official website.


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This post was written by Alexi