“I got fired today” is the opening line of the Bee and Puppycat pilot that came out last summer, and I don’t think there’s a line that sets the mood more for the kind of mindset the series is set in.
The magical girl genre tends to be a young teenage protagonist game. A girl in high school finds out her special fate and shenanigans as she balances her life as a student, her life as a teenager, and her life as a warrior. It’ll range on how gifted she is outside of being a magical girl. Some are genius level, others aren’t very good at school, but the focus on their life struggles tends to take a backseat to the magical girl adventures. In the case of a series like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the magical girl adventures are the life struggles.
However, Bee and Puppycat takes a different tone. Created by Natasha Allegri, lead character designer for Adventure Time and the creator of Fionna and Cake, Bee and Puppycat is the story of a girl named Bee who has a creature called Puppycat fall on her head while walking home from a job she just got fired from. From her own implications, it isn’t the first time she’s been fired. Thanks to Puppycat, Bee manages to pick up temp jobs in other dimensions to pick up extra cash.
Allegri isn’t the only person involved in Adventure Time who went on to create their own magical girl show. Former writer Rebecca Sugar went on to create Steven Universe (another favorite of mine). However, where Steven Universe is about growing up into a culture of magical women and saving the universe, Bee and Puppycat is about becoming a magical girl in the period of your life where you’re learning to grow up. Bee hasn’t been able to hold a job down after barely graduating high school. It’s no accident that we meet her after she gets fired from another one. She’s not the most poised or graceful young woman nor is she the most mature. She eats all the candy at the temp office desk, she excuses herself to the bathroom by screaming about it, and her victory dance for getting a dollar under her food budget is buying gum.
However, Bee is still shown as a kindhearted young woman who takes care of her friends and loves to craft cute and girly things. Her inability to hold a job isn’t seen as the only character flaw, but rather a part of her struggle to grow up and find what she’s good at. Is it magical temp jobs and punching creepy farmers in the face instead of murdering them in front of their animals? Perhaps, but time will tell considering the fact we only really have three episodes to go on for the series so far.
Still, the fact that Bee is still struggling at this point in her life is extremely refreshing to see in any type of media. Being a 20-something is constantly romanticized as being the point in your life when things start to come together, or if you are struggling, you can still magically afford an apartment in Manhattan. Maybe it was still two decades ago, but now, it’s a different case. In a world of unpaid internships, student debt, and three years of experience for entry level, it’s become more obvious that being in your 20s isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Having a hero that has a hard time making ends meet, relishes in free food from her friends, and doesn’t know how to cook that well seems more relatable. Not to mention magical girl temp jobs with a grumpy magical animal is kind of an amazing concept. Where can I sign up for that?
Cartoon Hangover just released the first two episodes of Bee and Puppycat on its YouTube page. These are the first of nine Kickstarted episodes that will be seen this season. You can also check out the comic from BOOM! Studios written and illustrated by Allegri for additional adventures.