We all have our ways of coping with being looked up, and apparently mine is getting far too into a show that I only started watching because my kid liked it. That show is Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir and somehow it’s gone from “thing that will keep my daughter’s attention for 20 minutes so I can clean up” to “oh my god this is actually really fun?” But I must ask myself: how did it come to this?

The answer I think is simple: Sailor Moon.

Now, stay with me. I grew up, like a bazillion other people, loving Sailor Moon, and much of the comfort and attraction of that show was in the formula of “monsters of the week” and then the episodes that would occasionally come in to add to the greater mythology and expand the world. It was alternately soothing and intriguing. It also had cool costumes, fun powers, star-crossed lovers, and a great setting in a non-American city. Miraculous has all of those things. I have no doubt this is intentional and to me that’s fine. It’s a new show with new stories, but a familiar feel. Heck, the opening notes of the theme song even sound a little like Sailor Moon‘s!

For those of you that have not fallen down this particular rabbit hole yet, let me give you some background on Miraculous. The series, currently streaming on Netflix, is focused on Marinette DuPain-Chang, a teen girl who comes into possession of a “Miraculous” (in this case a pair of earrings) inhabited by a cute little spirit thing called a kwami, named Tikki. With Tikki’s help, the Miraculous transforms Marinette into a superhero called Ladybug. Her weapon is, for some reason, a yo-yo.

Ladybug is basically a good luck-themed hero, and so she needs a partner who’s bad-luck themed, right? That’s Cat Noir (black cat for those that don’t speak Frenglish). His Miraculous is a ring and his kwami is named Plagg. I identify with Plagg because I too derive my magical powers from eating smelly french cheese. Cat Noir’s real identity is teen heartthrob Adrien Agreste, Marinette’s classmate. The big irony is that Cat Noir is in love with Ladybug, who sees him as a friend … because Marinette is in love with Adrien, who only likes her platonically. Angst!

These heroes battle monsters of the week and this is where the series actually really shines, and again owes a lot to Sailor Moon. Every supervillain is a person transformed by an evil “Akuma” which is a butterfly filled with dark energy by the big bad, a guy called Hawkmoth who has his own Miraculous but wants Ladybug and Cat Noir’s for reasons. These akumatized baddies are wildly creative and fun, and always well-themed. They can be anything from an evil teddy bear to a glitter monster to a giant baby. Also, a note from my kid: Hawkmoth’s teeth are VERY SCARY.

The series has over-arching stories, but they aren’t so important that you can’t skip around (which I have to do a lot because I do not get to pick episodes, my daughter does) and so you can just enjoy it. And the fun thing for me is that this series is a joint Korean-French production, with Japanese and American influences. It’s set in Paris, which I love, and doesn’t really shy away from the fact that it’s very French in many ways. I also love the French puns in the names, like, mean girl Chloé Bourgeois.

It’s also a great show to enjoy with my daughter, which is a rare find (please, god, save me from more Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures). And it’s about a female superhero who always saves the day and who values kindness and hard work. While Ladybug makes mistakes, she always eventually does the right thing and she’s more powerful than any male hero, again, like Sailor Moon. There are good lessons there for a little one and having something to share with my kid while we’re both cooped up is a rare pleasure.

Currently, all episodes of the series are available on Netflix. Though the order they’re in is somewhat questionable, it’s also not a big deal and in a lot of ways the show can be watched “out of order” and still enjoyed. For instance, the origin episode doesn’t come until very late ins season one, and thus the series just sort of throws you in the deep end. But the show is so bright and fun that I’ve found myself getting very into the different heroes and relationships. (Are Rose and Juleka dating or what?! What’s Natalie’s game?).

I’m very curious where things will go when new episodes come out, which should be in the fall, if we’re lucky. Check out this show if you’re in dire need of something fun to watch, especially if you have little ones around.

(image: Toei/Nickelodeon)

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