This week's feature comes from a suggestion in the chatbox, highlighting a pretty big kid's anime which we actually haven't talked about much until now.
Zutto Zutto Tomodachi (ずっとずっとトモダチ)
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Sanrio has had a long history of creating animated series from its large repertoire of cutesy characters, all of which have become media franchises of their own. There's the Hello Kitty anime, there's Onegai My Melody, and there's this; Jewelpets. The original media franchise is a collab between Sanrio and Sega Sammy, based on tiny cute furry creatures which are born from jewels and grow up to become magicians, with the help of human partners. Merchandise for Jewelpets are the usual stuff you'd see from Sanrio; home-use items, stationery and others, and there are several, each named after a jewel. Which Jewelpet is your favorite?
The anime series closely follows the original theme and has been Sanrio's longest-running anime series to date, after Onegai My Melody was retired. There are several seasons (Jewelpet, Twinkle, Sunshine, Kira Deco and Happiness), some more focused on the story of defeating dark magical forces, some more comedy-based, to give a veeeeery rough overview. Zutto Zutto Tomodachi was an opening theme for the fourth season, Kira Deco, which ran from 2012 to 2013 and had quite a lighthearted story of humans going to Jewel Land to search for artifacts called Deco Stones.
Zutto Zutto Tomodachi is the ending theme to Kira Deco and was sung by child actress Mana Ashida (who turns 12 this year as of this time of writing!). Even if you haven't heard of her before, if you've played any Taiko game during the 10th anniversary, you would have heard her sing; Maru Maru Mori Mori was literally everywhere! Mana-chan rose to fame starring in a Japanese television drama, and started singing after her involvement in Marumo no Okite (which produced said song mentioned above).
One remarkable thing about Zutto Zutto Tomodachi's simplistic 4* Oni chart is that it has the exact same BPM, difficulty level and total combo as Best Wishes!, the opening theme for Pokemon B/W which was also trending at the same time.