One day, a 9-year-old girl Miho Shinohara is given two stuffed dinosaurs by a stranger. The stuffed dinosaurs come to life and present her with a magic sketchbook and pen. Within limits, and subject to varying degrees of control, she can draw in the sketchbook and bring the drawings to life. Miho can also transform into a teenage girl, whom she names Fancy Lala. Fancy Lala is scouted by Yumi Haneishi, the president of the talent agency Lyrical Productions, and begins the long road to stardom.Miho Shinohara (篠原 みほ, Shinohara Miho) / Fancy Lala (ファンシーララ, Fanshī Rara)
Voiced by: Reiko Ōmori (Japanese); Katie Rowan (English)
A 9-year-old elementary school girl, Miho dreams of one day drawing manga as a career. After Mystery Man gives her Pigu and Mogu, they in turn give her a magical pen and sketchbook, which allow her to transform into a 15-year-old girl who she names Fancy Lala. Fancy Lala is scouted by Yumi Haneishi of Lyrical Productions, and gradually follows the path to stardom though her parents nor sister knows about this.
Michiko Neya (Japanese), Chris Simms (English)
A small pink dinosaur who accompanies Miho Shinohara. Mogu is a girl.
Voiced by: Shinobu Adachi (Japanese); Maureen Jones (English)
A small blue dinosaur who accompanies Miho Shinohara. Pigu is a boy.
Mystery Man (不思議さん, Fushigi-san)
Voiced by: Ryūnosuke Ōbayashi (Japanese); Byron Close (English)
A mysterious person who gave Miho Shinohara Pigu and Mogu. He often advises Miho/Fancy Lala; his name is never mentioned in the series.
Hiroya Aikawa (相川 ひろや, Aikawa Hiroya)
Voiced by: Hideo Ishikawa (Japanese); Victor Atelevich (English)
A popular idol who happens to be very attractive, Hiroya is Miho Shinohara's love-interest, and Fancy Lala's mentor at Lyrical Productions.
Yumi Haneishi (羽根石 由美, Haneishi Yumi)
Voiced by: Atsuko Tanaka (Japanese); Onalea Gilbertson (English)
The president of Lyrical Productions, who represent Fancy Lala. She was once married to Kishi, the guitarist of Hiroya Aikawa's band but the two ended up getting divorced, and has a son named Tappei, who attends kindergarten.
Ririka Kawaguchi (川口 理々香, Kawaguchi Ririka)
Voiced by: Michiko Neya
An employee at Lyrical Productions, and Fancy Lala's manager.
Taro Yoshida (吉田 太郎, Yoshida Tarō)
Voiced by: Kappei Yamaguchi (Japanese); Jeffrey Watson (English)
Miho's classmate and next door neighbor, they often fight (often like an old married couple), but he cares about her deaply. He is also the cousin of Miki Yumeno. He seems to have a romantic interest in Miho, however he doesn't know that Miho has a crush on Hiroya.
Miki Yumeno (夢野 美樹, Yumeno Miki)
Voiced by: Fumie Kusachi (Japanese); Mariette Sluyter (English)
A popular idol, Miki is Fancy Lala's main rival. She is also the cousin of Taro Yoshida, Miho's male classmate from school.
Katsunoshin Asaka (朝霞 勝之進, Asaka Katsunoshin, 朝霞先生) Asaka-sensei
Voiced by: Mitsuru Miyamoto (Japanese); Steve Gin (English)
Miho Shinohara's teacher.
Emiko Kanno (菅野 江美子, Kanno Emiko)
Voiced by: Eiko Kanazawa (Japanese); Meredith Taylor-Perry (English)
An employee at Lyrical Productions.
Komiyama (コミさん, Komi-san)
Voiced by: Ken Narita (Japanese); Allan Boss (English)
Komiyama is Fancy Lala's stylist. It is hinted in the last episode that he knows more about what is going on than meets the eye.
Anna Nozaki (野崎 あんな, Nozaki Anna)
Voiced by: Mayumi Iizuka
A classmate of Miho Shinohara.
Chisa Shinohara (篠原 ちさ, Shinohara Chisa)
Voiced by: Mifuyu Hiiragi (Japanese); Carol-Anne Day (English)
Miho Shinohara's older sister. She's also a freshman in high school and her uniform consists of a white sailor collared shirt with a green collar, a red ribbon and a grey pleated skirt.
Mamiko Shinohara (篠原 真実子, Shinohara Mamiko)
Voiced by: Yoshiko Sakakibara (Japanese); Elizabeth Stepkowski (English)
Miho Shinohara's mother, she works as a TV producer, and is often away from home.
Yoichiro Shinohara (篠原 洋一郎, Shinohara Yōichirō)
Voiced by: Noboru Hoshino (Japanese); David Pettitt (English)
Miho Shinohara's father, he works as a paleontologist, and mostly works at home.
Yoshio (ヨシオ, Yoshio)
Voiced by: Yūji Ueda (Japanese); Matthew Erickson (English)
An employee at Lyrical Productions.
Akiru Yuuki (結城 あきる, Yūki Akiru)
Voiced by: Omi Minami (Japanese); Taylor Beaven (English)
Miho Shinohara's classmate, and closest friend, she dreams of becoming an actress.
Fancy Lala is a complete remake of an earlier Studio Pierrot OVA titled Harbor Light Story Fashion Lala Yori. It was also influenced by Mahō no Tenshi Creamy Mami, the story of a ten-year-old Japanese girl granted the power to transform who also became an idol.
The original OVA was very different than the final series, being a retelling of Cinderella. In it, the heroine, Miho, a little girl who dreams of being a fashion designer, lives with her aunt and three cousins while her father is away on business. The aunt, who runs a dress shop, exploits Miho's dependence and makes her perform deliveries on her bike, while spoiling her own daughters. Of the three, the two oldest are cruel and mock Miho's dreams, but the youngest is nice to her. A local disco is holding a contest to find the next "Disco Queen." Miho is too young to enter, but decides to design a dress for her cousin. When the aunt finds out, she rips up the dress. After everyone leaves, two fairies take pity on Miho and transform her into "Fashion Lala," a sixteen-year-old blonde, so she can enter the contest herself. While performing, Miho's outfit changes into her previous designs, and it seems that she wins. At the end, she returns to a happy life with her father.
The heroine being named Miho and the two fairies, as well as the concept of an "evil cousin", were the only things retained for the final series.
Although Fancy Lala did not achieve huge success upon release in Japan (Cardcaptor Sakura dominated the magical girl genre at the time and provided little opportunity for other magical girl anime to have much of an impact), some of its influence can be seen in later series that also failed to achieve massive success. Examples of these would be Chance Pop Session and the more successful Full Moon o Sagashite.
Fancy Lala was licensed by Bandai Entertainment for English release in 2001, and dubbed at Blue Water Studios. The series has been released on DVD, but is only distributed in region 1 outside Japan. The series was also aired across Animax's various international networks worldwide, including Hong Kong, Taiwan and its English-language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia.
A Filipino dubbed version was also broadcast over ABC 5 in the Philippines. It was also licensed and dubbed for Italian release by Merak Film. The manga is also available in Italian. In Portugal, Fancy Lala was licensed to Canal Panda, who dubbed it into Portuguese and broadcast it from 2003 to the end of 2004.