Wish Upon the Pleiades (Gainax and Subaru's translation for the title of their collaborative series of animated shorts, Houkago no Preadesu) is a pleasant way to spend a half hour, with an unremarkable magical girl story dressed to the nines in Gainax's trademark snazzy animation.
Our lead, Subaru, is a cheerful average girl who accidentally enters a greenhouse containing a lush garden, where she has a meet cute with a cool boyish girl named Minato. Subaru later enters a classroom where her friend Aoi and three other girls, Itsuki, Nanako, and Hikaru, are all dressed up in magical girl outfits with their mascot-like alien "President." Subaru joins them, of course.
The first time Subaru tries to help them collect one of the items they need to allow the President to return to his planet, the villain of the series, Minato, gets it instead. Aoi doesn't think Subaru can handle being in the group and she and Subaru have a fight, but they make up. The next time Subaru's group faces Minato, Subaru defeats Minato and promises to find her again before Minato disappears.
(We later see her wearing the sweater Minato gives her.) And...that's it.
Pleiades dances around the question of Minato's gender (enough for me to write this review, at least)- although the flashback to before Minato transformed into a villain points to "girl" for me. But the way Pleiades writes Minato, imho, you can still fill in the gender question as you please. I'm sure someone has paired the girls in Subaru's group- most likely Subaru and Aoi.
The story doesn't leave much of an impression for better or for worse, but it's fine. The characterization is thin, but the characters aren't unlikeable and the story moves at a brisk clip, befitting its length. For me, it was worth watching for Gainax's rich, hyper-energetic visuals and to be able to say that I saw a series that was made by Gainax and a car company. (Props to the Pleiades creators for keeping the Subaru references to a minimum. Having the girls ride flying staffs that make engine noises was actually a cute touch.)
The story: isn't the draw. C
The art: definitely is. A-
The first link at the top of this review leads to the official English subbed version of this series, while the second link leads to the official unsubbed version.