OP Sequence

OP: 「ホシトハナ」 (Hoshi to Hana) by 讃州中学勇者部(照井春佳、三森すずこ、内山夕実、黒沢ともよ) (Sanshuu Chuugaku Yuusha-bu (Terui Haruka, Mimori Suzuko, Uchida Yumi, Kurozawa Tomoyo))

Episode One

Episode Two

「乙女の真心 / ろうたけたる思い」 (Otome no Magokoro / Routaketaru Omoi)
“A Maiden’s True Heart / Noble Thoughts”

Another Studio Gokumi slice-of-life premieres … or maybe not. With a surreal turn, this original series is more than it first appears.

A Slice-of-Life … or Not?

If you’re planning on checking this series out, please do it before you read this post. Before you even look at the screen caps would be best, though it may already be too late for that. Go ahead, this will still be here. I’ll wait.

Good? All right.

The reason I suggested that is because the turn from slice-of-life to supernatural combat was made in a surreal moment that was bolstered by how little I expected it. I went in expecting a Studio Gokumi slice-of-life, and I would have enjoyed that—with these characters, it would have been good. But it’s something different than that. And the turn—that moment where you realize it’s something different than what you expected, when the whole world froze and you probably wondered if your TV was broken—is rare in anime, and even rarer in the first episode, where studios usually spoil what’s going to happen to get people watching. Granted, part of it was my forgetting what Zanibas wrote in the preview—he mentions the Vertex and fantasy action—but if you too were going in expecting something fluffier, that was a beautiful moment.

Modern Take on Magical Girls

At first this didn’t feel like a magical girl show to me, though I suppose it is. Middle school girls who transform to fight supernatural enemies while maintaining their normal, everyday life? Check, check, and check. I think it’s the fact that it isn’t a shoujo magical girl anime that had me reluctant to use the phrase—it’s more like Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, with its missions and “National Defense”.

I like the combination of spiritual magic and technology. Transforming via smart phone app is a new one to me, but it’s a refreshingly modern take on the idea. And the simple fact that they justify how the girls can talk from so far away, and don’t treat talking like a free action (trope!), gives this magical girl tale a realis—no, realistic isn’t the right word. I’ll say a reasonable flavor.

Becoming Heroes

The call to adventure (trope!) is just about the oldest trope there is, and there are a lot of ways to do it—and as many ways to screw it up. Airing episodes one and two back-to-back may have been so Studio Gokumi could get the call to adventure all sorted out before they got on with the show. And I’m glad they did it so quickly, because dragging it on would have been tiresome. Leader Inubouzaki Fuu (Uchiyama Yumi) came pre-called, and they took care of her imouto Inubouzaki Itsuki (Kurosawa Tomoyo) smoothly by making her onee-chan love clear from the start. Yuuki Yuuna (Terui Haruka), the natural hero, was no problem either.

It was Tougou Mimori (Mimori Suzuko), with her initial refusal and her worries about whether she could fight since her legs don’t work, who could have dragged it out. Taking care of it in the second episode—and showing us all the transformations—was a smart move, I think. So far this series has avoided getting too dark or dramatic—even when the characters are serious, it’s usually cut with well-timed jokes. Having them all be on board feels more natural for the tone they appear to be going for, and a nice change from the grimdark magical girl series of recent years.

Looking Ahead

With four of twelve Vertices already down, and ten more episodes to go, I’m not entirely sure what to expect next. They can’t do straight monster-of-the-week, so I assume more is planned, but as an original series that’s nothing but an assumption. I don’t have plans to cover this series, but I will be watching it, so check in with me on twitter if you want to chat.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – I thought this was slice-of-life, but it turned out to be a modern magical girl action anime. I’m fine with that too #yuyuyu 01-02

Random thoughts:

Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Between novels, From me to you, The glorious unburdening of less, and Rape fiction. For book updates, please sign up for my mailing list.

Full-length images: 25.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Aurora Days」 by 讃州中学勇者部(照井春佳、三森すずこ、内山夕実、黒沢ともよ) (Sanshuu Chuugaku Yuusha-bu (Terui Haruka, Mimori Suzuko, Uchida Yumi, Kurozawa Tomoyo))



  1. It already feels like a bit less dark version of Madoka. Hell, Yuuna’s transformation gives her pink hair and the experienced one who teaches the characters the ropes is a twin-tailed blonde, lol. Even the spirit creatures could be seen as Kyuubey mats and with how twisted the enemies look…

    I just wanna hug Togou though.

    1. I hope it balances the serious and light-hearted like it has so far. Grimdark is fine, but it gets tiresome when that’s all you see. They can go through trials without it being torture, and Takahiro (Akame ga Kill! mangaka) is not necessarily a one-trick pony. Maybe, but it remains to be seen. I’d be sad if dark is all he can do.

      1. I sure hope so, the series looks really good but it would get too depressing if it goes into the same territory of Madoka and Akame. Madoka was a great series but I wasn´t able to look a magical girl show the same way after that, so much suffering for those poor girls.

      2. @Stilts

        Takahiro’s actually the main writer (or at least was) for Minato Soft, who’s biggest release was Majikoi (which barely takes itself seriously).

        So yeah, he’s not just dark.

        One thing that is consistent is his love for onee-san’s (Momoyo, Esdeath, Shinra from KimiAru, etc.) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fuu be almost as prominent as Yuuna.

    2. IMO the similarities to Madoka are intentional, and they’re designed to make you think about Madoka, and that’s actually a sign of *good* writing, in that they’re taking our expectations and screwing around with them on a high level.

      “Is it going to be like Madoka? Not like it? Fluffier? Thornier? Sadder?” All of these questions pop into my mind when watching it now, so in a way, that’s pretty good. I was totally expecting Fuu to pull a Mami when her little sister drew “The Hanged Man” card. It added a certain amount of tension to the fight when I was watching it.

      I imagine that they’ll keep messing with our heads as the series continues, and I’ll probably be sobbing in a pillow somewhere in a corner of the room by episode six.

      I hope this turns out to be epic. I love it when a series comes out of nowhere and knocks it out of the park.

      1. Well put. A good storyteller knows how to play with expectations and impressions to basically borrow from other works and tweak our experience accordingly. Though partially it’s just how inescapable the Madoka comparison is as of late.

      1. Ah, I understand now. I haven’t watched the two episodes so my comment reflected that. Thank you for providing a high quality screenshot to make it even easier to understand too.

  2. I thought this was going to be an ordinary slice-of-life too.

    It was amazing.

    The hero puppet show at the start put me off the true meaning of the title. That, and the fact that the club’s front was basically volunteer work.

    There were subtle hints that something was off, such as: bowing to Shinju, and the text from Taisha, as well as Fuu’s reaction to it.

    I noticed those things, but I was more concerned with Tougou’s disability. I mean, I’ve almost never seen a main character on a wheelchair in anime, so I was interested in the car-lift, the staircase-lift and Tougou herself.

    I was also busy being jealous of Tougou’s web design skills…

    So the change from slice-of-life to supernatural combat caught me off-guard, and it was really awesome. I thought my screen was broken as well.

    I also think the animation and background design was superb. I mean, it really captured the whole dissonant surrealism that just suddenly appeared and took over the environment. The colourfulness of that barrier dimension (Jukai, was it?) gave me Kyousogiga vibes. The flower petals and barrier effects remind of RWBY.

    The enemy designs in episode 2 felt like they came out of a game or something. It wasn’t “enemy shows up, hit it till it dies”, but they had to beat its strategy first.

    So… I rambled on quite a bit, but basically I was quite impressed with everything. I’m glad I knew pretty much nothing about this series before I watched it.

    1. It is hard to reproduce that, since even those who read this post before watching will be ruined for the experience—and I can hardly prevent that, because to leave out a discussion of the turn would ignore the meat of these episodes.

      Sometimes we just get lucky, and experience a story in the right frame of mind.

      1. I won’t even realize that this series is a thing without your post -because I was looking on the preview schedule to keep track of new anime (instead of the completed blogging schedule) and it was missing from it. That teached to actually use the proper schedule from now on. Besides, I would probably still would not be interested in this anyway if not for the beautiful screencaps.

        Now, your intro for this article, the first paragraph and your last comment above are the only thing I’ve read so far. Will come back again after watching this.

      2. Yeah, that moment was awesome in episode one. I checked my monitor, because I wasn’t sure if the computer had frozen. XD

        That was genius. I don’t know how the rest of the story goes– if it winds up great or mediocre– but that one moment was one of the coolest things in anime I’ve seen in a long time, so that has to count for something.

  3. I wasn’t going to bother with this one but after glancing at the episode blog I had a go and actually really enjoyed the 2 episodes. The monsters remind me of the creatures from Noein which is a good thing and the characters while a little cliché were all enjoyable.

    One thing I noticed is that whoever gets the kill for the unsealed creature seems to get something added to the seal on their outfits. At best that could just be a kill counter but at worst it may be a hint of grimdark to come

  4. I went into the first episode expecting to see a slice-of-life I would drop because of time constraints. (I might have skipped this show in the preview post…)

    Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised, both because the slice-of-life was nice to watch and because of the sudden shift in genre.
    Comedy is good, characters are fun to watch, the action looks fun and smart… This far this show hit all the right buttons with me.
    Three monsters of week at the same time was almost as big a surprise as the “frozed video” and what came after it. I also really like how Togo’s change of heart didn’t take too long.

    If this series can keep the bar as high as it set it, we might be in for one of the best shows of the season.

  5. No mention of the downright amazing soundtrack? While the episodes themselves were clearly good, the music added the finishing blow as far as I’m concerned. (Although I’ll admit I might be somewhat biased due to the fact the music *very* much resembles Gust’s work in the Ar tonelico series.)

    But yes, this double-length premiere blew me away. Much like you, Stilts, I was expecting a fluffy slice-of-life, then suddenly that explosion of color happened which pretty much literally blew me away. It’s been a very long time since that happened.

    Can’t wait to see where Gokumi will take this.

    Tsugumi Henduluin
    1. The soundtrack was good. I’m not usually one to notice that, but a couple of times it struck me without standing out too much (it was still adding to the scene, it just came to the fore a little more). It enhanced the mood nicely.

  6. I’m always really impressed with how nice Studio Gokumi shows look. I know they use a lot of CG, but they are one of the only studios that actually make the CG look natural and spend that extra budget making the actual animation really nice.

    This show has shown some promise so far. Hopefully it doesn’t turn into some Taiyou nonsense and keeps up the good work.

    Also, I had a feeling I would like Tougou the best. It’s always the somewhat dark and mysterious characters that end up getting a lot of fan service that I always end up picking out from the beginning lol.

  7. For some reason I think this will be more like Mai-Hime than Madoka. Btw does anyone know what the second tarot card was? The first was Lover, the second was Judgement and the fourth the Hanged Man, but the second?

    1. My thought was to BRS for the surreal environment. Except with a happier take on it.

      It may be a popcorn show, but it’s a really good one.
      I hope it will continue to entertain me for the time to come.

  8. Hmm…Now this is a real hard mystery here if sora no method has a huge floating saucer…
    then i got a question on this pic


    WHERE ARE THEY!?…Okay now, The plot is something like this, The Era of the Gods, if the east (Japan of course) somehow manage to recover what happen to other countries then?…Just Asking!

  9. Well, that was great. As I said, I would probably would miss this without this review, so even though I don’t have the luck to exprience the full surprose, I’m still glad that I don’t end up missing this series completely.

    I’m already sold by the first few minutes. Even if this was a just normal slice of life, it would still be fun. Despite me already looking forward to it, the turning point still feel great. The music play a big part. Awesome sountrack all over. There’s something about those low-voulume sountrack for the early otherworld scene that really into me.

    When the [s]Withc[/s] Vertex show up, I feel reminded to PMMM. And then the Transforamtion scenes. Oh my. Crededens Justitiam part 2 so much. Just with Buster Sword instead of Unlimited Musket works. [s]Madoka[/s] Yuna transforamtion brings back memory of Ultimate Madoka transformation. Totally a Second Coming of Madoka.

    The opponent is interesting. Aside from Withches, they also remimiscent of NGE’s Angels especially with the ‘prophecied to come’ part. Maybe that even a delieberate reference? NGE’s Angles was originally called ‘apostle’. There are Twelve Apostles and there are going to be twelve Vertex. or maybe just overthinking it.

    Anyway, I like that the Vertex doesn’t seem to be just going to simply attack one by one like typical mosnter of the week. The three at once attack suggest that the Vertex could adapt to the opposition and adopt new tactics. Intelligent enemies are always great to see.

    Taisha haven’t got explained beyond that they serve Shinju. For that matter, Shinju haven’t got much of explanation either. I guess that’s okay. That’s avoiding the, what trope it was called again? ‘As you know’ IIRC. And that was good, even if it makes me hungry for details. Those and the changing petal thing hint at something …

    Please don’t make anyone die. Please don’t make anyone die. Please don’t make anyone die.

    Overall, a really great start. Some plot points are predictable in coming but they are still great nonetheless (and easily forgivable anyway with so many surprising moments it had).

    Also, Togo is haxx. In more than one way :p

  10. I think it was pretty good, but the inevitable comparison to Madoka isn’t all favorable.

    Production quality is excellent: I didn’t see anything wrong with the animation and the battles were smooth.

    However, in terms of scriptwriting and setting, it feels more ‘slapped together’ than Madoka was. I can’t help but feel like the characters don’t behave like real people (at least compared to Madoka, which I feel was an exemplar of good dialog) and the motivation of the enemies is less than plausible for me.

    I think I’ll keep watching, but I don’t see it being great. (In fact it’s my least favorite of all the shows I’ve watched so far, but that’s just a testament to the quality of the rest of the season)

  11. Madoka comparisons are not a plus, to me. I realize people see it as one of the greatest anime of our age and all that, but I was trying to watch it as it came out, never having heard of the Urobutcher before, and ended up being so traumatized that I could not get very far at all before I had to flee from it completely. I easily form emotional connections to characters. Then, when terrible things happen to them, it… damages me.

    I have been unwilling, ever since then, to watch any series that seems to even have a remote chance of pulling that sort of thing again until I know for sure that it won’t. Generally that means waiting until it’s over, and I can read the reviews and spoil myself completely on what happens in it. And since it’s a full series by that point, I may feel less inclined to watch a mass of 12 or 24 episodes than I would have if I was getting them one-by-one, so I may end up not watching whatever it is after all.

    …Bit of a tangent, but I felt I needed to explain. Because of that stuff, even though this looks interesting and I want to watch it, I’m afraid to do so. If this isn’t going to be covered I’ll probably never find out enough information to sway me over to watching it.

    1. My advice? Do it anyway. Risk it. Let yourself get hurt. Stories are what make us human—no, they’re what teach us how to be human. They’re lessons, and practice. Letting yourself get drawn in, and hurt, and learning how to deal with that hurt with a story is a safe way to learn how to deal with emotions and loss in real life (to a degree, to a degree). Running away from that will deprive you of wonderful experiences, and will leave you without even the shadow of the skills to deal with heartbreak in real life.

      Loving and losing is part of the majesty of life. Don’t run from it. Embrace it, in stories if nowhere else (but elsewhere as well).

  12. First, I saw the puppet show and thought, “so it’s a show about puppets?”. Then I heard “hero club” and thought, “so it’s about girl’s doing good deeds?”. Then time froze and I thought, “my computer is frozen again?”.

    Overall, good show so far, I like the whole cast except for the sister Inubouzaki Itsuki. I don’t like how overly cute she was during her transformation scene (I happen to like cute and moe but this jus seemed over the top). And yes it really does feel like Madoka in way, like how Tougou cares a lot for Yuuki almost like a Homura and Madoka kind of way. I don’t particle mind if they do go in a dark direction, but yes I am getting tired of watching girls “SUFFER”, and I love seeing people “SUFFER” Mwahahahaha. In the end, I guess either way works for me.

    I think I’ll keep my suspicion high for the moment. Tougou has some memories missing and did anyone else think it was odd when she transformed and said she felt relaxed? THEORY: She used to be a magical girl (or w/e they’re calling it) and lost her memories in an “evil conspiracy kind of way” Mwahahahaha. Well w/e, pretty sure most of this is “obvious” to the rest of yas, so I’m just going to shut up now 😀

    1. Or, Tougou got into an accident so serious she not only lost the use of her legs, but it banged up her head too. Thus the missing memories.

      I’m sticking with Occam’s razor, until there’s reason to believe otherwise. Though conservation of detail would seem to side with you. We’ll see~

  13. Am I the only concerned that Tougo isn’t in the Opening sequence? Or how Yuno overheard about a car accident – possibly as a result of their first battle – and Tougo’s accident?

    1. Wait until episode three. I think they left Tougou out because they didn’t want to spoil what her transformation would look like (they left a conspicuous space in the OP). As for the car accident, I’m 90% sure that was just showing that damage to the spirit world does indeed harm the physical world like Fuu-sempai said.

      1. Tougo in the OP – that could be the case. I was worried that it might mean she’s gonna have a bad end if this show turned grimdark like Puella.

        Car Accident – Sorry if I wasn’t being clear. I didn’t mean to say they were the same accident. I was just wondering if Tougo’s accident was a result of splash damage from the spirit world like that random accident mentioned by the classmates. If so, I wonder if there’s more to the accident. We’ll see down the line if the writers had something dark planned or I’m just reading too much into this – I have a bad habit of this lol.

  14. …of course they name the girl with the sniper rifle ‘Togo,’ and then have her insist that everyone call her by her last name. I wonder how many actual Japanese middle school girls would catch a Golgo 13 reference, nowadays.


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