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))
「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.
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.
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
- Tougou for best tech-waifu. She can snipe your ass and then build you a website. Awesome!
- Looks like we have out fanservice girl. No, not you, Yuuna. Stop that.
- I appreciate that they didn’t spoil Tougou’s transformation in the OP. Attention to detail like that is important. It’s the missing brown M&Ms of good storytelling.
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: 「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))