「私、神懸かってます」 (Watashi, Kami Kakattemasu)
“I’m Possessed”

There has been a great resurgence in magical girl anime this season, or at least an uncommonly large representation of the genre, perhaps because it’s the 20th anniversary of Cardcaptor Sakura and somebody has realised that the kids who enjoyed the show then are now adult nerds with disposable income. Soushin Shoujo Matoi is but one of these offerings, but before we actually talk about it, I think it would be best to unpack the genre a bit first. ‘Magical Girls’ is of an old school of anime with its own set of conventions, and some shows may expect viewers to know them in advance before they play with them. So, very briefly and very generally, let us talk about classification. Roughly—very roughly—I would group magical-girl-esque anime into one of three forms:

  • Classical: Old-school stuff. A normal girl is given magical powers to accomplish some arbitrary task. Always coming of age stories, targeted at younger audiences. While there’s plenty of old magical girl shows, and Sailor Moon Crystal is still of recent memory, I would say that Cardcaptor Sakura, while not actually that old, is now seen as the archetype. Something of an exhausted genre, but with surprising longevity. How much Precure is there now? I can’t even begin to count.
  • Action-lesbians: My personal, unfairly derisive name for the shows that come out of the Nanoha school of magical girls. The natural result of trying to attract more of the male demographic, with more focus on action. Basically a marriage of transforming heroes and cute girls.
  • Cynical: The ‘dark’ magical girl shows, of which Madoka Magica is not even the best one (#hipster). Bloodier, much less idealistic, and generally allowed to rack up a body count (I’m guess Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku is itching to get killing). I was going to call this ‘Deconstruction’, but that would not be entirely accurate. A cynical show is not necessarily a deconstruction. Heck, it’s not even necessarily more realistic. Darker is simply darker.

From the looks of this pilot, it seems that Soushin Shoujo Matoi, despite an opening sequence that with only slight modification could have been from Hellsing, intends to evoke the ‘classical’ magical girl, starting with the protagonist Sumeragi Matoi (Suwa Ayaka), the traditional normal girl with no aspirations outside of her normal life. If we were to compare Soushin Shoujo Matoi to common genre conventions, it would seem that it plays almost everything straight. The normal girl stumbling into magical powers accidentally. The rival. White vs black. We’ve all seen this before, right? Even the art and animation (which while not stellar, was passable) is strangely reminiscent of a kid’s show (but then the deliberate and obtrusive fanservice… eh). Point is, Soushin Shoujo Matoi really wants you to know that this is a magical girl show, to the point of perhaps being generic. At least it does seem to be somewhat self-aware about it.

That doesn’t make for the most impressive start, sure, but 1) if you were nostalgic for old magical girl shows, this may actually be what you want and 2) establishing this traditional framework as a starting point allows them to play with it later down the line. It depends largely on what they do with the show’s central gimmick, about exorcising demons. The demonic possession scenes were a rather stark contrast to the overall light-and-fluffy atmosphere of the show, so there’s potential there. Or maybe the demons will just be an excuse for action, which while unambitious is still fine. I’d rather believe in hidden potential, for now. For starters, writer Kuroda Yousuke is plenty capable of delivering a stronger script that this. And there’s already a lot he can potentially work with. For one, it’s obvious that Matoi has Complicated Family Circumstances (from the missing mother, from the way she addresses her ‘father’, from the ED), which is drama territory if I’ve ever seen it. And there seems to be more behind the mechanics of the magical girls, seemingly a neat juxtaposition to the demonic possession.

So there is something interesting here, even with the soft start. It’s worth giving Soushin Shoujo Matoi a chance with a couple more episodes, at least. Most likely, though, you’ll have to be someone who enjoys the magical genre in the first place. And if you were itching for modern anime to stop messing around with the poor girls and just play things straight for once, well. For now, it seems like we’ve got one for you.


ED Sequence

ED: 「My Only Place」 by スフィア (Sufia)



  1. I get the feeling this is going to be Kill la Kill of the Magical Girl genre at least the art, the humor and the…”parent issues” reminded of that. I’m expecting it to get darker. I also hope that a love interest will be introduced, be it a girl or boy, since for now the father is the strongest contender. The beginning actually reminded me of the Fate Series, Fate/Zero in particular, for some reason.

  2. The first episode was okay. It didn’t leave a strong impression, but it wasn’t bad enough to drop it yet.

    Regarding your classification of magical girl anime, neither of the three series you named under Classical are typically considered classical.

    Cardcaptor Sakura and Precure, while still having many elements of classical magical girl series and being primarily aimed at young girls, both show signs of trying to appeal to a broader audience with the inclusion of the monster of the week plotlines. Also there was Yuri (sub)text with Tomoyo in Cardcaptor.

    Sailor Moon is even more different and closer to the Madoka Magica category. Sailor Moon brought a great number of changes to the entire genre including:
    – A sentai like team of magical girls. Before Sailor Moon, magical girls tended to work alone.
    – An older target demographic (teenagers instead of pre-teens), at least for the manga.
    – Regular appearances of enemies. With some rare exceptions like Cutie Honey and Dream Hunter Rem, both of which were aimed at adult males, battles against enemies were almost non-existent.
    – Death. Similar as the above, with the same exceptions, no one died in classical magical girl series. While the anime version lessened it a lot, in the manga the Sailor Senshi killed most of their opponents in battle. For example Jadeite is burned to death by Sailor Mars in her first appearance and Nephrite is electrocuted by Sailor Jupiter. Bonus points for Sailor Venus who simply pulled out a sword and stabbed Queen Beryl through the chest in anger.

    Additionally, the first season of Sailor Moon ended similar to Madoka, with everyone except Sailor Moon dead and her gaining godlike powers, which she then uses to bring everyone back to life and to change the world so that they don’t have to suffer as magical girls.

    1. Like in art or music, I don’t consider the ‘classical’ period to be the oldest iteration in existence. They are, however, definitive. Also, I would never say that these classifications are completely exclusionary, as neither is genre in general (also, very rough). Genre evolves not with sharp delineations, but gradual evolution. This is especially true when we’re arguing fuzzier points like what exactly constitutes an appeal to a wider audience (for example, does CCS lose points here because half the cast is gay?).

  3. Finally…. A rare mahou shoujo anime that doesn’t fck up the cutie like madoka… Anyway the plot is interesting… Will give this a chance to be placed in my watchlist.

  4. Taxonomy:

    Kid’s Classic – Little Witch Sally, etc.
    Dramatic/Romantic (teen romance version) – Sailor Moon, etc.
    Dramatic/Friendship (pre-teen version) – Card Captor Sukura, etc.
    Sexy Magical Girls (for Boys) – Cutey Honey, Devil Hunter Yoko, etc.
    Magical Moe Action (borrows tropes from mecha genre)
    -> High Powered Nanoha

  5. I was going to call this ‘Deconstruction’, but that would not be entirely accurate. A cynical show is not necessarily a deconstruction. Heck, it’s not even necessarily more realistic. Darker is simply darker.

    I’m posting on this thread just to say “thank you” for this. I’m sick and tired of people calling Madoka (and Eva too) “deconstruction” when is barely a subversion.

    1. Yeah, there’s something odd going on there. Her father seemed pretty cool, certainly at first, but immediately it stuck me as weird that Matoi referred to her father by name, especially in Japanese society that strikes me as odd. I’ve seen this in western literature ( To Kill a Mockingbird) but nothing like this in anime.

      Then after the demon is vanquished he thinks Matoi is his departed wife (clearly there’s some psychological damage there) and basically molests her. I wasn’t sure what to make of this because I didn’t get the impression it was done for purely comedic purposes. I was wondering how all that was going to affect things in the future and then I saw the images during the ED sequence and then things really got odd. There’s definitely going to be some kind of family drama around that, and I’m both curious and terrified of what it might be. I’ll be waiting anxiously to find out in any case.

  6. Confused using the surplus of audio speakers from which to choose? You might want to consider some sort of speaker institution for assistance and guidance. A good bureau should can be a new consultant and partner that will help your own event good results. Even when a lot of many hundreds reporting agencies are out there, the exact numbers light compared to the a huge number of appear system. Your bureau exclusive purpose is solely to produce your task a lot easier and give you actually with merchandise. Selecting to just uncover the idea likely match for the situation within your range of prices. So , everywhere do go searching first of those credit reporting agencies? I’ll share with you spots to begin your

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *