「乱入バトル確変中!」 (Rannyuu Batoru Kakuhen-chuu!)
“Sudden Battle Chances Up!”
Death certainly has become an old friend in Mahou Shoujo. You know it’s coming and lay out the welcome mat, but never quite know what surprises the bastard has in store. This week of course saw him off two more girls, one who was entirely expected, and the other not so much.
I think we all knew the twin Minael was referring to Alice at the end of last episode, and that theory was quickly proven when Swim Swim gave us our first “real life” death of the show. Given how little Alice was fleshed out beforehand, ironically I thought Alice’s death was probably the strongest in this show, besides Nana’s. As with our bubbly nun, we received minimal development mostly showing rather than telling, and (most importantly) had the moment drawn out. Alice wasn’t simply bumped off, she stumbled, struggled, and ultimately failed, producing a good degree of agony and sadness amid the diminishing hope that somehow, someway, she would manage to survive. Top Speed’s death would have been significantly “better” for example if a similar degree of care was given to its buildup and the background behind it. Either way, it definitely shows Mahou Shoujo can elicit strong emotions given a sufficient amount of effort.
On the other side of things, we of course have Swim Swim and her quickly escalating war of attrition. Not content to simply eliminate Alice, she has finally turned her attention towards Cranberry and looks to give us a bloody good fight next week. Think what you want of her morals, but Swim Swim deserves credit: responsible for offing four girls, utilizing her ability to the utmost, and stoic in the face of incomprehensible danger. I honestly can see the showdown with Cranberry going either way, both girls possess eerily similar mindsets, are quick to take advantage of any weakness, and completely uncaring towards collateral damage—the fight will be decided by who takes advantage of the other’s mistake. Well, that is unless Kano shows up and throws a hefty wrench into things. Expect some seriously tasty fireworks next episode.
Story-wise we also received some surprising developments. Koyuki apparently can now hear calls of distress while in her “normal” form, although whether this is permanent (indicating power up potential) or due to the rabbit foot (in Alice’s possession at the time) is uncertain. Then we have Cranberry’s and Fav’s little chat. It’s finally confirmed that this game is indeed a selection test, which has been occurring since each girl was selected. Cranberry oversees the whole thing, Fav acts as a sort of mediator, and it’s all at the behest of an ambiguous World of Magic. The shocking bit though is Cranberry has apparently breached protocol by turning a supposedly idyllic search for talent into a brutal test of strength, with the victor decided (more or less) by how many fellow contestants they successfully eliminate. None of this is particularly shocking given all the hints, but considering the lateness of these revelations, I’m increasingly expecting a cliff hanger once we reach the end. I hope I’m proven wrong (i.e. sequel hype!), but it never hurts expecting the worst. With one hell of a fight to look forward to next week though, no point excessively dwelling over the unknown just yet.
Alice’s back story almost had me do a double take as I seriously thought it was Swim’s Swim’s. Under the care of an aunt and uncle, daughter to a murderer, and largely alone and ignored? That could easily explain Swim Swim’s mentality. Nice touch how Koyuki basically made her into a magical girl too.
Sad, (but not so sad) the remaining Peaky Angel was eliminated. Quite satisfying having one annoying, pint sized horror shut up for good. Too bad Fav doesn’t look to be close to a similar fate just yet.