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Well boys and girls, Mahoiku’s end is finally here, and as expected, it goes out with a bang. Following a few additional depressed Koyuki scenes (and another strangely placed transformation sequence), we finally get down and dirty into the actual purpose of this survival game. We already knew about the game selecting for a top candidate, but not what the candidate was meant for. It seems selected candidates become World of Magic members, graduating into “true” magical girls who then either do magical girl work or function as Masters (with a paired familiar) for future selection tests (now properly named the Magical Girl Recruitment and Training Project). The hilarious bit though is how Master and familiar have complete control over the exam, and can do whatever they want for selection—we sure saw how well that worked this time around. Fav may be right that Swim Swim had a few screws loose, but she wasn’t the only one. Might just be me, but killing your candidates instead of simply wiping their memories (especially Cranberry’s inclination towards killing the final candidate!) implies some serious personality problems.
As for Swim Swim’s and Ripple’s big showdown, it definitely improved on the previous battle between Swim Swim and Cranberry. Although the fight was still a little shallow for my tastes, it was pretty fun seeing the full extent of Swim Swim’s ability, and how susceptible it was to light and sound. Slightly confused over how a stun grenade can knock Swim Swim unconscious when she wasn’t liquefied, but cannot complain over the cathartic end she met at the hand of one armed (and newly piratical) Ripple. Of course the truly awesome bit was the destruction of Fav—that was something I definitely did not see coming here. It’s hilariously ironic too how our sadistic puffball was killed by the very weapon he gave to our magical girls, and how Koyuki’s power (of all things) was what finally sealed his fate. Fight scene problems aside, Mahoiku certainly knows how to give us what we want. While I personally expected Ripple would die alongside Swim Swim, I cannot say it wasn’t welcome as it both gave another use for that rabbit foot and provided us with one sweet looking ninja-pirate to marvel at. Not a bad conclusion for this little survival game.
While no second season announcement was forthcoming, Mahoiku did keep things open just enough for a potential sequel in the future too. The partial fleshing out of the World of Magic and its exam system offers multiple paths going forward, with Koyuki and Ripple remaining magical girls providing a pair of readymade protagonists against whatever new baddie emerges from the abyss. Particularly good (and needed) is Koyuki finally receiving proper combat training from Ripple, offering hope she will not cower behind plot armour in the future and will actually fight for her own victories. After all, both girls may be through with the World of Magic, but it doesn’t seem to be through with them yet. Koyuki certainly enjoys the work of performing good deeds, but as is cliché, nothing good ever lasts forever. For Mahoiku especially, you can be assured death is just around the corner.
Mahoiku was one of those shows you knew what to expect going in. It always billed itself as a magical girl killer, and killing we did receive. From episode two onwards, at least one girl a week lost her life, and little time was wasted proceeding to the next murder target on our way down to one. In a ways it’s somewhat refreshing having a series so open with its premise and completely willing to get into it. We always knew to expect a death, with the question quickly becoming who would perish, and in what horrific manner.
Although straightforward and wickedly entertaining, Mahoiku was not without its weaknesses. Knowing what’s coming constantly forced the series into relying on shock and awe for its interest, deriving suspense from the manner (i.e. who and how) of death rather than fleshed out character attachment. Not helping was Mahoiku’s particularly large cast of 16 girls, giving little time for any individual development and largely reducing each girl’s death to a checkpoint rather than a serious turn of events. When backstories often preceded character deaths too, the show easily became too predictable in spots, with the middle episodes especially suffering from these obvious death flags. Major characters stumbled under this restriction, particularly Top Speed.
This weakness too ties directly back to Mahoiku’s similarity with Madoka. There’s no question Mahoiku exists because Madoka does, but I’d argue both are different beasts. Some call Mahoiku a darker Madoka, but this claim is in the eye of the beholder. Mahoiku’s darkness depends on whether you see death itself stronger than death’s buildup. Madoka was psychological, with its death largely determined by mindset—it was all about the fight against despair. Mahoiku, however, was more conventional, akin to a Battle Royale. Rather than a struggle against the self, Mahoiku was a fight against others. Neither series IMO can claim being the darkest because both emphasize and examine different aspects of fear.
While it seems like I may be ripping Mahoiku a new one here, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this one, far from it. This one was series I thoroughly loved watching weekly, there was always some new shock/twist which was awesome watching. For me it was a true popcorn show, something to sit back and marvel at the horrible things happening. Mahoiku certainly could have been better, particularly in character development, but what we received was more than enough for an entertaining show. For anime, that’s often all you ever really ask for.