「バベル旅団-交戦開始」 (Baberu Ryodan – Kousen Kaishi)
“Babel Brigade – Combat Begins”

Truthfully I was a little skeptical about locking in to cover MSTA for the whole season, but sometimes iffy decisions turn out for the better. Or in this case, beyond immediate expectations. MSTA may not be following the usual mahou shoujo gone despair script beyond the ubiquitous trappings we’ve all come to expect (heh), but considering the way it’s going it doesn’t need to. There’s some interesting things at work under this hood, and we’ve only just started scratching the surface.

As we’ve seen since the start MSTA isn’t the usual magical game of death and destruction. The show may have the magic and the concomitant suffering, but there’s a spy thriller-esque story buried under those superficial trappings and oh boy did it make its presence felt. Obviously the torture is going to be front and centre in this (kind of hard not to be, particularly with that made for BDSM padded sawhorse in the middle of it all), but the larger aspects for me lay in the smaller details. Half-secret military task force not wanting to get involved to prevent owing the civvies a favour? Police agency willing to sacrifice a valuable subordinate’s daughter for the sake of solidifying their bureaucratic position and increase their power? Oh yeah, this one be going places. While MSTA may not wind up expanding on this institutional struggle in the immediate future, it’s clear that this aspect is just as important as the enemy whom Asuka and friend(s) will be dealing with shortly. When your so-called allies are out to only protect their own hides up to and including at your expense if necessary, you can bet your cuddly mascot it won’t be long until you come to blows. It’s the only way to save those friends who others only see as pawns.

While MSTA is nailing its story aesthetics, the one thing sticking out like a sore thumb is its execution. Still-shot action sequences? Simplistic battle animation? Lack of the expected pre-battle power up—i.e. transformation—scenes? Might just be me but I always thought the action was what demanded the plurality of any anime budget. It’s a funny trade off MSTA has going here, where arguably “minor” stuff like the torture gets better attention to detail than scenes like this. Sure, it may ram home just where the despair is going to come in this series—that arm severing certainly surprised the hell out of me—but is it that bad to also want to see Asuka’s true power in action? Guess we’ll find out next week considering the type of battle coming up. Two against one with all wielding some seriously nasty magic? Yeah you know full well you’re looking forward to that showdown.

After all with Asuka now having two trauma cases (and one amputee) on her hands and an unknown enemy looking to use her power, things are certain to start heating up quickly. It may have been a slow moving beginning, but MSTA looks set to start bringing the magical pain.




  1. Poor Nozomi. Even if War Nurse can heal everything back (including the arm), she’s now mentally broken that she’s going to need a lot of therapy for many years to come to get back to normal.

    1. It’s really ironic when you consider Sayako and her situation now. Got trauma from having a gun pointed at you? Well now your bestie just got tortured and lost an arm; how you going to deal with that? I’m interesting seeing how the show plans on handling the PTSD for both going forward.

  2. Having read the manga already, I dreaded to think how the animators would render such a ghastly scene. As expected, they pulled no punches with this one. Compared to this, Sayako’s close brush with death is akin to getting caught cheating in your midterms (not that Episode 1 wasn’t baleful already).

    1. It’s intriguing seeing the focus on these scenes, at least compared to what LINDENFILMS has done before with its productions. I’d expect the action to be the focus of any art/animation detail (particularly given the spec-ops emphasis), but MSTA is really emphasizing the darkness. Going to be really interesting seeing just how the show tops what we got this week.

  3. Just die Abigail. Just die you bitch.

    The Long Hand of Madoka is far more longer reaching that I initially thought.

    Can we go back to a time where mahou shoujo were fuwa fuwa and light hearted?

    Henrietta Brix
      1. @Henrietta Brix: I think the trend towards darkness in Mahou Shoujo series actually may have been spawned from the Nanoha series, which, while still ending up with happy endings, showed such charming concepts as a mother beating her daughter with a whip until the daughter was nearly dead, or people murdering a twn-year-old girl’s only family in front of her with the deliberate intent to drive her insane, and so on. That gave series creators the idea that you could have dark stuff in a magical girl series, and people like Urobuchi jumped on the bandwagon and started driving it straight down into hell as fast as they could.

    1. You mean after the Sailor Moon manga was nerfed in the original anime. TV tropes make a point of the fact that genre starters often are just a dark as the later deconstructions it the follow-ups to the original.
      Sailor Moon manga and Crystal has Sailor Moon killing humans no problem, 14-year-old sex, incest, child experimentation and abuse, Sailor Moon is a clear bisexual. Deep with tongue girl-girl kisses. Two scouts are yuri full sex as lovers and teenaged sexual escorts (prostitutes), gender fluid character, suicide actually done on screen and much more.

  4. Regarding the animation spending, seems to me that they’re doing what any anime does: devoting the budget to the things they think are important, and skimping on it in the areas they think don’t matter. I’d say the problem is that you’re concluding that this is primarily a magical girl series that’s gone down the horrible twisted dark despair murder hole as a way to shock and draw viewers in; while the people making it think of it primarily as a guro/torture-porn series that just happens to include magical girls. From their perspective all the horrific stuff is what’s important and the magical girl stuff is just trimming, so they devote all their money to the former and skimp on the latter.

    1. You’re likely right on that, it’s probably weird to me because I’m used to the usual mahou shoujo gone despair script. We’ll know for certain soon enough though, one way or another the show will have to top what we got this week.

    1. To be fair for the father though he may not have a choice in the matter. In that line of work you cannot really quit if you suddenly decide to—once you’re in you’re in for good. Plus considering Abigail knows about the guy it’s likely there’s a mole somewhere because it’s not likely more than handful know who Nozomi’s father is exactly.

    2. It’s part of the package. Either you accept it and hope to get lucky or you change line of work.

      You can quit,of course, or ask to be moved to a desk position.

      But someone still has to do that job, so that’s it. You learn to live with the stress of potentially being in the wrong place at the wrong time (like in front of an MP5 before its holder pulls the trigger) and leaving orphans at home, or that in some cases someone will try to get to you thought your family. This last thing is less common, but still not an impossibility, if you push hard enough the wrong people. But let’s face it, if you didn’t push them hard enough you wouldn’t be doing your work well.

    3. Don’t need torture for retribution. In Italy’s war on the mob police often had to hide faces to protect families. Normally though criminal gangs avoid that as it draws full government attention and the side that collects taxes wins in the end.
      Torture gets lots of false information which means you end up raiding, arresting and torturing tons of innocent people as well as the guilty. Torture for real information is a lot slower than you think often and some do not break. Thus torture effective for short term variable information but huge numbers of innocents suffer as well Modern mental tricks like assigning specially trained guards to the prisoner in solitary and just letting them talk is way more accurate than torture for all but the shortest term information.
      Peter the Great’s Russia torture of rebel soldiers did not work despite going all out no means bared, because they were members of a torturing society who practiced torture on themselves for membership. Peter did get one to crack by untying them, hugging them saying I will forgive you and make you a Colonel if you talk so guy broke down apologized for going against his lord and told all and was made a Colonel who spent the rest of his life at the court enjoying himself. (additional point treat turncoats well so all know you reward it)


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