「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.