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Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka – 12 (END)

「もしもこの戦いが終わったら」 (Moshimo kono tatakai ga owattara)
“If this Battle Ever Ends”

To say letdown may be a bit of an overstatement for MSTA’s finale, but seriously: where’s my reveals? Where’s the answers which have been teased so incessantly from the start, the reason to say damn, I want to watch more. Yeah it may have been a pure “read the manga” type of ending (which by nature is going to mercilessly tease the hell out of you), but I cannot deny I was looking forward to getting something for all the trouble. Well, something more than Kurumi going full threesome dominatrix mind you. Poor Asuka, you have no idea what’s coming when that girl finally gets aggressive.

In the end though MSTA pretty much went out the way it came in. Conspiracies were revealed, enemies were fought, and—mostly importantly—magical girls were made to suffer at every step. It may not have been the mahou shoujo deconstruction we’re all used to (or even looked forward to), but MSTA certainly showed the wellspring of cutie breaking has yet to run dry.

Final Impressions

In the close it’s easy being conflicted about MSTA. This was one show billed as being the “new” mahou shoujo deconstruction, a gritty, realistic (somewhat) approach to the Madoka-inspired genre which has quickly come to find its place among the likes of shounen and isekai, and while it certainly succeeded in producing that image, it also didn’t lack for faults and defects. Much like aesthetically similar Mahou Shoujo Site or even Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, MSTA had the look, but couldn’t quite fill in the gaps.

The biggest issue with MSTA as a whole is definitely its story. While the show did great in laying out its premise and introducing key players, it never advanced beyond those initial trappings. We got the protagonist backstory and some on point looks at an arguably underappreciated condition with PTSD, but beyond that MSTA never really went anywhere. Who are Asuka and friends specifically fighting, why is it important to fight them—just what is the true objective of the Babel Brigade? While true many of these answers cannot be fit into a single season of obvious promotional material, MSTA ultimately lacked the hook which demands you to immediately reach for the source material to see how it all fits together. Even hints towards these questions (and secondary ways to encourage further audience interest) were few and far between, leaving the likes of Chisato, Kurumi’s new puppy, and Gies as nameless enemies easily forgotten and the most important antagonists—i.e. the Queen—as little more than window dressing. MSTA had the plot pieces, but couldn’t quite put them together.

Where MSTA did succeed however was in terms of that aforementioned image. The show may not have delved too deep into this, but MSTA did showcase a fairly realistic concept of “militarized” magical girls. Spec ops, tactics, showcasing of war’s aftermath—we got the full meal deal when it came to wartime mahou shoujo, even if many of concepts and potential story threads remained largely unspoken for. It doesn’t take much to see where this story could run with Asuka’s PTSD for example, or even how far it could take such things as collateral damage (ex. Nozomi and Sayako) and conflicting loyalties (*looks at Tamara and that substantial connection of hers*). The series simply put had some unique and intriguing ideas compared to its peers, and while it never made the most of them (which to be fair was mostly down to time and emphasis), it easily shows not all cutie breaking has to involve large free for all games of death. Cute and obviously evil mascots yes, but there’s more than one way to bring about that magical suffering—just ask the puppy dog.

Ultimately though while MSTA had its flaws I cannot say I’m disappointed in the time I spent blogging this one. It may not have lived up to the expectations I originally had, but it shows there’s still plenty of appetite for magical girls gone wrong and that this (sub)genre still possesses plenty of room for some creative ingenuity. We may not see more MSTA in anime again, but if this series can pave the way for similar boundary exploring mahou shoujo in the future, then I think it has accomplished all that it could have ever hoped for.

Full-length images: 10.

March 29, 2019 at 10:40 pm
24 comments »
  • March 29, 2019 at 11:02 pmNork22

    Well the last episode was a letdown, but then again after the last episode where all the action happened, it had to end this way. It does however open up more questions than answers, and the show is good enough for me to go and purchase the translated volumes that’s been release so far to see what I missed and where the story goes.

    I mean, I want to know if Tamara has been brainwashed by the FSB, what PeiPei’s interesting career is like, and hoping that Queen being Francine is a big red herring.

    All in all, it was a pretty good and interesting series. People claiming this is edgy material and another blatant attempt to follow Madoka really need to shut up and watch more mahou shoujo shows that aren’t Madoka to appreciate shows like this.

    • March 30, 2019 at 9:57 pmPancakes

      The Madoka comments are funny because MSTA is arguably the first mahou shoujo deconstruction which doesn’t follow the same script. For its defects it’s a fairly unique concept and offers plenty of ideas to chew on which shouldn’t be overlooked IMO.

  • March 30, 2019 at 12:55 amArche

    Can’t say I was the biggest fan of this in the end. I agree with Pancakes’ statement about not going anywhere with its PTSD angle in the beginning. Moreover I feel like edgy shows have a fine line where it crosses from being a dark take on something to just aiming for shock value and Asuka toed it.

    On a positive note I want to give the OST a listen when it’s out

    • March 30, 2019 at 9:59 pmPancakes

      In hindsight that may have been the reason they didn’t focus too hard on Asuka’s PTSD. Too much emphasis could have turned it into shock value and let the edginess dominate when MSTA was clearly aiming for something different. Honestly if true it’s hard to fault such a decision, usually we get the complete opposite haha.

  • March 30, 2019 at 3:22 amDon

    there’s no light novel, it’s a manga

    • March 30, 2019 at 10:00 pmPancakes

      Whoops thanks for the catch! Too much Index on the mind haha.

  • March 30, 2019 at 6:24 amRenaSayers

    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2012%20-%2010.jpg

    This is what I don’t understand in Anime like Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka, why do you need to strip your prisoner down to their underwear? If your goal is to interrogate shouldn’t you keep this transaction legit? Interrogating by stripping down the detainee’s clothing is a bad guy tactic isn’t it?

    • March 30, 2019 at 6:57 amLasttiwinfan

      That’s why everyone uses it. There are not guy here. This people dont have lawyers to protect their rights because they dont have rights.

    • March 30, 2019 at 9:40 amAngelus

      Why? Dehumanization. In real life, torture subjects are often stripped to their underwear, to the waist or even completely.

      • March 30, 2019 at 10:53 amRenaSayers

        The JDSF is a government agency right? There is oversight right? They answer to the big wigs right? That means the JDSF should be transparent and being so open I don’t think the Japanese government want to be seen torturing the detained. Instead the prisoner should be arrested and question for Magical crimes.

      • March 30, 2019 at 1:46 pmArche

        ^ What the public doesn’t know doesn’t hurt them

      • March 30, 2019 at 2:00 pmAngelus

        There are two things here. One is the difference between interrogation and torture, and we’ve already seen in an earlier episode that when it comes to crimes above a certain level, the Japanese government of the day clearly sanctions torture. The other thing is that, as touched on in this last episode, the very existence of magical girls is extrajudicial because there are and can be no laws that govern them. So basically they can get away with what they want and nobody can stop them.

        The upshot of all this is that if Kurumi wants to torture someone then she can do it. All the better for her doing it, really, because she can cause as much physical damage as she wants and then heal it afterwards. So hey, no harm done. Wan wan.

      • March 30, 2019 at 10:07 pmPancakes

        @RenaSayers

        The CIA is also subject to government oversight too, but that doesn’t stop them engaging in torture (ex. the waterboarding scandal during the Second Gulf War). In reality interrogation and torture occurs whenever and to what severity is deemed necessary by the group performing it. If an enemy has vital information needed immediately, no one, official or otherwise, is going to waste time jumping through regulatory hoops. They’re going to rip out nails and cut off limbs if it can extract the info needed, and deal with the consequences after. That is, if it’s ever publicized which it very rarely is.

    • March 30, 2019 at 11:43 amyoloalchemist

      Ask Kurumi. She’s the one with the most torture addiction in this show.

  • March 30, 2019 at 12:49 pmGreed

    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2015.jpg
    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2017.jpg
    I want to see more of that mother-like character. Characters like her need more screen time or needs to get the heroine position. Why is there such a shortage of mother-like or Onee-san characters T_T

  • March 30, 2019 at 6:22 pmlasttiwinfan

    Everybody already know who is the masked girl, isn’t it? They practically scream her identity in this episode.

    • March 30, 2019 at 10:09 pmPancakes

      Well everyone has a good guess as to who it is (and it’s been teased for a few episodes now), but there’s always the chance it’s not and someone else. IMO a negligible chance, but hey, you never know :P

  • March 30, 2019 at 6:46 pmAnonymous

    Say what you want about this last episode, but I think that overall, this series accomplished what it intended to do. At the very least, it made me very interested in the manga, so that’s a win. Sure, not all characters got enough screentime, and the torture scenes with Kurumi were a little….not my tempo. What really attracted me to the series was how Asuka was as a character and her interactions with others. I thought it was kind of nice. Overall though, I thought the series wasn’t bad, and I definitely can’t wait to read more of it.

    • March 30, 2019 at 10:11 pmPancakes

      Oh yeah you’re not wrong, the show definitely did what it set out to do, but there were areas I felt it could have improved upon. Ultimately down to personal preference though, as a dark mahou shoujo we certainly got what we came for.

  • March 31, 2019 at 12:10 amHenrietta Brix

    You know… On many levels MSTA is levels higher than Mahou Shoujo Site. Though not as near the level as Madoka Magica but I’m willing to settle for this.

    Not until SHAFT comes up with a new Madoka Magica or we get new installments of Nanoha.

    But on many levels, MSTA is also very disturbing and unsettling as well.

    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2011.jpg
    War Nurse just doesn’t have many screws loose… She doesn’t even take the psychosis medication.

    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2020.jpg
    I feel like hentai does this better. No really. I really do feel like hentai does this better

    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2017.jpg
    And damn the FSB… I’m thinking that selling my soul to be trapped in a Soul Gem that needs to be constantly cleaned by Witches is a much better way to live than this!

  • March 31, 2019 at 12:24 amZen

    The biggest issue with MSTA as a whole is definitely its story. While the show did great in laying out its premise and introducing key players, it never advanced beyond those initial trappings. We got the protagonist backstory and some on point looks at an arguably underappreciated condition with PTSD, but beyond that MSTA never really went anywhere…

    More or less reflects my post episode 1 prognostications:

    I get the feeling that this is one of those shows that’s going to end up being a lot dumber and more action-focused than the elevator pitch of its premise may seem to imply…

    Fun to watch, but ultimately nothing terribly impressive- like Goblin Slayer.

  • March 31, 2019 at 5:56 amNamaewoinai

  • March 31, 2019 at 7:31 amtheirs

    Did the unusual thing of watching this show while being a fan of the manga (usually avoids anime from manga I’ve read). I can say that I think they did a decent adaptation and got the general mood right. I just wish they had a bigger budget, since one of the draws for me was seeing the action scenes animated. Still greatly enjoyed it though.

    Can’t say the show changed my opinion much, but it did change my favourite magical girl to Kurumi.
    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2012%20-%2011.jpg
    https://randomc.net/image/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka/Mahou%20Shoujo%20Tokushusen%20Asuka%20-%2012%20-%2022.jpg
    Already know she has a few screws loose, but boy was she amusing. “Kindly” adding additional members to her harem. Poor souls. Can’t helped but notice Kurumi actually threatening her superior when she wanted to step too close to her territory.

    Of the ending scene, it’s interesting to note that Mia and Tamara actually did what they said they would. While Peipei stayed true to her words but ended up freelancing. I guess the special forces didn’t pay her enough.

    ps.
    Really didn’t expect that scene between Abby and the Queen. 0.0

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