「エキゾーストノートを聞いて逝け」 (Exhaust Note o Kiite Ike)
Mahou Shoujo Magical Destroyers’ third episode begs to question of how much can one love their car. Or rather, will your love for cars wind up causing you to travel down the path of the otaku? The answer may surprise you.
THE NEW RADICALS
What I find to be the most interesting facet about Mahou Shoujo Magical Destroyers is how its art looks. It’s not something you would describe as beautiful and detailed, and arguably, you could say that it looks pretty stilted and awkward. But it does more than makeup for it by fleshing out nearly every still with expressive, fluid, and eccentric energy.
It almost feels like a show comprised of in-between shots as the characters will look off-model to add emphasis to their actions and behavior. Aesthetically, it feels like if “Tails Gets Trolled” was animated or if ONE’s original web manga art wasn’t given any polish for their adaptations. Where there is so much character in how the cheaper aesthetic allows for the characters to shift between looking vividly drawn and looking like a crude Newgrounds parody. It’s hard not to laugh when a scene of the girls walking can make the show look like Kappa Mikey only to get an intricately animated scene where Otaku King is bound and teased with the same level of detail as something like To Love Ru.
There’s a level of depth that’s often out-of-place with its goofier scenes when it wants to dabble onto more serious notes. When the Cringemobile’s Driver recognizes one of the episode’s antagonists @Gou and watches him get slain, there is a deep, emotional beat that the show gets surprisingly right. Where it’s truly upsetting to see the Driver come to terms with trying to wake his friend up from brainwashing only for him to get fatally wounded. It makes it all the more poignant when the Driver drives into the assailant and sacrifices himself for his friend’s sake.
I feel like the level of character and personality the art style has worked well with the emotional responses the show has to the references and events that occur throughout the show. Where it feels like it has a soul or identity to it that resonates hard with the idea of using nerd culture as a form of communication. Conversing about Western rock stars or souped-up cars allows us to crack into what the world is like for the surviving otaku and what dissemination of culture is like when you still aim to preserve your hobbies.
And because culture is at a point where there are safaris that go out to Akihabara to gawk at the otaku and pretend they’re coming after their kids, it’s something that makes me beg to question what culture is like for average people in this version of Japan. If car otaku and anime otaku are lumped in with the same cultural stigma of wanting to go after children, then what do people in this world really enjoy?
While the nooks and crannies of Akihabara still have pockets of cultural influence such as what you’d see in the maid cafes and idol concerts, the average person who’d go on an otaku safari look at these like they’re part of a freak show. Even as magical girls wind up being prevalent in culture even for non-otaku, it seems like they act as cultural gatekeepers to make others conform to a viewpoint that sees having any sort of obsession as a societal ill. It makes for an interesting conversation to dip into as the next batch of episodes starts to explore the different magical girls that Anarchy, Blue, Pink, and Otaku Hero will have to confront at some point.