- Genre : Magical Girl, Action, thriller
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Lerche
What makes the difference between an ordinary person and a hero? No one is born the strongest, the fastest, the best shot. You can train all your life to get those skills or you can stumble across a mysterious online mobile game that will magically bestow them upon you, but does that make you a hero? Is it really as simple as the one with the most points ,(or candies) wins? Like any true fan of magical girls Koyuki knows that heroism starts in your heart. It’s that strong calling to help those in need for no other reason than the fact that you can. You know what they say about good intentions don’t you? Koyuki is about to find out exactly where they lead…
This is completely uncharacteristic of me, but I actually had too many titles to choose from for this post. This will likely never happen again. My alternates where:
This could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Or
From Madoka to Danganronpa...
I sort of regret my choice…
I was recommended this anime by a friend a long time ago (before I even started this blog) and I was a bit dubious. My friend you see, is a devotee of all things moe. Cute girls are his passion and he has no issue foregoing storyline, interesting characters or even decent animation as long as he can get his fix of adorable art. As long as the art is of girls… Free! did nothing for him.
It’s plain to see why he would have been drawn to Magical Girl Raising Project. The art is simply beautiful. Detailed and lush with a variety of body types, facial structures and intricately designed costumes that give every single character a truly one of a kind look. No simple hair and color swap here. Moreover, the animation is actually very good. Fight scenes flow well rendering them extremely engaging and quality remains generally consistent under most conditions. No matter what else you may say about it, Raising Project is technically impressive.
Honestly, the art was gorgeous. I have started a fanart collection already. I was however distracted by those…magical chests… The costume/character designs are very fanservicy here. There’s really no way not to notice. Considering the storyline, it did seem somewhat fitting though. As the magical girls’ appearance are avatars and most people do have a tendency to make those as sexy as possible, I can easily accept that so many of them ended up extremely well endowed and with very breezy armor.
What was more difficult to accept was how body parts regularly changed size. This is a very pretty anime and the investment in production values is clear. As this is a recurring problem in many shows I’ve seen, chest size consistency is obviously tricky. However, if you’re going to put so much emphasis on a character’s breast, you should try to make sure they are physically sound. I can accept that some girls may occasionally wear different underwear that make an impact on their figures but unless they are stopping to stuff their bras off camera in the middle of fights, the girls should stay more or less the same size in single scenes. Mind you, if an anime ever does incorporate that into their narrative, I’m giving it extra points! Is this too much time to spend on imaginary cleavage? Anyway – lots of fanservice but it didn’t bother me and oddly worked well in context.
Getting back to the, ahem, review… Sound design is acceptable, with a fitting if not particularly impressive soundtrack but I found environmental sounds to be a bit lacking. The city was a little too silent overall and there wasn’t enough variation in background noise to truly bring it to life if you closed your eyes. On the other hand, the voice acting and directing was very good. It’s one of those cases where I didn’t notice it at all until I did. It seems perfectly serviceable with no particular standout until you realize just how powerfully emotional all the performances are without ever becoming grating or exaggerated. When you consider the sustained state of stress all the characters are under, suddenly the very believable way in which dialogue is delivered becomes quite impressive. If I was to single out anyone, I would say I particularly enjoyed Yumi Uchiyama as Top Speed.
When I first started watching the series, I was warned to not be close minded and dismiss this as a Madoka rip off (close minded is my word – the words used were a little more forceful and a little less suitable for work. This has been a sticking point for fans on both sides of the issue, it seems)
Fact is, I couldn’t blame for drawing parallels between Magical Girl Raising Project and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The similarities are plentiful and obvious right off the bat. Both are ostensibly a serious take on the Magical Girl archetype, both treat their casts with unabashed ruthlessness, both have visually similar pink haired heroines and morally dubious mildly pokemon like mysterious creatures that serve as narrators and plot catalysts. Both shows dramatically change in tone at ep2/3 with an event involving a sweet blonde twin tailed mentor character. The comparisons are all right there. It’s so obvious that it may be a touch too obvious.
Magical Girl Raising Project is not dumb. It tackles more than a few big themes and provides gentle commentary on a number of issues. After considering the entire series, it seems unlikely that the above-mentioned similarities are accidental. If you’re the cynical sort, you may think that they were added in order to ride on the coat-tails of an extremely popular anime and that may well be the case, but that’s not what I think. I think the creators here realized that Madoka still casts a huge shadow over any new title that could be considered of the genre and that comparisons would be unavoidable. So, they leaned into it only to hit us with a subtle bait and switch of the central conceit, forcing the viewer to analyze and take in this particular tale in a completely different way. I have a feeling that at least part of the viewers that did not appreciate the series, were unhappy or at least disoriented with this particular realignment of the thesis. Like a dark magical girl uncanny valley. Too bad for them…
Koyuki is a naïve, extremely idealistic protagonist just as Madoka was and the story will make her face some truly harsh disillusionment but that is just one aspect of this show. Magical Girl training project is truly an ensemble cast, which gives time and attention to a large number of characters. The cruelty explored is not so much the crash of pure idealism and bitter reality, but that of the depths of the human psyche when pushed to extremes.
The Girls here are all imperfect, all in fact they are very average girls and women of all ages, with different experiences, strengths and failures. And the narrative constantly insists on their normalcy. But we almost never see them in their daily lives. For most of the run time we only see the super powered, extraordinary magical girl personas they embody, making it seem as though their every day personas are the masks they wear while the costumed vigilantes are their true form. A personification of a dream they all shared. A desperate escape from a reality they deemed imperfect. They have slowly given themselves up to their magical girl counterpoint and are now nothing without it. This isn’t the story of the fragile girl next door. It’s the story of the weight of heroism. Clearly underlined in the fact that for most of them, we only get to see their normal forms after their deaths. We also don’t get any magical transformation sequences until the very end. I’m not sure what that symbolizes but I thought it was interesting.
Like a lot of these shows, the premise is held together by a somewhat shaky explanation. Although they do eventually give us a reason behind all the violence onscreen (and personally I would have preferred if they didn’t), large parts of the big picture remain obscured. We never really know what exactly fav is or why there is a raising project at all. The shadowy powers that be remain completely veiled and the bit of info we do get is from a highly unreliable source. I actually like this approach much better than some idiotic half thought out explanation that unravels at the slightest probing and mars everything else. But if you are the type that is annoyed by vague plot points or loose ends, this may bug you.
There is a whole lot of action here, and a whole lot of points thrown out. The narrative is extremely ambitious trying to convey thoughts on child abuse, abandonment, redemption, gender roles, responsibilities of romantic partners, grief management, mental illness, online gaming addiction, the dangers of microtransactions and the subjective nature of morality, but to name just a very few. It won’t come as a shock when I say that in 12 episodes with tons of action to dole out and a dozen characters to develop, they didn’t get to explore all those points fully. A lot of them are really just ideas being thrown out at you with no clear conclusion. But they are food for thought nonetheless, and that is more than we get in a lot of shows.
As for that character development, it is outstanding. I really and deeply felt all those gruesome events. I was rendered speechless and slack-jawed on no less than 4 separate occasions without exaggeration. We are given exactly enough information of everyone’s lives to really care about them.
I really wanted to give you guys a smart review. This show really impressed me and I thought it deserved it. I wanted to elaborate on the subtler commentary or the masterful development. I wanted to write a fawning essay on how Snow White’s ultimate shrugging off of the horrors she has endured and her decision to take her life into her on hands and win by her own means, to put in the unglamorous work to gain the strength to stand by her principles, was deeply empowering and truly worthy of a Magical Girl to admire. I wanted to point out how complete and intricate the personalities of characters on-screen for just a couple of episodes, were. I wanted to point out that he friendships portrayed were lyered and logical, with solid foundations and heartwarming interactions. I really wanted to sell it because this series deserves better than the mix reception it has gotten.
Luckily, I take notes while I watch series, so I have three full pages I can base myself on. Hmmm, it seems I just wrote Shizuku is so hot over and over again, very chesty (not sure who I was reffering to or if it’s a good thing), is Swim Swim on the spectrum? and finally, Kyubey still best evil pokemon. If you change the names, this could be my notes on just about any show.
So, I guess instead I’ll try to summarize Magical Girl Raising Project a bit here and give you something useful to go on. This is a graphic and ruthless show that could be difficult to watch for some, for both the physical and emotional violence portrayed, but I believe it has a lot to offer. There’s a nice depiction of a lesbian couple if that’s your thing. Most importantly, Shizuku is really hot!
Favorite character: Ruler (I know right – even I thought it would be Shizuku but…, I’ll say it again, characters are really well written)
What this anime taught me: Never get attached to anyone
I always drink responsibly, I never spill
Suggested drink: Snow White Daiquiri
Every time we see a cell phone – take a sip
- if people are playing on it – take another
- Every time we see Fav – be suspicious
- Every time Ripple goes tch– take a sip
- Every time anyone says candies – have a snack
- Every time Ruler insults someone – take a sip
- Every time there’s a noble sacrifice – pour some out
- Every time we see things bounce – take a sip
- Every time we see a transformation sequence – raise your glass
- Every time an important character dies – get some water….
- Every time Alice gets hurt – take a sip
- Every time someone gets betrayed – stretch