- Genre : Magical Girl; Fanservice; action; torment
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: LIDENFILMS
Thank goodness for Magical Girls! If it hadn’t been for the legendary 5, the world would have been lost to the invading forces three years ago. Now they can finally kick back and enjoy a normal high school life. Well earned, to say the least. Nevermind that the unit was in fact 11 girls, only 5 of which made it out and that the devastating war has ravaged the earth making it ripe for criminal and terrorist organizations to run amuck. Someone probably should take care of those. No need to think about the fact that young girls were made to kill on a daily, and watch their friends die before their eyes or have their families in the line of danger because of them. Surely these things will have no lasting effects. A cute school uniform and some fun at the pool is all you need to wash all your worries away!
I’ve come to realize something about myself. I like the Magical Girl genre. I’m pretty sure I’ve enjoyed every single series that could loosely fit that description. Whether they be the gritty drama, cute innocent action or goofball comedy type. I must have subconsciously known this because I was looking forward to Asuka and brought it up my watch list very quickly. Did my bias hold true?
Be honest with me guys, are my little above the fold paragraphs, stupid? I can take it. I really enjoy creating my own summaries, but the teaser paragraphs are another story. It’s just that jumping straight into the technical aspects of the series from there just seems so abrupt.
Anyways, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka could have used more budget!
Ok, ok. To me, this series is a mix of highs and lows that more or less cancel each other out, and a lot of those lows are on the production side. The best technical asset by far is the character designs which are cute. Actually, they are basic for the most part except the actual magical girls that have that traditional overcomplicated and woefully unpractical aesthetic. I liked it! Everyone else just looks like stock anime characters. The voice acting wasn’t painful and the colours probably won’t hurt your eyes.
The rest of the production values should go into the lows. Atmospheric sound design doesn’t seem to have been given any consideration while the soundtrack was uninteresting and occasionally got in the way. Light was flat and framing and directing were basic. Not bad but what you would imagine a first effort to look like. By far the biggest flaw, however, was the animation and art.
Asuka is a high action series and animation was jagged and just unpolished. Occasionally still shots were intertwined to fill things out which made the end product even jumpier. Generally speaking, it gave the impression that the action scenes were just not quite finished and personally, it did take me out of the moment a little. I also noticed that battles are frequent but very short, or at least intercut with moments of stillness (a character lying knocked out while enemies slowly walk towards them, that sort of thing). I guess they couldn’t afford to animate longer sequences. As for the art, as I said the designs aren’t bad but it’s terribly inconsistent. One of the worst offenders I’ve seen in a long time.
You know what, I was going to talk about this later but let’s just get it out of the way. Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is a sexualized show. There’s a lot of fanservice and some scenes border on lightly ecchi. This is not a problem in and of itself, however, the art is so inconsistent that instead of being tantalizing, these scenes become distracting if not a little confusing. The girls seem to gain and lose noticeable amounts of weight from one scene to the other. Even from one angle to the other. And not just going from B to DDD cups size. Thighs, waists even faces change proportions in very visible ways.
Moreover, details get lost and character models lose integrity with changes in angles. I have difficulty overlooking bad visuals in animes but I can get past it. However, when you have so many scenes that are supposed to just look great, that’s their main, occasionally only, purpose, then at least for those scenes, you should have really focused on the visuals. That’s my two cents. There are still some very nice fanservice moments if that’s all you care about, but I have a feeling you can find better easily, at least in terms of art consistency.
The way I would describe Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is that it’s an interesting plot with a classical premise, delivered in the most uninteresting way possible. I really liked that the story starts after the girls have already experienced (and been heavily scarred by) the atrocities of war. A lot of similar series start off with innocent optimistic girls that slowly get broken by harsh reality. With Asuka, the girls start broken and we get to explore the aftermath which I thought was a good take on it. Putting your weapons down when you essentially are a weapon. Good conflict, lots of potential for drama!
Similarly, the characters are just a little spicier than average. It’s the usual archetypes, the prodigy, the badass, the stoic genius ect… but already twisted and warped by the suffering they’ve had to endure. They’re a little haunted…a little wrong… That’s also an interesting twist.
Unfortunately, both character and plot development are given almost entirely through plain exposition and the writing is not witty or interesting enough to do the story justice. As a result, everything seems a bit more boring than it should and characters never really get to shine despite how potentially interesting they are.
There’s also the classic problem that they tried to cram way too much into 12 episodes. Because so much of the current story is influenced by events that happened three years ago, the show feels constantly obligated to give us flashbacks to events and people long gone. However, we only get glimpses, so we never really establish and connection to those events. On top of that they need to introduce and develop 6 main characters, 4 main antagonists, an array of supporting characters, explain the laws of this magical universe and cram in some complicated story of interstellar/interdimensional warfare.
It’s just way too overstuffed. To the series’ credit, you do generally understand what’s happening at all times but not always the greater why, or why you should care. Oh, and it’s unfinished. The two main antagonists introduced in the early episodes sort of forgotten midway through and that storyline is never resolved. Instead of long scenes of sexualized torture (not kidding) that added really little to the story, I think we could have used some character-building moments and a little explanation of what the different realms are and why we’re at war. They could have had the characters stand around naked while talking about it, that way they could get the fanservice quota in as well. I’m a genius!
So did my bias hold true? Well, yes! Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is not an objectively good anime in my opinion. And it’s easy to see that it could have been way better. But I still watched it all and was often curious about what would happen next. It’s a show I wish was better and that’s saying something. I still generally like all Magical Girl shows I’ve seen. But Asuka is possibly the one I liked least.
Favourite character: Mia
What this anime taught me: ummm..always have a cyanide capsule when going into enemy territory?
I love drunk me, but I don’t trust her
Suggested drink: Tampico Trauma
Every time you see lots of blood – take a sip
- dismemberment – big sip!
- Every time the genki friend tackle hugs someone – take a sip
- Every time there’s any Yuri – bow chica whoa wow
- Every time– take a snack
- Every time there’s a traumatic flashback – get some water
- Every time there’s cleavage (front or back) – fan yourself
- Every time there’s cleavage during a traumatic flashback – spit take
- Every time there’s a magical girl transformation – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “Magical girl” – breath in
- Every time we see Francine – take a sip
- Every time anyone mentions Phoenix is from Russia – switch to vodka