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EP. REVIEW: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka


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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:39 pm Reply with quote
Like the idea of the show, wish it committed a bit more to it. It seems like its going for a more gritty realistic setting, with a strong contrast between the "realistic part" (human, army and such) and the super natural element (creepy teddy bear, gratuitous violence). So that the interesting aspect comes from looking at how society would react to such outlandish event.

But the evil "Queen" character and her henchman are so cartoonish that it tip the entire world over to the comical side, which really reduce the impact from contrast and make the entire world feel soulless. I guess I would like more of an anime equivalent of watchmen with magical girl.

The fan service also detract from the setting and the school friend are really uninteresting, not a problem if they were just there in the background, but they take so much screen time that they would need at least to be entertaining to watch since they just don't bring much to the show otherwise.
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Terrible90sDub
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Joined: 14 Jul 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:06 pm Reply with quote
^ I almost hate that I have to agree with that, especially the part about the Queen. It's this weird sense of whiplash when it jumps from gritty realism to a cartoon supervillain with teddie bears.

... because despite that, this is currently the anime I'm looking forward to most this season. I've mostly begun to dislike the "dark magical girl" genre as most of them end up feeling like PMMM rip offs (without understanding what made PMMM work) or they scream "look how dark I'm being! Next I'll put up some black curtains and eat black liquorice!" Considering the origins of the magical girl genre, it can also feel somewhat exploitative.

I think what helps here is how the majority of episode 1 is a sympathetic look at Asuka just trying to live her life. I've seen too many anime make their female characters with trauma just act like children, which... isn't how that works, while this seems to have done its research. Wanting to escape into literature - or any other form of media - to avoid thinking about something that may cause a traumatic flashback is an aspect of PTSD I rarely see portrayed in anything, but is especially common in PTSD cases that have used dissociation as a survival mechanism.

I can still see it becoming a trainwreck fast, depending on how they approach it going forward, but I guess that may be part of why I'm so excited for it-- I have no idea which way it will go. Also interested in seeing more of her relationship with the war nurse, which will hopefully move it away from the less interesting school characters as well.
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John Thacker
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Joined: 28 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:52 pm Reply with quote
meiam wrote:
I guess I would like more of an anime equivalent of watchmen with magical girl.


The closest show to that AFAIK is Concrete Revolutio.
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Key
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Joined: 03 Nov 2003
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Location: Indianapolis, IN (formerly Mimiho Valley)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:00 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, the evil Queen is the weak point of the series so far, but not necessarily incongruous; I think by using her the series is clearly trying to harken back to the villains of titles like Sailor Moon. There definitely seems to be an effort to connect classic magical girl elements with the more serious stuff about bloody violence and PTSD. That's going to be a tricky balancing act to pull off, but I look forward to seeing how long the title can pull it off. This is unquestionably one of my priority views for the season.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:26 pm Reply with quote
Key wrote:
Yeah, the evil Queen is the weak point of the series so far, but not necessarily incongruous; I think by using her the series is clearly trying to harken back to the villains of titles like Sailor Moon. There definitely seems to be an effort to connect classic magical girl elements with the more serious stuff about bloody violence and PTSD. That's going to be a tricky balancing act to pull off, but I look forward to seeing how long the title can pull it off. This is unquestionably one of my priority views for the season.


Not gonna lie, I get the feeling Queen and her little attack dog (forgot her name) might grate. In terms of plot they're the only ones that detract from the series, though the idea of using mahou shoujo monsters as bio weapons is a neat idea.

The only other demerits are the production values (I feel better artwork and animation could have really elevated this) and the fanservice (seriously, Asuka is supposed to be fifteen? Yikes). Other than that, it gives a really unique take on the magical girl, showing what happens after the big threat is over, especially when a lot of the backstory is filled with trauma. Let's see if it pulls this off
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:28 pm Reply with quote
I found it interesting that the little girl saved in the second episode was holding a magical girl type wand. I'm not sure if it is specific to some prior show though.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:32 pm Reply with quote
Key wrote:
Yeah, the evil Queen is the weak point of the series so far, but not necessarily incongruous; I think by using her the series is clearly trying to harken back to the villains of titles like Sailor Moon.


Probably what they were trying to do, I think for that to have worked really well they should have massively toned down the fan service (barely contained boob are not intimidating and not conductive to taking a character seriously) and instead made the queen into some crazy but dignified villain (say like Malificient), with the henchman more of serious fully dedicated knight rather than horn dog creepy lesbian.
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Nordhmmer



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:03 pm Reply with quote
meiamThey have toned down the fan service when compared with the manga so far,so there's that.

AiddonValentine The "Five" are currently 18ish. The original 11 were recruited and fought the war 3 years prior.

Alan45 The little girl had a toy wand as the "Five" made being a magical girl very popular.
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Joshua Zarate
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:53 pm Reply with quote
Great review! I quite like Asuka and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her as well as meeting the other magical girls.

Also, am I the only one here who likes the fanservice?
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scrwbll19



Joined: 16 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:10 am Reply with quote
The premise of this series reminds me somewhat of "Prisoners of War," which is an Israeli drama over on Netflix. The series is about several men, who have just been released from captivity and torture in a prisoner swap deal between the Israeli government and a group of terrorists. It follows their struggles to readjust to civilian life, especially with the PTSD after being held captive for so many years. That said, this anime series is a lot more tame thus far with respect to the PTSD and readjusting to civilian life going. Still, I look forward to how it will turn out.
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Princess_Irene



Joined: 16 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:47 am Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
I found it interesting that the little girl saved in the second episode was holding a magical girl type wand. I'm not sure if it is specific to some prior show though.


She's also the little girl from episode one who wanted to be a magical girl but her mother told her that it's too dangerous, which I thought was an interesting bit of world building about how differently magical girls are seen in the show's world.

Joshua Zarate wrote:
Also, am I the only one here who likes the fanservice?


I don't hate it, but I do think it's distracting, especially on Rapture and War Nurse. I'm debating (with myself) if it's part of the genre commentary or if it's all about the melon boobs. Laughing
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Luke's Yu-Gi-Oh! Channel



Joined: 11 Dec 2016
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:10 am Reply with quote
Episode 1 Comments/Feedback

One of the anime's I was looking forward to most this season.

She tried hard to fit into everyday life but she cannot escape the past whether it's PTSD or just all the darkness, blood, violence and non stop fighting will never leave her.

I liked watching Asuka in action, she is very badass and took care of those terrorists nicely, I guess it's good to have a friend who is a magical girl who can protect you from harm.

Looks like the Disas might still be around though, the queen and her pets look incredibly dangerous, also noticed those body parts on that cube, are those the severed remains of Asuka's parents?

Looking forward to the next episode. More magical girls in action by the looks of it.
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Sailor Sedna



Joined: 08 Jan 2015
Posts: 775
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:51 pm Reply with quote
I've only glimpsed at episode 2, but enjoyed episode 1. Looking at the fight scene from episode 2, they toned down the violence and gore a bit (we see Kurumi crash through a window and end up getting bloody as hell) probably because of Japanese TV broadcast standards (which have changed since back then), but it still captured the spirit of the manga, which is really good from what I read. Not all the villains are cartoony though, the villain who's hooded actually has a pretty dark and screwed up past later in the manga (some parts of it are totally screwed up also Shocked)...he's much more interesting than the Queen too, I just hope it doesn't end up with villains we can't take seriously. So far with Saintia Sho, while that is a great anime so far, the weakest part of it so far from what I saw were the Dryad villains, as they mostly were bland and didn't do much (but that's also because they tried to cram 3 volumes of the manga into four episodes), I don't this anime to suffer the same flaw.

Like what some commenter said, if the girls are 18-ish (though to be honest it is hard to tell as there's no information as to their ages), then they're of legal age (and from what I remember of the manga, they're high schoolers, 15 year olds in Japan aren't considered that), but I do agree, they could have toned down the fanservice a bit, especially with Kurumi (I like her outfit design but it looks like her bust would pop out)... Confused
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Dumas1



Joined: 20 Dec 2012
Posts: 22
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:21 pm Reply with quote
For some reason, this series makes me think of an old AMV that set Lyrical Nanoha scenes to Ace Combat Zero narration. I suppose it's the contrast between magical girls and the military, but I keep thinking about the post-war interviews and how all the aces were coping with lost comrades and the results of the war.
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Cardcaptor Takato



Joined: 27 Jan 2018
Posts: 1876
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:10 pm Reply with quote
I'm always a bit mixed on dark magical girl shows but I think Asuka is one of the better recent ones. I like they focus on not just the struggles of magical girls coping in civilian life but also how these battles effect the ordinary victims that get mixed up in these battles. This is an aspect I haven't really seen explored much in magical girl anime before. It makes me think of how Naru in Sailor Moon was always constantly attacked by monsters but the show was always a bit flippant about it all at times outside of maybe the Nephrite arc. I also appreciate Asuka doesn't waste time with a lot of the more typical magical girl stock footage but just gives us very quick transformation scenes.
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