The Winter 2014 Anime Preview Guide
Magical Warfare

Theron Martin

Rating: 2 (of 5)

For as-yet-unexplained reasons, Takeshi has such an uncomfortable home life that he aches to get out and go anywhere else. Naturally he's going to get his wish, although not in the way he expected. When he encounters the collapse Mui, a petite girl who wields a gun which apparently shoots magical bullets, he gets caught up in her affairs as a magician, particularly her struggle against a rival faction. Because of his exposure to magic during one incident of being mistaken for a pervert (apparently you can become a magician if exposed to magic as a youth, but not as an adult), Takeshi becomes a magician, too, and so does girlfriend Kurumi and a male friend (Kazumi?). Together Mui takes them into the Ruined World, a mirror world where magicians exist freely.

The first episode of this light novel-based series definitely doesn't lack for action or creative magic use, but what it does lack is quality artistry. The most striking feature of the series is that neither its character rendering or animation better than very mediocre, and the type of magic used, while interesting, is not flashy enough to visually offset that. Where characters are put in the picture, and how some scenes are written, leaves a lot to be desired; if you are trying to hide from people chasing you, for instance, then you should not obviously be sitting half out of cover or having a lengthy conversation in a less-than-secure location. And let's not get started on the whole “bamboo sword vs. actual sword” business, either! The pointed suggestion that something really bad happened at home involving Takeshi's mother and brother has promise, as does the unusual nature of the rules that magic operates under in this setting, but on both technical and writing fronts this one has a few too many flaws to be considered good at this point.

Magical Warfare is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rebecca Silverman

Rating: 2 (out of 5)


So let's see. Angry small girl who responds to help and/or accidental touches with violence? Mysterious cadre of magical weapon wielding baddies? Overbearing girlfriend? Laid back friend? Crumby family life? Recently awakened magical powers? Yep, Magical Warfare has it all, complete with a cute mascot character to do the previews and wordy explanations. Looks like generic urban fantasy to me!

Magical Warfare follows high school student Takeshi, whose mother is clearly disturbed, as he escapes the house for kendo practice one morning. He hates being at home and comments to his clingy (yet unkissed) girlfriend Isoshima that he wishes school would just start up again. Isoshima is more invested in their relationship than he is, so it's a good thing she's not there when a girl falls out of a door near the locker rooms in a haze of magical dust. Takeshi gets her to the nurse's office, hears her muttering about her brother, and before you know it she's pulled a gun and is trying to shoot him. Before you know it, Takeshi is using magical powers he didn't know he had to save the day. Soon enough we learn that the mysterious girl, Mui, has accidentally given him these powers, and in short order Isoshima and Takeshi's friend Ida have also gained magical abilities – Takeshi can see an opponent's next move, Ida gains flames, and Isoshima...can make her boobs bigger. In any event, all of these new talents force Mui to take them with her to the world on the other side of the mirror to learn how to use magic.

There are a fair amount of problems with Magical Warfare, the least of which is how Takeshi is able to fight off a guy with a massive metal sword with his bamboo shinai. Mostly the issues stem from Mui's need to explain everything in detail as soon as it comes up, which messes with the pacing of the episode, and the fact that not only is none of this new, it also isn't rendered in such a way to make the viewer not care that she's seen it before. I will happily watch the same old story play out if the characters are interesting or some of the plot elements are done just a little differently, but Magical Warfare is so by the book that there's really nothing remarkable about it.

I will say that the ending theme is quite something to watch, with more interesting animation than the show itself, which doesn't appear to hold itself to particularly high standards. From the textbook characters to the very basic and familiar plot, Magical Warfare's first episode just isn't standing out. To be fair, it isn't a total loss just is hard to get excited about it, which is plenty damning all on its own.

Magical Warfare is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Carl Kimlinger

Rating: 2

Review: This is what Witch Craft Works would have become if it didn't have Tsutomu Mizushima or its subversive sense of humor. Where Works was a delightful undermining of magical-action tropes, Warfare is a grinding magical-action chore: a humorless, tin-eared, clunkily-written agglomeration of clichés so old and dead that even dogs wouldn't roll around on their maggoty corpses. It's not on the same soul-withering plane as Z/X IgnitionWarfare at least manages a couple of wan glimmers of entertainment—but neither is it even remotely competent.

Like Witch Craft, Warfare begins with an ordinary boy who is pulled into a world of magic after meeting a magical girl. In Warfare, though, both boy and girl quickly fall into the familiar pattern. Takeshi, our boy, rescues the girl and then quickly becomes a manly protective figure, fighting off a team of irritating villainous stereotypes with his bamboo sword (honest). Mui, our girl, keeps fainting and getting into romantic situations. Which send Takeshi's girlfriend into a jealous snit. And the bad doesn't stop there. Oh no. Characters name-drop mysterious organizations with awful English names (Ghost Trailers!) and Mui dumps the show's entire magical setting on us in one long, awkward monologue. (During an improbably long break in her enemies’ pursuit no less).

To the series’ credit, it gamely constructs emotional backstories for its leads—Mui is pursuing her brainwashed brother and Takeshi is clearly suffering some dark turmoil at home—but they don't really carry any weight. In terms of excitement, Yuzo Sato's action isn't terrible: The fights are trickier than they have to be, and the defeat of Mui's pursuers is surprisingly satisfying. Though that's mostly because they were so murderously hard to endure. The end of the episode is fun, but probably not on purpose. The way every one of Takeshi's friends ends up imbued with magical powers is so ridiculously stupid that it's quite funny.

Magical Warfare is available streaming at Crunchyroll.

Bamboo Dong

Rating: 2.5

I knew exactly how I felt about Magical Warfare when I came back to my computer after running errands and slacking off for two hours… and realized that I had paused the episode halfway through. Apparently not only was I not interested enough to keep watching the show, I had forgotten I was even watching it. And why wouldn't I have? From start to finish, it's a half-assed compilation of generic, magicky stuff, pockmarked by out-of-place dumb jokes (like when one girl accidentally activated transformation powers, and her breasts started ballooning in size).

Main character Takeshi Nanase is a super ordinary high school boy, who thinks being at home is a real drag. One day, he rescues a fainting girl at school and takes her to the nurse's office. Then, in what is the biggest overreaction of all time, the girl wakes up, freaks out, and tries to blast him to death with a magic gun. And then, in the biggest underreaction of all time, Takeshi basically tells her to calm down. If ever there was a perfect illustration of how little a show can care about its characters or their interactions with each other, it's that ten-second snippet.

From then on, it's a pigsty of magic and mayhem. The girl, Mui, is apparently a magician, from some magic world, and she's leaking magic all over the place, so basically Takeshi and all of his friends also get magic. Meanwhile, Mui's brother is with a bunch of magic bad guys or something, and they're all slinging around magic too. In between blasts of lightning and spells or whatever nonsense is getting tossed around, we learn that there's a parallel whole world full of magicians, and Takeshi and his buds get to come along. Great.

As far as shows about magicians go, Magical Warfare (see, it's even in the title; get it, all these magic users are just warring with each other, magically) is pretty unimaginative. One hopes that maybe it'll eventually turn into some grand civil war, with rival ideologies and grand conspiracies, but at the moment, this is not the case. Right now, it's just a noisy nest of people tossing spells at each other and scowling. If white noise was given life in cartoon form, it would look like this.

Magical Warfare is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

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