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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
The Magical Girl and The Evil Lieutenant Used to Be Archenemies

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Magical Girl and The Evil Lieutenant Used to Be Archenemies ?
Community score: 3.8

What is this?


She's a magical girl, sworn to fight for peace, love, and justice. He's a lieutenant, born into a military family that serves an evil empire. And yet, it was love at first sight...

The Magical Girl and The Evil Lieutenant Used to Be Archenemies is based on the manga series by the late Cocoa Fujiwara. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Tuesdays.

How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore:

I hesitated to get into The Magical Girl and The Evil Lieutenant Used to Be Archenemies at first. The creator, Cocoa Fujiwara, tragically passed away in 2015 before the manga could be completed. I didn't want to invest myself in a story that would never be finished, even if it was a silly little 4 koma comic. What if I began to care deeply about Mira and Byakuya's relationship which would never come to fruition? But now that I've seen the first episode, I think it may be worth it. After all, 'tis better to have loved and lost, isn't it? The half-length episode was lovely and sweet, offering just enough to leave me wanting more.

If nothing else, it may be worth the ten minutes each week to have something lovely to look at. BONES is one of the most reliable studios in the industry and this is no exception. Every frame is beautiful, with soft colors and fine lines. Fujiwara's character designs have an ephemeral quality that the animators have adapted to great effect. The use of light is especially remarkable, from a night scene lit by a ferris wheel as Byakuya and Mira first confront each other, the two taking shelter as the rain casts a silvery sheen on the world, or the dappling effect of sunlight shining through leaves. It's gorgeous, even sigh-worthy.

The concept is familiar, but who doesn't love a Romeo and Juliet story? The humor is overall gentle, just funny enough to ensure that it doesn't feel like all style and no substance. The thing about half-length episodes, especially for something as evanescent as this, is there's just not a lot to say. There's some light parody—I chuckled at an especially pointed Madoka Magica reference—but it's mostly concerned about Byakuya and Mira connecting.

The one downside? I hate Byakuya's magical girl suit. It's tacky as hell.

Richard Eisenbeis

I think it's human nature to want more of a good thing. After all, if a little of something is good, shouldn't a lot of something be better? Of course, this is not always the case, especially in anime. Some shows—particularly those inspired by 4-koma or other types of short-form manga—don't really do well when filling up a 24-minute block. They end up overstaying their welcome, so to speak.

Now, could The Magical Girl and The Evil Lieutenant Used to Be Archenemies have worked as a normal-length anime? Maybe? But I'll tell you one thing for sure—it works incredibly well as a half-length one.

To start with: it looks fantastic. The animation is just filled with details. From character design and backgrounds to textures and particle effects, all the little touches elevate the presentation dramatically. But more than that: the art style is one of a dark, brooding, serious anime. The trick is that this anime is anything but—it's a light-hearted romantic comedy. This clash between visuals and tone only serves to highlight the comedy, making it funnier due to the discordance.

It also helps that the comedic bits poke fun at magical girl tropes in creative ways. The idea that Byakuya forgets to eat because she has to work two part-time jobs in addition to being a magical girl feels almost too real for comfort. And then there's the stand-out joke of the episode, that her magical cat familiar conned her into being a magical girl using deception and strong-arm yakuza tactics. It's just perfect.

It's safe to say I'm 100% on board with this one. I'm excited to see how this little love story continues, especially once all the other evil lieutenants start getting involved.

Nicholas Dupree

This is the rare half-length comedy that I wish was a full 22-odd minutes, if only so I could spend more time looking at it. While the overall humor of the show is a little played out, the sheer aesthetic of this premiere was so much My Thing that it was genuinely sad when the ED started playing—even if that was gorgeous, too.

That's not to say the show's substance is bad, so much as it's just very familiar. I imagine the premise – a light parody of the Magical Girl formula where the good guys and bad guys mostly fight for ceremony's sake – was a lot more novel back when the original manga was published in the early 2010s. Nowadays, we've seen some versions of that arrangement, including a possible romance across allegiances, quite a few times in recent years. So gags like Mira stoically ordering cake for his not-dates with Byakuya or Byakuya getting scammed into becoming a magical girl by her familiar don't have the same punch a decade later. However, there's still a lot of charm to the duo's chemistry. I got a few good laughs out of this episode through solid delivery. Byakuya's soft-spoken personality could also be a deal breaker for some, but I found her to be a perfect foil to Mira's more volatile reactions.

Some disconnect with the modern anime scene was probably inevitable, given the circumstances behind this project even making it to the screen. This adaptation was in the works years ago but halted after the untimely death of mangaka Cocoa Fujiwara. The production team later revived the project to honor Fujiwara's memory. If that was the main goal, Studio BONES has done a fantastic job bringing her characters and art to the screen. While not an animation powerhouse, this episode is full of striking layouts and tender, intimate framing that fits perfectly. The colors are soft and cool and evoke the feeling of a breezy spring morning. I've been excited to see more work from Akiyo Ohashi after The Stranger by the Shore and was delighted to see just how perfect a fit this creative pairing was.

It's not necessarily appointment viewing if you aren't down for familiar comedic dynamics, but the half-length format helps considerably in that respect. With less time commitment, I'm much more comfortable sitting down for some soft chuckles and fluffy eye candy. Plus, the OP and ED are both worth the price of admission on their own. This show won't knock your socks off, but as a pleasant way to de-stress at the end of the day, it's got you covered.

Rebecca Silverman

There's not much to this half-length show, but I have to say that I enjoyed it anyway. It's no secret that I love classic magical girls (and the other ones, too), and I enjoyed Love AfterWorld Domination, so it makes sense that the magical girl version of that series would be right up my alley. It also takes a subplot we see in a fair amount of classic magical girl series and makes it the centerpiece: Phantom Thief Jeanne has a romance between Jeanne and Sinbad, the Dark Kingdom arc of Sailor Moon implies relationships between the generals and the sailor guardians (in the artbook and manga, at least), Saint Tail has Meimi and Asuka Jr…the list goes on. This series takes the rest of the story out in order to focus on the romance between Byakuya and Mira, albeit in a very silly way. Honestly, I can't blame Mira for desperately wanting to feed Byakuya because that girl is not good at caring for herself.

The episode is very thin on content, but it still manages to charm. Little details like the fact that the cheesecake Mira brings Byakuya is from the "cheesemanic" brand cracked me up, and that her mascot character basically shook her down to make her become a magical girl like an openly evil Kyubey is also entertaining. Byakuya herself isn't much of a participant in the story, and that seems to be in service of having Mira's be the only point of view; we do learn that she's part of the ever-important orphan fantasy (really, it's so much easier to risk your life every night without parents) and that she's too angelic to be true, but that's about it. Fortunately, it's enough for Mira, who isn't sure why he's thinking about her so much or doing things like offering her his unlimited credit card.

I'm unsure if this will continue to play it straight, with Byakuya the model of innocent perfection, or if her "cat" will start using this to take Mira down, or at least try to. I don't love her magical girl outfit (the single biggest giveaway that this is not a show aimed at little girls) or the brightness level used whenever she's the focal point onscreen; if you're light-sensitive, I could see it being too much. But despite my reservations, this could be a lot of light-hearted fun. It's not necessarily for the classic magical girl crowd, but it's got enough going for it that I'll see where it's going.

James Beckett

Hell yeah. I've been looking forward to The Magical Girl and The Evil Lieutenant Used to Be Archenemies ever since I saw its trailer, and this premiere did not disappoint. I was utterly taken by its lush, often downright gothic aesthetic from the get-go. It's a look that pairs perfectly with its rock-solid production values and Magical Girl flair. On top of that—and most importantly of all—the central romance at the core of its premise is cute enough to send even the Grinchiest of grouses into diabetic shock. What more could you ask for?

My only major reservation going into The Magical Girl and the Evil Lieutenant was whether or not the character of the Magical Girl would work for me. I could already tell that Mira, the titular Evil Lieutenant, was the intense but helplessly dorky male lead that works really well in rom-coms like these. Still, it's always more of a dice roll with the squishy-eyed, soft-spoken archetype that the Magical Girl represents. Thankfully, while she is preternaturally cute and innocent, the show isn't afraid to have some fun at her expense, and the funniest joke of this episode for me was the reveal that she basically got duped into being a magical girl by the yakuza. That absurdity is the exact kind of edge that I need to keep my hyper-adorable romance stories from getting too saccharine.

Also, can we all stop for a moment and offer thanks to the anime gods that these episodes are only half-length? While I think The Magical Girl and the Evil Lieutenant has strong enough fundamentals that it could work just fine as a full half-hour show, there's something to be said for a comedy that knows not to overstay its welcome. That alone makes this an anime that is incredibly difficult not to recommend. It's short and sweet, and even if you end up unable to find the joy in its aggressively likable and sweet presentation, the worst you've got to lose is about as much time as it takes to brew a pot of coffee.

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