Magical Circle Guru-Guru
Episode 3

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Magical Circle Guru-Guru (TV 2) ?

Magical Circle Guru-Guru speeds up the story progression this week, quickly ending one arc and moving on to another. Although this speedy progression doesn't really affect the humor, it makes portions of the narrative come across as rushed and inorganic, and sometimes it seems like we're being presented with a condensed version of the original series. While Magical Circle Guru-Guru remains as amusing as ever, the rapid-fire pacing of the show's humor doesn't work quite as well when applied to the overall plot.

Following a brief (and surprisingly humor-light) look at Kukuri's past, the scatterbrained witch uses her summoned beast to take out the monsters our heroes began fighting last week. Once the baddies have been dispatched, a mark claiming that “the seal is broken” appears on Old Man North-North's leg, prompting him to reveal the origins of his village's curse. As a gift passed down by the gods, the North-North Dance had traditionally been performed by young women, but after the dance became a tool to attract tourists, girls stopped being born in the village—which presumably constitutes an act of divine retribution. Hoping to get to the bottom of this, Nike and Kukuri return to Boering Village to consult the old witch.

The witch encourages the duo to examine a statue of the Guru-Guru spirit that acts as the village's guardian, which she claims may house a secret Guru-Guru. While inspecting the statue, Nike and Kukuri are sucked into a magical portal that takes them to the basement of the King of Anshient's castle. After King Wuruga reveals that the castle was constructed atop a large magical circle (which provides top-notch hemorrhoid relief), he throws the kids in jail for “discovering” the secret that he told them himself. However, with the help of a mysterious mage who intervenes on their behalf, Nike and Kukuri are able to escape from the dungeon and foil a royal adviser's plot to take over the kingdom. Although the grateful king promises Nike a comfortable life if he stays behind, the reluctant hero decides to embark on a new journey with Kukuri and their new ally.

If that sounds like a loaded synopsis, it's because episode 3 is packed to the brim with content. In addition to wrapping up the battle begun last week, this week's installment contains a bit of Kukuri backstory, an end-of-quest celebration, a battle with a disposable enemy, and the introduction of a new ally. Interestingly, as the story speeds up, the jokes slow down a little—which isn't to say they aren't still abundant. Still, with so much plot to plow through, the comedy seems slightly less prominent this time around. In fact, the first few minutes of the episode—Kukuri's backstory and training montage—feature very few jokes. While this is somewhat surprising, it's also nice to see that the show can remain engaging even when it isn't bombarding the audience with madcap humor.

Kukuri's desire to learn more about her origins and looming fear of her own powers helps give the show some emotional weight, something that was largely absent from the previous two installments. While it's unlikely that we can expect much seriousness from Magical Circle Guru-Guru, introducing the bare minimum of grounding can help the audience remain invested in characters who frequently act as joke delivery systems. Plus, the prospect of discovering the mysterious mage's true motives makes the audience more eager to tune in next week. At present, Nike's role in the bigger picture remains unclear, though there have been a couple of hints that he's destined for greater things. While ostensibly the main character, his role may ultimately be to support Kukuri, whose story appears to be driving the plot.

Although this episode is overly ambitious in the amount of material it attempts to cover, it doesn't do a bad job of pulling it off. Preferably, the plot would have time to advance at a more organic pace, but it seems like the show is trying to get through a sizable chunk of material within the span of 24 episodes. Regardless of what challenges await these heroes, after everything we learned this week, it's bound to prove exciting.

Rating: B

Magical Circle Guru-Guru is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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