Magical Circle Guru-Guru
Episodes 1-2

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Magical Circle Guru-Guru (TV 2) ?

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

As a fantasy comedy that pays loving tribute to old-school RPGs, Magical Circle Guru-Guru is an energetic, gag-laden good time. Unlike The Slayers, which featured intricate stories to complement the copious amounts of silliness, Guru-Guru essentially functions as a joke delivery system, with its overarching plot primarily serving as a backdrop for a variety of parodic situations. This is the type of comedy where nothing should be taken seriously. Each episode contains a staggering number of jokes, many of which are presented in a rapid-fire blink-and-you'll-miss-it fashion. While this approach to humor may not be everyone's cup of tea, it injects fresh energy into the proceedings and contributes to the lively tone.

Magical Circle Guru-Guru's deliberately simplistic plot follows reluctant adventurer Nike and apprentice witch Kukuri, two children on a quest to defeat the generically-named Demon King. Having been pressured into this by his comically overbearing parents, Nike is less than thrilled with his situation. On the flipside, Kukuri, who's potentially the last remaining member of the fabled Migu Migu clan, is all too happy to leave her life as an apprentice behind and embark on a quest with the “hero” who will purportedly protect her and her clan's secrets from evildoers. As the heir to the Guru Guru style of magic, Kukuri strives to master an assortment of wacky circle-based spells.

The first episode gets most of the exposition out of the way, documenting our heroes' first meeting and the preparation phase of their journey. Episode two begins a two-parter that finds the duo visiting North Town, a village besieged by monsters who make their home on nearby Saw Mountain. Here, Nike and Kukuri meet the other members of their party: budding mage Zaza, wannabe martial artist Mig, and aspiring priest Toma. While locked in a fierce battle against the monsters' boss, Kukuri performs North Town's Guru Guru spell (which had been preserved in the form of a suggestive dance an old man performs) and winds up calling forth an ancient beast.

From the overhead map to the black narration boxes, the influence of classic RPGs is clear as day, presumably even to viewers who haven't played them. Stat boxes popping up every time a new character appears is another fun touch that helps drive home the distinctly old-school feel. Adding to this is the flawless manner in which Production I.G. recreates the look of the original Magical Circle Guru-Guru. High-def digital animation aside, this remake looks stunningly similar to its '90s predecessor, and the staff clearly made an effort to replicate the original's general aesthetics.

For many viewers, Magical Circle Guru-Guru's manic sense of humor may be off-putting. This is a show that's determined to fit as many gags as possible into its 24-minute runtime, and there are precious few opportunities for the viewer to relax and take it all in. Fortunately, there are more hits than misses among the show's broad catalog of jokes, so the relentless pacing of the gags is often forgivable. The comedy is especially en pointe during the dungeon boss battle near the end of episode two, with the head monster frequently looking away from the action to read menacing dialogue written by his underlings.

Magical Circle Guru-Guru is a must-see for RPG enthusiasts, nostalgic 90s anime fans, and anyone who enjoys a good fantasy comedy. Still, the frantic speed at which the jokes are dispensed and the lack of a serious overarching plot may turn some viewers off. It remains to be seen whether the core cast will evolve beyond their surface quirks or the show will incorporate any genuinely threatening antagonists, but for the time being, Magical Circle Guru-Guru gets by on its quirky characters and consistently funny send-ups of RPG tropes.

Rating: A-

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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