by Amy McNulty,
The Mysterious Discovery Club is facing an image crisis. They won't earn an official sanction from the school unless they can generate interest in their activities, and their previous efforts to put on a display of their "discoveries" thus far repelled more people than they attracted. Tanako suggests something totally unrelated to the club's activities: entering a high school band competition to get the club on TV. Unfortunately, the male members of the club are about as good at playing instruments as they are at uncovering the witch right under their noses. Tanako turns to her friends, and Kota's perverted dream of singing with an all-girl band comes one step closer to reality.
The catch is that Tanako nominates Rurumo for the vocalist position. This is another one-story episode, and Magimoji Rurumo 11 balances humor and drama here perfectly. As is usually the case with this series, the plot isn't entirely new, but it does manage to go against expectations. However, the effect of playing off expectations this time isn't hilarious like it has been in past episodes. If the balance between plot and humor is weighed in one direction in this episode, it's in the direction of plot and character development. Still, it's just what the series needs as it winds toward its conclusion.
Last week, Rurumo embraced Kota and showed him how much she cares about him. This week, the episode seemed poised to be fluff—fun fluff, but distracting nonetheless considering we're running out of time to address the overall plot. However, by the episode's end, it becomes clear that episode 11 is about Kota doing the same for Rurumo. He acknowledges her strengths and weaknesses, encourages her talents and steps in when she needs help. In fact, he's the only one to recognize her needs. His actions, even if cushioned between his perverse escapades, develop the relationship between the two at the core of this series wonderfully.
If there's a drawback to this episode, it's that magic isn't used once or even addressed at all. There's a time toward the end of the episode when it seems evident Kota will rely on a wish to solve a problem, but the idea of him doing so doesn't come up. That's the right choice, as it means Kota accepts Rurumo for who she is. However, that point would have been stronger if he'd at least entertained the idea of relying on magic but consciously decided not to.
Still, this episode is another example of how magic seems less important as the show gets further along. It's not the first series to steadily move away from reliance on its otherworldly gimmick to focus on character interactions. (Think Ranma 1/2 and Fruits Basket, for example). As long as the show addresses the looming elephant in the room that is Kota's life being in danger before the end, not every episode needs to focus on magic. If anything, the repeated "Kota uses a magic ticket in a silly situation and gets closer to death" would have gotten stale if it never let up.
Magimoji Rurumo is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for nearly two decades.
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