|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku
(Watch- or Avoid)|
(Episodes 1-8 and 12 watched):
I took extensive notes about episode one of this show, only to have them be largely rendered obsolete by the hint at the very end (and verification at ANN) that this anime would not be what it initially seemed. It opens with a grim scene of destruction and bloodshed, but nowadays even shows which are goofy comedies seem to do that, so it tells us little. What it seems like at first glance is a tale of a girl discovering that magical girls really do exist, becoming one, and exploring a hitherto unknown wonderful system in which they operate. It seemed fairly clever and interesting, which is certainly a good sign. It struck me as a mix or the generic and the original--the basics are what we already expect, but the details are fun. How serious would this show get? Would the girls be exposed to danger? It was too soon to say, but it passed the first test, in that it didn't leave me already convinced that it wouldn't be fresh and interesting. Perhaps it was significant that there was little humor, instead the show seemed to have a sentimental tone. And then we get an notice which is unclear but ominous at the end. The implication is that this dream-come-true tale will morph into a nightmare before long.
At the end of episode two we learn just how serious the business of cutting back the number of Magical Girls really is. Those being culled are liable to wind up dead, basically. This in itself isn't all that radical--there have been numerous shows about people trapped in competitions in which the losers die, often in the virtual reality of MMORPGs. You might say that what is different in MSIK is that the realm of Magical Girls, usually a wonderful place were the good girls always win in the end, is being used as another stage for one of these deadly, cynical contests. But MSIK would need more than a change of setting to be really good; as of yet the characters seemed largely flamboyant but undeveloped, and it would be hard to get engaged in a kill-or-be-killed contest if that continued to be so. I found myself impatient for the story to get moving--to spend less time on the nonsensical Magical Girls and more on the deadly conundrum that they are caught in and what they'll do about it.
I was having a hard time making the connection between running out of 'candies' in magical girl world = death in the real world. I know it, but I don't feel it. Perhaps it's because the magical battles that the girls sometimes engage in seem silly and unexciting. Maybe it's because most of the characters still have so little personality (and none at all in the real world) that them dying doesn't seem like much of a loss. In episode four we get a cursory real world introduction to a character just in time for her to die. I wish very much that we would get some sort of explanation why it was decided that there were too many magical girls to begin with. Or, at least have the girls spend some time musing about the question themselves. How do we know that when half of us have been killed, the people upstairs won't decide to reduce the number even more? Can we somehow get at them, and take them out rather than being forced to act as magical gladiators for their amusement? Questions like that, I think, would have been much more fun than what was actually happening. Not enough depth in the characters and not enough explanation why they are being persecuted either.
In episode six, if I'm not imagining things, we get a hint that things may not be as they seem, and one of the magical girls may know a lot more about what's going on than the others, and may even hold a good deal of control over the situation. This was intriguing, since the plot up to that point hadn't excited me all that much. There's no guarantee that things will improve significantly, but it's possible. Perhaps since the girls don't have all that much personality, and it's hard to identify with them, what I now want is an explanation of why somebody decided that they had to be culled, etc, and this hint suggests that such a thing might just happen. In episode seven we get more hints, but again nothing definite, which is frustrating. If nothing is definite, it's hard for me to convince myself that it's worth the trouble to remember who said what. I find that I can't remember who seemed to know something in the last episode--the characters are hard to tell apart. Why, again, am I still watching? I guess because I want to know what the secret behind this messed-up system is.
When I sat down to watch episode nine, I found that pretty much all of my interest in this show had drained away. There was another nonsensical battle--one magical girl deflecting bullets at point blank range with a sword--and in general it just seemed like this show was never going to go anywhere. The girls get picked off one by one, but since they never developed much character, I hardly care. Meanwhile, no interesting plot comes together. What I would really like is for us to learn what bastard is behind this evil scheme, why they created it, and have him/her get what they deserve. I decided that maybe I would skip the intermediate episodes and just watch the last one, to see if that would ever happen.
Indeed, I skipped episodes 9-11 and watched the final one, number 12. The final revelations which we get, about what the true purpose of the matches were, weren't very shocking--didn't we already know most of this since episode one or two? We aren't told who started this, or why; just that somebody somewhere is just as cynical as we had assumed since the beginning. There's no explanation what greater power has enabled magical girls. Spoiler: Shouldn't Koyuki just accept her status as the default winner, and make certain no further matches involve violence? I wasn't completely certain how the story ended, either. Apparently Koyuki and the other sort-of survivor are acting as independent magical girls--they still have their powers somehow. It wasn't a terrible ending but it could have been better. When I think about MSIK as a whole, it just seems very lukewarm, very half-hearted, very weak--not what you would expect from a show which involves people acquiring superhero-like powers. If I had known how unimaginitive this show would turn out to be, I wouldn't have watched it at all.
Last updated Friday, February 03 2017. Created Saturday, October 08 2016.