Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Asks Some of the Big Questions…

…like, “why don’t magical girls ever have to work out to fight bad guys?”

Hoo boy, I can’t believe I haven’t talked about the seasonal anime outside the first impressions yet! Mostly because there are times you want to get lost in shows – like, say, Morose Mononokean, which has a particular atmosphere to it – and and sometimes you just don’t know what to say to big events, like those in episode 2 of The Price of Smiles…y’know what I mean?

Anyways, Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka isn’t that wonderful visually and has some camera angles/interactions that make one question whether the show’s trying to be like Keijo!!!!!!!! sans exclamation marks (including the prerequisite pool episode…at episode 3 of 12). Not to mention episode 4 drives everything into torture territory almost – very, nearly almost – for torture’s sake (it’s the only episode of the show that’s made me feel squeamish, as of having finished 4 episodes). However, what keeps me watching is the occasional great idea that shows up, such as the one pinning down the core premise, “How would magical girls fight in the real world?”

Historically, the best magical girl parodies – whether serious or joking – are magical girl shows themselves, but those shows tend to repair the status quo as soon as they’re able to or make their ideas throwaway jokes. Meanwhile, Spec Ops Asuka takes these ideas into account, thereby taking the darkness associated with Madoka Magica and its ilk in a direction that may not seem all that original on the surface, but certainly will amount to something original once we look back on it in a few months’ time.

Back to that core question though: people keep saying “everything is political” (of course, a sentiment I agree with, given what I’ve written in the past). So just as an example of what I was discussing in the previous paragraph, let’s break down how, by making magical girls interact with the real world, it politicises and yet refreshes the magical girl genre: the Magical Five belong to some of the world’s biggest forces when it comes to military power – China, Russia, the US of A and Japan (which, on paper, technically doesn’t have any military rights unless they do it “in self-defence”, hence the name of the JSDF).

Sidebar: Of course, I’m only speaking about what we know of the magical girls in the anime as of episode 3, but if the original 9 included any smaller states, then feel free to mention it in the comments.

The magical girls are clearly shown to be managed by an organisation akin to the UN (in regards to the big picture – the magical girls in Japan are, on a smaller scale, managed by the JSDF – and have more reasonable powers (relatively speaking) than some of their less serious kin, such as having grenades. Thus, by putting magical girls into existing power structures and having them be tangled up in executive decisions associated with such structures, the sense of uneven morality that is associated with politics gets thrown into the morally black-and-white world of magical girls, creating a disconnect that is compelling on the surface.

…I did mention my quibbles about Spec Ops Asuka earlier though, and they’re probably why I’m not hailing this as the Next Big Magical Girl Thing.


I kind of knew, from the moment episode 1 started pitting magical girls against terrorists, that I wanted to discuss Spec Ops Asuka in this way. So, do you think Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka is doing the best it can with the ideas that it has? More importantly, are you enjoying the series?

 

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4 thoughts on “Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Asks Some of the Big Questions…

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  1. I watched the first four episodes today and was a little underwhelmed. It has some good scenes but I think the overall premise isn’t as strong or as shocking as Magical Girls Raising Project.

    Liked by 1 person

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