Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Legends, myths, magic… Humanity has finally had a chance encounter with a world that had been all but forgotten among all its scientific developments. However, this reunion is not a happy one. Monsters invading from the world of the dead render modern weapons useless, leaving the fate of humanity uncertain. But with help from the Otherworld Trade Agreement, mankind gains a possible means of returning from the brink of death in the form of magical girls. These girls finally lead humanity to victory. However, even this victory proves to be no more than the beginning of a new battle. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka has potential, but feels a little too uneven. To start with the positives; the series focuses heavily on the PTSD Asuka suffers after seemingly saving the world from the evil Disas. This character work makes Asuka feel deep and interesting, crafting her into a compelling lead. There’s also some decent action, between Asuka’s efforts to destroy the Disas (seen through flashbacks) and her battles with present day terrorists. Asuka’s introspection, and the exciting action form the highlights sprinkled about this episode that has far too many lows dragging it down.
Linny: A little heads up for people considering picking this up, Magical Girl Spec-Ops does have gore and violence, with dismembered limbs heavily featured. It probably won’t be too graphic as the show doesn’t picture them in extreme detail but after Goblin Slayer shocked viewers last Fall it’s better to be safe than sorry. It also dabbles a bit with PTSD, as Tom mentioned, which makes the story feel even darker. However, when two tiny teddy bears, members of the evil Disas apparently, engage in a ‘threatening’ conversation with Asuka, it can feel silly, especially thanks to the bears’ cute, squeaky voices. Thankfully, the episode contains depiction of other more threatening monsters and together with the violence, manages to sell its annihilistic tone, crafting an altogether more serious anime.
Tom: Besides an odd juxtaposition between the magical girl enemies and ‘real world’ focus, Magical Girl Spec-Ops is further held back by dull character designs. Outside of Asuka and the other magical girls, most other characters look forgettable. Namely Asuka’s two average, everyday classmates have such bland designs, only making it that much harder to focus on the scenes these two girls are prominently featured. Those segments, focused on Asuka’s everyday life, feel slow, plodding and really detract from the premiere’s highlights. Seeing Asuka’s everyday life is important, but the writing feels very basic, lacking punch. This leaves me feeling like Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka has a lot of potential, but it will really depend on whether the series capitalizes on its strengths, rather than falling back on its more pedestrian writing.
Linny: Things do indeed feel exceptionally bland and slow when we time jump 3 years into the future and are forced to follow around two female classmates of Asuka’s who come off so generic and forgettable that we wondered if they were going to end up as sacrifices to reignite Asuka’s fighting spirit. Since the show starts off with, and contains so much more action and brutality, this cut to slice of life feels jarring and patience testing. By episode’s end, it becomes clear that Asuka will be diving back into the battle against societies’ monsters, which hopefully means a lot more bad ass magical girl battles and less slice of life like segments. If you’re a fan of magical girls saving the world in a violent and dark setting, you might love Magical Girls Spec-Ops Asuka after all.