‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 3

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 3, “Update Notice!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

This third episode is still low key and maintains the deliberate pacing, but the premise, at least, is now fully established. It also appears that the most important players are already on the board, though we know one more magical girl will be added in the future; I assume that’s HardGore Alice, who was in some promotional material but hasn’t shown up yet.

This episode is fairly simple. We see a few vignettes of characters doing various things, but the most important part of the episode is the girls’ discovery that to cease being a magical girl is to die, which means one of them is going to die every week for the next seven weeks until Fav reduces their number to what he considers acceptable.

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Trouble brewing.

Shortly after this discovery, the administrators of the game release an update, apparently designed to maximize the sadism: after the update, it’s possible to transfer Magical Candies from one girl to another—and it’s even possible to take them from someone who doesn’t want to share. That means, because Snow White has the largest number of Candies every week, she’s now a target.

In the first episode, La Pucelle, who is really the boy Souta, and whose magical girl character is a lady knight, vowed to protect Snow White with his sword and his life. I assume much of the rest of the show will be about him living up to that promise as the other magical girls come for blood.

That's not your magical girl, IT'S A MAN, BABY!
That’s not your magical girl, IT’S A MAN, BABY!

Although this show has an ugly premise, it also has two likeable protagonists: Snow White is genuinely good-hearted, and it appears that La Pucelle is as brave and noble as his magical girl character implies. If the story sticks with this and allows him to be knightly, and if it doesn’t try to subvert or pervert that, then he’ll keep everything grounded and prevent the show from going completely off the rails after the manner of Revolutionary Girl Utena (sorry, but I have Utena on the brain right now).

The way of the magical girl.
The way of the magical girl.

La Pucelle describes magical girls as “pure, righteous, and beautiful.” There’s a touch of irony in his words, as he has just learned that the magical girls are to be culled. But we know from the previous episodes that this is something he really believes in. I predict that, in the coming weeks, his ability to survive and to protect Snow White through the crisis will depend on whether he can maintain this belief in spite of the severe testing he’s about to encounter.

In other words, although this is ostensibly a magical girl anime, the setup looks more like something from a shounen action series where the male hero has to protect his girlfriend from the various monsters that attack on a weekly basis.

So far, we’ve got five different groups. La Pucelle and Snow White are our protagonists, and they form one team. Then there’s the ninja girl Ripple and the cute witch Top Speed, who form another, and whose role is uncertain. Also uncertain are Sister Nana the magic nun and the brooding Winterprison. After the girls learn of their danger, we also see a robot magical girl team up with Calamity Mary.

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Calamity Mary’s on track to be my favorite character in the series.

Then there’s Ruler (whom I could’ve sworn they called “Leader” last episode) and her subordinates. Ruler is a jerk, but there are hints that she genuinely cares about her charges. But in any case, she and her minions are clearly the most immediate threat to Snow White’s life, which also means they’re probably not the greatest threat. I expect a fight with them to fill most of the next episode. Calamity Mary is likely to be the big bad for the whole series, or for the first part of the series, depending on how many of the light novels they’re planning to adapt to animation.

Ruler is not amused.
Ruler is not amused.

This episode is stronger than the last one, as it stays focused and delivers important details necessary to setting up the premise. But I’m starting to fidget, as, given the concept, I would have expected to see some action by the third episode. Magical Girl Raising Project is taking its sweet time, and it makes me wonder if director Hiroyuki Hashimoto has the chops for this. Somebody needs to remind him that he’s not making a CGDCT this time.

Also, since I’m getting slightly bored with the pacing, I’m starting to pay more attention to the character designs, and I find them less than satisfactory. I think the designs are simply taken from the manga, so this might not be the fault of the anime’s staff, but the magical girl costumes look oddly cobbled together, like their various pieces don’t quite match up. In particular, it looks like they didn’t know what to do with the girls’ backsides: they’ve all got weird things back there. Snow White has some huge sunflower thingies, and La Pucelle actually has a tail. In this episode, we meet Swim Swim, who wears a swimsuit and a pair of goggles, but who also has around her waist what looks like a collection of vinyl records with ropes hanging off of them … anyway, I don’t like it.

Magical girl outfits are supposed to look gaudy, but they’re still supposed to look good.

But they do it when they're killed.
But they do it when they’re killed.