‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 5

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 5, “New Character!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

I’ve got behind on this show, but I don’t mind. It just goes to show that I do, in fact, do other things besides watch anime. I sometimes also read manga.

In this episode, we finally meet Hardgore Alice, and she’s every inch the creepy Goth loli we could expect. We don’t get to see much of her, though, as the episode focuses primarily on Sister Nana and Winterprison. Alice appears, conveys an air of vague menace, and then disappears, but she seems to have it out for Snow White for some reason, just like everybody else. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 5”

The Crossdresser Who Isn’t: The ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Rewatch, Part 3

The bird is fighting its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wishes to be born must destroy a world. The bird is flying to God. The god is named Abraxas.

—Herman Hesse, Demian

Revolutionary Girl Utena, episode 3: “On the Night of the Ball.” Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Character designs by Chiho Saito. Be-Papas, 1997 (Nozomi Entertainment, 2011). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated “16+.”

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Images taken from Utena: Texts from Last Night, which, just to warn you, is Not Safe for Work.

We move on now in the course of our irregular series to the third episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, entitled “On the Night of the Ball.” Whenever mentioning this episode in the extras that come with the luxurious special-edition DVD set, the staff sounds apologetic, and not entirely without reason. It’s by no means an awful episode, but neither is it great. Continue reading “The Crossdresser Who Isn’t: The ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Rewatch, Part 3”

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 4

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 4, “Add More Friends!” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

This episode continues where we left off in episode 3, with magical girls Snow White and La Pucelle getting bum-rushed by Ruler and her minions, who hope to swipe Snow White’s Magical Candies in order to avoid death at the hands of Fav’s sadistic elimination game.

You got that right.
You got that right.

Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 4”

Fifty Shades of Pink: The ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Rewatch, Part 2

The bird is fighting its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wishes to be born must destroy a world. The bird is flying to God. The god is named Abraxas.

—Herman Hesse, Demian

Revolutionary Girl Utena, episode 2: “For Whom the Rose Smiles.” Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Character designs by Chiho Saito. Be-Papas, 1997 (Nozomi Entertainment, 2011). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated “16+.”

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The 39-episode anime series Revolutionary Girl Utena is complex and weird enough that it admits probably several interpretations. After kicking around on the internet, I’ve decided that in spite of the large volume of ink already spilled, I don’t feel redundant for writing this series of essays, because after I read anything anyone else has written, I inevitably come away saying, “No, that’s completely wrong.” Continue reading “Fifty Shades of Pink: The ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Rewatch, Part 2”

History of Magical Girl Anime, Part 14

Once again, we are obliged to skip ahead in SourcererZZ’s overview of the history of mahou shoujo anime due to copyright. This brings us up to the years 2005 to 2007.

This particular episode is slightly NSFW, about as NSFW as I can put on this blog.

The first title he discusses, UG*Ultimate Girls, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of, and it looks awful, a brainless cheesecake show.

Of most interest to me personally in this edition is Powerpuff Girls Z, which is bizarrely unavailable in the U.S. even though it’s based on an American cartoon. Cartoon Network needs to broadcast it as penance for what they did to the franchise in the reboot.

Notice that most of the titles SourcererZZ discusses in this episode are parodies or fanservice or both, with only two exceptions. That’s not a sign of a genre in good health.

Shut up, fanboy ... or stop shutting up ... or whatever.
Shut up, fanboy. Er, I mean … stop shutting up? Um … whatever.

‘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. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 3”

The Only ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Review You Need to Watch

(And, as a courtesy, I mention that the language here is Not Safe for Work, though if you have a job where you can read magical girl blogs while you’re working … I want your job. No, seriously, I want your job. Where do you work? If my boss caught me reading magical girl blogs, I’d be out on my ear.)

Majestic seahorses!!!

Since this blog is going full Utena until further notice … no, I’m kidding. Never go full Utena. But since this blog is going very Utena until further notice, I invite you to watch the video “Redundancy Girl Utena” by sudoStef.

It begins as a humor piece in which he mocks the show’s repetitious use of the transformation sequence, also known as “Utena Ascending a Staircase No. 2.” Repetitious transformation sequences in mahou shoujo used to be the norm, back when anime recycled as much animation as possible. More recently, it’s gone out of fashion.

Personally, I disagree with sudoStef. Usually, when a magical girl starts transforming, that’s my cue to get up and get another beer. But I never get tired of Utena’s, probably because I ignore the repetitious animation and just headbang to the music.

At the end of the video, and the reason I’m posting it, he does a fine job of presenting an insightful interpretation, coming at it from an angle I hadn’t thought of. I am mostly interested in Utena‘s Gnostic metaphysics and epistemology, which it acquires from Hesse’s Demian. But sudoStef is interested in what we might call its politics, and he does an excellent job of linking the ambiguous conclusion back to the various characters’ machinations and backstabbing and social climbing.

He even does it without spoilers, though as he admits, that means that unless you’ve seen it yourself, you won’t know what he’s talking about. But for me at least, this gives another way to view it.

 

God Is Dead and Men Are Pigs: The ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Rewatch, Part 1

Source

The bird is fighting its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wishes to be born must destroy a world. The bird is flying to God. The god is named Abraxas.

—Herman Hesse, Demian

Revolutionary Girl Utena, episode 1: “The Rose Bride.” Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Character designs by Chiho Saito. Be-Papas, 1997 (Nozomi Entertainment, 2011). Approx. 24 minutes. Rated “16+.”

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Anime fans can have short memories. It is to be expected: shows come out, have a brief run, and then go away. Unless a fan snatches up a hard copy during the often short window of its printing, it disappears off the market or its cost rockets up to a collector’s price. Older stuff is on laserdisc or VHS and nigh inaccessible unless there is a re-release.

Probably for that reason, 2011’s Puella Magi Madoka Magica gets credit from a lot of fans for its “deconstructive” character, and they call it the “Neon Genesis Evangelion of magical girl anime.” But there is an earlier title I believe is more deserving of that honor, a title closer to Evangelion in time and theme, and which also had some of the same staff. That show is Revolutionary Girl Utena, brainchild of Kunihiko Ikuhara, who had previously been one of the most important directors to work on Sailor MoonUtena is, in spite of a decidedly uneven presentation and the hampering of a shoestring budget, easily one of the greatest anime of all time.  For reasons I’ll defend later, I daresay it out-Evangelions even Evangelion. Continue reading “God Is Dead and Men Are Pigs: The ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ Rewatch, Part 1”

‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 2

Magical Girl Raising Project. Episode 2, “Collect Magical Candies!” It’s so new I’m not even sure who’s making it. 24 minutes. Not rated. Available on Crunchyroll.

I’ve decided after reading the audience comments on Crunchy that I’m going to say spoiler warning, but seriously, if the end of this episode surprises you, you’re not paying attention.

I wrote my preliminary thoughts about the new, ongoing series Magical Girl Raising Project over here after seeing episode 1. The show’s synopsis on Crunchyroll promises a magical girl death battle. However, the first episode, after its initial glimpse of blood and gore, is pretty tame, and this second episode is surprisingly low-key as well. It gives the impression that, instead of revelling in violence from the get-go, it’s planning to build gradually and then, in the final episode, go full Battle Royale.

Never go full Battle Royale. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project,’ Episode 2”

‘Magical Girl Raising Project’: It’s Another One of THOSE Shows

Here we go again!

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 1: “Welcome to a World of Dreams and Magic.” Genco, Studio Lerche. Available on Crunchyroll.

In my naïveté, I wanted to believe that the magical girl genre’s Goth phase, begun in 2011 by Puella Magi Madoka Magicahad come to an end with Yuki Yuna Is a Hero, which I discussed here.  Yuki Yuna replies to Madoka by giving it the finger, an audacious move that earned my admiration.

And, after all, the last few years after Yuki Yuna have seen titles like Wish Upon the Pleiades and Nurse Witch Komugi R, not all of which are good or likeable or decent, but which at least suggest that creators in the genre are looking back to a previous era when magical girls were about love and hope rather than about dying in a pool of blood after having been tricked by an amoral power. Perhaps, I told myself, the Day Break Illusions are behind us. Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project’: It’s Another One of THOSE Shows”