Who is Magical Girl Pretty Dynamo?
“If you have a taste for cartoon satire, magical girls, and bloody violence, then you may find this story is for you.” —Starbat
In the near future, most of the universe has decided that humanity needs to die. Decimated by alien invasions, primordial monsters, demons from hell, and abominations from beyond space and time, mankind’s last remnants have gathered together under the protection of the benevolent Moon Princess … but what was supposed to be a last refuge is instead a perpetual war zone.
Fortunately, the forces of goodness have given us a small advantage—by granting random superpowers to emotionally volatile young girls.
In the midst of these upheavals, fourteen-year-old Jake Blatowski just wants to live a normal life, but fate will instead place him in the path of the city’s most electrifying protectress, Magical Girl Pretty Dynamo. Worse yet, the monsters’ formerly random attacks have begun to exhibit a pattern: they’re all aimed at him!
Now all that stands between Jake Blatowski and certain death at the hands of ravenous monsters is an eleven-year-old girl.
And that’s just too bad for the monsters.
JAKE AND THE DYNAMO
4 · 25 · 2016
I stumbled across this article, “Witchcraft in Japan: The Roots of Magical Girls” by Alicia Joy the other day. I make no particular comment on its accuracy, but I find it interesting because it attempts to find roots for the magical girl genre within Japanese folklore regarding witchcraft.
A typical essay on the origin of the magical girl genre will typically link it to the American television series Bewitched, which directly inspired both Sally the Witch and Himitsu No Akkochan, which are typically considered the first two magical girl series.
Joy attempts to find some parallels between a few of the genre’s common tropes and elements of Japanese folklore. Since witchcraft is more-or-less universal in folklore, this isn’t particularly difficult. Still, with the broomsticks and pointy hats that often show up amongst magical girls of the “cute witch” variety,” bowdlerized Western folklore is clearly a strong influence.
The genre evolved from that mostly via infusions of tropes from science fiction and superheroes. The girls’ familiars these days are often space aliens, and it’s typical for magical girl series to explain its phlebotinum via appeal to science fiction concepts such as nanoprobes, though little if any real science will be evident.
And here we go.
I get the impression from the hand-wringing that there are people on the internet who think Hollywood’s casting directors can create actors and actresses ex nihilo. They have to work with what they have, people.
Are you upset about Scarlett Johansson starring in a Hollywood adaptation of a Japanese anime? Okay, then name me an A-list Japanese actress in Hollywood. I mean that seriously; I don’t keep tabs on Hollywood and I am aware that there exist a lot of allegedly A-list actors whose names I don’t know.
Oh, excuse me, it seems most of the internet isn’t complaining that Johansson is not Japanese, but that she’s not Asian. But surely you don’t think Asian people are interchangeable and all alike, do you … do you? If the role of the Major were being played by a Pakistani or White Russian, that is, someone Asian, would you be satisfied?
Tell me: exactly when did Hollywood get Ahnenpass rules? Since when are actors and actresses supposed to be judged on melanin content or genetic heritage rather than, say, talent? It must be quite recent: I don’t remember anyone whinging about white actors in Speed Racer, which was also an American movie based on a Japanese cartoon. Oddly enough, I do remember the internet whinging a great deal about white actors in The Last Airbender, which was an American movie based on … um … an American cartoon.
“But the cartoon characters are Asian!” the internet cried. No they weren’t. They came from magical element land, spoke American slang, and behaved like American teens. They were about as Asian as a pan-Asian cuisine fast food stall, but that didn’t stop busybodies and scolds from tarring M. Night Shyamalan as a racist, which no doubt completely blindsided him: no one has any hope of accurately predicting what will offend the Twitterati and Tumblrinas.
And because the rage and offense of Twitter cannot be predicted, there is no point in trying to avoid giving that offense. The executives at the studio making the Ghost in the Shell movie should answer the self-appointed internet moral guardians with a giant middle finger. If they do, I will see the movie. If they kiss butt instead, I’ll skip it.
It’s not “whitewashing.” It’s just practicality. Movies made in a place cast actors from that place. In Bollywood, it’s customary to depict characters of European descent by slapping a wig on an Indian actor. And I can’t tell you how many anime I’ve seen with allegedly foreign characters who speak Japanese fluently and with a flawless accent. Sometimes they speak their “native” language (usually English) with such a thick Japanese accent I can’t understand them. For example, check out the “English” girl from Kinmoza. It’s pretty funny. But does it offend me that a Japanese woman is playing an English girl? No, because I’m not that petty.
People claiming to be offended by this are trying to introduce a moral principle they cannot possibly apply consistently. The inevitable result will be hypocrisy such as we see in people condemning Johansson playing the Major while insisting we need a non-English James Bond. No casting director could possibly obey such a harsh rule, and historically, casting directors have not. Remember Scotty from Star Trek? Not actually Scottish. How about Sean Connery in Hunt for Red October? Not Russian.
When a person acts, he plays someone he’s not, someone with a different life and different history, and yes, possibly a different race, from his own. That’s why it’s called acting.
And just to be clear here, this is the character we’re talking about:
Featured image: “Powerpuff Girls” by Sakimichan
So I lied. I’ve got my hand in too many projects at the moment, and I won’t be able to finish my review of Nurse Witch Komugi R tonight.
I want to spend my writing time tonight working on chapters 12 and 13 of Jake and the Dynamo. I got in contact with my cover artist today, and I think I can estimate probably two to three weeks before the series starts. It’ll update on a weekly basis, and I need to build myself as much of a buffer as possible.
I’m also finalizing an essay that I’ll be sending off to Sci Phi Journal. The essay is on the subject of the increasing moral complexity over the six seasons of The Powerpuff Girls. By which I mean the original one. The good one.
If you don’t know Sci Phi Journal, check it out. It runs science fiction with philosophical themes as well as popular-level philosophy essays referencing science fiction. I’m spending much of my weekend reading Jean Piaget’s classic Moral Judgment of the Child, which forms the backbone of my essay.
“Magical Girl Sylveon” by Junqun Burris
Featured artwork: Artist and title unknown.
Today, it seems, is National Unicorn Day, so have some Sailor Moon Super S fan art featuring Super Sailor Chibi Moon and Helios. Unfortunately, the site hosting this astonishing image hasn’t bothered to name the artist or title, so if anybody recognizes it, let me know and I’ll provide proper credit. In the meanwhile, I’ve included a link.
The routine consists of several exercises, which a person is supposed to perform while listening to a musical work chosen from a set of mahou shoujo anime. The musical selections have a sort-of logic to them. For example, the leg routine comes, appropriately, from Princess Tutu:
And the “burnout” at the end comes from Revolutionary Girl Utena:
I think most of her links to the musical numbers aren’t legal, but it’s a pretty good workout. Never mind the music, since I’m out away from home a lot for work, I like to see a good workout routine I can do in a motel room. If I make a habit of this, maybe soon I’ll fit into that dress.
Not that I have a … um, I need to go work out.
Featured image: “MMD TDA:Magical Girls” by AmaneHatsura
Hello. I’m D. G. D. Davidson, archaeologist, science fiction fan, blogger, aspiring writer, and anime/manga enthusiast.
I might not qualify as an otaku, but I am a guy who found out he enjoys magical girl anime. I do not claim my knowledge of this peculiar genre is comprehensive, but I’m absorbing more and more all the time, so let us call it “modestly wide-ranging.”
The site, as you can see, is under construction. It will feature news, reviews, and essays. It also exists to promote my own work: I am finalizing a novel under the working title Rag & Muffin, and I will also be using this blog to serialize another novel entitled Jake and the Dynamo, which may appear as early as next week.
Tomorrow, I will post a free short story.
I will also showcase art, which I display under fair use with attributions, as in the eyecatch of this post. I will accept suggestions or submissions (nothing NSFW), or remove art if asked by the creator.
Reviews are on a “what I’m watching or reading” basis, so not all will be of recent works. However, the reboot of The Powerpuff Girls and the third season of Sailor Moon: Crystal, both of which have just broadcast their first episodes, are definitely on the radar.
I recommend this article, “Evolution of the Magical Girl Anime” by Michellejb, over at The Hyped Geek. There are a number of similar articles floating around the web, but this one is particularly accessible, as well as brief, keeping the discussion to the major highlights.