Due to the invasion of Disas—enigmatic creatures of soil from the land of the dead—mankind, who was on the verge of crisis, was saved by the efforts of magical girls who had obtained a mysterious magical power...
Three years later, new incidents suddenly occur, tearing apart the normalcy of the girls who had each returned to their normal lives. The saviours of humanity, those magical girls called "The Magical Five" now live each day fighting for their lives, even as they are trifled with by fate...
Simple, like all the great things. Predator was famously pitched as “Rocky fights Alien”, and that pitch led to a greatest dumb action flick of all time, because people who made it understood what they are doing and why. Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is just like that.
To dig deeper, it can be described as post-dark mahou shoujo - by the same logic as post-cyberpunk genre. The classic sci-fi authors believed that progress will lead to an utopian society. Then came cyberpunk, saying: that’s naive, technological advances will only worsen societal problems and lead to horrible dystopias. And then post-cyberpunk replied: that’s also
naive, technological advances won’t change jack about human nature, we’ll just have shinier gadgets. Mahou shoujo genre went down a similar path - first the kids shows, than Madoka happened and everyone and their mother decided you need to be dark to be taken seriously, and now Asuka plays off of that trend - subverting or deconstructing specifically dark mahou shoujo tropes:
Of course the MC has PTSD just like any self-respecting child soldier should. And yet it never stops her from getting in the fucking robot, because she doesn’t fail to understand a very obvious idea that she is a hero who literally saved the world and can be proud of it.
Of course mahou shoujos are gay for each other - nothing breeds emotional bonds like the battlefield - and then they drift apart because they don’t actually have much in common in the civilian life.
Kyubey lookalikes don’t actually harbour some universe spanning conspiracy - they are a multi-faceted society with good and bad factions/individuals no different from humanity.
Human militaries aren’t useless, they actually understand what they are fighting and, after some R&D, proceed to deploy trained anti-magic spec-ops.
Most importantly, the writing is good and deals with the brought-up themes (like PTSD) in a serious manner, complementing the surface-level b-movie fun. This is one of the most promising shows of the season, with a potential to be 10/10.
This anime had a lot of strong points going for it, and managed to ruin every single one of them with overt appeals to sex and violence which reduced it to a childishly bad experience. The ero fanservice is immediate and constant, with every woman character having constant boob shots. In the swimming episode they lingered on a pointless buttshot for like four seconds. The characters are all just fighting concepts given scantily-clad form. The entire draw of this anime seems to be seeing scantily clad women inflict graphic violence onto others, or to have graphic violence inflicted upon
them. Even during torture scenes, they're sure to use crotch-centric shots...for the women, of course, the men get relatively dignified camera treatment.
It's sad because I felt the general art style and world concepts were sound. Militarized and hyper-realistic Magical Girls? It sounds awesome and I could probably write such a story really well. But it ended up just being TnA plus gore and torture. If that's your thing, have at, but I don't see the point when you can get all that and a bag of chips from hentai.
I'd not really recommend this anime for anyone, it seems really immaturely written.
One of the top 3 anime this season. (Along with Dororo ofc)
This is not a series about shallow torture porn or violence, but an illustration our post war situation in real life. The 2nd World War is over decades ago, but it doesn't mean the world is peace again, and everyday somewhere there's someone who's suffering. Soldiers and police can't take break and retire just because the war is over because threat of terrorists and other malicious figures still roam around the world everywhere, and no-one is really safe.
This anime does not shy away from the brutality of combat , fighting, and even its
victims. It also uses very technical terms and style when it comes to combat, explains its mechanic perfectly and let the magic setting bland in so well with reality. It is like watching Fate Zero on a budget (animation can use some improvement, but I can tell the studio already tried pretty hard with limited budget they have. A lot of studio with low budget perform much worse than this.)
They blew the budget on ep 1 and it's been downhill since.
There's dark magical girl anime, and then there's whatever this is--some kind of anti terrorist task force with magical girls, and they will kill your ass.
So ep 1 opens up with Asuka, some kind of shell shocked magical girl veteran of some terrible magical war where giant stuffed animals literally ripped people and her friends to bits who is now trying to get back to a normal life. The pacing is great, character design is great, it's even believable how the most ordinary things set her PTSD off, and how she's
afraid to make new friends.
After that we get off track to off model and mundane story and characters. From a beautifully animated MC with great detail to her costume we get gonks who look like they are sons of Rock Lee animated intentionally bad by the Mob Psycho staff. The plot also gets muddled and it feels like it's being edgy for edginess's sake, because the last few dark magical girl anime really didn't drive home the point that when you have world bending magical powers really horrific shit can happen.
Story: 5, nothing new here.
Art: 1, looks like an 80s cartoon
Sound: 5, it's there but you don't notice
Character: 7, great promise with the MC and her friends, but they blew it with no development 5 episodes in
Enjoyment: 5, dark magical girl anime can be fun to watch, especially ones where they use their magical powers to cut through scores of terrorists who gush blood like geysers. Somehow they've managed to make it NOT fun to watch.
Overall: 5, there's so much potential here wasted on a lazy creative staff.