Do not be misled by the words “Mahou Shoujo” in the title, this is a military/sci-fi drama about an anti-terrorist unit, it is far more in line with Ghost in the Shell/Metal Gear rather than with any actual mahou shoujo series. In fact, Metal Gear is an almost complete thematic match for this show - gut-wrenching military drama plus “twenty minutes into the future and the world has gone to hell” sci-fi plus wacky tongue-in-cheek comedy.
As a military drama it touches on the themes of child soldiers (that is, magical girls), terrorism, PTSD of soldiers and civilians (one of the best and
most accurate portrayals of PTSD in fiction, btw), the effect of a global war on the world order (the classical Mahou Shoujo battle with monsters was won by the MC several years before the series even begins), political fuckery between the competing military branches, battlefield camaraderie and so on - all the genre staples. The writing is competent, dealing with the brought up themes in a mature and nuanced way.
Naturally, given the genre and the height of its proverbial brow, this is an appropriately dark show. And by “appropriately”, I mean that if you hear someone calling a show like this “edgy” or “gratuitous” - those people are clueless. Like I said, this is a military drama about war and terrorism - if a story like this isn’t dark, then it’s toothless and fails to achieve its purpose. Try calling something like Saving Private Ryan “edgy” and you will be laughed at, yet the same shit flies with anime for reasons that are not the topic of this review (*cough*, only children watch chinese cartoons, *cough*). Anyway, don’t watch this if you can’t handle torn-off limbs, just don’t delude yourself into thinking one’s sensibility has anything to do with the objective merits of the work of fiction.
That’s not to say this series is completely dramatic. There is plenty of unadulterated brainless B-movie fun that would make for a totally inappropriate tonal clash if it was any less self-aware. Again, Metal Gear is the most apt comparison.
The big highlight of the series - it’s an absolute treat to any modern military buff, a hard sci-fi fan, or just anyone who likes authors doing their research. The show rightfully brags about having a dedicated military advisor, and it also sciences the shit out of anything magical. Magic animal mascot - a synthetic life-form with true AI. Magic shield - it’s actually a magic explosive reactive armor. Magic truth serum - a magically altered barbiturate cocktail. Magic memory wipe - a full-on complex neurosurgery that needs the use of a (magic) tomograph. It feeds both the sci-fi and over-the-top fun aspects of the series, because there is just something magical about watching a mahou shoujo overcharging an assault rifle bullet with energy to a point where it becomes a bunker-buster.
Returning back to the “Magical Girl” part of the title - the series’ genre can be accurately described as post-dark mahou shoujo - by the same merit as post-cyberpunk subgenre of sci-fi. Meaning, “dark magical girls deconstructions” are old news, it’s time to deconstruct or subvert their tropes already:
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 should be proud of herself.
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 are a multi-faceted society with good and bad factions/individuals no different from humanity. They don’t harbour some universe-spanning conspiracy, they just want to profit via trading or smuggling.
Special mention for the visual style that seamlessly merges military and mahou shoujo aesthetics, especially in the design of magical girls’ costumes.
It’s not all roses, though, the anime suffers a lot from poor production values. Action scenes are slideshows (somewhat alleviated by their tactical nature, but still looking bad). Important scenes from the source material are cut or changed. In turn, anime original parts of the story are inferior and harm the narrative. There is an adequate story arc, but the plotline still kinda leads to “go read the manga”.
9/10 for a could’ve-been-a-masterpiece undermined by a subpar adaptation.
It’s beautiful…is what I would say if Mahou Shoujo Toushusen Asuka managed to bring in a magical girl show worthy of glory. But beautiful isn’t a good way to express this anime. From what I’ve seen from the first few episodes, it’s a show that takes on a darker, edgier, and grimmer side of the magical girl genre. Adapted by LIDENFILMS and based on the manga, this was a peculiar anime to talk about.
For starters, there’s a clear reason why the show airs late at night on the MBS block. Like the manga, this adaptation actually keeps the censoring to a minimal. Here’s an early
warning: be prepared for body horror in the form of limbs being blown off, emotional torture, and brutal deaths. I’m not joking. Mahou Shoujo Toushusen Asuka isn’t even a bit afraid of showing how dark and dangerous its world can be. Speaking of which, let’s look at the world setting. It takes place 3 years before the mainstream timeline in Japan. According to history, the world was invaded by monsters known as Netherbeasts. A group of magical girls rose up to stop them from annihilating humanity. A girl named Asuka is the leader of this group (known as the Magical Five) as we look at her story.
From my first impressions, I actually got hooked by some dark and edgy entertainment. Make no mistake, I believe the creator is fully aware of the series’ style of violence so they are not timid to show it. The first few episodes contains a flashback that opens up the storytelling while introducing the main cast. We meet characters such as Asuka, Kurumi, and among others that we’ll learn more about later. Titular character Asuka gives off a peculiar charisma for being a badass on the frontline but more of a regular normal human being while not fighting. It’s made clear in the beginning as she tries to live a normal life until a faithful event pits her into fighting again. We also see her trauma in the past that resulted in PTSD and to this day, she hasn’t forgotten. But deep down, Asuka is a kind person who is selfless and isn’t afraid to take risks to fight the good fight.
Joining her is Kurumi Mugen, a combat nurse and close friend. I should say right off the bat that it’s obvious she has feelings for Asuka. It actually becomes more and more obvious especially in later episodes with even some rather disturbing moments. But don’t mistake this for a shoujo-ai. The bigger picture is that she is part of the Magical Five and serves as an important support in battle. The remaining members includes Tamara, Lau, and Mia. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t dedicate more time for them as compared to either Asuka or Kurumi. We only get to see their actions rather than development. However, the show also makes it known that illegal magical girls exists. Outside of the Magical Five, these illegal magical girls play an antagonistic role. Characters such as Abigail brings in the brutality and darker side of the magical girl genre. She displays psychopathic behavior and even uses scissors to terrorize a hostage for her personal amusement. Be ready for limbs chopped off and even a magical form of waterboarding. Sounds edgy yet?
Yet from what I’ve seen in this show, there are still some bright moments in their dark world. For example, Asuka’s friends (Nozomi and Sayako) at school brings in joy and an experience at normal life for her. The show also takes breather time on occasions such as with school activities and even a beach episode. But never forget, there’s no peace in the world of Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka.
For its worth, I wish this show had a better budget. Most of the fights all feel the same without strong production or animation quality. It lacks style too without demonstrating any source of uniqueness. I will say that while the violence captures a mature mood, it sometimes relies way too much on it. How many times are going to see blood being spilled until it’s satisfying? On the other hand, I do appreciate the variety of creative weapons that are featured. Asuka’s signature karambit is a set of weapons I don’t see often. A combat nurse like Kurumi also brings in expertise along with Mia, Lau Pei-Pei, and Tamara. These characters shows their transcendence beyond common logic. Furthermore, I should say this show is known for some uncharacteristic designs such as the oversized creatures. Most of them give an otherworldly appearance that I find hard to ignore. And the theme songs on most parts are worthy enough for this mature magical girl adaptation.
“Should I watch Mahou Shoujo Toushusen Asuka”? Or rather, the better question would be…”Do I enjoy anime with dark and edgy magical girl content with troubled characters?” The bottom line is, you should judge this anime exactly for what it is but realize that it’s nothing really that special. It’s one of those shows anyone with a livid imagination can write or come up with. There has been a reemergence of dark magical girl anime in recent years. We may be seeing more of these in the future so who knows, maybe the next one will set a higher standard.
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.)
Whelp, here we are again. Another attempt at making a darker, more mature magical girl anime for all those who want one. Last year gave us Magical Girl Site. An anime so over the top and ridiculous that it was unironically funny when all things considered. Now this anime throws its hat into the ring at its attempt. Now the question going into this show was how serious was this show going to be or is it more or less going to be a ridiculous spectacle? So you read the synopsis, watch the trailer and then when you see magical girls wielding side arm
pistols, assault rifles and flamethrowers, then you are probably intrigued as to what the f**k is going on.
Sit back, relax and DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY NOW SOLDIER!!! As I present to you the anime review for Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Let begin.
There was a war, a great war. Mysterious, magical beings known as Disas invaded Earth with the intention of wiping humanity out. However, with the help of Spirit Realm who also oppose the Disas, help create the Magical Girls that managed to oppose the Disas and save humanity. Then they go their separate ways. Three years later, one of the girls, Asuka, decides to live like a normal girl and go about her days in high school and abandon the fighting. However, mysterious, random events involving the Disas forces her back into fighting and defeat the Disas once again along with the rest of "The Magical Five" in order to protect humanity once again.
So there you go, a pretty standard plot. We get told of this big threat; who defeated them; the big threat returns; the girls must defeat them again. But it ain't that simple. Because you see, the show likes to show the horrors of war and how terrorism affects the lives of everyone who is involved. It likes to address some pretty mature stuff and what this anime shows is true. These things do happen. So it is good to see this anime take these thoughts and rolls with it and not make it over the top with it. Although I do think the more goofy, fun side of the magical girl genre that it presents here clashes with the show's darker themes and military aspects of this show. Making it some kind of mashup between the two that really doesn't work honestly. It's hard to argue when one scene tries to be on the cute side, whereas another scene is so focused on torture that it makes you forget that these are from the same show. And this show REALLY does like to go vigorously into these torture scenes with torture tactics like injections and waterboarding. Didn't turn me away but will probably turn some people away.
Another thing I want to knock down the story for is that the pacing is rather slow. It shouldn't take 4-5 episodes of a twelve episode series to complete the prologue of how Asuka gets back into fighting. It tries to distract people with its fight scenes and flashy colours to hide the pacing issues but I saw through that and I can knock it down a peg. While it wasn't awful and bored me to tears, it was noticeable at times that the show was taking its damn time to get where it wanted to go.
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" - Michael Corleone, The Godfather: Part 3.
That line couldn't be more relateable to describe Asuka. Simply put, she doesn't want to fight again but has no choice as she one of the only few people that can do it. She refuses at first because when you fight in a war, people you care about will most likely die and most of them do. So to avoid seeing more people die in front of their eyes, she refuses. But then realising that people will have a bigger chance to die if she is not there fighting, she agrees. You can understand her decision to do this because she wants to prevent more people from dying by getting involved with her. But my problem is that the show doesn't do that good of a job of making Asuka have her past really affect her. While the show does show scenes and Asuka does react to people dying or people who have died, you would think that it would have a bigger affect on her psyche but it doesn't happen. They're like spur of the moment scenes that remind the viewer of what Asuka has been trhough and not really being fully effective to damage her mind.
The rest of the cast is rather bland and are just meh. So much so that I can't remember most of their names on the top of my head. Even the two high school girls that gives a motive for Asuka to fight again are rather uninteresting as they fall into stereotypes with one being a hyped up tomboy and the other being a timid bookworm. They are a nice reminder of what Asuka is fighting for but only if you care about them. In my case, I don't really care about them and they are kind of just there near the end of the show.
The only other character that was interesting was Kurumi Mugen, a fellow magical girl. Her backstory is rather depressing since she was treated like trash throughout her school life, only for Asuka to swoop in and give her the confidence she needs. But it is clear that she has a rather unstable mind. She has the kind of damaged psyche that I wished Asuka had. It is much clearer that she has been mentally damaged from what she has seen and how she has been treated. Asuka being her saviour from a life of cruelty causes her to develop Yandere-like qualities and gets a kick out of torturing people. Seeing these things shows how damaged Kurumi and that's good because these things should have some affect on her and it clearly shows throughout the show. Now you could say that's the show trying to make the characters more edgy and you would be right. For me though, I see it as appropriate due to the circumstances.
This show looked good to begin with and then just kind of flopped. The show constantly uses cheap ways to animate a fight scene like cutaways and and moving camera shots with still images. It gets worse when we get shots of people firing guns as they just stand still with no sense of recoil from firing the guns. Instead, it uses flashy colours to distract the viewer. In fact, this show does love to use a lot of flashy colours in its animation, but really, it is more of a distraction than a core part of its animation. Character designs and art design is fine though, although I do think it tends to lean towards the fan service side a little bit. Some the characters designs as well tend on to lean on the big, kawaii eyes which feels off IMO.
The show is really heavy on the techno music but honestly, it just doesn't stand out at all. It just blends into one another and is really forgettable. The only soundtrack that stood out for me was the shows main battle music, which is arguably alright as it is the only one that stands out with how it uses the sounds to get you hyped. Of course, its hard to hear the music when explosions, clashing of weapons, swipes and gunfire drown out the music to make it difficult to listen to.
The opening as well is alright. It just highlights Asuka's conflict of fighting or not to fight and continues the use of techno as well in its music. It is the only other piece of music that stands out but didn't really get me excited to watch the next episode. The ending however is a big skip as it just didn't interest me at all, it bored me and I lost interest after watching it the first couple of times for being a pretty standard ending sequence.
Magical Girl Spe-Ops Asuka just exists as another attempt in making a more mature magical girl anime. The main problem with this show that it just doesn't excel in anything. It does everything either meh or bad so I am left with an "eh" impression of it. This show isn't horrible as it has some moments. Not a lot, but some. But I will just chalk this down as another anime I took an interest in and left me with an "eh" impression. Again, this show just exists in its own way to incorporate magical girls as elite, military agents to stop terrorism. It ain't offensive or just terrible, but it will be one of those anime I will forget in the near future. So you can pretty much skip this one.
Also one last thing, since the magical girls are nicknamed "The Magical Five," why did we get only four of the girls? Seriously, where is the Chinese girl that appears in the opening and ending of the show. Anyone? no? ok.
Welcome to the latest entry of “Dark Magical Girls”, the anime sub-genre that rose to popularity in the 2010s. The creators of these types of stories grab the aesthetic made for young girls and smash it repeatedly until blood is splattered on everything. When you begin to peel back the very thin layers to the story, it really isn't interested in playing with the Magical Girl aesthetic or tropes at large outside the most obvious surface elements. The magic element is there so it's teen girl super soldiers have a justification to wear fetish outfits instead of Kevlar.
Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka (Spec-Ops Asuka for short)
is a story where magical girls meet military warfare. The premise is proud with itself for framing Magical Girls in the context of military ops and gun porn, and while it’s not determined on punishing its protagonists for cheap emotional punch, most (if not all) emotional scenes lose their importance with the show implementing gratuitous and titillating fanservice. Simply removing such things instantly turns this into a decent show that really understands PTSD, it depicts and tackles this issue well. Spec-Ops Asuka does a good job of showing its heroine’s having to continue living after having fought a bloody, vicious war for humanity's survival, coping with the emotional consequences of their actions. Even though they once saved the world but its survivors are often blaming them for the unintentional side-effects post-war. It's a good hook, but the shows biggest issue with fanservice gets in the way of having these themes resonating, and thus the impact is lost.
At least it tried to distinguish itself from the crowd by the way it chooses to tackle the Dark Magical Girls sub-genre—by wrapping it into a story about soldiers, war, terrorists, and weapons of mass destruction, etc., which is cool but maintaining your suspension of disbelief is incredibly hard when most of the enemies the heroines are fighting are oversized, cute-looking plushies that have the “Fluffal Frightfur” (Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V) aesthetic to them. And in case any of you were wondering, yes, this show has yuri elements for the sake of having yuri elements. And yes, this show has the “all men are assholes” narrative for the sake of… well, you get the point. The disappointment comes from the fact that you know that this could have been a decent Magical Girl series. The excessive torture porn, fanservice, and vulgarity just feels too weird, bizarre, cringe-worthy and sometimes unintentionally funny. This is one of those anime series where it recommended to view with the volume turn down and with headphones on because you don’t want anyone overhearing a big fat orgasm that is thrown into most of those scenes.
Furthermore, I think the creators and LINDENFILMS don’t understand that you can have a dark and gory depiction of Magical Girls without the excessive number of unnecessary elements. The result is that you get a show that is Cinemanarratively Dissonant. Spec-Ops Asuka is a very ugly undertaking in its depiction of the cruelty that happens in times of war. But we also have to sit through the ahegaokin faces, titillating fanservice with the victims put in scandalous positions. Imagine watching a war movie where the goal and purpose is to show the audience the terror and horrors of war, but during the battle scenes, it's portraying visually that war is the most badass thing ever. Another example is playing a video game where the whole goal and narrative revolves around stealth missions where you have to go through the game undetected with minimal casualties. Yet, there are achievements based on how many headshots you can perform to attain a certain skin—the story being told visually doesn't agree with the story being told by the script. Or, in this case of the video game example; the story being told narratively doesn’t agree with games mechanics.
By now you may have gotten tired about the constant callbacks to the show's fanservice. I’m not against fanservice in general, but just pointing out that the type that exists in Spec-Ops Asuka is the kind that devalues stories. Take Kurumi for example. By the text of the script, she is smart, caring, talented, hard-working, driven, heroic and strong-willed. She’s essential to the plot and the main Heroine in Asuka, she has her own thoughts and opinions, she comes up with plans, and her character arc meshes while with the themes of the show, like PTSD for example. However, the camera treats Kurumi as a hooker in a strip club because of how she is consistently framed. Despite these good traits and qualities, she is framed to be pervy and annoying, and that dissonance between the cinematography and Kurumi's writing devalues her as a character. The theme of “girl power” takes a hit when Asuka says she wants to be just as strong as a Magical Girl when she was young, only to have her mother discourage her that it’s too dangerous—the scene is framed in such a way that girls must remain in the kitchen.
So, as you can already tell, the shows visuals take’s a dive in the scoring department. Although there are plenty of well-choreographed action sequences, some having solid fluidity to them, LINDENFILMS didn’t really do the Spec-Ops Asuka justice unless you’re into the fanservice. The character models look like they’re from another decade, and even then, not of the good sort. Most times poorly drawn where facial features get inconsistent with size and proportion. The big eyes and pupils are very distracting. The fashion sense for our character has one goal, which should be obvious by now. Designing almost every female character to have huge knockers is part of the shows absurd hilarity (unintentional) and reinforces the idea that this is basically softcore hentai. The score has a few great tracks which are mainly used for the battle scenes, but apart from the dubstep beats, it just exists. For what it's worth, it has a fantastic OP theme, "KODO" by nonoc.
In conclusion, Spec-Ops Asuka doesn’t only dwell in seriousness, there are moments, even a dedicated episode for the fun slice-of-life side of things, giving another tone for the characters to show other sides of their personality. Between the fun and campy action stuff, the show is constantly vacillating between gun porn, misery porn, torture porn, justice porn, and just porn—sometimes simultaneously. I found myself laughing in moments when the show feels the need to remind its viewers that it’s a Magical Girl show because the guns and weapons have the name “Magical” in it. A disappointing series, where the flaws outweigh the boobs. A rather great recommendation for hardcore ecchi fans that need more spank bank material.
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.
Do you know these kinds of shows, which have relatable protagonists, interesting villains and a strong plotline, but are no fun to watch? Well, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is the opposite.
As anybody can probably guess by the title, this show is another edgy magical girl show trying to jump on the edgy magical girl Anime bandwagon. Premise of the show is that after the successful repulsion of an invasion of killer-plush animals from another dimension our now retired magical girl protagonist Asuka and must deal with PTSD and her new peaceful life. Wait, doesn’t this sound like this could be a potentially interesting story?
the introduction of the antagonists by the end of the first episode I realized I will not be able to take this show seriously. Some things that happen over the next episodes include: Antagonists announcing that they are indeed “very bad” magical girls, mascot character explaining obvious things, like what a magical truth serum is, swimsuit episode, terrible pronunciation of foreign names that makes you laugh during supposedly dramatic moments, 2nd swimsuit episode, a reference to Goblin Slayer's rape scene cause I guess that is a thing now, and torture, because what could be more edgy than torture. At one point, even our protagonists torture an enemy character, although with questionable methods. Seriously, how does spanking somebody on the butt in a BDSM manner make them tell you anything... well, I guess it’s ok since they call it “magical spanking”. What the hell were they thinking???. I mean, I get that you are trying to sell the show by displaying fetish stuff, but there must be a better way than this. Once I threw logic out of the window though, the show became surprisingly enjoyable to watch. It definitely contained enough absurd moments to keep me entertained.
Best girl is the mascot character Sacchuu. Not only does she have an awesome voice, she gets bloodlust when fights start, beats enemies up with her spiked brass knuckles, wears bulletproof vests and uses dual handguns because it’s badass, and excitedly suggests “asking [a captured enemy girl’s] body if she knows anything” (aka torture).
The animation is decent, not good, but nothing like the abysmal animation we had to witness in some shows during the last seasons. There is a dip in animation quality as the show progresses though, so be aware of that. Character models seem to have been designed while getting wasted at Hooters Japan (yes, they have it too) with chest sizes usually only seen in Hentai.
The soundtrack is surprisingly catchy. It got some cool electronic/dance tracks that play during battle scenes and both OP and ED belong to the kind you don’t skip. You might even find yourself looking them up on Youtube.
TL;DR: Edgy magical girl show that can be fun to watch if you enjoy trashy Anime.
Have you ever seen those videos on instagram of some shop/cafe/etc in LA that makes these crazy concoctions? Ice cream with cereal, bananas and sprinkles, and then its frozen and fried? That's the best way I can describe this show. While the core idea of a grittier take on the magical girl genre is appealing, the show fails spectacularly in just about every way.
In general, the method of how girls become magical girls is hard line to skate between reasonable suspension of disbelief and stupidity. It can be done well which can be seen in the go-to gritty magical girl show Madoka Magica.
However the show definitely under-performs here. The backstory is vague for basically every plot point, for how powers are acquired, why some girls are chosen over others or even establishing power levels for the MCs. The show starts by putting magical girls on this pedestal, as saviors of humanity and stronger than whole platoons of elite soldiers. However, it continually relies on putting the main characters in far-too-close fights, calling into question the core assumptions of them being just super strong. Regular humans stand more than a chance against some of the best fighters of the group. As for the rest of the plot, the enemies seem to have no real motivation other than destruction and chaos, which once again can be done, just not here.
While far from redeeming, the characters are definitely the highest point of the show. To get it out of the way, many of the characters, even the main ones, feel like nothing more than NPCs, delivering their lines and serving their stated purpose of exposition/pervert/etc before leaving. Outside of a few exceptions, no character feels real or likeable unless you like their artstyle. However, Asuka, Kurumi and Chisato all get decent exposition, but it is far from perfect. Kurumi has an interesting dark side from a dark, pre-magical girl past, but the show can't let that just work, so they decide to turn it into a joke towards the later part of the season. Asuka is depicted with symptoms of PTSD and survivors guilt, but the show fails to fully realize or focus on these quite real effects of war. Chisato's backstory leaves much to be desired, but this sort of evil awakening ark she goes on is compelling, and was by far my favorite part of the show.
It looked terrible, plain and simple. Besides subjective character design choices like huge eyes and everyone has big tits, which I personally hate, nearly every shot in the show looks bad. Closeups of characters talking might look passable, but when any shot zooms out just slightly from this, the art looks sloppy nearly one hundred percent of the time. The fights are lackluster, despite having a lot to work with in terms of cool magical weapons. The magical girl outfits are incredibly plain, looking like they were designed in 20 minutes by an intern told to show as much cleavage as possible. And the famous hallmark of magical girl shows, the transformation scene, are just a different background, a flash a of light and then they are in the new outfit. I can't tell if the staff was overworked, underpaid or just didn't care, but whatever the reason it doesn't excuse the show looking like it was animated more than a decade ago.
For a good few episodes, there was nearly no music of any kind. Exposition scenes and establishing shots are left entirely quiet, with the dialogue left to fill the enormous void. Even when music is played, it sounds like it was taken out of a file named "generic as hell anime music." Ever watched any beach episode in any anime? Imagine what kind of music is playing. That is what Spec Ops Asuka uses. No originality or personality is present throughout any of the soundtrack.
Generic night core opening. It's all shot in black and white with the exception of a red rose. Totally overdone, and even if you toss originality to the sideline, they do nothing interesting visually with only a black and white palate. The ending is even more forgettable, with a slideshow of shots in black and white again. The song here I find personally more palatable, but its not memorable at all.
I came into the show skeptical based on trailers, and was thoroughly unimpressed all the way through. It might have a few moments that I didn't totally hate, but overall your time is spent watching a different show.
Going into Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka initially without any prior knowledge kind of left me not knowing what to feel beyond some sort of weird repulsion towards the series. However, once I understood that the anime was in fact, more of an 80s buddy action film homage more than anything, my expectations were properly adjusted and I ended up thoroughly enjoying most of the show.
Asuka is a barrage of tonal inconsistencies, sometimes violent, sometimes comfy, sometimes incredibly lewd and sexual. But all the more, these vast tonal shifts just somehow work. Like any good 80's schlock, you have your share of tits, gore, violence (all
toned down in the adaptation) and with a healthy dose of lesbians and mahou shoujo thrown into the mix. Coupled with a PTSD-soldier who's conned into doing "One Last Job" (or something along those lines) and you have a recipe for a brainless yet entertaining show every week.
Storywise Asuka is pretty disappointing. The slice of life and occasional Asuka-focused stuff is done pretty well, but almost everything else feels pointless or overly unnecessary. Most of the interesting elements only show up in the later stages of the manga, and with the anime tragically being only one-cour long, you are left with what is essentially a trailer for the manga series. This is one of those shows that would really benefit from a second season down the line, but , who's to say? You have major characters who don't get introduced until late into the series (and in Peipei's case she only makes a few cameos here and there despite being a main character and present in the OP/ED). Several plot threads don't get resolved, and the whole anime just kind of stops in the final episode without any proper resolution or meaningful checkpoint. We may never know whether Kurumi straight up kidnapped and drugged Asuka that very day...
Of course, no one watches 80's B-movies for deep thought-provoking philosophy, and as such, Asuka does deliver on the more important elements. The action and accompanying OST are serviceable. Though sometimes stiff, the animation does a decent job bringing the manga to life. The original manga's paneling being fairly competent and exciting helps with masking the stiffness of the animation. What's missing is Asuka sprouting one-liners. She only goes through like two in the whole series.
Overall Asuka is a fun series with many dumb stupid moments that are absolutely endearing. With no continuation set in motion, the unresolved plot is a sore spot for the show, but the show we got in the end is still serviceable enough to enjoy with popcorn in hand and a few drinks around the sofa.
First review, 12/02/2019, contains minor spoilers.
To describe this anime as its finest, I would like to introduce it as "a magical girl show in a modern world where magic does not always have a bright side".
Indeed, here in Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka you get to follow Asuka, a retired magical girl who used to fight - as well as her 4 comrades + 6 deceased - weird creatures named Disas. However, this part of the plot is explained early but gets forgotten after that.
But peace cannot be maintained forever obviously. One day our retired magical girl who started going to high-school as a regular
student, has to take back her weapon : a magical karambit granting her powers. If it appears that this is just a girl saving her friends or some random people, the violence has a really important place in this show. To spoil lightly : you will watch a terrorist being extraded by his men, killing multiple policemen and then several bystanders to create chaos. Nothing is censored so this part makes it pretty uncommon for a magical girl show (as well as a torture scene that took place later, on a teenager).
Many people can't appreciate this show for its characters - physicaly / bodily talking - who are indeed well developped (not gonna expand more, this is easy to guess how you make a female character looking attractive). Well, I can't say this is wrong stating this point, but it does not make an argument to dislike the whole anime. I really think it has a more mature taste : to me, magical girls have evolved and aren't the sweet young girls (not to say very young / loli) who use a colorful magic to heal people or save a cat.
Not at all, they are now transfered in a realistic world where monsters (as its purest sense, so unhuman living threats) became fellow humans being. This is actually extremely interesting to see how an unknown former heroine will deal with her past - traumatic, sad - and the current events that just popped up in her new life. Will her inner demons come back to surface ? That is a great question.
To conclude this review, I really encourage anyone who appreciates magical girl genre AND military / raw violence atmosphere to start watching this show. We have only discovered 2.5 (considering one was shown and named but isn't related to the story yet) magical girl plus the mysterious organization behind the recent outbreaks.
Hey what if Magical girls turned into mercenaries?
Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka maybe look like your typical "dark magical girl" that Madoka Magica has still in 2019 has a lingering presences with it's imitators however Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka feels like it fully embraces it's own thing, yes "edgy dark" but still.
Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka looks at Asuka Otorii voiced by Aya Suzaki, a veteran magicla girl who fought in a massive war to defeat the Disas, magical plushies demons out for humanity and with the five that remained at the end, she along with the 4 others were branded as the Magical Five that saved
humanity. Now she's a typical high schooler, trying normalize her life and hoping her bloody and torturous war days are over...however with another war gone and done, another rises from the ashes to cause more nihilistic chaos and with the rise of magical warfare, she struggles to juggle her school life and the new looming terror.
Character-wise, we have the narrative focus of Asuka herself and she's seen as pretty much the ace of the cast yet with a huge amount of baggage to say the least what with her own history as a magical girl and because of this, she isn't exactly seen as a Mary Sue as she's a total badass as a magical girl but has problems trying to "be normal" and of course her want to protect those close to her as she did not want happened during the previous Disas war. Kurumi Mugen voiced by Akira Sekine is an interesting character as deep down she's a COMPLETE YANDERE towards Asuka yet holds a facade of being the "shy girl", but she's one of the yandere that seen as both in a comedic light AND in a more serious light, comedic as she at first was seen as the comedic ditzy shy character but not taken too seriously, yet she's a crazy yandere when in comes to her love for Asuka that extends to borderline psychopathic (and everyone BUT Asuka knows about this). Mia Cyrus voiced by Eriko Matsui, the gun magical girl and she's been in the battlefield and never left, if anything she's the voice of reason as brash as she was LA's favorite character. Tamara Volkova voiced by M.A.O, a Russian magical girl the "Pheonix" who similarly to Mia never left the battlefield yet always butt heads with Mia, finally Lau Peipei voiced by Yoko Hikasa the Chinese magical girl, however Tamara and Lau rarely got much screentime especially Lau thus LA really didn't have much to say about both of them. In terms of development, Asuka is a reactionary character yet also develops with her resolve in coming back into the battlefield as well as all the backstory the plot feeds through giving us why she became how she is now and coping with the new war arising. Kurumi gets a bit of character development but only to show her true devotion and how she met Asuka.
Now as much as Asuka gets the spotlight in her own anime, Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka likes to look it's villains as well, instead of making them look "evil for evil sakes", in this case Chisato Yonamine voiced by Ayana Taketatsu and her entire plot threads reminds LA of what would happen if Tsuyuno Yatsumura from Mahou Shoujo Site was seen as the villain than a protagonist, sure her circumstances is telling we want to sympathize with her and the people she now associated with are evil and putting her in the wrong path but Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka puts it in a moral gray area. Now Abigail voiced by Ayahi Takagaki on the other hand throws the "evil for evil sakes" out the window she's she's nothing but that plus psychotic to boot and is nothing but the dragon to the true villain to the entire anime and the person who personally waged war and aligned with the Disas in the first place.
Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is if anything a character study of being at ends of a spectrum of bloodshed and "slice of life" and the eventual collision between the two, the realization that teenagers are technically killing people and how traumatizing that becomes for the magical girl and heck trying to protect those lcose to you yet due to your link in being a magical girl means they are the closest ones to be tortured and the such. Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is by all means edgy as hell and man the torture scenes are graphic and uncensored as hell but in execution Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka does a solid job in what it's like for a magical girl to be mercenaries and all the trials and tribulations they go through.
In terms of animation, well it's LIDENFILMS and the animation is decent and detailed AND consistent to say the least. Since Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is a pretty bloody and gory anime, well it's to expected that there is ALOT of it and not to mention some fo the visceral torture scenes and because of that it is censored because broadcast and whatnot. The battles are decent and the only striking thing being the crazy ballastic fight scenes and the exotic character designs, making ever magical girl pop in differing ways. LIDENFILMS has a mark about them that just makes their bloody and dark anime that much more pronounced and it's shows itself here too.
In terms of voice acting, well for the most part there are alot of "playing against the type" roles here, from Aya Suzaki now voicing a shy, complex total badass character as Asuka (also Eriko Matsui and M.A.O are the same) to Ayana Taketatsu voicing a straight up complex villain as Chisato. Nonetheless the voice cast for Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka was actually great with major props to Aya Suzaki and Ayana Taketatsu.
Speaking back to the visceral torture scenes, LA will say the only time it got actually squeamish and intentional so are those torture scenes and Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka definitely took it too far, censors be damned, making it's development of it's characters be undermined by shock factor of those torture scenes.
Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka does a solid job in a "what if" concept of "what if magical girls turned mercenaries and all their trials and tribulations both psychologically and physically were tested" and did a solid job in executing it, sure torture scenes aside but considering the setting this anime is in, LA can somewhat forgive it. Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is NO Mahou Shoujo Site in it's edginess nor is it trying to imitate Madoka Magica, it's tried to be it's own thing in a somewhat realistic setting and it did just that.
Since I can't give it a 9.5/10 I gave this a 10 WHILE UNFINISHED
This show, without giving any major spoilers is brutal, harsh, unkind, and very much a painful show.
However - unlike other shows in the dark mahou shoujo genre, this show falls away from away from the typical shock factor of cute girls doing nasty things and instead tugs at your heart, and you can feel the moral dilemma's facing these girls, who is indeed truly good?
The opening soundtrack, and indeed most of the ost in this show fights the mood and helps set you in the frame of the scene.
The characters, to
a degree falls slightly short, with some of em not getting a lot of fleshing out and time, but despite that, they are all loveable and enjoyable in their own rights. The title character Asuka gets more development and I personally often find myself lost in thought about everything that she has to comprehend and process.
What I really enjoy about this show is that it doesn't focus on transformation scenes, and overly flashy powers like many Mahou Shoujo's do, but also reminds of what we love with the outfits, the naming conventions, and the sense of justice...justice in whose eyes however... is ever present.
Though I shouldn't focus on other reviews, I would like to refute a common presumption in several, this is not a fan service, sexual thrill show, yes, there is boobs, yes there is a couple of "thirsty" scenes, however, not once does the show emphasise nor enforce sex onto us, this is *not* an ecchi show, and therefore do not be put off by it.
As a mahou shoujo fanboy I implore anyone even slightly interested, to give this a watch.
This anime has the potential to be the worst Mahou Shoujo that ever existed, bravo!
1. Originality: 6
Okay, yeah. The description did sound original, within the framework of Mahou Shoujo of course.
The Mahou Shoujo genre is increasingly repetitive, that's why even magical girls fighting against terrorists sounded more interesting than it was. However, the more the episodes progressed, the more I questioned myself whether this was really a Mahou Shoujo or a hentai of terrorists. Don't get me wrong, I know that there are transformations and magical powers like in any MS, but most of the times that the subject is touched it's so... ridiculous. I
will develop it in more depth in the Story Development part.
2. Story Development: 3.5
I will summarize how bad the development is by saying that I think that in each episode I could recognize a different fetish.
If it helps you, this anime is 50% fanservice, 35% cringe and 15% action and scenes with meaning. Although I will comment later on the characters, it is impressive how blands they all are during the development of those twelve episodes. The action scenes are decent, but often exaggerated to show the Magical Five more badass than they really are (I'm talking about you, Rapture). And obviously, we should not forget about the fact that most of them have tits bigger than Nozomi's head (We couldn't do it even if we wanted to, the tits are in the center of the screen most of the time).
3. Characters: 3.5
Oh, boy. This poor, small quintet is so interesting ... in the bad way, obviously.
From now on, I will need to spoil irremediably.
Let's start with Asuka, which had PSTD at the beginning of the show. Oh, this could develop well, right? Oh, wrong. Because Asuka's PSTD disappears, ironically, with more violence. Surprisingly, she is the most sane of the gang. Then we have Kurumi who is, for me, the worst of the Magical Five. His personality and story seem as if they were taken out of a bad fanfic of Wattpad of 2012, when it was fashionable to be edgy. That, and her attempt to be yandere in 2019, is really embarrassing. On the other hand are Mia and Tamara, who are not so different from each other so I'll put them together to save me time. Both of them belong to the army, more or less, and they like to shoot things and so on. The only thing that distinguishes them is that Tamara has a fetish with "tender and adorable" things, and Mia's unique personality is based on her revolvers. And finally, and obviously less important although the show tries to make you think otherwise, Lau Pei-pei. Pei only appears in the last episode, and we only discovered that while the other girls have returned to fight with the Disas and that kind of stuff, she became an Asian Paris Hilton who is also a hit man. Oh, and obviously she's also a bit of a nymphomaniac, like most women in the whole series. The funny thing is that although Pei-pei has not done anything in all these episodes, we still have her in the last scene of the season (or series, rather) with the others, in an attempt to message us something like: "These are the heroines you've seen during all these episodes! Yes, even Pei-pei."
4. Enjoyment: 5
I wrote so much in the previous point, that I will be brief here: this series is hard to enjoy, and if you are looking for something serious and with good characters, then go your way. Still, I will give it 5 points for the fact that at least I finished it.
This show should not only win the title of the biggest disappointment of the season, but also the worst anime of it.
When going through MAL and looking at a shows average ratings many people have come to notice quite a few rules. Long running Shounen for example, is generally overrated by a full point. Older anime made before 1999 is often underrated by half a point and a full point for 1980. You get the idea.
One very recent rule I have realized that strangely only applies in the last decade, is that any time you see people in the reviews complaining about a show being "edgy" you can safely add a full point to the average score. This is the case with Mahou Shoujo Tokushushen
Asuka, a show that solidly deserves to sit at an average of 7.5, not 6.5. Why people can't stand the idea of a magical girl cutting a soldier into multiple bloody pieces? Who knows. Maybe people have gotten more squeamish. Maybe it's the college campus safe space culture turning people into wusses. Or maybe calling a show edgy and underrating it is, ironically, the new cool and hip edgy thing to do. It's anyone guess really.
What I can say is that Tokushusen Asuka is a perfectly decent watchable show. It's not ground breaking in any way. It doesn't do anything particularly amazing that hasn't totally been done before, although it DOES do it in an interesting fashion. Rather than just being another "edgy" mahou shoujo, in many cases Tokushusen Asuka aims to be realistic. If strange looking alien creatures actually did start attacking earth, there likely would be blood and death and any real mahou shoujo fighting against it likely would see the brunt of it. Tokushusen Asuka also has some "normal" episodes where the main characters are just hanging out and doing normal slice of life things that you would also expect to see in a "non-edgy" standard mahou shoujo series. This gives it a more down to earth blend of real life being mixed with work. It doesn't go full psycho dark mode like shows such as Mahou shoujo site did, but this is certainly no Sailor Moon either.
The characters and dialogue are also plenty interesting enough for the show to grab attention and the world building is in depth enough to keep your attention. This is another reason Tokushusen Asuka certainly doesn't deserve the critical reception it got, as most anime rated below 6.75 tends to have serious trouble in pacing or gaining any grounds to really go anywhere and make the viewer care about the story. This show does not have these problems at all.
Overall I found the twist of the show that human criminals themselves would end up being a bigger threat than the magical beasts to deserve a pass as an anime worth checking out. The biggest downside of Tokushusen Asuka was actually the music quality being completely forgettable and often cheesy as all hell. But everything else is done at least semi competently.
Final Verdict: Watch the first 2 episodes. If you enjoy them, you will have fun with the rest of this anime as it maintains about the same level of quality throughout.
Most people say it’s trashy or it has a lot of fan service and torture, but the torture scenes have only happened twice so far and well, if you look past the fan service, you’ll see the sleeper hit of the 2019 Winter season. I’ve been watching it since the day it came out, and as a girl with a bunch of disabilities, including anxiety and depression, I could totally relate to Asuka’s initial struggle to get back to fighting evil. But every character arc is written so nicely, the action is definitely not limited, and you get to learn more
about some of the villains. To be completely honest, my second favorite Magical Girl in this show is the once-evil Whiplash Chisato, because she got a really nice arc and I could relate to her. Two things I wish I could change about this show is either the fan service and edge factor, because I really want to show this to my parents, sister and friends, but they wouldn’t be comfortable with some of the content. The other thing I’d change is the fact that Kurumi’s crush is just a crush, since I ship them too hard and there’s unfortunately not much actual LGBTQ+ representation in the world, which annoys me as a pansexual. Overall, I give this show a 10/10 and I’m crossing my fingers and toes for Season 2!
I'd like to preface this review with a warning. Firstly, I'm somewhat of a magical girl fan, particularly that dark and edgy take on the magical girl series. Secondly, I know not everyone is going to read this entire review, so if you're interested, jump ahead to the tl;dr section where I overview the review in a pros and cons list.
I went in with high expectations, I'll freely admit that. I was looking forward to this gruesome take on the magical girl genre. An anime that wasn't afraid to shy away from the blood and gore of open warfare. An anime that might even push
the limits of what's considered taboo (lord knows I love something that takes risks). This anime does certainly deliver blood and gore, but in such a meaningless manner I'm left wondering whether it had a point or if it were just throwing it in for the shock factor. An overtly over the top experience sullied by adolescent power fantasies.
I'd like to touch on the story aspects for a moment. The story follows Ootori Asuka, or "Rapture", one of the 5 surviving magical girls from a military strike force made to protect the world from a demonic force known as the DISAS. An apocalyptic event saw the girls losing about half their number in battle and Asuka is left to lick her wounds and try to live a normal life. I must say, despite all the faults of the season, the concept is amazing. This idea of a magical girl suffering PTSD from a traumatic event in the past sings of a strong story concept. It's a shame then that the rest of the series is so... How shall I put this... Scattered. The storyline from this point on revolves around Asuka unsure if she wants to fight again or run away and agonising over this decision for some time. Eventually she joins a strike team called the Magical Girl Spec Ops consisting of her old comrades in order to take out a threat from an opposing faction (might as well be terrorists) that utilise "illegal magical girls" (the laws behind legal magical girls aren't exactly clear) and the aforementioned DISAS. Then there's an attack on the compound, one of her friends gets captured and tortured and some other stuff happens, at this point it's just going to throw plots in your direction.
Characterisation in this anime is quite flawed. None of them are likeable or relatable, save for Asuka herself, and all of them have the hardcore anime trope of the "tragic backstory". We have the two school friends, who are about as deep as a drop of oil on a kitchen bench; we have Kurumi Mugen, or "War Nurse", who's about as useful as a wet paper bag, gets off on torture and loves Asuka to Yuno Gasai levels of Yandere; we have Mia Cyrus, or "Just Cause", who is somewhat forgettable as a character really; we have Tamara Volkova, or "Phoenix", who is the Russian character, and basically what you'd expect; and a handful of other characters that are kind of just there. The story tries to introduce us to these side characters through quirks and odd mannerisms, but they don't really save the character. Aside from the main human cast, we have our onslaught of... I want to say "familiars". These are the typical "cute" side characters that serve to add comic relief and provide explanations, just in case you're getting lost. It's like they're the tutorials in a video game, and they're just as annoying and condescending here.
Visually, this anime does perform quite well. Solid animation and a nice art style. The accompanying sound track is also quite up my alley and does fit the series well. The heavy rock and tense undertones of the music plays nicely with the intensity. It's probably the most memorable part of the series.
Now you may have reached this part of the review and wondered why I settled on a score of 2. The answer to that question lies in the plot. No, I don't mean the story, I mean THAT plot. Yes, this series is thirsty as all hell. Considering the anime hasn't been tagged with an ecchi rating, the fan service is egregious and constant. I've seen Ecchi Harem shows with less focus on boobs. 4 out of 5 of the main magical girls have provocative clothes that highlight their outrageous bust size and the illegal magical girls are one nip slip away from a hentai. Every torture scene has to be accompanied by either an injection to "heighten their sensitivity" or crotch shots, ass shots and way too much exposed skin. Not to mention the obligatory lesbian bad guy who has time to screw her underlings between sending DISAS to do her job for her. And then there's a major character later in the series, who has less screen time than the title screen, has changed her body so she isn't recognisable (I assume) into a huge racked bombshell that moans during a massage and fondles herself commenting that "they've gotten bigger". Not to mention the fact that we have a pool episode AND a beach episode. It really begs the question, how is this anime NOT ecchi?
I think what bugs me the most about this anime, is that if you take out the fan service, the pointless drivel that usually comes in filler arcs and the final episode which feels like it was thrown in cause they had space, you're left with MAYBE 6 episodes of content, and I'm being generous.
At the end of it all, I can't really recommend anyone check this out, unless you have some soft core torture porn fetish that needs itching. I'm left with the overarching question of "Why?" at the end of so many of these episodes and too many times in between. My final score for this anime is a 2/10, saved from a 1 by the art and music and by the somewhat redeemable moments in the season.
Positive - It looks good, it sounds pretty good, nice idea for a story. Negative - Too much Ecchi that detracts from the story, way over the top with everything, 2 dimensional characters, a lot of pointless filler, keen to throw both kinds of plot in all kinds of directions.
I don't usually go on hating but this anime really pissed me off.
Story-3. Art-2. Sound-6. Characters-1. Enjoyment-0. Overall-1
OMFG a new magical girl anime *sniff sniff* actually it kinda stinks....don't touch this garbage....i've seen many magical girls anime and this is the most bad one i've seen yet and i don't think i will ever see something as bad as this.
Story is meh...i like in general many magical girls anime like Mahou shoujo site and madoka BUT this one is pure garbage.
The graphic...well,do you remember the Arima vs Kaneki fanmade(if u saw it)that's much better...this graphic its ew.
Characters-Clichee protagonist with sad past who tries to
be cool but wants to be loved , lesbian friend from the battle who is obssesive and shitty , clingy friends who end up being violated etc and fanservice everywhere, that was shit as well since they can't draw even an ass or tits good but that's what they show the most in the anime haha lol.
Sound-It's fine,the opening is fine,the voice actors aren't that bad.
DON'T TOUCH IT.
Well you had my warning,now it's different opinions too,your choice right?
Have a nice day.
Every once in a while you get a work that's legitimately transformative, taking a stale, stagnant, or just under-explored genre and bringing it to a state that's truly new and different. Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is not that show. It wants to be, but it isn't. That doesn't mean it's a bad show, but if the show were a rocket it would aim for the moon and hit an urban center with a payload of nerve gas. Did that comparison seem disturbingly excessive? If so, it's the right one for this show.
Because what needs to be gotten out of the
way first is that the exploitation value in this show is above and beyond. Or at least beyond, I'm not sure you can call something like that 'above'. And really, it comes off as desperate. The show wants you to feel something, anything, and it doesn't really care what that is, as long as it can trick you into thinking it's saying more than it actually is, or doing something with more substance than it's actually doing. Every episode, close to every shot, pushes some kind of intense or extreme imagery in your face. Focused titilation, cold-blooded torture, and some truly gruesome (as well as bloody) violence and gore are the order of the day. Often, they even do this at the same time. There are a few too many scenes of a pretty girl stripped to her underwear and subjected to horrific pain, when one of those scenes would probably be too much for some viewers. Is it supposed to be titillating or stomach churning? I'm not sure, and I'm not sure the show cares. It wants you to remember it more than it wants to be remembered for anything in particular.
So, from that alone, if this show isn't up your alley, you can probably tell. I guess I do have to give the show some little credit that at least it does go all the way with being an Exploitation piece and doesn't half-ass the lurid content, but at the same time, when the reasoning is so transparent, I'm not sure that's worthwhile on its own. Plenty of anime shows have lurid content, and plenty of them use it better. If you watch Mirai Nikki or Brynhildr in the Darkness you'll get doses, and potentially heavy doses at that, of sex, violence, torture, and gore... but with those other shows, you'll get it in a package that mostly feels organic. The exploitative content isn't just presented to exploit you, it does help tell the story and establish the world. If you took that content away from one of those, the show would lose something meaningful and worthwhile beyond just a hook for animal cravings. In Asuka, I feel like you could radically tone down the exploitation, and it wouldn't have any effect on the core of the show. We don't need the focus on the ample bottoms and bosoms of the characters. We don't need the most reprehensible ends of the violent content. And while we might keep a nonzero number, we don't need all the torture scenes either. In fact, I might argue that some of those scenes would be more effective if there were fewer, because it would make each one stand out more, and have more of an impact.
It's actually a little sad that the exploitation is so omnipresent and distracting, because there are things the show does well, and that are worth watching it for. When it breaks out, for a moment, from the “More Terrible = More Real” paradigm, the show is actually kind of good at depicting a “real” world and conflict that happens to involve magic. The best scenes in the show are the action scenes, because the magical action is mostly fast, punchy, and well-choreographed while the action involving soldiers and “mundane” Spec-Ops is down to earth, making awesome tactics that you could see actually being applied in the word rather than just in the world of Hollywood. This is a setting where a possible response to a giant murderous people-eating teddy bear could be a sniper on the rooftop, actually at reasonable sniping range, and soldiers actually know (at least in some scenes) to shoot in semiautomatic bursts rather than a continuous hail of full auto fire that would never actually happen
And, when the characters that have been through terrible things are actually explored, there are some good portrayals of PTSD, and bad coping mechanisms making for interestingly conflicted characters. But then the show goes too far, or more often doesn't quite decide whether it wants to go all the way or not, and tries to have it both ways. For instance, the character of Kurumi is played both as a dangerously obsessive psychopath, and as a just slightly clingy/jealous would-be girlfriend and they don't fit together. They could have fit together if enough time was devoted to the character and enough care was taken; other shows have done Yandere types well in that manner, but it's not consistent here; there's not enough undertone of menace in her sweet moments, and there's not enough acknowledgment of her normal personality when she goes scary. It works in a couple scenes, but it fails in more.
I also do appreciate that, while showing us the darkest stuff the show can, it also does show us a few non-tainted moments of goodness. This seems to be one of the major themes of the show, that for everything horrible that may occur, there's still a ray of light out there somewhere, and that's worth going for. And I guess that one idea, the show does express well. It would have been better with less sadistic fanservice to confuse the dark stuff for the audience, but it does work as-is.
The story is also in a complicated place. This is an adaptation, and an adaptation of a source material with a longer run than could be completely adapted, leaving it in an awkward place. At 12 episodes, the story is blatantly unfinished. What we have of it, though is... it's good. Not great, but good. We have reason to believe that the magical terrorists of the Babel Brigade have a plan that's both competent (seeing their overall strategic operations) and threatening, and that the world is moving forward. But we've only been through act one. There was an alright climax, but there really wasn't a conclusion. The show tries to play this off with an “It never ends” parting sentiment, bit it rings as hollow when a lot of stuff is set up that doesn't pay off. The final episode, especially, is transparent setup for a season 2 (or “read the source material to find out!” if there isn't one) and it's somewhat grating. Other adaptations leave the door open while still feeling like an actual arc, and not just part of an arc, was sewn up. The worst part is Asuka might have done that if it just stopped an episode earlier, rather than burning one on denouement that does the opposite of what denouement is supposed to do.
By in large, the best stuff in the show is centered around two particular characters: Asuka and Chisato. Asuka is the main character, and her struggle with what it means to fight and what it means to be a magical girl is actually well-presented, and I think if the show focused more on her psychology than on her chest, it would be stronger for it. Chisato, by contrast, is interesting because her presentation is something of a more complete story. For Rapture, War Nurse, and the rest of the Magical Five, we're seeing their second story. We don't know, except by implication, what turned them into the people they are now. We find out some, through flashbacks, and it's god to do so, but all the same we open in media res. For Chisato, we get to see how and why she becomes a Magical Girl, aligns herself, and starts to fight. You understand her more completely than you do the leads despite her late introduction and brief screen time, and while her material does still suffer the fanservice-versus-gore conflict in places, it does manage better depicting the dichotomy of hope and hopelessness than most of the show's run does.
Story: 5 (Incomplete, and often lost in the moment. Maybe this is as it should be, but right now it's a weakness)
Art: 8 (Effective, but largely misused)
Sound: 7 (Fine)
Character: 5 (Very variable and somewhat scattered)
Enjoyment: 5 (The exploitation was excessive, but there were gems hidden in there to be found)
FINAL VERDICT: In the end, I can't say I would really recommend the show, but I wouldn't strictly say to avoid it either. If you're still interested, knowing what you're getting into, go for it. I do give it credit for what it does well, and for being a dark and gritty Magical Girl show that does do things that are new and different rather than just attempting to imitate Madoka Magica... it just doesn't do those things very well all the time.
This is one of those animes that I can not take seriously. Because they mix an excessively realistic story about mafias, drugs and others with a theme of Mahou Shoujo full of adorable things like teddy bears and more. And it is impossible to take this seriously, but the problem is that the series does and that takes me out of the immersion because the suspension of credibility works to a certain extent.
The plot goes of magical girls dressed as whores with post-traumatic stress of a war waged against pink teddy bears and other creatures. The girls deal with problems worthy of CSI with an
What bothers me is that this fucking shit has that violent content uncensored and animes like Goblin Slayer / Berserk / Tokyo Ghoul (among others) who cry out to have that kind of gore and censor them.
But not content with it, they demonize men at levels bordering on the absurd, almost insulting. And yes that one of those animes Girls = Good, Men = Bad.