Cosprayers is legendary among anime fans for setting a standard by which other anime are judged. By which I mean it's garbage. When describing terrible shows, the phrase “at least it's not as bad as Cosprayers” will often come up. Future generations will study it as a an example of just how wrong things can go at every step, from planning to production. It cannot be said enough that Cosprayers is bad. However, the Cosprayers specials manage to do something incredible – they manage to make the formula work. The basic premise of a magical girl trying to fight monsters and failing in hilarious ways
still drives the show, but that plot functions a lot better in a comedy rather than a drama. It's still far from a masterpiece, but the result is much better than what anyone should expect (and better than anyone seems to give it credit for, considering the score, but that's understandable considering the source material).
To explain why the specials are actually good requires an explanation of why Cosprayers is bad. Watching Cosprayers straight through from beginning to end makes it painfully obvious that huge cuts were made without the story being changed to compensate. The characters never develop beyond costume changes, the scenes progress in a way that make no sense (like when two of the girls start fighting with tennis rackets immediately after escaping from prison for no reason), ultimately nothing is ever explained and the audience is left frustrated and confused. Watching the specials straight through by themselves leaves one with the opposite feeling. The situation is established within the first few minutes, followed by the characters acting reasonably and in-character before the resolution comes and wraps everything up in a nice complete package. The stories, barebones as they are, are given enough time to develop. The jokes, which consistently fell flat in the original series, actually have setups and punchlines, drastically improving their delivery. Everything is less compressed, and the audience is given enough time to process what's going on before the story moves forward.
There's still fanservice, which is the second most memorable thing about Cosprayers, but it's used mostly for comedy rather than (unsettling and repulsive) titillation. Take the hot springs episode for example. The majority of the story is just our heroine running around in a towel, trying to protect her modesty while being chased by the monster of the week. In the original Cosprayers, this scenario would lead to some too long scenes of very uncomfortable, rape-y violence before some overly complicated plot-twist rushes everything to an unsatisfying conclusion. While the special still has plenty of not-quite-naked shots, it's instead done with a large dose of slapstick and a simple, straightforward story. The heroine summons up the courage to defeat the bad guy, and it turns out the whole thing was set up to give her some confidence in her abilities. That's it, same as we've seen a thousand times before. No rainbows, no power of friendship, no timelords, no reality warping, just a plain, cliché, twist-averse story. Even Cosprayers can accomplish something this simple.
When judged in a vacuum, the Cosprayers specials are a competent, tolerable, all-around totally ok set of OVAs which should not rouse too much hatred. I'd even bet that someone who knew nothing about the series might even like the specials on their own merit. Unfortunately, they will forever be marred by their association with one of the worst tragedies ever to befall anime fans. Which is a shame, but not anything to lose sleep over. While this show won't completely rock your perception of the medium, it will entertain you if you give it the chance. Faint praise, I know, but at least it's not as bad as Cosprayers.