Mahou Shoujo Taisen is a compilation of stories based within different Prefecture's of Japan. Themes of nationalism are represented throughout the work, and it doesn't try really hard to be anything different. I'll list the arcs and my responses to them below:
1. Miyagi Prefecture // Ep 1-3 : Nothing special and completely forgettable. By the time I was halfway through this work I'd forgotten everything about it other than, like, 2 jokes in it. It's a great start to showing off the animation style. Other than that, the story is nonexistent. It tries to make you care for the lead at one point but fails horribly.
2. Shizouka Prefecture// Ep 4-6 : Better than the previous but still very boring. It's pretty and flashy and cutesy but there isn't anything worthwhile here, and it almost feels like it's intended for kids younger than 13, despite the age rating saying 13+.
3. Tokyo Prefecture // Ep 7-10 : Pretty cool, I must say. I wouldn't have minded if this arc was extended. This is around the time you realize there was actually some lore put into the work, as well as surprisingly depthy characters. However, this depth is barely touched upon and the arc is finished before you know it.
4. Ishikawa Prefecture // Ep 11-14 Perhaps my favorite. This one starts out strong and ends on an equal note. I enjoyed the main lead and the conflict she had to face was more than an unknown enemy that was bad because reasons. If you don't watch anything else from this anime, at least, watch these episodes. I do wish this one was one episode longer, though. Oh well~
5. Mie Prefecture // Ep 15-17 : Pretty weak. It's like the first two but it has some sense of urgency to it. However, it fails to translate properly and I feel like I wasted my time watching these ones.
6. Kumamoto Prefecture // Ep 18-20 : Not as good as Ishikawa, but definitely my second favorite of these little stories. The story is interesting and there's even some expansion on the very light amount of lore within the world. It is, perhaps, the most nationalistic.
7. Kyoto Metropolitan // Ep 21-25 : Third favorite. Very cool. Has a return character. Starts with an interesting perspective and then slowly returns to the normal Magical Girl fighting emphasis. Still neat.
Episode 26 is a teaser towards a potential second season.
Arc ranking order: 4>6>7>3>5>2>1
Very Gainax. They animate really well what matters, and don't care very much what doesn't. Motions feel fluid and the combat looks pretty neat. It's definitely eye-popping, and there's a cool sense of modern pop artwork going into this. Also, the costumes are pretty sweet.
That said, can't ignore cheap workarounds when it comes to animation. There are a few repeat animations and the barren backgrounds are pretty boring.
I couldn't help but feel like some of the songs were meant to be in a video game. There are references to game mechanics in this anime so that kind of makes sense, but the songs that they would have chosen to use from a game are like, pause menu music. Some songs suffer this, like the transformation theme, but the other songs sound kinda good. Doesn't go above and beyond, but it helps with the setting where it needs to.
Despite having those 2 really sweet arcs, there's a plethora of boring and uninspiring characters. The majority of them are bad and tropy, and the tropy aspects used are checked off a list one by one. It's a shame. I understand that with such a short amount of screen time there isn't much that can be done, but what takes place is almost an individual character arc for some of them, and there isn't enough time for this to be believable.
The two decent arcs have enough time in them for the characters to have some sort of depth while also not going overboard with their personality. It's probably what made these 2 stand out.
Boring at times, but pretty interesting at others. I was glad that the first 4 arcs had an incline in quality. It's what kept me going. I'm also interested to see where things go if Gainax chooses to continue with their subtle nationalist propaganda. I'd support this campaign if it meant more cool magical girl fights and stuff.
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