What’s the show? Magical Girl Spe-Ops Asuka, Episode 2.
So how’s this episode? Great, it builds upon ideas and plotlines hinted at in the previous episode and contains a satisfying amount of character development and depth!
Wow that was a quick review. Can you talk about it some more? Of course, you must have been surprised at how concise and to the point I was just now, right?
Little bit. Sorry, I’ll try to waffle on a bit more in future as not to catch you off guard.
Appreciated. So what happens in the episode? So we get the ~somewhat~ convenient but at least easily explained excuse for why no one can ID Asuka as one of the most famous Magical Girl’s in history despite looking not too different when transformed. Apparently she’s got a magical obfuscation field that prevents people from recognising her or something like that. Anyway, we see Sayako return to school after her dramatic run-in with terrorists the day before and she looks a little worse for wear–understandable considering she came face to face with death the other day–but as they leave school and a police car drives past with its sirens blaring Sayako collapses to the ground. Turns out she’s got a bit of PTSD of her own from the event and what’s more she’s got a bit of survivor’s guilt thrown in for good measure. And I’m so glad this show addressed this, too often in these tragedies people overlook the people who survived and the trauma’s they suffer on a day to day basis.
So doubling down on the PTSD huh? Oh that’s not even the half of it. So Sayako’s best friend genki tomboy and all round best girl Nozomi has a father who works for the Metropolitan Police… at least that’s what he tells her. Truth is he’s a brutal interrogator tasked with getting the information out of terrorists by any means necessary, and the small scene where he’s exchanging casual banter with one of his co-workers in-between torture scenes is as chilling as it is effective at conveying the kind of world this anime operates in (i.e. one frighteningly close to our reality). But that’s not even the most interesting thing about this episode!
Okay go on. So the group of “bad magical girls” that were teased at the end of last episode rears their heads again and unleashes a “Halloween” class ‘Disas’ on Shinjuku and with Asuka not being part of the Magical Girl Spec Ops team the only other magical girl who can attend the scene is ‘War Nurse Kurumi’ a support class magical girl, one of the legendary five who originally ended the war with the ‘Disas’ 3 years ago and one of Asuka’s closest friends. Naturally when Asuka hears about this unfolding situation and that her friend is in danger she leaps into action and manages to protect her from the rampaging ‘Disas’ just in the nick of time.
And is it a loving reunion between these two friends? Not quite. Turns out Asuka pretty much ~begged~ Kurumi to become a magical girl alongside her back in the day and the fact that Asuka turned tail and ran after the end of the war is something that’s still a sore spot for Kurumi. Asuka makes no excuses for her actions but likewise she reiterates that she can’t fight anymore, she’s just not mentally equipped to return to that kind of life. But Kurumi’s not willing to let things go Asuka’s way so easily and the very next day she transfers into her school!
Well that seems a bit “tropey”. I mean sure, but it works. The thing is, the school parts of this show are just as compelling and interesting and entertaining as the magical girl battles so having another magical girl join their class is a natural progression for the narrative to both keep things confined and tight but also make Asuka address her demons in a comfortable environment.
Fair point. So overall thoughts? I’m really loving this show and while it’s a shame that there are many who’ve written it off as mediocre or worse I think this show has the brains and empathy to tell a compelling story and I eagerly await the next instalment!
Previous ‘Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka’ Reviews:
The Fight Never Ends – Episode 1 Review
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