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Anime Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo


Dagger
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[url=http://www.mahousyoujo.com/][u]Official Site [Japanese][/u][/url]

Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo (Madame is a Magical Girl) is the latest series from Hiroshi Nishikiori, one of my favorite directors. His other works include Angelic Layer, Azumanga Daioh and Melody of Oblivion. The character designs were created by Shinya Hasegawa, whose art can seen in Melody of Oblivion as well as Revolutionary Girl Utena. The vocal cast (including Ai Shimizu as Sayaka and Kikuko Inoue as Ureshiko) is excellent, too; Kikuko Inoue even sings the beautiful ED.

Suffice it to say that (so far at least) I really like this show. Apparently inspired by Bewitched, it features Ureshiko/Agnes, a twenty-six year old "magical girl" whose job is to protect a certain town. Because she loves the place and doesn't want to see it change, she's reluctant to pass on the role to her successor, a blue-haired kid who delights in taunting her about her age. Add in Ureshiko's estranged husband, a younger man who becomes enchanted with her almost instantly, and the fact that kissing someone could make her lose her magical powers, and you can sort of see where all this is heading.

I don't know why it is, but I tend to love Nishikiori's work even when it's loaded with fanservice. For some reason, the way he incorporates it just works really well within the context of his shows. In Melody of Oblivion, the sexual innuendo added an extra element of humor, surrealism and creepiness. In Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo, it's good-natured and funny. I don't think the fanservice here is especially overwhelming, although some might have problems with the transformation sequences.

The animation is great (some of the flying segments in the first episode are just astonishingly beautiful). The OP & ED are fun to watch. Even early on in the series, a lot of amusing quirks start to emerge, and the relationships unfold interestingly. This certainly won't be everyone's thing, but it's still quite enjoyable. Anyone else interested?

~Dagger~
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One thing that struck me about this series is that it obscures a lot of fairly heavy stuff -- i.e. the fact that "Wonderland" is completely plastic and subject to the whims of its "Manager" and that there is something strange about male-female relationships in Wonderland. Ureshiko is insanely powerful to boot. But none of this is played up as it would have been in Utena (which managed to make an apocalyptic saga out of a story about an after-school club ^_^).

In this context the fanservice barrage of the first few episodes makes a lot of sense. It points back to something peculiar in the setting and probably sets up a lot of false clues. And it gives the story something to hide behind.
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  • 3 weeks later...
I didn't realize the series was 13 episodes, haha. Boy, was I in for a nasty surprise at the end of episode 12. :animeswea

Actually, prior to that, I'd assumed it would be a full-length show. But the quicker pace mostly works in its favor--although a lot of the themes, including those you mentioned, weren't explored as fully as they could have been. On the subject of the male-female thing, I found it to be more than a little strange that [spoiler]the entire council was made up of old men.[/spoiler] And the plasticity you referred to--that [spoiler]each Manager can destroy all life in Wonderland and then re-create it with the flick of a wand[/spoiler] was kind of skimmed over--I mean, they emphasized the whole [spoiler]end of the world[/spoiler] angle, but that's hardly uncommon. I found the idea of [spoiler]magically created life[/spoiler] more interesting, if also more disturbing.

On the other hand, I have to give them kudos for handling the emotional side of things pretty well. The main love triangle made me a little nervous, but it worked out satisfactorily and didn't feel as artificial as it could have. Same goes for the portrayal of Ureshiko's relationship with her husband. The background characters like Ureshiko's friends and Sayaka's classmates are almost uniformly likeable, too.

Honestly this is one show that could have used a couple more monster-of-the-week episodes. It would have been nice to see what other magical girls they could come up with.

~Dagger~
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  • 2 weeks later...
The nasty surprise for me at the end of #12 was #13, which dawdled endlessly and came up with one decent scene. The writing staff ran out of things to say after #12 and it's too bad the series wasn't wrapped up right then. One huge blunder in #13 was re-using Agnes' transformation scene -- [spoiler]Agnes no longer possessed the ring by then and that was not a minor plot point.[/spoiler]

This sort of inattention to detail helps to make this short series into a minor series. I don't think it had to be that way. Episodes 10-12 contained quite a few touching scenes and there were a few nice digressions along the way.

[spoiler]I found some of the premise to be downright anti-intuitive. If you start with a human female and, let's see, add magical powers (+?) but make her sexually unresponsive (-?) and take away her ability to reproduce (-) (I don't get how anyone was anyone else's mother in the show) -- what exactly are you left with? Ureshiko seemed to be able only to "nurture" the men she loved by frustrating and keeping secrrets from them. No wonder her emotional range only covered the ground between wistful and weepy... *sigh*[/spoiler]

For me the strengths of the show were the visual design and the palette (it was nice to see some definition and color in a CG-era show) and of course the characterization, which from time to time made for enjoyable viewing at an adult level. The score was also pretty good (there was one woodwind piece which was irritatingly overused, though).

Trivia -- "Kurenai" can be read as "I won't give."

[color=green]Although my post is top-heavy with complaints I recommend this series because it really is something different. There are too many recyclings and rehashings lately (To Heart 2? BLEAAGH!) and I much prefer this flawed work to any of those franchise-type offerings.[/color]
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