Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 3 Review
With the set-up for another dark magical girl series, it is no surprise that at time we’re getting some images that go for the cringe factor. What does surprise is how well the contrast is working in this episode as we go from Asuka and Kurumi living their school life to the magical girl fighting against drug lords wherever. The mix of the ‘normal’ life against the back drop of the underground war that is continuing whether Asuka wants it to or not is jarring but highly affective at setting a scene.
What also works is the fact that they didn’t feel the need to explicitly tell us that the group the magical girl was fighting are linked to the group in Japan. They let the visuals do the talking and when you see the state the prisoner ends up in and you remember a shot of something in the villains possession previously the link is quite apparent. While later another character in Japan mutters something similar to the prisoner dealing with the magical girl reinforcing the linked events, they still haven’t felt the need to spell it out to the audience through an exposition dump. It is nice to be trust to actually pay attention for once rather than having someone more or less narrate the detail to us.
I’ll throw a negative in here just so it doesn’t sound like I’m holding this up as some kind of perfect story. The need to recap at the beginning, while definitely fitting in with magical girl stories of old, just makes me want to fiddle around and do other things until after the OP is finished so it isn’t exactly drawing me straight into the episode. Also, while seeing the contrasting situations and spending time with Asuka and Kurumi as they make friends and play nice is sweet, it kind of ate a lot of episode time and I get why we’re doing that but at the same time part of me kind of felt we’d gotten the point and it might be nice to move on.
There was however a surprise at the end of this episode. I fully expected tragedy to strike the group of happy school friends through a certain relative getting taken out but it turns out this story is going to get a lot more personal for Asuka far faster than I expected. It’s a cliff-hanger ending and while it might be a cheap move to get me to watch next week, I definitely want to see what happens next, so success.
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Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka Vol. 1
- Episode 1: What Happens When a Magical Girl With PTSD is Drawn Back Into War?
- Episode 2: Not Brushing Aside Trauma Makes For A Better Narrative
- Episode 3: And The Award For Creepiest Visuals of the Week Goes To…
- Episode 4: This Is Not How One Puts Together A Solid Plan
- Episode 5: Magical Trauma and Political Intrigue a Plenty
- Episode 6: Everybody Loses in a Magical War
- Episode 7: It’s Raining Magical Girls and Deals With Other Worlds
- Episode 8 and 9: The Dark Side of the Magical Girl Myth
- Episode 10: The Battle of the Magical Girls Begins
- Episode 11: Bring the Pain; It Won’t Stop These Magical Girls
- Episode 12: Magical Torture, Pain and the Unending War
- Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.