Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Review
Nozomi is pretty much in a horrible situation made worse by bureaucracy that is worried about relationships and power struggles rather than saving her life. This isn’t easy to watch and at the end of the day I’m still feeling like the villains really need more motive than what they’ve been given. Perhaps there’s a grand plan but it isn’t overly clear yet so this just seems like pain for pain’s sake.
Which is something this anime had tip-toed around previously but avoided. It had heaped pain upon the characters but there always seemed like a sound narrative reason, whereas the torture sequence here with Abigail grinning over it while she holds her camera just feels very much unnecessary. We’ve seen enough already in this anime to know the stakes are high so just seeing the set up in the room would have been sufficient to create a sense of urgency and terror without actually witnessing the torture of a young girl. While some anime show too little to really create a sense of menace, this one had already firmly established what could happen. We could have figured it out. Ultimately it just ends up being an uncomfortable viewing experience.
More interesting though is what is happening in the background with the father desperately trying to get permission to rescue his daughter but being blocked by bickering factions. It is far too believable and fairly tragic that the girl’s life isn’t the number one priority from the point of view of organisations that apparently exist to protect people. More time on this angle would have really been appreciated as it made this somewhat fantastical situation feel very grounded in our reality.
Less pleasing is the lack of planning by Kurumi and Asuka before charging in to the rescue. Equally, the villains still don’t have much in the way of a clear objective. Abigail has said she wants to capture a magical girl alive and there’s some scheme there but details are scarce and mostly the villains seem kind of foolish. It will be interesting to see if there’s more going on here or if the villains really are just going to remain cackling lunatics.
I’ll admit, this episode took some of the shine of this series by focusing on the pain rather than the impact of it and by not really giving enough attention to motives and characters. That said, it isn’t a train wreck and provided it leads somewhere this could still be quite compelling. We’ll see what it does next.
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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
- Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.