And The Award For Creepiest Visuals of the Week Goes To…

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

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.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 3

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.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 3

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.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 3

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
Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka Vol. 1

Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.

11 thoughts on “And The Award For Creepiest Visuals of the Week Goes To…

  1. I can’t help but laugh at seeing your article in the reader’s preview images showing vague shadowy figures and gore, then all of a sudden girls in swimsuits. Made me think THAT was the creepiest visual XD

  2. Personally, I found the school scenes with Kurumi to be the most intriguing stuff from this episode. Being the “healer type” in these stories tends to have certain stereotypes associated with it (kind, gentle, empathetic, etc.), but what we saw of her interactions with the other girls didn’t really play into those stereotypes. On the contrary, her treatment of Asuka and especially Sayako didn’t show any kind of empathy for their issues at all. And then there was the way she got so abruptly angry over Nozomi’s innocent comment about magical girls saving people, so that Asuka had to briefly restrain her, when if anything you would’ve expected those roles to be reversed. It’s more “show don’t tell” stuff like you talked about, but it definitely made me curious to know more about Kurumi and what her deal is.

    1. Kurumi is shaping up to be an interesting addition to the cast and I’m also looking forward to finding out more about her. I’m hoping it isn’t as simple as seriously crushing on Asuka and there’s a bit more to it.

      1. True. If it turns out she’s nothing more than a stock “clingy jealous girl,” that would definitely hurt my opinion of the series. But the writing’s been good enough so far that I’m (guardedly) trusting them to develop her better than that.

  3. This is sounding good enough to put in my queue. But – I was spoiled by Madoka. Every dark magical girl show stands in its shadow.

    1. So far this one has managed to kind of be its own thing. It isn’t being dark for the sake of it and seems to be doing a good job building up the characters. I’m hoping it manages to keep going strong until the end of the season though it could all just become a mess as well. I’m going to stay hopeful at this point.

  4. I get what you’re saying about the recap! I found myself getting a bit fidgety, too! But at least it’s not as bad as Naruto used to be back in the day. I felt a lot of episodes were 50% recap!

    I really like your last screen cap. Check out their posture! Each young woman is sitting perfectly to express her character. I love that kind of detail.

    1. They are doing a great job with character in this story and it is one of the things that makes this feel just a little bit more than just another dark take on magical girls. Hopefully they manage to continue to do a great job with character right until the end of the season (though I am still a bit worried about the villains of the piece coming off a little one-note).

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