Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 5 Review
There’s always a little bit of a problem when an anime tries to have its cake and eat it as well. So far one of the strengths of this series has been its desire to look straight at the trauma of war and the mark it leaves on those who fight in them, particularly when the participants are quite young girls. This week they at first do an exceptional job with Nozomi and the lasting impact of her capture, and then, after making their point, erase the memory and essentially reset her character. While there are implications going forward given she’s still a target, it felt like the anime just could commit to its own theme in this instance and wanted to just move things along.
That said, that moment comes on the back of what is a fairly impressive and interesting series of fights. Asuka vs the two magical mercenaries is a fun battle of tactics as the two double team her and each one uses their strengths to compensate for the holes in the other’s defence. It forces Asuka to go for a brute force approach which again, may have had some implications later except that the villain just kind of runs away later. Asuka was more or less out of magical juice and couldn’t have broken free but there’s some other plot going on that the audience still has no insight into (though clearly there’s a connection between the Queen and Asuka so I guess we’ll wait for tragic back-story flashback time).
Kurumi’s fight isn’t as visually impressive as it mostly involves her getting pounded as Abby not only transforms into a magical girl but also pulls out two Halloween Class monstrosities. In Kurumi’s defence, she’s a back-line support character and a pretty impressive one, and she does manage a fairly decent fight here she’s just out-numbered and out-classed. Still, she does deal a heavy amount of damage, even taking out one of the opponents despite the circumstances.
But, we’re still left with the noise in the background here. We still don’t know what the terrorists are actually after, which may help explain why the Queen just kind of picks up Abby and runs off. We don’t know what the different organisations want, though they are clearly fine with continuing to use Nozomi as bait for future encounters which makes it hard to get behind the government agencies as the ‘good guys’ in this plot. It’s also kind of hard to like Kurumi when she’s clearly projecting her own vision of Asuka onto Asuka and isn’t going to let her hero play any other role.
Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka continues to be interesting and has some solid ideas. It also seems to have found a good balance between being a dark magical girl story and actually dealing responsibly with the fall out of those darker moments, even if Nozomi is going to be spared the memory of being tortured. However, there’s still a lot of connections that are missing and it will really depend on how these come together as to whether this one ends up being a solid entry into the Magical Girl genre or just another title trying to ride the coat-tails of those that have come before.
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POKEMON X TAMAGOTCHI: EEVEE X TAMAGOTCHI COLORFUL FRIENDS VER.
- Series Review: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka
- 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.
7 thoughts on “Magical Trauma and Political Intrigue a Plenty”
“I guess we’ll wait for tragic back-story flashback time”
I’ve seen a theory bandied about – we’ve already seen the flashback… The Queen is Francine. Not a theory that makes a lot sense (I’ve seen no explanation why a reborn Francine would go rogue), but I thought I’d toss it out there.
“which makes it hard to get behind the government agencies as the ‘good guys’ in this plot”
Unless they’re playing the “moral ambiguity” card. “Good guys doing bad things to a good end”.
I’ve seen the theory that the Queen is Francine and sure it works I guess but they are going to need to do a lot of work to make her motive make sense (though that is what is missing, a motive for the villains). It isn’t as though we’ve met many other characters for her to be so it is a sound working theory but one that isn’t yet satisfying without further info.
And moral ambiguity is fine but again, we just don’t have enough information yet about what the villains are trying to accomplish to make any kind of real judgement just yet.
“This week they at first do an exceptional job with Nozomi and the lasting impact of her capture, and then, after making their point, erase the memory and essentially reset her character.”
I started out feeling that way. Now I’m wondering: Yeah, she avoided the trauma; but she lost some valuable memories, too. It’s like she’s become a narrative counterweight to Sayako. Nozomi’s cheerfulness was pretty expensive.
“She’s a little annoyed by their interruption.”
You deserve understatement of the week for this!
“In Kurumi’s defence, she’s a back-line support character and a pretty impressive one, and she does manage a fairly decent fight here she’s just out-numbered and out-classed.”
Contrast this to her showing against a single enhanced Halloween class Disas earlier in the season. Is this an artifact of Asuka’s influence? Kurumi has been a different person since this operation started: focused and utterly committed.
“However, there’s still a lot of connections that are missing…”
I can’t argue this point. The Queen needs to have some compelling motivation here.
You know what’d be cool? If the Queen channels ‘YUKI YUNA IS A HERO.’ If her motivation was her reaction to be used and discarded.
“Yeah, thanks for your service, sorry you’re dead.”
That would rock.
There’s a lot of possibilities for the villain’s motives but this has so far been playing them a little too close to the chest making them just seem kind of random. And the Queen not taking out Asuka, Kurumi and the military guys when she clearly could is probably going to go down in the villain’s hall of fame as yet another villain far too confident in their ability and letting the good guys live long enough to stop them. Admittedly, she may want Asuka alive for something, certainly kind of seems that way, but mostly it just seemed like a stupid play.
I want my memory erased. And replaced with happy bubbles and rainbows, if you please.
I’ve really fallen behind on this and neverland. Didn’t read due to spoilers :P.