Is Destroying the World Actually A Decent Motive?

Current Feature 2

Destroying the world, eh?

Villains, and particularly badly written villains, are a dime a dozen. They crop up as a main plot point, part of a sub-plot, or just as a minor diversionary secondary character all over the place. And quite often they seem motivated simply to take down the protagonist. Why they want to do this is largely explained away by some slight or basic jealousy but doesn’t really hold up to a lot of scrutiny about the excessive nature of their actions.

Then we have the type of villain that just wants to destroy the world.

I wonder what it is about destroying the world that villains find so appealing?

When I first discovered anime, Sailor Moon in particular, the fact that Beryl wanted to rule the Earth didn’t seem at all problematic. As you get older though, you realise that when Beryl states she wants to rule the earth, she actually means she wants to suck the energy out of everyone on Earth and there won’t be anything left, pretty much what happened to the Moon Kingdom and we all know what a dead rock the moon looks like these days.

Super Beyl - destroying the world is her goal, only she actually wants to rule it so how does that work?

So what exactly was Beryl hoping to get out of all of this even if she succeeded? You could argue that Beryl wasn’t exactly in control of her own actions and was being used, but what did that higher power get out of any of this? Sure they absorb a lot of energy and then have huge amounts of power but the power isn’t a means to an end. Gaining that power is the end. What do they do then when there is no one left to absorb power from and they don’t even have any henchmen left because they killed them all off too? What’s left?

And then the next four seasons of Sailor Moon gave us increasingly hostile villains with motives that made even less sense.

I get that from a narrative point of view having Sailor Moon defending the earth from destruction gives the hero a great motive and makes the overall stakes quite high. However the villain seems to get little out of the deal even if they succeed. While one or two of the villains legitimately had a grudge with the planet and genuinely wanted to take it down, the majority seemed to just want power to rule but in the process they were going to destroy the very thing they wanted to take over.

Moving on from Sailor Moon, there are a lot of anime villains out there that seem to want to destroy the world. From the ridiculous Planetary Gears in Captain Earth:


These guys again didn’t really have much of a plan and it turns out it wasn’t even their plan. They were also just tools being used by another higher power that also wanted to destroy the world for reasons that were even less clear. Then again, the fact that they were called ‘gears’ probably should have made it clear that they weren’t the mastermind in the story.

What is even more tragic about Captain Earth is how often the villain’s got incredibly close to succeeding at their plan. All life on earth could have been snuffed in an instant because some teenagers didn’t pilot a robot good enough or worse… the inter-agency fighting could have prevented them from even launching a defence and we would have been killed by bureaucracy. That would have had a definite message as a story but I doubt we’d find that a satisfying conclusion.

However we also have the equally ridiculous student council in Cute High Earth Defense Club:


“The earth will fall to ruin.” You mean the earth you are currently standing on? I mean, I guess they thought they’d get to go live wherever the weird hedgehog guy came from so at least there was the potential for another place to go, but still… was there nothing on the planet that they liked? Seriously, I’d keep the planet around for chocolate even if nothing else could convince me not to destroy it. And there’s a lot of other things worth saving. Love if we are going with the Fifth Element solution. Anime, for those of you who like me are obsessed with it.


To the slightly more serious attempts at actually ruling the earth and becoming a god found in Death Note:


At least Light wasn’t trying to blow anything up. He was just purging all the people who lived in a way he disagreed with. The rationale makes a lot more sense even if he is still a psychotic murderer in the end.

I wonder if they actually know how much effort it would take to rule the world? Or if they have thought through what will happen once they destroy the planet they are standing on?

It’s very hard to take villains with such a grandiose vision seriously because it just seems so improbable. Far scarier are the villains with clear and concrete plans that you can actually see happening. Villains who are cold and calculating and absolutely rational are terrifying and can add far more tension to a plot than that maniacal “I’m going to destroy the world” declaration followed by the obligatory villains’ laugh.

Then again, frequently villains don’t exist in plots to add tension or fear. They are regularly just there to make the protagonist act. For that purpose their motive could be anything and it wouldn’t matter as long as our protagonist objected strongly enough to try to stop them. Wouldn’t that bruise the ego of most villains.

“Sorry, you only exist as a catalyst for someone else’s actions. Your plans will never come to fruition and any success you experience will be fleeting.”

Of course, all of this only applies in stories that have a binary opposition of hero and villain and they are clearly defined in terms of black and white. There are plenty of stories out there that don’t have a clear villain or hero.

My question this week: If you were a supervillain, what would your end goal be? Or, what do you think of the goals of some of anime’s best known supervillains?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Breaking Down The Magical Girl Genre – Or Going on a Nostalgia Trip


Those of us who have grown up on stories of pink and sparkling transforming girls kind of have a shared understanding of why magical girls are awesome. When we meet someone else who was watching Sailor Moon as a kid or teen we instantly geek out over which scout was our favourite and then we discuss the rest.

We know all the titles: Sailor Moon, Card Captor, Shugo Chara, and so on (there are a lot of magical girl anime out there).

We also know the parodies: Cute High Earth Defence and Is This A Zombie.

We know the darker magical girl shows that are starting to emerge: Madoka Magica and every following magical girl show.

We make our own lists of favourite magical girl shows and discuss the benefits of different costumes, attacks and hair styles. Honestly, it is really fun being in love with the whimsy of magical girl stories.

But why are magical girls so popular when essentially every one of these stories (whether it is trying to be cute, fun, funny, or deadly serious) is kind of identical at its core?

You wanted a pink magical girl anime?

To really get into this genre of anime I’m going to break the post up into a few part

  • Firstly, what is the basic narrative structure of a magical girl story?
  • Secondly, who are the basic characters and what is with character transformations?
  • Thirdly, what about the magic itself?

A lot of these questions will be addressed in part 2 or part 3.

Keep in mind, everything here after is my own opinion and I am a crazy Sailor Moon fan so  I doubt I’m going to be as critical of this genre as I would need to be to actually pull it apart.


1 – The Basic Narrative

I don’t know how many magical girl shows you have watched but with few exceptions they start the same way. My main examples are coming from Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura but I’m trying to keep the information generic.

Usually there is some kind of hook. A look back at some ancient catastrophe or a puzzling dream that is suggesting some disaster in the future. While this is usually great for grabbing your audience’s attention and gives a frame for the narrative as a whole, it serves a greater purpose.

Most of the first episode of these shows will feature very little actual magic and usually it isn’t until the end of the first episode that our magical girl will actually do anything magical so this is kind of the only chance to show off something supernatural and cool in the first half of the episode. It also gives a more serious tone to what might otherwise seem like a fairly frivolous show.

Sailor Moon being sent to earth to become a magical girl legend.
After the destruction of the Moon Kingdom they were all sent to earth.
Sakura dreaming of her future as the ultimate magical girl.
Sakura dreams of a mysterious girl and wonders what it could mean.

After hooking our attention we then meet our protagonist usually waking up and frequently late for school because they are inevitably still a student and somewhat of a flake – okay that is less true in the last fifteen years than it was in the 90’s but clichés exist for a reason.

Regardless, we meet our very ordinary school girl doing very ordinary things. Usually there is a dressing sequence (putting on a school uniform, adjusting their hair, putting on their  knee pads – nope that one was just Sakura because she fell victim to the roller blading craze poor dear).

Madoka Magica would have made an amazing Magical Girl
Madoka may have actually included some characterisation and a touching moment with a parent in her dressing sequence, but she still had a prepping for school sequence.

Then we go to school. This is where the shows start branching out but there are a few commonalities.

The basics of the first episode include introducing the ‘normal’ friends who may or may not ever be involved in the magical side of the story. We learn what our protagonists are good at and what their insecurities are (in a highly manufactured fashion – Serena tossing her exam paper over her shoulder and hitting Darien highlighting both her lack of school ability and social skills in one quick scene).

We learn that deep down inside this girl is a good person despite all of their faults and absolute ordinariness. These are all very important things to know if the story is going to hold together.

Amu isn't putting up with anyone's nonsense - and don't dress her up like a magical girl.
Amu is all about her image even though she knows it keeps her isolated from her classmates.

Because then things change.

If we didn’t spend all of this time establishing a base line for our character would we know or care about how magic changed their life and the strain it put on their ordinary existence? And how could we know about their incredible development as a character unless we had a starting point?

The catalyst for change can be more or less anything (as proven in the parody Cute High Earth Defence when it is a pink wombat from space that gives the boys their magic powers). Cards, eggs, rings, brooches, wands, and more or less anything else you can imagine (that would make for good product placement and something pretty you can sell people – oh that’s just me being cynical, never mind).

Sometimes they tie it up with destiny (you were reborn or chosen) but other times it is convenience of circumstance. You’re here, you can activate this, go. Almost always this coincides with a villain attacking for reasons that will later be endlessly explained – don’t worry. It might also be worth noting the number of talking animal and mascot characters that are involved in this catalyst for change.

Cute High Earth Defense Club - Poor wombat.
Being the mascot character in a parody show is not all it is cracked up to be.

Normally our protagonists then go through a few different emotions (usually in very rapid succession). Denial, incredulity, acceptance. Must admit, our modern magical girls have learned from their predecessors. They are less likely to take the talking cat at face value because they know that the whole magical girl thing isn’t all its cracked up to be. Plus, those outfits are pretty embarrassing.

Ikuto - another victim of magical girl fashion even if he isn't a magical girl.
Not a magical girl but you can tell Ikuto would like to kill the person who designed that outfit.

There’s usually a fight sequence of some sort and then we can get onto the next episode. It’s interesting how most magical girl shows fall into a bit of a rhythm at first. Normal day, monster appears, fight it, defeat it, back to normal day.

During this time, we see our characters grown and develop and learn about their powers, new characters and rules are introduced and all of the logic behind the show is firmly established and they better not break their own rules later.

What also happens in most of these shows is the lore is being established. Who are the good guys and why do they fight? Who are the villains and why are they attacking? And the whole sequence may seem repetitive but it is gradually ramping up to a point where it can get away from character and world building and into the story itself without having to stop for explainers (the final pivotal reveals are of course held off for later – like how the Moon Kingdom was actually destroyed got its own episode right before the final battle sequence).

Madoka was a visual trip but still pretty cool. Magical Girl anime have to have stellar visuals.
Madoka didn’t have long to establish its rhythm but still managed to cover this essential plot element.

At some point, even the frilliest of magical girl shows will start to take a turn for the darker side. Maybe that villain is unkillable, maybe someone got hurt, maybe the protagonist loses their confidence or their resolve, or maybe things just got a lot more dangerous, but for shows that generally begin all cuteness and light they inevitably turn dark.

Not Tuxedo Mask again. Magical Girls, go save him.
And it’s amazing how many times it involves the love interest – boyfriend in distress much.

This gives the audience another chance to rally behind our heroes as they prepare for a final battle where the stakes have been made very real. The result of the final battle may be a foregone conclusion but you still sit on a knife’s edge hoping your favourite characters make it through unscathed (though by season 3 of Sailor Moon the scouts death’s have ceased to have a whole lot of impact).

And there we have a magical girl narrative. With that basic structure you could even argue that Soul Eater (with it’s heavy focus on Maka) is actually more akin to a magical girl story than an action or supernatural story. Though, Maka at least fights with more than pretty coloured lights and sparkles but we’ll save that for our discussion on characters and magic.

So, what did  I miss? What are your thoughts on magical girls in anime?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Series Review: Will They Just Let The Franchise End Now?


How much mileage can you get out of a parody concept of magical boys who don’t really want to save the world? Well, this franchise has asked that question again and again but if there is one thing Happy Kiss has taught me, it is that Cute High Earth Defense Club Whatever needs to just stop now.



On watching the original Cute High Earth Defense Club series I was sceptical but ended up pleasantly surprised that despite the formulaic monster of the week approach, it actually did a pretty solid job as a magical girl parody and it gave us enough interesting dialogue and random conversations between the boys to make it worth the while. It didn’t amaze me but I had a reasonably good time with it. Then we had a sequel. Which I didn’t finish. And an OVA. Which I didn’t watch. Most recently we were introduced to Happy Kiss with a whole new group of boys and I decided, probably poorly, to give the show another go. After all, it was a comedy show I’d finished a season of. It couldn’t be that bad.

And that assessment is probably right. It isn’t that bad, but neither is it particularly good. While the first episode has flashes of those intriguingly random musing between the boys and each character in the new group could potentially be interesting, as the season progresses you will realises that this series has absolutely nothing to say. While the first season was undeniably a parody and some of the monsters were truly inconsequential it still offered up some half-decent social commentary and just some random food for thought. Happy Kiss brings nothing to the table other than the tongue in cheek apathy of the main cast and giving the audience a knowing look asking us to find it hilarious as they bemoan yet another transformation sequence.


But even then they couldn’t commit with the final episodes seeing boys joining forces with the henchmen of the previously evil brother and willingly throwing themselves into a fight against a suddenly propped up villain that the audience has legitimately no reason to care about. So the boys didn’t even manage to be consistent in their apathy.

Actually, I do have a couple of positives. I mean, I did get through the entire season so it isn’t like it is an unwatchable steaming pile of overcooked spinach.


Firstly, I kind of loved the song that they played every single time the boys used their final attack. Well I say final attack but generally it the only one because mostly they just kind of made stupid comments until Karl (the talking otter who is actually a prince) tells them its time to make everyone happy and then they attack. But the song is pretty infectious and it definitely got stuck in my head every single week.

The other thing I really enjoyed was that at least the main characters called the villains on the pathetic nature of their complaint. It was something I always wished the Sailor Scouts would do when someone gave in to something really petty and transformed into a monster.


Outside of those two things though, there isn’t a lot to love about Happy Kiss. The cast don’t develop at all, the rivalry between the Defense Club and the Student Council seems forced and doesn’t really go anywhere until near the end and then it is kind of just over, and even the two princes don’t really do much more than repeat their formulaic lines week after week.

I’d honestly say that you would be better off watching the original than this if you’ve never watched anything in the franchise. The writing is undeniably better and more amusing. I’m clearly not recommending this anime and I’m kind of hoping this is where the franchise stops but somehow I doubt it.

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Karandi James


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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 12: Another Cash Grab Ends


If I ever get around to writing a list of most pointlessly depressing sequels and follow ups, Happy Kiss is most definitely ending up on it. From start to finish this was pretty uninspired and pointless, and this final might as well not exist.


I should have realised that final episode or not, this anime never had anything more to say than tell someone they aren’t unhappy and then sing a bit before zapping them into a bath and everything will be solved. That’s literally what we watched for 12 episodes and the final boss fight doesn’t vary from this routine at all except that the song takes longer and the boys use their magic sticks as pseudo microphones while the tin soldiers dance. It’s a little depressing to be honest.


And while the student council and Kyotaro’s group now seem to all be getting along, we kind of realised that there wasn’t any reason for them not to be other than stupidity in the first place. Where earlier seasons of this franchise had a little bit of cleverness to them and some amusing observations, outside of the first two episodes, this iteration delivered nothing other than formulaic drivel. On the bright side, at least it is over now. At least until we get the ‘Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Super Love’ spin-off which almost sure to be the next cash grab for the franchise.

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Karandi James


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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 11: He’s That Upset Over That?


While I’m kind of used to this show trivialising things, particularly motivations, finally finding out the cause of Ata’s deep rooted resentment was even more vapid than I had suspected. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss has one more episode and then I will fortunately say goodbye to this one.


The whole season has seen Ata glaring daggers at the more or less oblivious Kyotaro and really I’ve just wanted him to get over it from the start. However, if it had at least been based on some kind of rel trauma or slight that might have made it bearable. But no. Instead it turns out Ata is just a petulant child blaming others for his own shortcomings and interpreting everything as a slight so that he can continue to feed his petty hatred. And while this in itself may have made for an interesting character exploration, it hasn’t been explored. It was screamed at us during an over the top boss fight and then resolved in more or less an instant, except that it isn’t because Kyotaro once again ran off and left Ata.


Really this continuation continues to be pretty vapid and pointless with characters who have ended up fairly uninspired. The one hope is that the return to Karls’ home might make for an interesting final episode at least, but I won’t hold my breath.

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Karandi James


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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 10: The Silver Lining


Well, the one thing I consistently liked about this anime, the song they use when transforming the monsters back, was butchered this weak by the geriatric versions of the cast. I’d call it quits but I’m thinking there’s only like two episodes left.


There was something that could have been quite funny about this episode. The situation is so inherently ridiculous and while the boys transformations are funny enough, having the old versions of them transforming could have been pretty laughable. Instead, this all feels very lazy. From the slap dash and fairly uninspired interaction in the bath before that serves as a clumsy lead in to the theme of the episode, to the presidents rising anger, everything is all just kind of obvious and lacking in any kind of depth. And while over the top and obvious can work, here is just seems like we’re going through the motions because we can.


I’ve mentioned before that the dialogue was something I really liked about the first season of this franchise, but with the exception of the first couple of episodes, Happy Kiss has just not delivered anything even close. The characters have inane conversations and they are just inane. There isn’t any subtlety or interesting points to pull apart. The villains are poorly thought out and realised and not even in a parody kind of way. They are just badly done. The only light shining here is that we finally broke formula at the end of the episode so maybe something vaguely interesting might happen next week.

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Karandi James


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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 9: Roll the Dice


While this isn’t the worst episode of this anime, that isn’t exactly a resounding recommendation as we continue to get no plot development and a formulaic approach that has already worn out its welcome.

Try that defence in court.

It is festival time at the school and the club have to come up with a compelling activity because… reasons. Something about the student council being annoyed at them if they don’t. Given the council are annoyed at them anyway I’m not sure why. Something about their attendance was mentioned, but they would be at school anyway even if they did nothing. So no compelling motivation really other than festival episode.


Then we get a series of set ups and punch lines that most revolve around putting the boys in positions that could be deliberately misconstrued for amusement purposes I guess. Maybe someone found it amusing. What really drives the nail into the coffin on this episode though is that even the villain realises he serves no purpose and doesn’t fight. At all. He stands, waits for them to transform, and then they change him back. Done. No fight at all.


Linked Reviews:


  1. Episode 8: Endless Summer, Endless Formula
  2. Episode 7: The Less Said
  3. Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat
  4. Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?
  5. Episode 3: Ridiculous Villains Here
  6. Episode 2: The Hero’s Indifference
  7. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss First Impressions
  8. Cute High Earth Defense Club Series Review

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 8: Endless Summer, Endless Formula


While we’re sticking true to pattern with this episode, it at least did have a few chuckles along the way and turning the usual anime summer antics on their head was kind of entertaining even if nothing else really changed.


When the most remarkable thing about episode seven was that I managed to review it in exactly 100 words, episode eight of this parody anime didn’t have a high bar to jump over to be considered better. And it is better but better in this instance is not synonymous with good. Let’s be honest, I don’t enjoy most of the normal summer anime activities so watching Kotaro shoot most of them down with logical reasons why they won’t be fun was pretty entertaining in its own way even if the story itself didn’t notably improve.


Once again, we have a villain of the week dealing with some petty personal problem and seriously over-reacting. What makes it worse is that he’s kind of idiotic in his decision making even before he gets transformed into a monster by the student council. So yeah, not a lot to recommend here though still a bit more entertaining than last week.

Linked Reviews:

  1. Episode 7: The Less Said
  2. Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat
  3. Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?
  4. Episode 3: Ridiculous Villains Here
  5. Episode 2: The Hero’s Indifference
  6. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss First Impressions
  7. Cute High Earth Defense Club Series Review

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episodes 7: The Less Said


Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss = make one episode and relocated it 5 times.


This franchise had most definitely run dry with ideas and this latest version is clearly just a cash grab rather than an inspired redeployment of creativity. Seriously, Team Rocket (aka the student council) need a new battle plan already and the main cast were seriously devoid of even vaguely interesting dialogue this week which is about the one saving grace this anime had.


But I’m not going to argue this episode was demonstrably worse than any other. It isn’t. What it is however, is more of the same without any flair to set it apart from its basic formulaic premise.

And just a fun note, I managed to review it in exactly 100 words. All I need is an episode that does nothing and I can hit the target without going excessively over.


Linked Reviews:

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat


I get that magical girl anime are formulaic at times, but a parody needs to do more than replay over and over again. We get the joke already.



This episode served as further evidence that the less actual plot an episode provides, the more likely we are to get a full transformation sequence. In the villain of the week’s defence, he was pretty useless and his attacks were pretty much brushed off like water off a duck’s back. And even before transforming, the character in question was certainly one of the more pathetic we’ve seen thus far.


But rather than bemoaning the samey nature of this episode after the last couple, I kind of liked the dialogue earlier in the episode. There were some genuinely funny moments, some good timings in the responses, and an oddly passionate declaration of why purple is a pretty good colour. It adds to the overall watchability of an anime that really shouldn’t be all that entertaining as it milks a very narrow band of humour for the third season in a row.

Linked Reviews:

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz