Top 5 Magical Girl Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

Welcome to another top 5 list for Tuesday and this week I am counting down my favourite magical girl anime, mostly inspired by how much I’ve been enjoying Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka (while not perfect, it has been quite fun as a darker magical girl series). I’m not convinced I haven’t already done this but if I did I can’t find it so let’s all just go with this is the first time I’ve put this into a top 5 list.

Now magical girl anime and I have a real nostalgia thing going on as some of these were the shows that got me into anime and they really stuck with me. While there are some more recent entries in the list, the nostalgia is strong with this one.

With that in mind, I’d love to know what magical girl anime are your favourites and why. Is it something a bit older that reminds you of your childhood or are you into some of the more recent entries into the genre. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Honourable Mentions: Kamichama Karin

This one is a bit of a weird one, but for whatever reason I kind of got stuck on it a few years ago and I’ve binge watched it a couple of times since. While it doesn’t stand out as much as some of the other entries on this list, it is a fairly functional magical girl show and it is very easy to get caught up in it and lose track of time.

Number 5: Is This A Zombie

It feels weird to give the number 5 spot to a comedy anime about a male zombie character who manages to acquire the power of a magical girl and then undergoes a transformation into a cute pink dress complete with chainsaw. I do love that as his power level rises the frilliness and flowery add-ons on the dress get even more over the top. It is a great jab at some of the impractical magical girl costumes out there.

Whichever way, when I think about magical girls, there is literally no way to not think about Ayumu so that is why he got the number 5 spot on the list even though technically he’s a zombie who is borrowing magical girl powers.

Number 4: Madoka Magica

The only ‘dark’ magical girl story that made it onto my list. What can I say? As much as I love horror and dark stories, when I got to watch a magical girl story I kind of go wanting something a little bit more sparkly. Madoka Magica managed to balance its darker subject matter with some really great magical girls, cool powers, and spectacular fight sequences in a way that while it was dark and serious, it still felt like a magical girl story and not a horror that just happened to feature magical girls right before they got slaughtered. I really did enjoy Madoka Magica and it is another anime I regularly binge watch.

Number 3: Cardcaptor Sakura

Despite the heavily edited version of this that I saw originally, complete with a truly terrible English OP, I really did get caught by the plot of Cardcaptor Sakura so when I was older and I could access a translated but less edited version of it, I jumped at the chance to watch this anime again. Syaoran and Sakura are beautiful in the leading roles and I just love how cute and happy this anime is.

While Sakura doesn’t include some magical girl tropes, no spinning costume transformations, Sakura actually has to change clothes if she wants to wear one of her friends’ hand-made costumes, it very much captures the spirit of Magical Girl anime and is an excellent started anime if you have kids you want to introduce to something without worrying too much about some of the anime tropes out there.

Number 2: Shugo Chara

Another super adorable, super pink Magical Girl anime. This one grabbed me because of Amu. She’s got such a mismatch between her inner and outer personality and I love how she struggles with figuring out who she is, particularly when she has so many guardian characters with each one presenting a different aspect of who she might be. While the overall plot of this one is a bit harder to take seriously, there are some really excellent character arcs for a lot of the cast and it ends up being a story well worth the effort of investing your time into.

Number 1: Sailor Moon

Did you expect anything else to top this list? I mentioned at the start that this was a nostalgia fuelled list in the first place and Sailor Moon is the starting place for me and anime so of course it was always going to be number 1. Serena and the Sailor Scouts are characters I grew up loving and I don’t think anything is going to change that anytime soon.

While Sailor Moon villains might border on the idiotic or ridiculous, the core cast remain full of heart and life and if you want cute costumes and pretty sparkles, Sailor Moon has you covered. Also, some darker moments and real danger which certainly pushed beyond what a lot of ‘girls’ TV shows were doing when it came out.

So that is my list of my favourite magical girl shows. I’d love to know yours.

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

Breaking Down The Magical Girl Genre – Going Their Own Way

Alright, if you missed part one or part two, definitely check them out first and then let’s talk about magical girls.

Let’s wrap up this mini-series of posts (though I am definitely going to revisit the subject matter at some point because really nowhere near enough has been said).

What about the exceptions within the magical girl genre.

And why no magical boys (or not really the same kind of magical)?

While there are a few modern exceptions, I actually want to look at a more classic ‘magical girl’ that kind of does things her own way, and that’s Sakura from Card Captor. And already I hear people saying she defines magical girl, what do you mean she’s an exception?

Cardcaptor Sakura gives us a non-transforming magical girl but still kind of tells the same story.

True, she becomes a Card Captor after Kero recruits her to recapture the cards she let loose and it was more or less her destiny to release the cards in the first place and she fights an array of silly villains while wearing fairly ridiculous outfits using a magical wand to summon cards to fight for her, so it all seems fairly normal for the magical girl genre.


However, there are a few distinctions.

Firstly, while her friends are most definitely dragged into the magical encounters Sakura has after becoming a Card Captor, with the exception of Syaoran Li, most of her friends do not have any power and don’t end up joining her back-up group.

In fact, Sakura pretty much fights solo for most of the series, occasionally assisted/hindered by Li and offered moral support by her best friend Tomoyo. Furthermore, Tomoyo doesn’t end up being the victim of the week every other episode, unlike Molly (the magic free friend of Sailor Moon).

The focus is heavy on school life rather than being a magical girl.

Secondly, Sakura doesn’t transform into a magical girl. She always has her magic powers whether she’s in her school uniform or one of Tomoyo’s creations. Every single ridiculous outfit Sakura ends up in she changes into willingly (or at least because her best friend is trying to help in her own way and Sakura doesn’t want to hurt her feelings).

So no magical girl outfit (and this right here could throw Card Captor’s right out of the genre entirely given how important transformation sequences are in other shows).

Sakura in one of her many outfits - a magical girl with a whole wardrobe.
I will admit, the outfits are pretty cute.

Thirdly, Sakura defeats the escaped cards and then uses them to fight and capture other cards. These villains have no grand plan to take over the world. They’re magic cards that have escaped and are running wild. Mostly they aren’t working together or plotting anything.

So no gloating villain sneering about how they will beat them next time. Instead, this is a fetch quest that got out of hand but serves as the background for Sakura’s growth as a human (even as her increased stash of cards makes her stronger).


The last point I want to make is that Syaoran is both a rival and a love interest. He battles with Sakura to be the Card Captor, though eventually is forced to bow out of the fight which is when he takes on a far more traditional role. This is a refreshing role for a male character in a magical girl genre because he has his own strengths and agenda outside of saving the girl so she can save the world.


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I’d love to know your favourite exception in the magical girl genre so please share below.

Onto the lack of an equivalent magical boys genre. While there are definitely anime boys out there with magic (think Fairy Tail etc) these aren’t magical boy anime. Generally they are actions or dramas. They are fast paced and usually full of a large number of characters who the protagonists can fight with and support.

grey-fullbuster - ice magic user from fairy tail.
Of course, Grey is brilliant as an ice-magic user but can you imagine is someone asked him to spin around and transform?

Of course, if magical boys was a thing you would have to wonder who the audience would be? As Cute High Earth Defence shows, just putting boys in silly outfits and making them go through the motions of a magical girl anime isn’t exactly compelling viewing, and even if they played it straight it would be hard to take it seriously.


As stated in part 2, a large part of the magical girl genre is about imparting messages about qualities that the audience should admire and work toward. These messages are already presented by male characters in shonen anime and a range of other avenues.

One could almost argue that the magical girl genre exists only to fill the void that existed for strong female characters who fight villains. They used magic as a way to overcome the traditional stereotype of weaker female and then gave the protagonists admirable personality traits (even if these only developed throughout the series).


So do magical girl series still have a place for modern audiences when there are now plenty of other shows and media that present stronger females?

Definitely. This is a genre that filled a gap but also carved out its own niche and will continue to develop and grow with the modern audience. The success of shows like Madoka Magica clearly show that there is still a large market for the magical girl, even if she has evolved a bit from the shiny and sparkly days when all she had to do was spin around occasionally and wave a wand.


That concludes this run of magical girl posts and I know I’ve barely touched the surface. Feel free to leave your comments, thoughts and suggestions below.

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

Breaking Down The Magical Girl Genre – Let’s Never Become a Magical Girl


If you missed the first post on Magical Girls be sure to check it out and then let’s get into part 2.

If she’s a magical girl, what powers does she have?

Right so we’re back to magical girls and I wanted to look at the characters and the magic powers that crop up in these stories. While this is where many of these stories differentiate themselves, there are still a lot of common factors between shows.

Alas, I am only going to be looking at the main characters from a handful of anime. There is too much content to get into side characters and villains (though I may do a post on those guys at some point – it won’t be in this series).

So who are our main contenders? Serena (Sailor Moon – original anime series), Amu (Shugo Chara), and Madoka (Madoka Magica).


Serena – The Ultimate Magical Girl?

How do we describe her?

Sailor Moon - yep she's a magical girl.
She’s a klutz.
Who over eats.
And she’s not particularly bright.
Wait, why did we get Serena to save the world again?
And she’s a cry baby.

Wow. It’s a good thing she likes cats and rescued Luna or else she was kind doomed as a character. Even her friends regularly run her down but they all agree on a couple of things. Serena is stubborn (and while that is sometimes a negative a certain amount of stubbornness is needed to not just give up on things) and she’s also happy most of the time and loyal to her friends.

As a magical girl, Serena’s path is a long one.

You have a long path to walk Serena. Take cookies. You'll become a magical girl for sure.

Her initial transformation aside, she struggles in the early battles to hold her nerve and to use her powers effectively. She regularly needs a pep talk from one of the scouts of Tuxedo Mask to get her moving again and while the threat doesn’t feel very real at times she’d rather let someone else take care of it.

However, as the danger intensifies and as Serena ‘grows up’ she begins to embrace her roles as the Moon Princess. Admittedly, it’s midway through season 2 before you see her settle on this and even then she is plagued by the occasional doubt about whether she’d just like to be ordinary.

Serena and Darien both grow into their roles together. Magical Girl and Boy couple goals.
Serena and Darien

Serena’s love story is integral to the overall plot as there’s a whole lovers in former lives issue and Serena and Darien’s love regularly saves the plot from falling apart by generating a much needed power boost or saves one or the other from what should be death.

While Darien’s presence is very much a positive for Serena’s development, he himself gets very little development or chance to take the lead. It’s a magical girl show so show up, give your speech and then wait on the sidelines until she requires some moral support. I always felt a bit sorry for Darien.

As to the magic itself, Sailor Moon relies heavily on devices. Transformations can be undone by removing brooches and powers rendered useless by knocking wands out of hands. The girls themselves seemingly cannot activate their power without these device and accessories (which makes you wonder how any of the villains ever lost to them when there was such an easy path to victory).

The device aside, Sailor Moon is the champion of shouting out attack names and key phrases for transformation in English. I wonder if shouting it louder made your power more impressive?

What about Amu’s Magical Girl cred?

Amu will not smile and will not willingly transform for you. Find another magical girl to pose.
I must not smile.

Amu is straight away a different character from Serena. She is cool and admired for being cool and aloof. However, that’s all her outer character and one she has deliberately established. The audience is let on to her inner monologue and uncertainties and we know she’d love to ooh over the cute things and gush at the prince.

And unlike Serena, Amu isn’t inherently a magical girl. Nope. She did not get reborn after dying tragically in a past life. Nor was she chosen by destiny. Apparently being indecisive and wishing for a change in your life is enough because Amu created her own magic, even if she regularly regrets it during the first part of the series.

What? You can’t see the difference? She now has a heart in her hair and she’s ridiculously over the top and exuberant.

Amu’s indecisiveness is crazy. She doesn’t just manifest one alternate personality in the form of a guardian character but three (later four but you know). This leads to a whole range of different transformations, though Amulet Heart is her main go to.

Amu is not amused by this magical girl transformation.
Yep, I’d look like that too if someone put me in a cheerleading outfit.

Keep in mind, this isn’t like Sailor Moon evolving in Super Sailor Moon or then becoming the Princess. These are entirely separate identities with totally different powers (more or less the same results though). And then later, of course, we start combining these powers and then things just get silly.

Where Amu is very similar to Serena is the journey she goes through as a character. She matures and stops worrying about petty things quite so much and stops complaining about things not being fair. She learns to just deal with things as they are and take them as they come. She also eventually gets over her ‘Prince’ crush though Ikuto probably had something to do with that.

amu and ikuto
Ikuto is definitely the best boy.

Seriously, who needs a Prince when you have a bad boy whose alternate self is a cat? And unlike Darien, Ikuto actually gets to play a more active role in the story. He stirs up the core group, acts as an antagonist, get’s close to Amu and then disappears leaving her to fret for his safety and try to save him. He (like Darien) also gets brainwashed and has to be saved but then hangs around for the final fight instead of ending up with amnesia in the hospital.

The magic here comes from their guardian spirits (which are like manifestations of their dreams). Problem is, these spirits live in eggs and they can get stolen, sealed shut, or broken. Way to shatter your dreams literally. It’s like someone gave you that thing at school where they make you care for an egg for a week, only in this case if you break your egg you will not only have no super powers but become an empty shell of a human being. Tragic.

Once transformed though, the characters generate weapons and magic appropriate to their character. When she’s the cheerleader, Amu uses a baton or pom-poms. When she’s the artist, she uses a paintbrush. As Su, she uses a whisk (so cute and yet so useless – except for remake, that’s a remarkably useful power for cleaning up supernatural messes).

I will point out that I spent a lot of time when I was younger trying to make a heart shape with my fingers like Amu and I am still convinced it is actually impossible to position your hands the way she does and end up with a clear heart. You can put your fingers together but it really doesn’t look particularly heart like.


Lastly, the girl who didn’t become a Magical Girl – Madoka.

Finally, we have Madoka. And I know, she isn’t a magical girl until the very end of the series. That’s why she’s included. We have the traditional magical girl (Serena), the slightly more modern and self-aware magical girl (Amu) and now we have the not a magical girl and hesitant to become one because it could cause you to die.

Madoka knows being a magical girl is not all it is cracked up to be.

That’s not the only reason Madoka is interesting. She also has no love interest. She saves the romance angst for her best friends to deal with. All Madoka has to deal with is her rampant insecurity because she feels she has no special… oh wait. She is a modern version of Serena with the self-awareness of Amu. Now the pink pony-tails make sense.

Still, the magical girl transformation is definitely impressive – they do make you wait all season for it. And her power is pretty undeniable (she recreates the entire lore by which magic works). Similar to Amu, her power is based on an inner wish, but in this case manifests by making a contract with the dev…

Oh no, just Kyuubey. Close enough. Once a wish is made the magical girls get a soul gem that enables them to transform and then their power is kind of linked to their wish. Though watch out, if you get too far away from your soul gem, well you have no soul. This isn’t a good state to be in as it pretty much leaves you dying in a coma.


I said their power was kind of linked because it’s a little odd. Madoka though has a bow and arrow, because arrows are cool nowadays, but she has the overly frilly dress of someone who grew up on a rich diet of what a magical girl should look like. It’s almost on par with the parody outfit from Is This A Zombie?

Let’s be honest. None of these girls are going to hold their own in a straight up swordfight. Serena will trip, Amu will be sarcastic and Madoka will wring her hands together in distress as she tries to think of a way to help (though which side she would help is debatable). But what these girls do possess:

  • Loyalty,
  • Honesty, and
  • Perseverance

These characteristics are not bestowed on them by mystic eggs, lockets or creepy bunny things. These are traits they have developed through their lives and are traits that allow them to overcome the trials and hardships they face. And that’s the core of magical girl stories. These characters.

For just a little while you can believe that you don’t need to be smart or athletic or particularly talented at anything as long as you keep working hard and growing you will one day triumph.

And yeah I’ve missed a huge amount of points and ideas and haven’t even touched on the other cast members (friends and foes alike) but the post is already long enough so I’m calling it. Please feel free to add your points and argument below.

Be sure to check out part 3.

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

Top 5 Amazing Supporting Characters In Magical Girl Anime

Top 5 Amazing Supporting Characters In Magical Girl Anime

There are a lot of magical girl anime out there and some amazing protagonists that get shimmering transformations and attack sequences. However in this post I want to look at some of the supporting characters who may or may not also be magical girls but are certainly not granted main-character plot immunity. These are memorable characters who really help elevate the story and potentially the actual protagonist to heights they may not have reached had this character not been around.

I did limit myself to one supporting character per show so while I could potentially just have found five awesome supporting characters from Sailor Moon, I have limited myself to just the one.

Who are my top 5 amazing supporting characters from magical girl anime?


With all that said though, I would absolutely love to hear your favourite supporting characters from magical girl anime so be sure to leave a comment below.

Number 5: Tama

Tama - Supporting character from magical girl anime

Tama is the LRIG owned by main character Ruuko in Selector Infected Wixoss. Unlike other LRIG’s, Tama seems pretty innocent and actually fairly harmless however her infant like demeaner changes dramatically when put into a fight. Throughout the various Wixoss stories, Tama has continued to appear and her story actually ends up overtaking that of most of the protagonists and magical girls. There’s a supporting character that knew she was destined for stardom.

Number 4: Eru and Iru

Shugo Eru Iru

While not a single character per se it would be hard to split the angel and devil pair from Shugo Chara. The two characters are born from Utau and assist the singer in her performances providing either healing or enslavement as required. But when left to their own devices, the two have a bit of a love-hate relationship and when you throw in that the devil is manipulative and playful while the angel is directionally challenged and a little on the slow side and you have two show stealing supporting characters.

Number 3: Tomoyo


Whether you are watching the original series or Clear Card, it would be impossible to list great supporting characters in magical girl series without touching on Tomoyo from Card Captor Sakura. The camera wielding best friend to the protagonist is there through thick and thin and always has just the outfit for the occasion.

While not totally pure and innocent as she regularly pushes Sakura out of her comfort zone for her own entertainment, her loyalty is without question and ultimately a lot of the plot of the original series probably couldn’t have happened without Tomoyo’s convenient assistance. Truly a show stealing friend.

Number 2: Junko Kaname

meguca puella magi madoka magica 01 bdh264 1080p flac462e256b mkv snapshot 05 13 2014 05 08 16 01 43

While most anime parents will fall into the category of nominee for worst parent ever, occasionally we get these brilliant parents who seem actually aware of their children, provide largely decent guidance, and just have a genuinely good relationship with their kids.

Madoka Magica provided not only a great mother but a great supporting character in the form of Junko Kaname, the over-worked mother who still has time to offer love advice, help pick out hair ribbons, and ultimately realises her daughter is in over her head but takes the time to listen. While so many magical girls either don’t have mothers or their mothers remain oblivious to their plight, Madoka provided a very different kind of family dynamic and was a much stronger anime because of it.


Number 1: Molly/Naru


While Sailor Moon Crystal didn’t do Molly any favours, the original Sailor Moon series saw Molly playing victim of the week more often than not. On first watch it is hard to take the character seriously as she seems to exist just to fuel our protagonist’s shopping addiction and obsession with falling in love. However she’s got a lot more going for her and really she’s pretty awesome.

Throughout the first season she has her own heart-breaking romance where she is anything but a damsel in distress and those events help to make her a little more mature and insightful even if she is still mostly running around like a ditz. In times of crisis, expect Molly to show up with just the right words of encouragement to get our hero into her tiara and out onto the battlefield.

Top 5 Amazing Supporting Characters In Magical Girl Anime

And that is my list of 5 Amazing Supporting Characters in a Magical Girl Series but feel free to add your own choices into the comments below.

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

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Anime Series Review

Asuka Series Review
Asuka - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 11

Dark Magical Girls
Battling Fluffy Teddy Bears?

If ever a title deserved the dubious honour of being celebrated for its concept but questioned about its execution, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is definitely one of the top contenders. Dark magical girl stories aren’t new. Even before Madoka they existed and after Madoka they flourished giving us a range of hit and miss stories of deranged magical girls fighting each other for various contrived purposes. Fortunately, Spec-Ops takes a different approach and in theory it has a fairly solid idea.

The series begins with the end of a magical war and then our surviving magical girls go their own ways. We are following Asuka, who has chosen to return to a ‘normal’ life though she’s carrying around a lot of emotional baggage from her time as a magical girl. For once we see the toll on young girls of being thrust into such difficult and dark situations. Asuka’s family were tortured and killed, her friends died, and she fought in a war when she was a very young girl. Obviously things aren’t all sunshine and roses for her and she’s very much suffering from PTSD and struggling to make the adjustment back to civilian life.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Asuka
No, this is not how you deal with matters as a civilian Asuka. Stand down.

You know, if the series had focused on that point and actually looked at her ongoing struggle and transition this would have been a much better story. Instead, after establishing this premise the anime immediately feels the need to disrupt Asuka’s life again by having the enemy return and attack Japan. The enemy? Creatures called Disas who take the form of walking plush toys and yet are incredibly nasty and hard to take down.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 10 Disas

Visually this actually kind of works. The enemy are goofy looking but incredibly deadly and the juxtaposition really adds to the tragic feeling this series seems to be going for. The problem is, Spec-Ops can’t really handle Asuka’s emotional journey, plus delving into the emotional status of the other magical girls, look into the impact of tragedy on Asuka’s human friends, and deal with the reignited war as well as the various politics between worlds in the 12 episodes it has and it doesn’t actually balance these elements particularly well.

Don’t get me wrong. Some things and some scenes Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka gets spot on. There are definitely character moments where you really feel the writer just got inside the head of the character and conveyed them perfectly and there are action sequences that very nicely put together. Then there’s the transitions between these moments and the moments that fall completely flat, and the end result is a mixed viewing experience to say the least.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Nozomi's father

As to the violence and torture in this series, it will entirely depend on your tastes whether you find it engaging or disturbing. I liked that it made the stakes seem very real and that it seemed quite likely that characters could die (even if the anime wimped out on actually causing permanent harm – even emotionally – to one of Asuka’s school friends). It made the villain seem like a threat that absolutely had to be fought.

I don’t know, Sailor Moon villains are cool and all but there’s never any sense of real menace or danger with them because their plots and actions are so sanitised. Still, there’s definitely some graphic moments here and the torture of quite young girls, as well as some other weirdness that is just a little bit creepy (yes, I am looking at Kurumi’s interrogation techniques here).

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 3

This series is definitely not for the faint of heart. Now, where I preferred this over some other dark shows, is that the violence and torture mostly seemed to serve the purpose of establishing why the characters were the way they were or providing that real sense of danger and urgency. Sure, the same effect could be achieved by moving some of those more disturbing visuals off screen, but honestly it works here.

The only time it really seemed to push the envelope was in Kurumi’s treatment of the captured magical girls. That was all kinds of concerning and it would have been nice to see this aspect of Kurumi being explored but the series ran out of time leaving it as just a weird point to an unbalanced character.

The music for this series is actually really solid and one of the outright positives however visually this series is at best average. There are some cool moments but then there’s a lot where it seems kind of lazy particularly with background characters. Still, the magical girl costumes in this series are awesome and the only unfortunate thing is that this series isn’t popular enough to see these costumes become staples in cosplay.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka Episode 8 Kurumi
Yep, Kurumi is disturbing even if she is working with Asuka.

With an unfinished narrative and I would speculate little hope of a season two, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka doesn’t quite have enough going on to recommend it. If the story had finished then it would be an interesting diversion for those after something a little grittier but without an ending it is just an incomplete tale with characters who have not yet been fully realised. I did have fun enough while watching it weekly but there’s other anime out there and some of them even have endings.

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

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

Granbelm Episode 13 – The Last True Mage

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I had two alternative titles for this post. One was Well, That’s Over the other was An Impractical Swimsuit. I feel like these competently summarize my thoughts on this finale. It’s unfair that final episodes tend to have a disproportionate impact on our overall impressions of a series but for better or for worse, the last episode just counts more. Let me tell you what I thought of Granbelm’s

Or you can skip all the silly words nonsense and just go look at the pretty pictures! I’ve arranged them in a gallery right over HERE.

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I hate it when this happens

What I Thought Would Happen

Shingetsu would make the decision to become a mage girl, wishing to prevent all future mages from coming into existence. In doing this, Shingetsu would return to a world where Nene and Shisui (Kuon’s sister) are still alive while only Shingetsu remembers Mangetsu existed.

Shingetsu and potential future allies would continue to fight against powers other than magic that humanity creates in the future, but thanks to Mangetsu’s sacrifice, magical girls are purified and no longer forced to fight in the Granbelm.

What Did Happen

Well, kind of exactly that (if anyone picks up on the reference I’ll be impressed!) but with a lot more mechas. I figured we would have to wrap up the mecha battle but I honestly thought it would be a very quick scene. Instead it took up a good chunk of the episode and as usual I had a bit of trouble connecting to the scene.

This said, after finally defeating Suishou once and for all, Shingetsu finally get to talk to the Magicaunotus, in the form of Suishou again and make her wish. I think my attention may have drifted as at first I was under the impression that her wish would make her lose all her memories of the defeated mage candidates as well as Mangetsu but a few minutes later that didn’t seem to be the case anymore and I’m not entirely sure why.

The price for Shingetsu’s wish is that she would become inconsequential in the real world (invisible and unnoticed for all time) but the last scene leaves us with ambiguous hope as a new transfer student joins Shingetsu’s class and wishful thinking has us believe it just might be Mangetsu somehow.

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go home – you’re drunk

What About the Characters

I wouldn’t say this episode did much for the characters but it sort of simplified the them if you will. Mangetsu became an actual symbol of hope, her hazy see-through image popping in to offer words of encouragement before disappearing again.

On the other hand, Suishou was defined mostly by her plot role. In the end, we didn’t really learn what she was, the supposition that she is just a manifestation of magic itself as she seems to disappear without a trace. Why did she want to be mage? I don’t know. At some point she seemed to say the Magiconautus itself created her to be a referee in Granbelm and I’m guessing at some point she decided humans were unfit to have magic so she would take it instead but why and what she wanted to accomplish with it weren’t really discussed. This was pretty disappointing to me as I was attached to the character and was really hoping to learn more.

And the there was Shingetsu. We didn’t really see anyone other than those three. Shingetsu’s character hasn’t really changed much. When we met her she was always a fragile yet powerful young woman who had a bit of trouble connecting with others and wanted to rid the world of magic because of the harm she believe it caused. She was dedicated to this and willing to go to any length to attain her goal and well that’s pretty much the exact same Shingetsu we saw in episode 13.

She did seem a bit more at peace in the closing tag though and looked fantastic with a ponytail!

Granbelm ep13-5 (1)

What I Liked

I liked the closing tag. I’m a sucker for happy endings no matter how sugary they may be. This one had a bit of bitterness in it as Shingetsu seems more isolated than ever but she also seemed very content with it so maybe it’s all for the best. I do wonder why she kept going to school if no one knows she’s there. It’s not like she’ll be able to get a job in the future. Can she even take exams?

I loved seeing grown up Nene. It’s not like it was a big change but still it’s the sort of thing I enjoy.

What I Liked Less

As always the mecha battle was the low point for me and on top of it, it seems that there was a few shortcuts this time around as the animation wasn’t as smooth as usual and they even resorted to a few still shots.

This said, if you’re going to dedicate your climax and most of your finale to a mecha battle then you got to commit. There’s a point in the battler where Shingetsu is about to give up feeling completely overpowered, Magetsu appears next to her saying “You can do it”, then Shingetsu immediately  goes “Oh cool, I can do it” and completely destroys Suishou. There’s no time at all for the turnaround, no struggle. For me, it pretty much negated the dramatic impact of the scene. Although it was kind of funny.

This isn’t really a negative but tonally this episode was a lot cheesier than Granbelm has been up until now, with loud swelling music and grand declarations. It also really revved up the Magical Girl elements of the show. Like I said, not a bad thing but there wasn’t enough time in this last episode to properly establish them and to me they ended up feeling a bit out of step.

Personally, I would have enjoyed a bit more exposition. I sort of left the series thinking “was that it?”. I think there’s another episode worth of material just to establish certain elements.

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I’m gonna miss that little psycho


Closing Thoughts

To me Granbelm has been a study in balance. It did some things extremely well and others not to my taste at all. Now that it’s all said and done, those two seem to have evened out and left me fairly neutral on the series as a whole. It should be said, I personally didn’t enjoy this last episode (or the previous one for that matter) and that is definitely weighing heavily on my impression. Had the series stopped at the camping episode, I would have considered it much more favourably.

But that’s just me, I’m sure there are fans out there that thought this finally was just pitch perfect and that Granbelm is the show of the season. Every anime has its die hard supporters. In any case, if you have been watching Granbelm, I do hope you enjoyed it.

Granbelm ep13-4 (7)


Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Want to see more thoughts from Irina on Granbelm?

Images from: Granbelm. Dir. M Watanabe. Nexus. 2019.

Granbelm Episode 12 – Puppet Masters

Granbelm ep12 5 10

I honestly thought that this week was the last episode so when it ended on a black screen with “to be continued” I was ready to throw a shoe at my T.V. What can I say, I’m pure grace! Thankfully there is one more episode left.

I did end up taking quite a few screencaps of course. You can see them here if you would like!

Granbelm eo12-2 (1)
they’ve really lt the groundskeeping go

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought Shingetsu and Mangetsu would unite to defeat Suishou. I mean there weren’t really that many places left for the story to go. I knew they would have to face her in Granbelm although it would have been hilarious if they just like pushed her down a flight of stairs at school and that would be that.

I’m actually a little disappointed now that they didn’t end up creating a completely mundane and anticlimactic end for Suishou. It would have definitely subverted all my expectations.

What Did Happen

Shingetsu and Mangetsu united to defeat Suishou in Granbelm.The episode was pretty much exactly what anyone would expect (aside from the fact that it ended in the middle of the action because there’s another episode to come). All the action was entire in Granbelm which as you may know is not my favourite but it was one of the most intense fights we’ve seen.

And as expected Mangetsu did sacrifice herself for Shingetsu. I don’t know if the sacrifice will stick or if she’ll end up Disney ending alive for some reason next week. Either way, the grand gesture will have been made so it’s fine.

The one unexpected bit for me was the sudden development we got for Suishou. Apparently, she’s been alive for 1000 years and winning Granbelm after Granbelm without ever being awarded the prize. At face value, the narrative seems to be telling us that she was a mage candidate at some point but has lost her humanity over the centuries. I still think she might be a doll-like Mangetsu which is why she can’t become the mage. I guess we’ll find out next week!

Granbelm ep12-3 (4)
don’t worry about Suishou – Suishou always wins

What About the Characters

I kind of let the cat out of the bag in the previous section. Oh well. So Shingetsu is still herself. All fragile and conflicted but efficient and naturally gifted. Mangetsu is also still herself, cheerful and helpful. Selfless to a fault.

But who is Suishou. Aside from what she is, her characterization got a little shaken up as well. We do see that the years and countless battles have clearly taken a toll on her. She seems to be suffering from some type of PTSD. I’m also not entirely certain that she actually wants to win the Granbelm. It’s possible that after all this time, she’s simply exhausted but is going on out of habit and because by now it’s the only thing she knows.

There was definitely something deeply lonely and sad about the Suishou we met this week. That’s not like her at all. But I guess, we all have our crosses to bear.

Granbelm eo12-2 (2)
Shingetsu on the other hand…

What I Liked

I liked the opening flashback. Both visually and narratively, it was very touching. It also brought us closer to the main antagonist so that we can get some conflicting emotions at her inevitable defeat.

As I mentioned, this was one of the most exciting Granbelms I have seen and it was coloured coded in pink which is consistent with the idea that the Granbelm takes on the colours of the looser.

What I Liked Less

I still have little to no connection to the Armanox and unless I’m seeing the girls in the cockpit or inserted at the corner of the screen I have trouble remembering which robot belongs to which pilot and really caring about what happens to them.

Moreover, since the powers of the robots have never been properly established, I don’t actually know what they can do. They seem to be able to do new(different) things every episode. I have no clue what the limits of their powers are. I never know if a blow actually did damage or not until they show the robot explode or something. It’s another element that makes the fights more difficult to follow for me and just more difficult to get invested in.

Although I know I said I liked the flashback, I’m not entirely sure I needed Suishou to be sympathetic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually dislike this turn it’s more like I’m not sure how I feel about it. Suishou is a truly wonderful troll in my opinion and I was A-o.k. with embracing her dark side. I don’t think it’s bad to have unambiguous villains. We’ll see how this softening of her character plays out in the end.

Granbelm ep12-4 (5)
this is probably what m brain looks like

Closing Thoughts

This episode was a part 1 so I don’t think it’s fair to judge it before I see next week’s. It’s a good set up though as it ended before I even noticed how much time had passed and I really want to see what happens next.

Mood: Slightly surprised

Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Want to see more thoughts from Irina on Granbelm?

Images from: Granbelm. Dir. M Watanabe. Nexus. 2019.

Granbelm Episode 11 – Laid Back Granbelm

Granbelm ep11 5 2

I was going to make another “The Disappearance…” title but I think I’ve personally overused that formulation. Instead, I’m focusing on the camping part.

As Granbelm is getting ready to wrap things up, it’s looking pretty gawsh darn good. It was always a surprisingly pretty show. Why surprising? I’m not sure. I just constantly find myself going, huh, this show is actually very pretty…I’ve been watching for 11 episodes, I should have picked up on that by now. And I’ve been doing galleries, the latest one is here!

Granbelm ep11-2 (3)
me writing Granbelm posts

What I Thought Would Happen

Mangetsu had started out her long dark journey of the soul in the closing tab of the last episode, it was only natural for her to continue it. To wander the city in search of meaning and look within herself to find if there’s anything there.

Her friends, those few who remember her would need to rally by her side. Of course, first, they would need to find her and who better to do that than Shingetsu. In a way, she’s Mangetsu’s mother and all.

And of course, we have the magically awake Kuon’s sister who probably wants revenge on Suishou for just about everything. That revenge may best take form in helping Shingetsu win the Granbelm. As you can see I had this episode pretty well figured out.

What Did Happen

The writers disagreed though. Yes, Mangetsu did a bit of soul searching but it was over pretty quickly. She came to her conclusion that helping Shingetsu was really her purpose and for the moment, that meant cheering Shingetsu up and bolstering her moral for the coming fight.

What better way to do that then getting all their friends together and going camping. For general information, please no one ever take me camping in order to cheer me up. I will escape the first chance I get!

And so, every magical girl and forgotten family member that’s still around came together to have a nice little evening under the stars. It was cute!

Granbelm ep11-5 (3)
and pretty

What About the Characters

I wrote in one of my galleries that I found Singetsu and Mangetsu similar to Homura and Madoka. In that post, I meant simply by design. One is taller with long straight black hair, sharper features and purple coded costume the other shorter with short pink hair, more rounded features and a pink costume.

However this week, the similarities seeped into the characters themselves I think. We found out that stoic and seemingly cool Shingetsu is actually insecure and has always felt lonely and apart. Despite seeming aloof she’s actually profoundly attached to Mangetsu and quite emotional. This may even lead her to make a grave mistake.

On the other hand, Mangetsu is almost suspiciously pleasant and seemingly harmless while possessing a great power that’s not really her own. She wants to do good but it’s hard to tell what if anything is really her own will and what she has been manipulated into. Ironically her best friend who loves her dearly is the cause of her very difficult situation. She’s shy and a little overwhelmed but when she makes up her mind she can be a tower of positivist. She seems to have resigned to disappearing for the greater good.

I’m not saying it’s the same show but the parallels between the characters really jumped out at me. I liked recognizing them and enjoy seeing these similar characters in such a different situation.

Also, Kyubei is Suishou even though they are incredibly different and somehow both the best.

Granbelm ep11-5 (12)
maybe she could try a white onsie on

What I Liked

As always I liked Nene and her family! In fact, it was just kind of fun seeing everyone together like that. A nice little break in the tension. Sure you could call it filler but it was useful filler. This was a good spot to slow down and break everything up a bit before barrelling to the finish line.

The images were very pretty this week. Of course, I’m partial to non Granbelm episodes (as in episodes that take place in our world).

There was the glorious return of Mangetsu’s very average cooking running gag. Always cause for celebration in this house!

Although it was sad, I found it quite powerful that Kuon’s sister had forgotten her. It’s perfectly consistent with the story, yet somehow the possibility hadn’t crossed my mind and when that happened, I was rather shocked. Similarly, I knew Shingetsu liked Anna but I hadn’t realized how much. The episode drove home just how guilty Shingetsu is feeling right now.

What I Liked Less

There were a few moments of melodrama that I could have done without but it was fine.

Kuon’s sister was fantastic in the opening scene but to me, she seemed so out of place in the rest of the episode. Why would you invite this stranger and why would she go. It was off to me.

I’m never going to be someone who finds camping fun. It’s fine. I guess I would have enjoyed seeing them all go on a shopping spree and try on clothes. Heck bikinis even. Or go to an onsen. We haven’t had our fanservice episode yet

Granbelm ep11-5 (4)

Closing Thoughts

No matter how I look at it, to me this episode was filler. Filler that I was happy for but not something I have a lot to say about. It was a great calm before the storm.

Mood: relaxed

Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Want to see more thoughts from Irina on Granbelm?

Images from: Granbelm. Dir. M Watanabe. Nexus. 2019.

Granbelm Episode 10 – Loved By Magic

Granbelm ep10 38

My alternate title for this post was “The Forgotten Girls”. It sounds a bit like a YA murder mystery. Having multiple titles for a post is usually a good sign. I don’t tend to have that much inspiration if the episode was boring!

And I have to say, this was one of the most visually interesting episodes Granbelm has aired. You can see exactly what I mean by visiting my gallery over HERE.

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pretty girl to start off the post!

What I Thought Would Happen

I figured Mangetsu would find out what she really is and freak out about it. (Low hanging fruit I know). Meanwhile, Kuon would have a setback, failing to defeat Suishou and save her sister so she would have to go to Shingetsu and Mangetsu for help.

Seeing Mangetsu distraught, Kuon and Shingestu would rally to her side and the power of love would prevail! Allowing the three of them to start coming up with a plan to defeat Suishou together in the next episode.

What Did Happen

Mangetsu found out what she really was and freaked out. And that’s about it for what I got right. Kuon had way more than a setback and she ain’t rallying to anyone’s side. In fact, Shingetsu has her own issues to deal with as Suishou has now turned her sights on her and she is doing a spectacular job at tearing poor Singetsu’s little mind apart. Suishou also hinted a few times that she may not be human, or entirely human, but we do not know what she is. Another doll perhaps?

With all of this happening, Mangetsu ended up going to Nene for comfort after finding out her own family didn’t know her and that she no longer had a reflection. Mangetsu»’s had a weird day… We find out Nene’s forgotten Kuon and that there are probably countless girls that have died n Granbelm and have been erased from history by the Magiconautus (?) which begs the question: why?

The girls are starting to suspect that there may be more to Granbelm than they had been led to believe. Kuon’s sister or her ghost or something is having a grand time while all this is going on.

Granbelm ep10 -1(7)
there are still so many questions

What About the Characters

I love the Mangetsu twist. It works so well with the character and really fixes all my issues with her. Clearly, this was planned out from the start because it fits with everything we’ve seen. Yes, she had no reason to attach herself to Shingetsu, to want to participate in Granbelm or give her wish away. It didn’t make sense because it wasn’t supposed to. Mangetsu was never operating on normal human logic. She already had a pre-established purpose. Honestly, I’m impressed by this bit of development. I don’t see how they could have done any better.

Nene continues to be charming. This week more than ever her presence is a source of comfort and a port in the storm. It’s a good way to keep her character relevant and a nice contrast with what has happened to all the other Granbelm losers.

Meanwhile, Shingetsu is completely unravelling. Of course, we were starting to realize that she had been getting undone for a very long time now but this episode sped things up considerably. I like stoic and efficient characters so I’m not sure I’m enjoying vulnerable broken Shingetsu as much. It is, however, the logical direction for her character.

Last be never least, Suishou is the best thing that happened to this show. Of course »I love a troll so I might be biased, but a focused and clearly irredeemable antagonist has been a great way to keep this story on track. And ramping up her character from bad girl to potential demon lord has only made her more fascinating. What if she actually wins? It won’t happen but….

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Suishou is just so …Suishou

What I Liked

Suishou. I did just put this point in as a reusable block. 🙂

Actually, this was one of my favourite episodes, and I’ve liked a few. The suspense was good, the balance was decent and keeping some of the budget for the finale was a smart production move.

The time spend with Nene was also used as a small info dump to get the audience up to speed before the final battle (I assume), and it was most welcomed. I am now perfectly clear on everyone’s motivation and everyone’s suspicions which is what is really driving the story at the moment.

The strong mystery element remains and my interest along with it.

What I Liked Less

I find it difficult to tell the robots apart or remember who is piloting which mecha. This is one of the main reasons I don’t enjoy the Grandbelm battles much. I have no idea who’s who and therefore don’t know what’s really happening.

The dramas were justified but a bit much for my taste. There were a lot of young girls crying in this episode.

As I mentioned last week, Luon’s cursed sister is, in my opinion, a weaker thread and the last scene makes me think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her.

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we won’t forget you Kuon

Closing Thoughts

A strong episode leading up to the prefinale. If this keeps up, and it is promising, Granbelm will have turned out to be one of my most unexpected personal hits. It was a rollercoaster of a show mid you but let’s enjoy the upswing!

Mood: Tired but happy

Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Want to see more thoughts from Irina on Granbelm?

Images from: Granbelm. Dir. M Watanabe. Nexus. 2019.