Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4 Review
Nozomi is pretty much in a horrible situation made worse by bureaucracy that is worried about relationships and power struggles rather than saving her life. This isn’t easy to watch and at the end of the day I’m still feeling like the villains really need more motive than what they’ve been given. Perhaps there’s a grand plan but it isn’t overly clear yet so this just seems like pain for pain’s sake.
Which is something this anime had tip-toed around previously but avoided. It had heaped pain upon the characters but there always seemed like a sound narrative reason, whereas the torture sequence here with Abigail grinning over it while she holds her camera just feels very much unnecessary. We’ve seen enough already in this anime to know the stakes are high so just seeing the set up in the room would have been sufficient to create a sense of urgency and terror without actually witnessing the torture of a young girl. While some anime show too little to really create a sense of menace, this one had already firmly established what could happen. We could have figured it out. Ultimately it just ends up being an uncomfortable viewing experience.
More interesting though is what is happening in the background with the father desperately trying to get permission to rescue his daughter but being blocked by bickering factions. It is far too believable and fairly tragic that the girl’s life isn’t the number one priority from the point of view of organisations that apparently exist to protect people. More time on this angle would have really been appreciated as it made this somewhat fantastical situation feel very grounded in our reality.
Less pleasing is the lack of planning by Kurumi and Asuka before charging in to the rescue. Equally, the villains still don’t have much in the way of a clear objective. Abigail has said she wants to capture a magical girl alive and there’s some scheme there but details are scarce and mostly the villains seem kind of foolish. It will be interesting to see if there’s more going on here or if the villains really are just going to remain cackling lunatics.
I’ll admit, this episode took some of the shine of this series by focusing on the pain rather than the impact of it and by not really giving enough attention to motives and characters. That said, it isn’t a train wreck and provided it leads somewhere this could still be quite compelling. We’ll see what it does next.
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Magical Girl Special Ops Asuka Vol. 1
- Series Review: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka
- Episode 1: What Happens When a Magical Girl With PTSD is Drawn Back Into War?
- Episode 2: Not Brushing Aside Trauma Makes For A Better Narrative
- Episode 3: And The Award For Creepiest Visuals of the Week Goes To…
- Episode 4: This Is Not How One Puts Together A Solid Plan
- Episode 5: Magical Trauma and Political Intrigue a Plenty
- Episode 6: Everybody Loses in a Magical War
- Episode 7: It’s Raining Magical Girls and Deals With Other Worlds
- Episode 8 and 9: The Dark Side of the Magical Girl Myth
- Episode 10: The Battle of the Magical Girls Begins
- Episode 11: Bring the Pain; It Won’t Stop These Magical Girls
- Episode 12: Magical Torture, Pain and the Unending War
Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.
13 thoughts on “This Is Not How One Puts Together A Solid Plan”
For me, the most effective torture scene was the preamble, where Abigail was just grilling meat.
I think I get what they were trying to do.
At the same time, I have a ton of sympathy for where you’re coming from!
The discussion you and Cactus Matt are having is interesting. Terrorists have a goal — but it’s almost never their publicly stated goal. Abigail’s queen wants to create a Magical Girl of mass destruction. I’m guessing that’s their publicly stated goal. The _real_ goal should be more interesting.
And I really hope they have one!
Honestly? I’m starting to trust Makoto Fukami (isn’t he the writer?).
At this point, since I’m not going to read the manga, I’ll just have to wait and see!
I think my overall enjoyment of this series will hinge on whether that real goal of Abigail and her group and their motives are revealed and whether or not the reveal fits within the context and is done well. While the opening act of this was pretty good and I loved how well it seemed to be dealing with characters suffering from trauma, that won’t be enough to hold it up if they don’t develop the plot now and give us something satisfying from the villains.
Though I agree with you that the preamble where Abigail was grilling meat was a great sequence. And that alone would have been enough to get the point across about what was going to happen to Nozomi.
I loved the read-between-the-lines message of this episode that the “good guys” are just as evil as the “bad guys” because they’re willing to let an innocent teenager be sacrificed in order to accomplish their agenda.
Agreed. I think it would hit home a bit better if we had a little more information but hopefully it will come.
“I’m still feeling like the villains really need more motive than what they’ve been given.” Who needs villains when you’ve got the unrelenting evil of bureaucrats?
I know. I’m still reeling at how blunt they were about allowing Nozomi to die. I’m not concerned that they made the decision but more that they didn’t even bother trying to glossy it up when delivering the news to the father. That was pretty blunt and villainous when you think about it.
I thought it was pretty clear what the villains intentions were, to lure out a magical girl, capture her and use her power to make a magical weapon of mass destruction?
But why? So far all I’m getting is that the villains are bad because they are and the show has gone to no effort to make them anything more than that. Even if they make their magical weapon of mass destruction what do they intend to destroy? What’s their goal? It is all just kind of vague and is probably the weakest element in this story so far.
Same as terrorists in real life I presume to inflict as much damage and chaos as possible?
But they have a cause or a reason – not saying they are justified but at least there’s something they aim to achieve. Not saying the villains here don’t, only that we have not been let in on it in any way. We don’t know why they oppose the government or what they want or are trying to achieve. It’s a bit of a missing piece that would help to give this a bit more grounding.
I mean to be fair we don’t know why the monsters in The Promised Neverland want to eat children’s brains (only assumptions) from our main cast but that hasn’t stopped people enjoying it. I know it’s probably not fair to compare the two since they are different genres but I’m fine with it being a mystery for now. I think the show is smart enough that it’ll eventually give villain back story. It may be a case of wanting us, the audience to despise these villains and then try and subvert our preconceptions when they tell us ~why~ they hate magical girls and society at large.
That is true, and there’s certainly room for later explanations. I think with The Promised Neverland I don’t mind it because the protagonists don’t know the answer and by learning as they do it keeps the suspense and mystery working for the audience, at least for me.
In this, the lack of explanation isn’t adding anything and the villains (or at least Abigail) has had a lot more screen time than the monsters in Neverland, and it kind of feels like there’s just an absence of a motive other than to be evil.