Workout clothes and swimsuits? Well, now you’re just spoiling us.
I’m actually a little stunned that there was so much fan-service this episode. Content like that just seems out of place in this kind of story and I say that knowing that there’s already more legitimate issues holding this anime back. That and well, this is a magical girl series. I think the transformation sequences already leave little to the imagination. At least the gym scene is a perfect excuse since Asuka and Kurumi would keep their bodies in peak conditions and I can’t think of many anime that favored the pool over the beach so points for that I guess.
Formally introduced in this episode is Mia (Erika Matsui), an American magical girl who continues working under the CIA. The outfit she wears frankly looks really silly. It is nice to see some military affectations on one of the character designs but the seifuku skirt and orange bikini top make for an odd combo. Mia’s weapon with how it can take any form and fire implosive rounds I’ll admit is really cool but then that also feeds into my concern about this anime sending mixed signals about what kind of tone it truly wants to take. At the very least, it is a more realistic weapon that I figured a special ops themed magical girl would use.
Oddly enough, Mia doesn’t reunite with Asuka and Kurumi this episode. After her breach and clear scene, the episode returns to Asuka’s school life for the remainder. I’m okay with that though as I have found that side of the story most compelling anyway. To repeat what I’ve said before, there is something about Asuka’s desire to quit being a magical girl and live a normal life that feels pretty authentic. This episode articulates that internal conflict further by having Asuka explain that she wants to stop fighting because there’s people she now cares about. It sounds logically backwards, Kurumi even thinks so too, but given the losses Asuka suffered during the war, you can understand where she is coming from.
I thought Kurumi made a pretty good first impression last episode but truth be told, we’re only now getting to know her character. The idea that she’s somewhat of a reluctant draftee still fighting the good fight still rings true but I did not expect her to be so obsessed with Asuka. It’s not creepy per se but it does raise an eyebrow when, for example, Kurumi tells Asuka that she wasn’t trying to be a stalker when she transferred to her school and then proceeds to ask her if she can live at her place.
There’s also the matter of how she views Sayako and Nozomi. It is indeed funny how passive aggressive and annoyed Kurumi gets with those two but why she acts that way is understandable. Having a fought a war with Asuka, Kurumi probably believes their connection is more valid and sincere compared to a bunch of high schoolers simply getting together to hang out. So when Sayako says she and Nozomi are friends with Asuka without 100% confidence, the claim practically comes across as an insult to Kurumi. By the end of the episode though, things seem completely civil between these three and judging by her interactions with Asuka, I think Kurumi does at least recognize that the two non-magical girls are having a positive influence on her friend. Whether or not she’s become complete friends with them though is maybe a whole other matter. I mean, they did halt her plan to live with Asuka so a grudge is maybe to be expected.
It’s a little surprising to see Sayako already in the process of overcoming her PTSD but the scene where she dives off into the pool is still very satisfying. It’s symbolically cathartic, an action that represents her desire to be brave and leap forward and not be held back by what happened in the past. I doubt this means she’s completely recovered but at least her first step towards the path is a big one.
Besides, it’s Nozomi’s turn to suffer now as, in the final scene, she gets kidnapped by terrorists led by the illegal magical girls so that she can be used as ransom against the police, which her dad works for. Most importantly, this is looking to be the next catalyst in convincing Asuka that she needs to step back into the fray again. It’s understandable that she wants to lead a normal life but evidently, life doesn’t seem to be on the same page with her.
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