At this point, I’ve come to accept that action is not Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka‘s biggest draw. I can accept the weird powers and killer stuffed animals for what they are but a lot about the presentation feels off, be it the dubstep BGM or Sacchuu randomly explaining things which deflates the suspense. And I do realize cool, edgy magical girls hitting each other is what this show is going for but that kind of is a problem in of itself. It really clashes with the concept of a magical girl dealing with PTSD and find herself back on the battlefield in spite of it.
I kind of want to give points with the introduction of M-Squad. I have wanted to see actual military involvement in this show since, you know, it has “Spec-Ops” in the stinking title. Then again, it feels like cheating to just show regular soldiers when it would’ve been so much more evocative to give the magical girl designs a more militaristic look. Their contributions don’t exactly impress anyway as their key tactic is just hit things really hard with magically infused bullets. For crying out loud, some of them are just standing out in the open as they open fire on the monster and Abigail. That’s their best tactics against these enemies?
Speaking of Abigail, I’m not all that impressed with her magical girl outfit. The overall look of it, particularly the skirt and belts, do fit her deviant personality but it still feels like a mishmash of random materials cobbled together. It’s admittedly not to the same extent as it is with Mia’s outfit but it’s still enough to feel like a slight eyesore. At least Asuka and Kurumi’s designs immediately tell you what they are going for (a fair maiden and a nurse respectively).
As an aside, I’m calling it now. That masked leader of the terrorists is so obviously Francine. You’re not fooling me, Spec-Ops!
It’s always those little tidbits about the characters and the world that pull me back in. To be frank, the thing I enjoyed most about the fighting was when Kurumi lashes out at Abigail for calling her one of the “Legendary Five”. Apparently the popular moniker is something she detests as it only acknowledges the magical girls who survived the war and not all the lives that fought in it. It really does suggest a number of things about Kurumi — a possible case of survivor’s guilt, how strongly she feels about her fallen comrades, a desire to not be seen as some legend.
The fact that Kurumi can erase memories with her concoctions opens a can of worms. For starters, you have to wonder if at one point, Asuka considered asked Kurumi to take away the memories causing her PTSD. True, it is established that the procedure is only effective at erasing recent memories so it might’ve not worked for Asuka anyway. Lord knows what kind of inner conflict that’d create for Kurumi too. Still, it is a question worth considering in light of Asuka’s character. Does she want to live with her pain? If so, would she be strong enough to move on?
At first, it felt cheap that Nozomi got her memory wiped. I think you could’ve done something interesting with how she deals with the scars left by her experience. Plus, where the hell was this solution when Sayako was struggling? I will however concede that this turn of events serves as a huge punch to Asuka’s gut. Despite saving Nozomi’s life, Asuka loses the fight anyway since she was unable to protect her friend emotionally. Even then, the best solution ends up being to let someone else fix the problem. All things considered, she failed here — failed in the sense that she is powerless to help and also in that she couldn’t keep her friends away from the dark, cruel world she is a part of. The only upside to all this is that Asuka finally got her wake-up call. She truly can’t sit idly by anymore. Needless to say, it’s gratifying to see her finally agree to join Iizuka’s spec-ops team.
It is a little reassuring to learn that Asuka and Nozomi’s friendship is still alive and kicking. Asuka has every right to be sad that her friend no longer remembers a whole week they spent together but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a week. There’s still plenty of time going forward for her and Nozomi to rebuild that bond. The fact that Nozomi still suggests seeing the same movie with her friends after her memory has been wiped is proof of that.
What worries though is the fact that she isn’t 100% safe. When Iizuka (rightfully) suggests witness protection for Nozomi, the government immediately refuses as they still want to use the poor girl as bait to lure the illegal magical girls. Their only means of justifying it is the fact that two magical girls go to same school but that’s honestly a poor argument. Kurumi can be deadly but she is clearly no front line fighter and as powerful as Asuka is, surely she has limits. Really, what can they do make the situation better? Transfer the other magical girls to the school? …Wait a minute.
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