Workout clothes, swimsuits, and now yukatas…are we ticking off a list or something?
And yeah, I’m still covering Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Screw it, why not? It’s not like I’m dreading it or anything and I’ll be darned, this show has consistently merited discussion. Just excuse me if I sound very critical from time to time.
I should point out that while I do find Spec-Ops tonally uneven, I don’t necessarily want it to take itself more seriously. Like, I’m not asking for All Quiet on the Western Front but with magical girls or anything. That would be terrible. I just wish this show would stop treating magical girls like they’re still the coolest action heroes ever when that clearly isn’t the point of the story, especially with where its protagonist is concerned. Some levity here and there is perfectly fine by me.
So really, I’m all for the obligatory summer festival episode. Yes, it is incredibly jarring seeing Nozomi act like she didn’t get kidnapped, tortured, amputated, and traumatized for life but that’s something we’ll just have to look past (to the best of our abilities). Let the girls still be girls again, especially after what happened over the last two episodes. Hell, I even like that you also see the members of M-Squad attend the festival. It’s a nice little detail that presents those supporting characters as real people enjoying a rare reprieve from their jobs.
Really though, the levity is justified if it means getting more scenes where Kurumi is jealous of any other girl alone with Asuka. I swear, this is the one running gag this show got 100% right. Seriously, I had to pause the episode because I was laughing so much over her constantly ringing Sayako’s doorbell (and I really did think it was Nozomi at first). The only thing missing is her foaming at the mouth. Forget the monsters and terrorists, I think this is the real war Spec-Ops aims to depict.
Things still get real for Asuka. I can only imagine how awkward it was when Sayako talks about her aspirations to become a writer while Asuka is left to acknowledge that she more or less got her dream job albeit not the way she wanted. Can anyone blame her for feeling listless and aimless? It’s not like she loves being a magical girl anymore. And sure, she just joined M-Squad but that decision comes out of necessity and not actual passion. The end where she concludes her dream is to protect and support her friends can be interpreted as her accepting that she’s stuck with what she has but at least it’s better than nothing. If she’s going to continue working as a magical girl, she might as well make it purposeful in some way.
Surely I am not the only one who wishes that Crescent Moon Sandino was more than a one-off character. Compared to Abigail who is just a stock crazy girl, she seems so much more human with clear motivations behind her acts of terrorism. Finding out that she is a terrorist really added an interesting layer to her interactions with Asuka. She is right in that Asuka should try to find happiness but one could argue that Sandino fails to follow her own advice given her thirst for vengeance. How ironic too that she gave that advice to a magical girl, the kind of person she despises.
The fight at the end also made Mia a more compelling character. It’s hard to fault Mia for not wanting to sympathize with Sandino. Whatever the cause might be, it doesn’t change the fact that Sandino is a terrorist, the same kind that killed Mia’s parents. Even so, I’m impressed that Mia chose to execute her opponent in just one shot. It neither felt brutal nor personal, suggesting that the magical girl did learn to let go of her animosity.
Quite the big hint is thrown at the climax of the episode where Mia finds the phrase, “He who laughs last laughs best”, written on a mirror. Considering that the phrase is a popular motto among the magical girls, that might give us an idea of who the mastermind i— it’s Francine, isn’t it? You’re not fooling me, Spec-Ops.
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