I’ll be blunt: this episode is the kind that would make me drop an anime. Unfortunately for me, this is past the halfway point and I’m an idiot so here I am again.
Where to begin with this episode? Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka has flaunted its edge and fanservice before but it really cranked up those qualities to eleven in this episode. In some way or another, you have amputation, prostitution, child abuse, child soldiers, drugs, drinking, torture, murder, rape, you name it. And while all this crap is dished out, the show cuts back to Asuka and her friends having fun at the beach in bikinis. Truly, this is a “class act” right there.
It seriously boggles the mind how this show conducts itself. It’s so blunt with its sensitive materials that it starts to feel tacky and it’s so excessive that feels absurd. Twisted may indeed be the name of the game for this series but its efforts in becoming twisted are backfiring and it’s actually getting harder to take things seriously. Even the attempts at levity fell flat. Sure, the beach scenes are objectively more lighthearted but it’s too stark of a contrast from everything else that’s happening. Not to mention, the fan-service is so blatant and it’s even in poor taste to have it playing while other characters remark on prostitution and rape. I honestly found myself laughing at the show because it astounds me that someone thought this trip to the beach would be a good idea.
Am I supposed to like Kurumi as a person? I found myself asking that question throughout the episode. Before, I thought her Asuka obsession was reasonable and even a good source of comedy. Now, it’s no longer quirky or funny now that Kurumi has flat out said that she tortures and kills if it’s for Asuka’s sake. And yet, Spec-Ops still tries to play this trait up for laughs such as when a confused Asuka discovers Kurumi sleeping right next to her (no, not like that). Worst is that it doesn’t seem like Asuka is even aware how unhealthy Kurumi’s views on her are. Is this something that’ll be addressed later down the road? It would only be more vexing than it already is if Kurumi’s obsession doesn’t end up causing problems for Asuka.
Speaking of Asuka, I still like her PTSD-themed arc but her flashbacks this episode were weak. We do get to see how exactly her teammates perished in the last battle but much like Francine, we know squat about their personalities so it’s hard to connect with Asuka’s anguish and guilt. For crying out loud, what even are those characters’ names? I guess we learned a little about Francine…mainly, that she really likes sexually harassing her teammates…real endearing there. It’s fine if you want to base Asuka’s trauma on the loss of her friends but in order for that to work, we need to know who those friends are and they need to likable to boot.
I’ll give Spec-Ops this much: I can kind of see what they’re trying to do with Chisato. Sure, the show is hammering in the sympathy angle with her to the point that it feels like it’s actually bludgeoning me to death with a hammer. I would also argue that her apparent bond with Giess is more told than shown too. At least we’re given something about this character off the bat which is more than I can say about Abigail’s introduction. Chisato also does get one scene that I thought wasn’t half-bad: the scene where she kills the four adults whose drunk driving ruined her life. It is part of Spec-Ops‘ extreme content problem but I sort of like how the task is a test on Chisato’s commitment to becoming a criminal. If she can kill those people, with pleasure even, then she can kill just about anyone.
Regarding Chisato’s magical girl design, I must admit that the risque look of these illegal magical girls is starting to grow on me. It’s not the kind of design I’d usually enjoy but it does fit the illegal status of these girls’ powers. I’ll also add that I like Chisato’s prosthetic leg with the hidden blade attached, more so than the whip which is meant to be her primary weapon.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say this episode has made me hate Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka but it does epitomize my biggest issues with it. This show has had tonal issues front to back already but this episode is especially guilty of that.
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