Magical girls and anime seem to go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. When thinking of anime clichés, “magical girls” is on the top of overdone scenarios that have been capitalized to death. Every season we get one or more of these shows that have the basic premise; girl—usually young and naïve—gets magical powers, teams up with other magical girls—all of which have different one-note personalities—and through kindness and believing in her friends, saves the world.
To be fair, the genre of magical girls has evolved over the years, especially with shows like Puella Magi Madoka Magica which showed us how dark the genre can go. Magical Girl Raising Project aims to be just as dark as Madoka Magica but does not quite hit the same highs that Madoka Magica reached. It still has plenty to offer for people interested in a different take on the genre, and it will even entertain the others that roll their eyes whenever they hear the words magical girl.
Similar to other characters of the magical girl genre, there are a variety of girls—all with their one-note personalities—that populate the show. The biggest difference is the number of girls in this series. Usually in the magical girl genre there are anywhere between three to five leads so as to give these characters plenty of time to develop. An over-bloated cast can backfire if there are not enough episodes to really dig into each character’s persona. In Magical Girl Raising Project, the other girls get plenty of time to shine, but at the cost of development of its protagonist.
Koyuki Himekawa is your typical protagonist when it comes to these types of shows. Young and naïve, but with a strong sense of justice and believing that one should always do the right thing. She gains the ability to become a magical girl, with her specialty being able to hear the cries for help from anyone nearby (this includes people’s thoughts.) Compared to the other magical girls, she is the most straightforward. What you see is what you get, but apart from the first two episodes, the show primarily concentrates on the other characters of the show rather than on Koyuki, which results in her being seriously underdeveloped.
Other characters important to the story are Souta Kishibe, a boy so obsessed with magical girls that he manages to become one himself, Ako Hatoda, a very young magical girl who has the ability to recover from any attack no matter how brutal, and Ayana Sakanagi, who wants to be queen and decides to kill everyone in her way to make that happen. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, with a total of sixteen magical girls, there’s plenty of personality to go around.
A mobile game about magical girls has become all the rage recently. There is a rumor that if you play the game enough you get the ability to become a magical girl. Fascinated with magical girls, Koyuki Himekawa plays the game and sure enough, is chosen to become one, taking on the persona “Snow White.”
For the first few days Koyuki adores the idea of helping others and meeting up with the other magical girls that work in the same district as her, but then one day everything goes south. Fav, a cute little black and white creature that gives the girls their powers, announces that it accidentally assigned too many magical girls in the district. In order to conserve the magic that the girls are using up, the number of girls must be cut in half.
Everything starts off simple enough. Whoever receives the least amount of candy, which is the reward they receive for helping people, will lose their powers and cease to be a magical girl. However, once it is learned that the people who lose their powers are killed, it becomes a race to see who can kill each other off in order to stay alive.
Apart from the main character being underdeveloped, there are not as many complaints as their could have been given the show’s nature. It does reveal its gruesome nature right away which lessens the impact of the show when things do get dark, but it still has plenty of standout story moments that give the show its own uniqueness.
The only other major complaint comes from its antagonists. I like the idea that apart from the person pulling the strings, the bad guys are really just each other. The problem is that no one antagonist really stands out. The story goes from antagonist to antagonist without really giving each one enough time to really develop as a bad girl. Even the final threat, which they do start to develop early, ends up being lackluster.
The story also does not have much of a conclusion. To be fair, that was not the purpose of the show, and it does leave the possibility of a sequel without really hurting the series if it does not continue. A better ending would have helped elevate the show further though.
I cannot make a prediction if the show has already concluded. I will say that if the show does receive a second season, the story will most likely focus on the people in the magical world. Another bloody fight could take place with the magical girls from the different districts against the denizens of the magical world. The manga is still currently ongoing, but since I have not read it, I cannot know if these predictions are true or not.
Magical Girl Raising Project is no Madoka Magica, but that is okay. It does its own unique twist on the magical girl genre, and while not all of those decisions pay off, it is still a very entertaining anime that I can recommend to both fans and naysayers of the genre alike. I do hope we get some sort of continuation, but even if we do not, it is still very much a complete experience as it stands.
If you’re interested in the series, Magical Girl Raising Project can be found in its entirety on Crunchyroll.