What’s Substance?

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There were several magical girl series that aired in the Fall 2016 season. Or at least several that could be loosely categorized as magical girl. Of those series there are two I would like to talk about for a particular reason. And not exactly a good one.

Spoilers ahead for both shows of course.

Both Magical Girl Raising Project and Soushin Shoujo Matoi are excellent examples of thoroughly substanceless and exceedingly average shows. Raising Project is a show that removes absolutely everything that isn’t directly necessary to the plot and moves at a breakneck pace, the girls go from collecting Candies to stealing Candies to killing each other all within one episode each at the most. And from there it’s a bloodbath as characters die at a pace faster than one an episode. Some of these characters do get development but none of them with the exception of Swim Swim are really interesting, and Swim Swim is a weird mess of contradictions that may or may not be intentional. Is the writer showing that she’s truly messed up in the head or is he just a hack? Magical Girl Raising Project is the bare minimum of storytelling that reminds me of a Hentai VN that gives you the thinnest premise possible just as an excuse to sell sex to you. Except replace sex with violence and death. It’s Battle Royale with cute magical girls. There are so many characters that I wish we could’ve seen more of but felt like they died before there time. Obviously this is shocking and in some ways it’s nice to see a show that will really kill people off but when there’s zero substance to the rest of the show I don’t really care. Some deaths were sad but I know there’s nothing behind their deaths. Why did Top Speed and Tama have to die? Because Top Speed and Tama had to die. There is no greater answer. It’s just a show where cute girls kills each other. That’s it. It’s the barest entertainment possible. It does what it does and it’s not exactly bad but with nothing more to it I’ll never be able to say this is a favorite series of mine or that I really cared about it or have any desire to see a second season.

And that’s why to me it’s a perfect example of a 5 out of 10 show.

Which brings us to Matoi. Matoi is different than Raising Project in that it has an actual plot and characters. But at the same time these plot and characters are so unbelievably typical and cliche it almost feels like it was intentional, like the creators set out to make the most average anime possible. Well, if that’s true than they succeeded. Matoi is not a bad show, it’s average. So super average at everything, it looks average, it sounds average, the characters and comedy and story and emotion are all average. It feels like the kind of VN adaptation you would’ve seen about 6 years ago with that obviously half-hearted work put into it. It has a really typical structure to it, you can tell how the season is going to be from the beginning, and a really cliche ending. What a surprise.

I also gave Matoi a 5 out of 10 because it’s not bad so much as it is the most average show ever made. No show has deserved a 5/10 more than Matoi.

This reminds me all of Nurse With Komugi-chan R that aired earlier this year. A highly disappointing show that seemed to be perfectly okay with being mediocre. It did not at all capture the special charm and atmosphere that made the original Komugi anime fun and it felt like a show from 20 years ago. Like they were going for this old-school silly magical girl/random ova quality to it. But then it also was about idols. So who the hell knows. It was also a really typical show when it came to its comedy and how the plot and characters developed. The animation as well was thoroughly unremarkable. It felt like an exercise in apathy by its creators.

All of these shows have a problem with them being totally devoid of substance and spirit. Normally as far as magical girl anime goes you don’t usually see this, Magical Canan is another one I can think of and that’s an eroge adaptation so it’s pretty much expected to be a soulless husk of an anime. It disappoints me to see that despite how many magical girl anime aired this year the only one with any real charm is the new Precure. Flip Flappers if you want to count it as magical girl (which is debatable) started out pretty good but I feel it lost all its steam and devolved into a pointlessly convoluted mess with a disappointing ending. It was basically all just yuri and otaku bait too. Every season there’s a bunch of drivel that airs with no substance at all to it, why do the few magical girl series that aired this year have to be included with that? It’s funny that after the ploddingly dull and outdated first season of Sailor Moon Crystal the second season that aired this year ended up being one of my favorite shows and easily the best Magical girl show to come out this year.  That had substance.

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