Quick Shots: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

I’m going to start calling a series of articles this, where I don’t do a deep dive but only a quick review based on the first episode or two. Got another coming up for tomorrow, I hope.

Someone’s been sniffing the same glue as Gen Urobochi. Well, the glue that holds his book together anyway, because they’re taking a page from it. Asuka continues the trend from last season in which the stories are a bit more hard-core and the horror is real. Ok, ok…not just last season, I admit. But it’s not the unmitigated horror of Parasyte; it’s more like the mix of traditional “cute” with the edgy violence of Goblin Slayer.


Three years ago, Earth was invaded by an alternate reality made up of evil plushies. (Well, that is what they look like.) Fortunately, some nice elves from an alternate dimension showed up to help, and created nine magical girls from among the junior-high girl population. Shades of “females in their second growth phase.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t all roses after that. The plushies weren’t dumb monsters. They had their own intelligence networks, and were pretty effing evil. Asuka, the protagonist — her parents were kidnapped by the “Digis”, as they’re called. Oh, they were nice enough to return her parents… One piece at a time.

Four of the nine girls didn’t even survive the final battle, in which we see a couple of battered soldiers (out of a large multi-national force) lament that they couldn’t even provide fire-support. Now, three years later, Asuka is incognito, in high school, and she has a well-deserved case of PTSD. Two of the girls in her class, not knowing her background, befriend her and start to help her normalize. Her guardian wants her to join a new special unit alongside one of the other girls (a magical-girl nurse, of course), but she declines until one of her new friends is threatened by an escaped terrorist. Somewhat annoyed with him, she transforms into her magic girl form, amputates both of his legs, and uses her attacks to blow the heads off of several of his minions. And that’s the first episode; basically the setup and Asuka getting her mojo back. It’s also obvious from the previews that the plushies are still around. And the other magic girls are too, but working for whom?

This series is a jarring mis-match between “cutesy-MG” and “brutal reality,” especially when the plushies are on-screen. And the magic pet looks like a gray Kyubey, which doesn’t help me feel like it’s all fun and games. Were the helpful elves setting us up? I wonder.

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3 Responses to Quick Shots: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

  1. GreyDuck says:

    Yeah, if the creeptacular bits and the bloody violence hadn’t turned me off, the severe tonal whiplash probably would. I don’t think it’s bad, really, it’s just very-not-for-me. As I noted in my very brief blurb, there’s the seeds of an interesting “MG w/ PTSD tries to cope and maybe re-enter society” angle here but I’m guessing it’ll be secondary (or possibly tertiary) to the parade of villains yet to come.

  2. Mauser says:

    I liked it. But then, I thought it was cool how Madoka Magica twisted the Magical Girl genre as well.

  3. Mauser says:

    Episode 4 breaks the den Beste rule hard.

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