Aimless Wanderings 15: Look at His Horse
That’s right kiddos, it’s time for another sit down so I can impart some knowledge to your brains. This time around I’ll be putting my masculinity at risk once again to bring you some words about a few shows that you should check out… about magical girls. WAIT! COME BACK! Hear me out- these aren’t just your “fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight”-type shows, what I’m about to bring you are all breaks from the mold, notable deconstructions or parodies of the genre. This is not something a studio can pull off easily, but when they work, they become a whole genre in their own right. Some of these will be shorter than “normal” entries, but there are more of them than normal, and a couple of these have major spoilers related to why they are such breaks from the mold, and I don’t want to ruin them for you.
Puni Puni Poemi will not be suffering from spoiler territory, however, as the plot is kind of irrelevant to your entertainment, you’ll see what I mean in a sec. Poemi Watanae is the adopted daughter of Nabeshin, the author’s avatar in-universe, and Kumikumi, whom he married at the end of Excel Saga. Oh, did I not menion that? Yes, this is the spiritual successor to Excel Saga, and is similarily wacky and unpredictable, but mashed into two OVA episodes. Poemi likes her cool classmate, K, and K doesn’t acknowledge her existing. At all. But that is shelved when her adoptive family is fatally struck down by an alien with inapropriately exposed dangly parts(SFW…ish. It’s not human genitalia at any rate). She moves in with another of her classmates, Futaba Aasu, who has a very obvious stalker thing for Poemi, and her 6 sisters. As it turns out, her new family are the hereditary defenders of Earth and, as per their responsibilities, have powers like: being able to fall safely from any height, the ability to summon flower petals, and boobs. So Earth is pretty much doomed, until Poei finds a magical dead fish and transforms into Puni Puni Poemi! The situation does not markedly improve.
I admit, that’s pretty much the story of the first of two OVAs, but if you watch this show to enjoy the story, your gonna have a bad time. The reason to watch it is the same reason you would watch its predecessor (Excel Saga, which you should watch too, btw); the completely batshit insane stuff that goes on and somehow is made to make sense in context. The show is a scathing parody of anything and everything to do with magical girls, and/or the associated themes, along with a wide variety of other genres, too. I personally guarantee you will laugh at something while watching this.
This one’s another parody of the genre, but goes about it in a much more organized fashion. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is a show about two angels (Panty & Stocking) who were kicked out of heaven and the priest (Garterbelt) who is helping them to return. To do this, the angels must defeat evil spirits and collect “Heavens”, some form of celestial coins, using their holy weapons. Their weapons, a gun and swords, respectively, transform from their panties, and their stockings.
It has a novel art style reminiscent of The Powerpuff Girls. Except during the “transformation sequences” when the angels get their weapons. During these sequences, there is a dramatic shift in art as it changes to a more standard anime look, and afterward it changes back again. The show is never shy to show you that these two angels are not the cute, innocent girls you’re used to seeing in these kinds of shows. Hell, there’s even stripper poles in the transformation sequences to drive home the point that most of these kinds of sequences are there to sexualize the characters; it just takes it to the logical extreme.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is definitely more in line with what you might expect from a magical girl series. It starts off with a fairly basic plot: Nanoha, a 9 year-old girl, finds a ferret(who’s actually a mage) named Yuuno after he was injured trying to find magical objects called jewel shards. Unable to do the work himself, he gives Nanoha his magical device so se might collect the shards on his behalf, with him coaching her along the way. Where it breaks from the mold is when Nanoha comes across Fate, another magical girl her age who is also looking for the jewel shards. It becomes clear to Nanoha that there is more to Fate than her initial hostile encounter might suggest, and then the show goes into a whole new direction, dealing with some distinctly not-for-young-girls stuff like child abuse.
The relationship between Fate and Nanoha is the basis of the first season of the show. The subsequent seasons, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s and StrikerS bring in a wider range in characters and deal in fairly adult material like the abuse of trust of children by adults and the subsequent repercussions. This is a series that stands out as being one of the only magical girl series’ to be classified as seinen, and while it might sometimes appear to be a happy-go-lucky show about friendship, there are almost always some very dark undertones to what’s happening.
Okay, so I put this one on the list not so much that it fit in very well, but Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, if you have yet to see it, is unique in its… execution? (Oh, it was funny. You’ll be laughing your ass off once you hear the plot.) The show centers on Sakura, a normal junior high student, who managed to get himself marked for death. By God. Yes, that one. This isn’t for anything he has done but something he’s going to do in the future. You see, God got peeved because he saw that Sakura will invent immortality, but it causes women to stop physically aging at the age of 12 (a pedophile’s world, as a character points out). God takes issue with this (not because of the moral implications, He just doesn’t like anyone else to have power over death) and sends an angel back in time to assassinate Sakura. Dokuro-chan, the angel in question, instead falls in love with him and decides that she will prevent the future by some other means.
This one falls into the magical girlfriend category more than magical girl, because while Dokuro-chan has magic (she frequently murders and revives Sakura for normal anime protagonist indiscretions)… you know what? I’m not even going to justify why this one is here. Just watch the OP and decide for yourself.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is going to be the short one in this issue, mainly due to the early spoilers in the show (we’re talking major plot points that turn everything on its head in episode 3). But, getting down to brass tax, Madoka Kaname is a normal middle school girl in every way, and she recently got a transfer student int her class, Homura Akemi. After the transfer, Madoka starts to hear the voice of Kyubey, a cat/ferret thing. Her and her best friend, Sayaka Miki, are transported to a strange world where they see an upperclassman, Mami Tomoe, transform into a magical girl to save them from monsters. Kyubey then asks if they want to be magical girls, as well. The process is simple enough: they get any wish they want, then they sign a contract with him to be a magical girl. Let’s just say things don’t go quite as planned and leave it at that.
Unfortunately, I can’t really get into the themes that put this show on the list without getting into heavy spoiler territory, but this one, if none other on this list, is a MUST SEE. A word of warning, however; Prepare for feels. Of all kinds. Give the show 3 episodes at least before dropping it, there’s a reason it’s been hailed as the Neon Genesis Evangelion of magical girl shows.