Anime watching feeling on the spot – Mahô Shôjo Ikusei Keikaku

スタッフ
原作 – 遠藤浅蜊
原作イラスト – マルイノ

監督 – 橋本裕之 (はしもと ひろゆき)
シリーズ構成・脚本 – 吉岡たかを (よしおか たかを)

キャラクターデザイン – 愛敬由紀子
美術監督 – 羽根広舟
エフェクト作画監督 – 橋本敬史(はしもと たかし)

音響監督 – 飯田里樹(いいだ さとき)
音楽 – 伊賀拓郎
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You know, there is time like that in your life where you feel somewhat tired, and just want to relax. You could be feeling pressure ; you could have many things to think about and feel uneasy ; you could just be a bit on the edge. Or somewhat out of all of this at once.
I was also in the middle of a anime watching rush, and, guess what ? I was feeling somewhat a bit tired because watching too much great piece of works. I wanted something more simple and, somewhat, how should I put it ? amateurish. Lesser thinking. More action. Some contents I do like with it, too.
And I think most of the people watching Mahô Shôjo Ikusei Keikaku do it with the same feeling as I did when I decided to watch it on a blank moment, not knowing what to watch despise having dozen of anime on my list.

In those moments, there’s two genres I love because I’m pretty sure they’ll get me thrilled anyway. The first being yuri. The second being death games, especially if it involves cute girls. I’m not being somewhat original within the mid-20 male demography of anime watcher right here.

Now the last time I’ve felt in this mood one year ago, the anime I choose to watch was Akuma no Riddle. Although full of holes, I’ve got a good time with this fun adaptation, made from a young studio with much willingness. Their goodwill shone amidst their youthful indiscretion. Here’s the deal similar : although Lerche is quite older, it isn’t the studio with the strongest reputation around here, neither considered the most talented ; if any, it is of somewhat recent origin. They’ve got their policy and style around, though.

That said, in the midst of some too much standardized chara design, I’ve loved pretty much the main character’s own – albeit she doesn’t appear this much in the story itself.

First of all, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s : this isn’t an original animation, but the adaptation of a 10 volume long light novel written by Masari Endo (yes, 10. And the anime’s about 12 episodes.). I usually like light novel adaptation over manga’s (which I try not to watch at most), because they allow you more artistic liberty within the anime-ka, and if you got interested, be a good argument in buying the novel.

So whenever I speak about the animation itself, I’ll be speaking about Lerche’s work. Whenever it’s about the story, I’m more about Masari Endo, although he didn’t write the screenplay and can’t be blamed if some holes are dues to miss while anime-ka.

I’ll put it in a blunt way, which isn’t meant to criticize in any way, but to characterize the show while showing why it cannot be « great » anyway while still being good on its side : this is a sensational, well crafted piece of fanwork of someone loving both Danganronpa and Madoka.
I know people hate to see Madoka being compared to this series. They’re right about that : they’re absolutely NOT comparable. I’m agreeing.
But Masari Endo is crystal clear someone of the post-Madoka generation who’ve been marked by Gen Urobochi’s masterpiece. There’s way more elements reminiscent to Madoka than to any other Magical Girl-genre anime around there. Thus yes, this novel (and the adaptation) pay homage to Madoka in its way ; and there’s many elements where it is somewhat clear. That, and of course Danganronpa and the whole Death Game genre.

All further comparison shall be however avoided in that Ikusei Keikaku is a strictly speaking Death Game story. Madoka has never been one. And it’s much different to Danganronpa, too.

This thing is sure isn’t going to be as near as cool as Monokuma.

I’ve looked this anime with a somewhat lifted mind, in Japanese and seldom showing subtitles, ’cause I didn’t ever mind if I were to somewhat miss one or two points of the plot. I really was carefree on this one. However, I did get the thrill I searched.

I’d say this anime fell in typical traps of many Death Game story, especially if you’ve got 12 episodes, that is around 4h30 long run, to tell your story. That is : you don’t have time to get sympathy for the essential part of the cast. You’d need much, much more story telling and slice of life scenes to get you interested in the characters’ fate. Without halving the cast by two, it was impossible within a 12 episode running anime. Hell, even Mai-Hime with 26 episodes has got this problem !

It has also this unreal side of many death game, which I always disliked, to depict death in a too « normal » fashion. It is as hell not normal to kill someone or to see someone be killed. It’s not about making 10 episode long drama angst every time someone dies, sure ; it’s about showing off that death is heavy. Albeit here, death is not heavy. It happens without problem. No one is questioning it.

The problem is that the main plot is being deceived in that the original concept wasn’t this type of Death Game. It was much subtle : « whenever a magical girl is at the bottom of the score list at the end of the week, she dies. » So die the first two girls. And this was an interesting concept, especially if you care about all the combinations you’re able to make to surprise the watcher’s about each one’s death. The second death was really a surprising and well chosen one, in a storytelling perspective.

I’ve got to say, even with low standards, 2010 animation remains pretty cool when you came back from the 90s.

Now for me the bad feeling came from the fact that we switch from « death game with rules » to « kill them all » type without any transition and no one questioning really what is happening. Everyone become suddenly some natural assassin and find no problem to kill someone. It is never explained. The original rules are never amended, and you feel like something was forgotten along the way.

Finally the most interesting characters (from the anime’s perspective at least) die too early, leaving too much « filler-like » characters with mere ordinary design and not much character development. Once the heroes of the show are all dead, leaving the sure unexpected psycho of the show and the two remaining heroines of the show, there’s no much left to make the watcher interested. Pretty much the typical Battle Royale or And Then There Were None (theatrical version) development.
>spoil< Alice and Sou are dying too soon. Although Sou’s death was interesting for the story telling, because you’re not awaiting his death, at least not this fast, Alice’s is clearly too early and could have been thousand time more tragic. To be honest, Alice’s death is the only one I’ve felt bad for, because it was really interesting to see someone actually indebted and caring for the heroine while being known by the watcher to appear so suddenly at the middle / end of the story. Thus you always have the frustration that the story don’t have time to go deepen in each characters. The finale is somewhat empty because of that : now it has come to this. Then… not much else.

White pink haired, somewhat coward but peace loving magical girl teaming with cold and gothic tastic long black haired girl who somewhat idolizes her. Yes sure, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. This isn’t comparable, yes, sure… but to say it blunt, not to see this much homage is like not to see how much Raxephon owes to Evangelion, to say the least.

TL;RD : a somewhat clumsy Death Game which pays much, very much homage to both Madoka and Danganronpa, surely because Asari Endô himself was a fan. The animation and rythm are somewhat very good ; the screenplay is pro ; this makes this anime not great, but still amusing to watch on spare time (and in some respect more interesting than the aforementioned Akuma no Riddle) : although the story’s flow’s pretty predictible, you’ve got good rythm and remain interested as long as you don’t think too much.
I’ve watched this because watching too much anime of the 90’s feel those time, I’ve wanted some top notch 2010 action that suited my taste. Well I’ve got it. Can’t recommend that though.

Semiko

Student in Japanese studies and specializing in story telling and modern Japanese pop culture.

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