Airing during the Fall 2016 season, ‘Magical Girl Raising Project’ peaked my interest as a rather infamous dark magical girl series. The series is based on a light novel series of the same name by Asari Endou, illustrated by Maruino. However, the anime’s 12 episodes barely scratch the surface of the novel’s ten volumes. The series is set in N-City where a new mobile game has become the hot new thing. In the game, players create their own magical girl and fight monsters. But, rumour has it, that a lucky few will be chosen to become real life magical girls. Just as our protagonist’s life long dream of becoming a magical girl is fulfilled, she receives some bad news. N-City has far too many magical girls, and they must be culled down – in whatever way possible.
Now, killing game series are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. So a lot of the usual complaints that surround these types of series don’t tend to bother me. I’m not fussed by the gore, senseless violence nor the often weak character development.With those two points, there’s no doubt that Magical Girl Raising Project is an absolute blood fest. Characters die left and right, for no real reason and lemme tell if you by episode five you’ve not almost thrown your laptop across the room in frustration, you haven’t been watching the same show I have.
But, perhaps it’s because I’m a veteran of cheap characterisation and death flags I was actually pretty impressed by how the series handled character backstories. With sixteen girls to get through, snippets were short and sweet but just enough for us to genuinely want the characters to survive. The series was quite smart in having character’s backstories attention grabbing and memorable rather than convoluted and unconvincing. A majority of the backstories were something that viewers could either relate to or see in everyday life.
However in singing those praises, the series did have quite a few glaring issues. First up, the art could be quite shoddy in some places. Even in this article’s ‘Feature Image’, have a look at Snow White’s hands – they look like Yaoi hands! Another aspect that really irked me was how far the eyes were apart from one another, it reminded me of those ‘this space for rent’ memes. Furthermore, the premise of the killing game and the villain behind it seemed quite silly. On top of this, one character death seemed to go against the whole idea of a killing game (happening in about episode 3!).
But perhaps most disappointing was how simple the killing game was. Anyone who decided to kill another magical girl didn’t seem to have any moral conflict and it just undid any of the great characterisation I mentioned before. I would have preferred to see the conflict of morality and mortality. The idea of being a magical girl is being an individual who upholds justice and wants to ensure peace. It’s against the inherent ethos to go around killing people. Yet ,the killers didn’t seem too bothered about suddenly doing a 180 and butchering their friends. Is it too much to ask for some weighing up of how much their morals mean to them verses how much their life means!?
Compared to other dark magical girl anime, this one is a bit of a mess. But, while it’s easy as a reviewer to critique it, and point out all the technical problems, as a viewer it’s a different story. So sure, there were issues with the series, but did I enjoy it? I freaking did! In fact, I watched episode 5-12 in one sitting after midnight. So while this series is definitely a mess, I’d deem it a hot mess.