The magical girl battle royale comes to a end with quite a satisfying grand finale for Mahoiku.
Fav is expressing his joy over Ripple and Swim Swim fighting since both of those girls were deemed unfit to be his master. Even though Snow White being the last one surviving was the most unexpected outcome for Fav, he considers her to be better for the position and wants her to be his master and oversee the next selection exam.
While celebrating this outcome and the success of his plans, he tells Koyuki everything about the magical girl raising project and how the selection process is totally up to the examiner and all that stuff. And obviously, Koyuki doesn’t want anything to do with all this anymore. After eleven episodes, we finally see some anger in her as after learning all this she breaks her magical girl phone and runs off to try and stop Swim and Ripple.
But she’s a bit too late as Swim has already been stabbed by a one-armed, one-eyed Ripple who is now lying motionless not that far away. We see some more Snow White anger on display here; she goes to the Master Terminal and tries to break it because she can hear Fav thinking that it’ll be a big problem if he doesn’t get a master and if that Master Terminal is broken. Koyuki is finally taking some action now. Fav continues babbling on and on and insults La Pucelle, Hardgore Alice and Top Speed in the process.
Badmouthing Top Speed was the last straw as Ripple comes back from the dead carrying Swim’s weapon. How did Ripple survive? Good question. They don’t give any answer to it, but it can be assumed that this was thanks to the lucky rabbit foot Snow White was carrying since it was glowing after all. Ripple comes to break the Master Terminal with that weapon; she succeeds because it’s from the world of magic, so strong enough to break a reinforced item from the same world.
Unlike Kyuubei who didn’t tell stuff simply because he wasn’t asked, Fav is a deceitful liar who bullied the girls and got them to kill each other. There were obviously many other ways to select the best magical girl, but they weren’t fun enough for this little ball of evil.
After going through all this madness, Snow White has come out stronger than before. She leaves her real world life behind and dedicates herself to the path of the mahou shoujo. But she isn’t doing small things anymore; helping an old lady cross the road won’t make much of a difference as a whole so she’s going big and taking on bigger dangers outside her district, which has the world of magic sending her warnings. They care about trivial matters like this instead of the bigger problems concerning the selection exam. Apart from that, she’s asking Ripple to train her a bit so that she can get stronger and hence, wouldn’t have to rely on anyone if there is any sort of problem. It took quite a while for Koyuki to get this development but it is much welcomed.
Koyuki believed—and still believes—that mahou shoujo exist to help people and do good deeds. All this craziness Fav and Cranberry dragged her into shattered all that and sullied the name of magical girls in her mind. She probably thinks that she’s partly at fault too since she couldn’t stop it. One could say that Koyuki is doing all this to make up for all the bad and wipe clean the slate of mahou shoujos.
Mahoiku suffered from two main problems throughout its 12 episode run: characters and visuals.
The animation was consistently weak but it wasn’t that apparent at first due to fewer fight scenes and good usage of colors (especially a dark palette to emphasize the overall tone of the show). It really started to falter when it came to fights; the serious action sequences were poorly animated and lacked the flare and intensity they should have had. The best fight sequence was the initial part of Ripple and Snow White’s sparring, and that was just now.
Mahoiku also killed off a big chunk of its cast without much insight into their characters. They couldn’t make us care enough for them; the deaths lacked that punch which could have made them possible tearjerkers. But we probably can’t fault the anime that much since this is likely carried from the light novel of which only one volume was adapted. It’s good though, in the sense that they didn’t rush things through and gave the show good pacing.
It’s hard not to compare this with SHAFT’s 2011 dark magical girl show. Unlike Madoka Magica which was about five initially pure-hearted girls and was more thematically driven, Mahoiku has more variety in its cast with all sorts of girls (and some women and a guy) turned into magical girls and thrown into a terrible situation full of darkness, death and despair.
Having sixteen girls was an advantage as it showed how different kinds of girls would act in a dark mahou shoujo situation. There were no age (or gender) restrictions on becoming a mahou shoujo and they also showed that not all girls who become magical are pure or, in some cases, even girls for that matter. But with so many characters to kill and so little time, the best they could do was give each character a short pre-death flashback which really wasn’t enough.
Mahoiku wasn’t thematically heavy and focused more on being heartless towards the whole cast. It ended up being one hell of a thriller with each episode having you at the edge of your seat. It was also unpredictable at times which made things even better.
With Fav going on and on about how this is all just a game to him, one can call this a “trapped in a game world” anime too in a weird way: things started off as a mobile game, their magical versions are their game characters, and there’s no escaping this thing.
All in all, through its brutal nature and many thrilling episodes, Mahoiku has ended up being one of the better outings of this season. The ending seems pretty complete as is but given that there are so many more volumes of the LN out there, we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of this show in the future.
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