Mahoiku is one of the three or so magical girl anime airing this season, and these first couple of episodes have shown this to have the most potential of the lot.
These two episodes have an overall light tone. The first episode sees Koyuki become a magical girl after getting the chance of a lifetime while playing a mobile phone game popular with little girls nowadays. She immediately gets the hang of things as she had always wanted to become a mahou shoujo and help out people. Within the first episode, she becomes Snow White and learns the rope of the magical girl business.
The system is reminiscent of a game. the magical girls communicate with each other through a special chat room on their phones, and they get points (magical candies to be exact) for each good deed they do. Their ranking is based on that. Each magical girl’s true identity is kept secret. People who encounter her will have hazy memories of the meeting and any picture they take of themselves would be out of focus. Because of this, the magical girls are always mysterious. In the second episode we see Ripple checking out the internet and finding that Snow White has a whole website dedicated to her outings and Calamity Mary is also making the news as a western dressed bishoujo shooting bad guys.
The first episode ends with Fav revealing that there are so many magical girls, their number needs to be halved. The point system shall determine who stays and who goes. Each magical girl will collect magical candies, and the one with the least at the end of each week will drop out. This doesn’t seem to be anything too dangerous, and we see a generally happy-go-lucky atmosphere as the girls simply stick to their own districts to earn the candies. There is a sense of urgency, but not the point of foul play. But things are going to change after the ending of episode two.
During this time they shift focus from Koyuki to some other girls. Ripple, Top Speed, Calamity Mary, Nemurin, and Ruler and her gang gets some focus. Nemurin is shown to be a NEET and quite the lazy girl. Her special ability is a perfect fit in that sense: she can appear in anyone’s dreams. Because of this, she only worked in the dream world which meant that her candies wouldn’t apply to the real world. As such, She took this survival game a bit too lightly. The result, she lost and got kicked out.
But things don’t end there. The chat room isn’t the only place Nemurin gets deleted from: she gets erased from the real world, too. Rather than eliciting an emotional response, her death served as the sacrifice which was needed for the survival game to kick off. She was used to show the true nature of this death game and that death awaits those who take it lightly. While this development may seem abrupt, its purpose is clear, and Nemuri had enough background for the reasons behind the move to be clear. She’s a girl who got along with everyone, and all her friends believe she’s merely gone back to being a normal girl. This means one thing: the moment the girls find out about this game’s true nature, fear and sadness will turn their behavior around entirely.
The lighthearted approach of the fifteen girls (who believed dropping out simply meant resuming a normal life) is about to take a turn for the dramatic.
The other girls introduced in episode two have interesting relationships with each other. Ripple and Top Speed get a combined flashback to the time when they met for the first time after Ripple became a magical girl. During their meeting, Calamity Mary shows up, angry at Top Speed for taking the newbie she wanted to teach away from her. Things escalate a bit when Calamity Mary opens fire. Ripple has to block the attacks with her sword. At the end of it all, Top Speed and Ripple make an enemy of Calamity Mary (Ripple’s not exempt from her wrath as she finds her too cocky).
Ruler is shown to be the leader of the group La Pucelle mentions in the first episode. She has five other girls in her group, three of which don’t get enough candies to be considered useful. Yet, Ruler isn’t ready to let anyone get kicked out. Given her haughty ojou-sama-like personality, it may not be surprising if she eventually leaves useless members like Tama-chan behind. In fact, she may do so to all her comrades if the situation gets desperate enough.
Another thing we see is that Snow White ends up topping with the most candies earned this week. Guess who hates this the most? Ruler. Unlike some others, she can’t stand the idea of a newcomer so easily overthrowing established members like herself. This may lead to conflicts for our heroines…
Some girls have good relationships with each other, like La Pucelle and Snow White, Ripple and Top Speed, Nemurin and basically everyone else. But that is not the case with every girl – Calamity Mary is at odds with Top Speed and Ripple. Her outlaw persona means she may be enemies with anyone she believes to be dangerous or aggressive toward her. We have to recognize one thing: in spite of the tone, these girls do not hesitate in hurting one another if needed. Calamity Mary shot at Ripple because she felt she was “disrespected”. With their lives on the line, who knows how far they may go?
Snow White has been depicted as your typical mahou shoujo who only lives to protect the world from devastation; but that is not the case with all the other girls. They may be helping people out, but some of their interactions show they aren’t exactly “nice people”.
All this is hinting towards the girls fighting each other in future episodes. Snow White may oppose, but it’d be interesting to see her roped into this bloody game for survival.
The general atmosphere of these two episodes is in stark contrast to the first couple of minutes of episode one. They show a girl with an evil smile surrounded by inanimate girls lying around, supposedly dead, while she is about to be attacked by what we imagine is a monster. What exactly is going on here? It is possible the mahou shoujo displayed there are different from those we’re following, knowing something of the sort was mentioned by Ripple and Top Speed. Or this could be foreshadowing the dark future which awaits our heroines.
These two episodes have done a fine job in setting things up. While the progression is good, the mystery surrounding the exact circumstances of the dead game remains a source of intrigue. The shift in focus from Koyuki to other girls was needed in order to flesh everyone out before the serial deaths begin. The contrast between the heroine and other girls like Mary and Ripple was interesting and something we’d like to see more of as new characters are introduced.
In conclusion, Mahoiku is off to a fine start and has shown that it has the potential to be a worthwhile experience. Let’s hope it doesn’t screw up along the way.
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