Sunday, April 8, 2018

Magical Girl Site Episode #01 Anime Review

Every day, all I think about is dying.

What They Say:
Aya Asagiri lives a life of torture. Bullied by her peers and physically abused by her brother, she contemplates suicide as a means of escapism. One particularly harsh night, her laptop abruptly turns on and beckons her toward it. There, a website known simply as the 'Mahou Shoujo Site' offers her a chance to sculpt her own fate with the help of a stick that will grant her powers. But will something as simple as a magic wand truly be enough to save her from a life not worth living?

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
After an incredibly long break from darker, hyperviolent anime, Mahou Shoujo Site seemed like just the kind of show I've been waiting for ever since Madoka Magica ended nearly eight years ago. Before getting too heavy into comparing them, however, it's important to note that this particular manga adaptation is an entirely different monster with a slew of different themes to display. While there may be several glaring similarities (It's literally impossible to animate a dark magical-girl series without being compared to the former cult-favorite), Mahou Shoujo Site has already delivered a hard-hitting message with an ambitious pilot more than willing to give us exactly what we came here for- absolute chaos.

Now, before you take that last sentence in a negative light, I'm going to outright say that it was not meant to be shown in one. Without beating around the bush, I really like this show so far. Yes, we're only one episode into it, but its got a lot more to offer than all of those regurgitated half-reviews of neckbeards and Madoka purists calling it 'edgy'. (Sidenote: Does anyone else find it rather annoying how often that word is used to describe non-shonen/slice-of-life stuff? Break out a damn thesaurus for Christ's sake). Plain and simple, Mahou Shoujo Site is a unique take on the concept of bullying that is meant to shock and disturb anyone mature enough to approach it without thinking "lol edgelords." 

The series centers around Aya Asagiri, who is essentially the Angra Mainyu of her town. Basically, she is scapegoated for everything and tortured by both her classmates and her family. The abuse comes in several forms but even more important than the acts themselves are the aftereffects and scars that they have left on her psyche. Within just minutes of the pilot, Aya comes across as broken. The only light she has within her dark world is stripped from her halfway through the episode. So, without beating around the bush, we already know that this girl is going to find redemption somehow. We're also able to ascertain that it will most likely be through magic, hence the title of the show. And while the premise itself is clearly not full of surprises, that does not mean watching it is even remotely unsatisfying.

This show is not for the faint of heart, that much is hard to argue. I mean, we've already seen a kitten get murdered for crying out loud. It took Elfen Lied like nine episodes to go that far, and that was a dog. Hell, the viewer base even seems minute at the time of me writing this (With only 2,000 counted viewers on MAL). But this exact allure is what pulled me toward the series in the first place. I wanted something that would make me cringe and I wanted a protagonist I could feel for. And even with the cold, shrunken heart still buried deep in my chest, I was able to do that. Aya is so innocent that the constant berating of her has already created an environment in which we are banking on her success. The means of this success, however, is already a bit more mysterious than I had anticipated.

It's common practice for magical girls to get their magic wand or whatever. I can look past the fact that Aya is given a magical gun instead of a wand, but I can't look past the creepy friggin' face behind the scenes of the Mahou Shoujo Site itself. For real, that thing is ripped straight out of a Junji Ito story. It's a prime example of the mangaka's creativity and a much better mascot than a weird Pokemon thing who just happens to entrap teenage girls by being cute. Whatever the symbol of Mahou Shoujo Site is already has a heavier cloud surrounding it than I expected. And over the next few months, I'm sure that cloud will begin to dissipate.

Apart from the almost necessary comparisons to Madoka, there are notes of other popular series in here as well. Fans of Hell Girl can take solace in the fact that the site itself works in the same manner (Or at least that's what we're lead to believe at the present time). Basically, it only opens up for tortured girls who have run out of the will to live their own lives. This time, however, there is no Enma Ai or weird straw dolls. Instead, there is a strange heart-shaped gun that can cause people to get hit by trains with just one click of the trigger. And that, ladies in gentleman, is a lot more badass if I do say so myself.

In Summary:
As stated earlier in the review, Mahou Shoujo Site is a prime example of a series doing a lot more than others are giving it credit for. It's exceedingly dark and unnerving and has already proven that it's not afraid to traverse paths that other series are afraid to travel down. While the artwork itself may not be its most impressive facet its characters not being particularly unique (At least not right now), the direction and atmosphere of the show are unsettling enough to make this entertaining fodder for all sick minds alike- and I'm thinking that we've only just begun to scratch the surface.

Episode Grade: B+
Streamed By: Prime Video

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