Let’s play the “which one is Hikaru” game!
After Hardgore Alice’s father murdered her mother (jesus, that’s gotta be rough), Alice moved in with her aunt and uncle. Now, Snow White tells her that she’s glad that Alice is by her side, because Snow White is too weak to fight alone. Alice is elated to be wanted.
But when Snow White hears FAV’s announcement—that the eight spots for magical girls have been cut down to four—she has a breakdown, screaming that there are no real magical girls left and that Alice should leave her alone. She throws the rabbit’s foot in Alice’s face and runs off.
Alice heads to school in the rain. Her father’s words (that he doesn’t want her to visit him in prison anymore), coupled with Snow White’s rejection, have hit her hard. Out of nowhere, Swim Swim appears and stabs her. Alice can’t regenerate in her human form, but she’s mostly just horrified that she can’t return the rabbit’s foot to Snow White
Snow White hears Alice’s tortured thoughts and manages to find her. Alice explains that Snow White helped her find her lost house key before Alice was even a magical girl. She insists that so long as Snow White is alive, a true magical girl still exists. Then Alice dies.
We learn how Swim Swim discovered Alice’s human form—Minael transformed into Alice’s stuffed rabbit and allowed Alice to take her home. We’re then allowed a glimpse into Mina and Yuna’s human lives: they were school-age twins, inseparable and indistinguishable from one another.
Cranberry reveals to viewers that the entire magical girl debacle is a selection process: the World of Magic is seeking out exceptional talent from the human world, although it never wanted any deaths to occur. “Please remember to paint our bloody deathmatch with some brighter colors,” Cranberry instructs FAV, who will report their progress back to the World of Magic. “Colors of a peaceful trial. A competition between innocent, good-natured girls.”
Arriving at Cranberry’s house in the woods, Swim Swim and Tama take energy pills. Mina has been disguised as a rock; Cranberry discovers her and kills her. Tama and Swim Swim plan their next move.
Man, poor Alice.
I do like the direction this show has gone with her character, though. In a world where magical girls are so often eviler than they initially seem, it’s a nice change of pace to feature a magical girl who is kinder, softer, and far more lovable than her initial appearances would suggest. Her backstory explains her outward lack of emotion; if all that happened to me, I think I’d be pretty numb to the world around me, too.
And the exchange between her and Snow White at the beginning of this episode is genuinely heartfelt. Despite Alice’s reserved nature, it’s so obvious that she’s thrilled to be Snow White’s friend, and it makes my heart ache to watch it. Snow White’s outburst, too, feels like a realistic, earned reaction to the situation. The sequence is painful to watch because it’s so real.
I also like that this episode features an interaction between a transformed magical girl and one in her human form. Usually, characters’ backstories seem so separate from their lives as magical girls, and other characters never become privy to what’s going on in their lives. I only wish they had pushed the idea further—perhaps that Swim Swim would have found out about Alice’s family situation, or talked to a member of Alice’s class. (Honestly, anything that makes Swim Swim less dull of a character would be nice.)
The scene where Snow White holds Alice’s fading body is a bit cliché, but it still manages to tug at my heartstrings. The callback to episode one is honestly brilliant—I didn’t think any of the people Snow White helped back then would ever be relevant again, but this show pulled through with impressive continuity.
The problem with this show, though, is that its structure precludes any meaningful character development. MGRP gets us invested in a character, shows us their backstory, and immediately kills them. There’s so much wasted potential in characters like Alice. I’d love to see her grow to a place of more confidence through her friendship with Snow White, or even the opposite—to transform into a bitter creature based on her constant rejections. Or I’d at least like to know a little of what’s going on in her head. How does she feel about her father? There’s bound to be a huge slurry of mixed emotions there.
This issue is especially evident when it comes to Yuna and Mina. We’re treated to a snippet of their backstory that illuminates very little about who they are and what their life is like. We simply learn that they’re pretty much the same person (which is a huge cliché in stories with twins and isn’t very realistic or interesting) and that a boy once begged one of them to date him, not caring which one it was. This lukewarm story doesn’t make me feel much of anything for the twins, not least because it’s plagiarized near-directly from the lives of Hikaru and Kaoru from Ouran High School Host Club. From their very first appearance in this show, Yuna and Mina struck me as underdeveloped, immature, and annoying. Right up until their deaths, my view on the two of them hasn’t changed even slightly. I feel the same way about Tama, although MGRP still does have some time it could use to flesh her out if the writers so pleased. During the eye catch, we see art of major characters alongside quotes that best display their personalities. It’s a mark of how uninteresting Tama is that her featured quote is simply “I don’t know.” At the very least, seeing that made me laugh.
Part of this problem of depth, of course, is simply the limited time allotted in a 12-episode series, but I do wish we’d gotten into the heads of these girls a bit more. At the moment, I’m hooked on this show because of the quirky personalities and exciting plotline, but the lack of character growth means that MGRP isn’t likely to leave a terribly lasting impression on me.