English Dub Review: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka “Magical Girl Special Operations Development Unit”

Magic couldn’t be more boring.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

With the combat of the last few weeks behind her, Asuka is left wondering what to do with herself now that a new enemy has revealed itself to the world. What’s more, this new wave of terrorism is also accompanied by magical girl technology that makes the users of this technology all the more dangerous. With that in mind, Asuka decides to take Izuka’s offer up and joins him and his crew in security operations within Japan. Joining her is Kurumi, who also wishes to help and wants to stay by Asuka’s side.

Once Asuka joins up with the squadron, they welcome her and Kurumi to the team with a surprise party. They don’t have any cake or anything, so they dine on military rations to celebrate Asuka’s arrival with. The team has a great time, and they do a great job of making Asuka feel welcome, though she is still not without reservations and anxieties about the fighting to come.

Their first mission, it turns out, is to take out a cadre of mafia members who are using magical technology to access a portal that links our world between other worlds. Asuka and her team drop in to take out the mafia, who are out in the woods somewhere, and make short work of them. However, aiding the mafia is a rogue magical girl who wields a wand that can shoot fireballs. She’s able to turn the tables on Asuka and her team, especially because Asuka starts to suffer from a PTSD episode in the middle of the fight.

Nonetheless, Asuka is able to rally with Kurumi’s help and their team is able to neutralize the enemy magical girl and stop the mafia members from their plans. Things are far from over, but for now, the enemy has been defeated.

Our Take:

More episode brings more problems in Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, which doesn’t know what to do with itself and can’t seem to find a good plot to stick to. This episode feels like more of a filler than anything else since so much of it is filled with pointless meandering and time-wasting scenes that lead to an ultimately weak battle with only the barest of excitement attached to it.

The first half of the episode is basically consumed by the welcoming party for Asuka and Kurumi, but that party doesn’t really amount to a whole lot. Apart from some particular silliness, such as the team not being able to get actual party food and having to eat rations for some reason, the party doesn’t amount to much because Asuka doesn’t spend much time getting to know her team. Her team isn’t so much a group of characters as much as it is a group of nameless soldiers whose only purpose in the show is to provide firepower and eventually die in some forced death. This show doesn’t take the time to bond us with these characters, and so there isn’t any tension for the audience to latch onto when it comes to watching them fight. Not to mention, their cold, surgical takedown of the mafia members lacks all emotion or intrigue.

The fight itself doesn’t amount to much either, lacking the kind of fight choreography and coordination to build an exciting sequence. It goes about exactly as you’d expect with some small deviations, and it even interrupts itself to go on a random tangent about the nature of magical shields, even though it doesn’t mean much in the long run.

By the end of the episode, one feels like we’re exactly where we were at the beginning, which makes the episode almost entirely a waste of time. It’s the classic story of nothing ventured, nothing gained. An episode made to fill out space a little bit without aspiring to any higher plot or purpose. This show is already bad enough with how pointlessly grotesque it can be sometimes, but being boring is not a good alternative. I don’t think anyone could bring themselves to care about Asuka and her trials given the material presented here, nor do I think anyone who’s actually read the light novel series this show is based off would get anything out of it either.

Score
4/10

Erich Hau

Erich is a northern California based writer on the front lines of the nerd frontier. When he's not burning the midnight oil he enjoys musicals, smooth jazz, and a good cup of dark roast. Cream and sugar not included.

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