This will be a spoiler-free review, and let’s try and keep the comments that way as well.
Magical Girl Raising Project is a twelve-episode magical girl survival game anime, adapted from Asari Endō’s light novel series of the same name. The Magical Girl Raising Project light novels are illustrated by Maruino.
The anime television series was directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto, with Lerche being the studio that produced it. The series aired as part of the Autumn 2016 season.
It is available to watch on Crunchyroll.
Magical Girl Raising Project is the name of a popular social game in this series, with rumours of it being able to grant players the opportunity to become a real magical girl.
Of course, this rumour is completely true, and sixteen players in Nabuka City transform into magical girls, complete with their own unique powers. Being magical girls, they have to do good deeds in order to earn Magical Candies.
When it is announced that the magical girls in Nabuka City will be cut down from sixteen to eight, things become twisted and the magical girls soon find themselves fighting for their lives against each other.
Though Magical Girl Raising Project is about a survival game, it has a fairly slow start. The first few episodes take the time to introduce to a handful of characters, but it isn’t until the first drop-out where the ball starts to get rolling.
It takes a little bit longer for actual bloodshed to begin, and it’s from that moment where the survival game truly begins. The slow start hurts Magical Girl Raising Project, but the pay-off for sticking with it is certainly worthwhile.
In this type of series, it’s inevitable that there’ll be fights. Those inevitable fights are brutal battles, with blood all over the place. The abilities of particular characters allow for incredibly violent battles, though any major gore is censored by having it slightly off screen.
Violent fights tend to lead to deaths, as you might expect from a survival game. Herein lies another problem with Magical Girl Raising Project: the deaths are telegraphed, for lack of a better expression.
There’s something of a formula at work here, so most of the time any surprising deaths are somewhat nullified.
On the flip side, if characters were killed off without their motivations being revealed, why should the audience care? It’s just unfortunate that characters tend to be developed just before or during their final moments.
However, the show still manages to get at least a couple of surprises in there – either by subverting expectations, or not revealing much about someone until they die.
There’s also some post-mortem character development, and this actually allows new light to be shed on certain characters.
Talking of subverting expectations, Magical Girl Raising Project toys around with the idea of what a magical girl is. Not every girl is your typical magical girl heroine. No, rather, we have office ladies, children, even a boy, and many other less than typical magical girls.
The character designs for each magical girl are unique as well – even the twin magical girls, the Peaky Angels, have features that allow you to tell them apart. You’ve got your standard magical girl with Snow White, but you also have a ninja, a witch, a robot and many other interesting designs.
The variety on offer is really quite something, with there being a little something for a wide variety of tastes.
Whilst it may be easy to identify Snow White and Ripple as the main protagonists of the show due to the opening, the perspective actually jumps around each of the sixteen magical girls.
This provides an opportunity for us to learn bits and pieces about each character, and it helps to keep things fairly interesting as well. This ties in with the aforementioned motivations of each magical girl; some are trying to be the ideal magical girl, others are in it for the money and some are just out to cause heartache for the audience.
It may have a slow start, but Magical Girl Raising Project makes for some compelling viewing as you cheer for your favourite character to survive. Bloody, violent battles, differing perspectives and really interesting character design all add up to make quite the experience.