Navigating Through Magical Girl Raising Project (Eps. 1 – 8)

Warning: Contains spoilers!

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What each of us considers righteous is up to us to decide. Magical girls aren’t bound by the laws of human society… [Snow White,] you’re probably the most typical magical girl amongst all of us!”

 – La Pucelle, episode 1

 

In lieu of a post that only covers this week’s episode (ep. 8), I’m taking a step back and discussing Magical Girl Raising Project as it’s progressed so far. The thing is, this series contains many aspects that would have made me stop watching a long time ago, yet somehow I’ve enjoyed each episode as it comes out. This could be another case of me getting addicted to a series whose drawbacks might outweigh its merits, but there’s something that bothers me about this particular series. I hope that getting all of this out will help me (and you guys, if you can bear with the ramblings) to understand why.

After writing this post, I realized I have mixed feelings towards Magical Girl Raising Project. I think the things that work for it are also the things that don’t work for it. It’s really just going through the middle.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a post discussing “dark magical girl series” in general, and how Magical Girl Raising Project ranks among them. This is also NOT a discussion about how this relates to “regular,” happy magical girl series, though I do mention them several times in this article. Here, I aim to look at Magical Girl Raising Project as its own entity.

The main contention I have with this series is its ever-so-slowly uncovering narrative.

Particularly, the coyness of the authors with regards to the grand narrative. Every issue I have is related to this.

What is Magical Girl Raising Project? What’s the whole POINT?

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Do we even know what the title alludes to? Just based on its name, “Magical Girl Raising Project” must be a project aimed at raising magical girls, yet even after 8 episodes we still don’t know what this project is, or what the girls should be raised to become, or even what the very definition of a magical girl should be. Snow White thinks it’s of a more traditional sense—righteous girls who fight for love and justice. The “magical girl” that Cranberry and Fav seem to look at is more of a “magical” girl – a girl with superhuman strength and feats. The strongest of the strong. And then there’s La Pucelle, who is just a gender-bender girl even though she’s completely female when she transforms. That is indeed magical in its own way.

From all of the details given so far, we are in Phase 1 of this project. Cranberry seems to be the master of everything since Fav keeps calling her “Master.” Fav also clarified that they specifically want girls whose personalities cause friction, and girls who get riled up easily. Deaths, of course, help amp up the friction considerably. He’s been gearing up for the bloodshed since day 1, and has deliberately chosen every girl to advance this violence.

The thing is, we still don’t know the main point of the series. We don’t know what Fav is, or what he and/or Cranberry are planning.

Fav just doesn’t say things.

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Throughout the entire series, Fav just doesn’t say things. He’s said “Nobody likes a tattletale, pon!” when pressed for information about deaths multiple times, even if it’s super apparent what’s happened. In episode 1, he just offers Snow White to become a magical girl without giving his own impression of what a magical girl entails. In episode 2, he begins the Magical Candies competition to pluck off the magical girls one by one. The key word here, I believe, is competition—he even says to Ripple that it’s great that she considers the other girls rivals. The competition was never meant to be a friendly contest in the first place, but he doesn’t outwardly state that and lets the girls make their own assumptions. And of course, the competition just gets worse and worse through the episodes, where Fav all but casts away the presumption of a Magical Candies competition just as casually as he started it.

This undercurrent of competition explains why there are so many different kinds of magical girls, with many philosophies that clash with each other. The anime already points this ambiguity out for us in the first episode, when Snow White mentions that the girls are more other things (e.g. witches, ninjas) than (what she perceives as) magical girls. The western, gun-toting, alcoholic outlaw Calamity Mary already seemed a strange pick since the very beginning. What’s even more aggravating is that some of the girls like La Pucelle, who says that each girl decides her own path to righteousness, already seem to have figured it out. Yet they never question it in that much detail. They just all like being magical girls for their own reasons, I guess.

Do we need deeper characterization?

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Here’s something I would normally press, since I usually latch onto characterization when watching shows. I don’t think Magical Girl Raising Project has very deep characters. They all have very eye-catching designs, but each girl is defined by a pretty black-or-white belief and/or personality quirk that frankly aren’t memorable in themselves. And, because of the aforementioned requirements for magical girls, tragic background is pretty much a given.

So the story has made it such that it’s okay if all of the girls have sob stories. It’s not necessarily a requirement, but it does make sense and is the easiest way to go about things. To this end, every single girl has at the very least been bullied, or felt lonely, or is just an outcast of some kind.

The story has also made it so that we don’t need that much characterization, since many of the characters will drop like flies thanks to all the bloodshed that’s been going on.

And finally, the story has made it so that the girls should have singular yet contrasting personalities, because those are the ones that will maximize the heat between them the most.

There is no main character in the entire series. I thought it was Snow White at first, but frankly, other magical girls have had much more screentime than she’s had. Rather, she seems to be a gauge for how more “traditional” magical girls would react in the situations she’s been put in. Just one of the pawns, and the one who just so happened to introduce us to the plot BECAUSE of the way she—we—thought about magical girls.

But I don’t think Magical Girl Raising Project was ever intended to have a huge focus on characterization, or a single character. The whole focus has been this slowly drawn out plot, with higher beings whose motives still haven’t been uncovered. If you can stomach the slow evolution of the plot, and everything that comes with it, then you may like this series.

The violence!

As I hope has been apparent during my last few episode reviews, what really shines in Magical Girl Raising Project is the heightening of friction throughout the series. Every episode contains a new element of backstabbing or extreme form of punishment, showcasing just how cruel these girls can become or how powerful/powerless their abilities are.  Since this seems to be Fav’s current goal, everything is arguably on point towards that destination.

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Everything ties together.

This brings me to my final observation. Many of the elements from past episodes have affected, and still continue to affect, elements in future episodes. You can check out remyfool’s episode 7 review for one such example, where they backtrack quite a lot through past episodes to capture minute details relating to Hardgore Alice, the new girl who’s finally, truly introduced in that episode but whose appearance had been hinted at throughout the series.

Okay. Cool. So do you enjoy it?

Even though many events might seem baseless, the creators seem to have placed a lot of thought into making this series, no matter how you perceive its execution. I appreciate that, but also understand that Magical Girl Raising Project can be enjoyed or pushed aside for the exact same reasons. I know that’s such a non-committal answer and that practically all series fit into that category, but I haven’t felt so 50-50 about a series in quite a while, if ever.

I keep telling myself I don’t know the point of all this violence yet, but I’m also hooked by the creators’ ploy to keep viewers watching. So yes, yes, I do enjoy it, even with my reservations.

The reveal better be spectacular!

 

P.S. I apologize to those of you who were waiting for an episode post as per usual. For a quick recap of my reactions, I thought that the first battle was on point and had no wasted moments, and may have been my favorite kill of the series thus far; the middle was inundated with three recaps that didn’t mesh with the tone the first minutes had set; and the last part was a little confusing but got the ball rolling for next episode. If you’d like to discuss more with me, feel free to comment on this post or contact me. But definitely check out all the great reviews floating around the Internet.

Thank you for reading!

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16 thoughts on “Navigating Through Magical Girl Raising Project (Eps. 1 – 8)

  1. Karandi says:

    It will be interesting to find out what the overall point (if any) of this show is. I dropped this early because I didn’t really care for the generic set-up and the one-note characters but I’ve been fairly interested in the views of others who are still watching it and how it has developed. I still don’t know if I’m ever going back to watch it but I really am looking forward to people’s final thoughts on this series. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. remyfool says:

    Sleeping on it let you make an excellent post after all!

    I think I’m in a similar boat when it comes to this series. I understand where people are coming from when they drop it or criticize it, but I still enjoy the shoe a lot nonetheless.

    I guess it hinges on the ending of the series. Will it be enough to overcome the weak start?

    Thanks for linking to my blog and thanks for sharing! I do appreciate your creative yet thoughtful blog posts and this is definitely one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alane says:

      Hahaha thanks for reading through all of it, and glad you like it. xD

      Yea, I think personally I am v fine with waiting for the ending in mgrp. The pivot point for me was probably swim swim’s gorgeous backstabbing action. (also Nemurin was tres cute :c ). But I also remember going “y u doing this to me” on more than one occasion. I think I stopped doing that the past few eps when it was more like this: “O_O y u doing this to u”

      no problem c: I like your posts and insights! That one was one of my favorites; I was like, this guy spends way too much time thinking about rabbit feet, or something like that :p. But really, it was a nice example of how a lot of things in the anime tie together.

      Thanks again for reading and being patient with all these experimental posts! Hahaha, I remember when I said I ultimately wanted to streamline my post formats *o*…/eternity ago

      Liked by 1 person

      • remyfool says:

        You’re very welcome! It was my pleasure to read it! c:
        Mmm. That was cold-hearted (yet cool) of Swim Swim, I gotta say. Nemurin was such a sweetie. ;___;
        The girls have gone to drastic measures, but I guess it’s the only way out now that they’ve become magical girls. It’s a tough world.
        Thanks! Yeaaah I do! Just kidding. I like this pasta brand called Annie’s Homegrown or something that serves organic stuff at premium prices (not fond of that aspect but oh well) since it has a bunny on the packaging. But real bunnies? They poop too much, ughhh. But thanks. Too much free time leaves plenty of room to think!
        You’re so welcome! I remember you saying that, haha. Oh, well, it’s a process. Your posts do take a long time to write, but they are interesting!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alane says:

        Ohhhhh. You know, I’ve been eyeing that Annie’s pasta for a while now. Just going like, “oh hello” and then shamelessly buying the dinosaur-shaped macaroni beside it or something. Maybe it’s time to check Annie’s out. :3

        Turhur. I’VE ACCEPTED MY LOT IN LIFE I AM FREE

        Liked by 1 person

      • remyfool says:

        I liked it the few times I’ve had it, but it’s been a while. Don’t hate me if my memories are leading me astray and it’s not as good as I remember!
        Hey, I can’t blame you. Dino macaroni sounds awesome c:
        FREEDOM OH YEAH

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nanaya says:

    Very fair and mostly true, wow you give a lot of thoughts for this.

    – Do we need deeper characterization?
    I have to agree and disagree on this. You see I was quite interested in the characters but I felt like I only managed to see a small part of them. Mind you I have the same thought as you after reading the first arc. I was both right and wrong, the series focus on character quite a lot too and well known for it no less. The reason was the concept, a law of magic in-universe, “the power reflect themselves”, for that to be true the characters need to be a lot of things. One of the fault of Unmarked is character screen time, a short volume wasn’t enough to give all the characters the right focus. The author learned to balance latter on. (Later arcs are twice or thrice longer.) Probably the main reason why the girls in Unmarked got a lot of side stories and a whole other volume named peaceful days focusing on them.

    On to the episode, I believe the middle part was there mostly because the series don’t really focus on tragic moments. Winterprison dies but the majority was unaffected and continue on.

    Random bits,
    Characters stats (Fanbook 1+2) credit goes to whoever made this. http://imgur.com/1lLk5gX
    characters song sample from youtube if you are curious, Gov8zjlxuIU, EAcvi6SDI7E, PVtZVn2mvI8.
    I almost forgot, the translator in tumblr put a write up weiss winterprison for this week. (I need to buy the fanbook …;_;, also end up writing too much again.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alane says:

      ohhh, okay. If the powers reflect themselves, then there must be a lot of nuances to the powers that the girls have. So this arc is called Unmarked? Don’t spoil it, but I hope they reveal why at the end of the anime! I have this feeling that there are different magical girls for every arc or something like that.

      I see, so it was pretty tight for the first arc. In addition to learning the balance of the manga, I wonder if the author was constrained by e.g. a small budget, since the series was just starting out. It’d be nice to see the other volume with all the other background ifnromation.

      Thanks for the shares! I’ll definitely check all of them out.

      I see. So it’s like, you just spend a little bit of time as a quick memorial to the character and then trudge right on.

      Ooo y’know, I really like Winterprison. She’d grown on me a lot and was like, the other La Pucelle but not as naive or something like that. :c i’m so sad she’s gone. I’ll check out the write up sometime!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nanaya says:

        The power and personality connection is honestly one of my favorite part of the series, mostly because it was properly explored and not glossed over.

        Who knows, parts of the Episodes and Peaceful days at least explored the characters of this arc more. So I am satisfied…somewhat. There were still many untold stories left though, like CM mentoring Top Speed and Nemurin.

        Cranberry has a good song for a 3* singer haha, Ruler and Swin Swin got a duet named betrayal, ouch.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Alane says:

        Aw, that’s a shame. Maybe if they ever do an extension on this arc / show eps from the other arcs, then we’ll get to find out.

        I tried to watch the YouTube videos, but unfortunately they’re not available in my country. Thank you for the links, though!

        What’s a 3* singer?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nanaya says:

        I hope there will be Ovas after the anime is over at least, that’s the only way I can see the “episodes” aka short stories getting adapted. I’ll take at least one if I can get it.

        Oh sorry about that.

        Ah it was from the stats sheet, every characters in fan-book one got a special stat somewhat unique to them, Cranberry has 3* singing as her special stats meaning for a “musician of forest” she isn’t that good at singing in-universe. Weiss has 5* alcohol drinking lol. Mary of all people has 4* housework.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Alane says:

        oh oops. I admit I hadn’t looked at that quite as much as I should have c:. Thanks for pinpointing. haha, I guess Cranberry’s better at violin. That’s surprising about Mary–I guess she just didn’t have a good attitude. Swim Swim’s a 5* at learning skills? I think that makes sense; she seems like a smart cookie. I really like Alice’s 5* in wrong impression.

        Liked by 1 person

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