Winter 2019 Anime

An Arm For An Arm – ‘Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka’ Episode 4 Review

MGSO4

What’s the show? Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, Episode 4.

How’s this episode? You know what, I expected the worst to befall our poor kidnapped Nozomi at the end of last episode, what with her being the daughter of a state-sanctioned torturer and all. But ~yeesh~ if this episode didn’t deliver on the cold-hearted brutality of torture… I mean sure I had zero negative reaction to seeing the terrorist Kim Kanth being tortured in the previous two episodes but this time was different! This was best girl being tortured!

I’m scared. What happens to her? It’s not like you to be rushing me towards the end of the episode, I’ll get there in due-time, but first the rest of the episode!

Nozomi’s father dealing with the tough reality.

Fair ‘nuff. What happens in this episode? Nozomi is kidnapped by ruthless “illegal” magical girl Abigail, words reaches her father but there are no ransom demands–this is personal and Nozomi is set to suffer for the sins of her father. ‘Public Safety’ the group her father works for, refuses to send in a rescue team because they deem her inevitable death to be beneficial for their bargaining with the government for a bigger budget. Asuka gets wind of this and doesn’t hesitate to advance on the enemy with fellow magical girl Kurumi quickly in-tow.

Asuka’s determined to get her friend back. No matter what.

And then comes…? And then comes the torture, first at the hands of two Russian magical mercenaries–one who specialises in fire based torture–which results in Nozomi getting the skin on her stomach melted–and one who specialised in water torture. It’s the water torture in particular that’s as inventive as it is sadistic with a floating sphere of water encasing Nozomi’s head and forcing its way deep down her throat and into her stomach. It’s controlled agony and absolutely horrible to witness Nozomi being subjected to such brutal treatment.

Poor Nozomi.

And what’s their goal here? It’s not just simple revenge is it? Partly for sure. But for Abigail and her “Queen” the end goal is as simple as it is terrifying. They want to lure out a magical girl to rescue Nozomi (knowing that ‘Public Safety’ won’t risk their own people for a rescue) with the intent of capturing a magical girl and turning them into a ‘Magical Girl of Mass Destruction’.

MGMD’s, huh? Yes the modern-day terrorism motif gets a further workout with the referencing of WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction) but the earnestness with which this show presents its dark themes goes a long way to legitimising them despite sounding like something half-baked and lame on paper.

Abigail has some anger issues.

Right. So do they rescue Nozomi? In a manner of speaking. They infiltrate the base (which is a pretty cool series of scenes in of itself, and make their way to where Nozomi is being held. Asuka and Abigail verbally spar, poor Nozomi loses an arm in the exchange and our magical girls escape–well until Asuka insists on getting Kurumi and Nozomi to safety and leaves the fighting of the Russian magical mercenaries to her already injured self. And that’s where the episode ends, with a modicum of victory but a whole lot of uncertainty…

Stylish and disturbing.

And so where do you stand on this episode? You’re usually pretty generally negative on dark subject matter. I take umbrage with that comment. I’m fine with dark subject matter as long as it’s earned and contextual. Which it is both here–plus it helped that I was mentally prepared for the worst considering the previous weeks which didn’t shy away from violence. Did I “enjoy” this episode? Not in a traditional way but I thought it was compelling and made the villains all the more loathsome and despicable for torturing an innocent girl whom we’d come to know from the previous episodes. How Nozomi will come out of this, and how her character will be affected is something I’m almost more interested in seeing then the main narrative itself considering how well this show has dealt with the realistic aspects of PTSD.

What a way to go.


Previous ‘Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka’ Reviews:

The Fight Never Ends – Episode 1 Review
Surviving Takes Its Toll – Episode 2 Review
Sink Or Swim – Episode 3 Review


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4 replies »

  1. “I’m fine with dark subject matter as long as it’s earned and contextual. Which it is both here…”

    I think idea helped me deal with this. Plus, as you said, the show prepared us — but _dang_!

    “How Nozomi will come out of this, and how her character will be affected is something I’m almost more interested in seeing…”

    Considering how poor Sayako reacted to having a gun pointed at her, I want to see that, too.

    I liked your last GIF (well, I liked all of your screen caps, but the GIF in particular…). We don’t get to see a ton of action. Do you sometimes get the sense that their budget is really limited? I think they’re doing a remarkable job if that’s the case…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Because I watch a lot of seasonal shows it’s often very clear which shows have small budgets and sadly this seems like one of them. Especially when you compare it to the really solid looking shows this studio (Liden Films) animated last year. But for a small budget they’re doing pretty well, also could be they’re skimping on the action early to save money for future episodes.

      Liked by 1 person

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