Magical Girl Raising Project can be seen by some as cute girl snuff porn. I am one of those people in that camp. While Magical Girl Raising Project can be shocking and entertaining, it is nothing more than junk food with near zero substance. Sometimes that is okay. I sure enjoyed the experience of watching it, but I feel given the comparisons this show is being given I feel its only right to tackle why this show fails to really say anything and what makes it entertaining. Even though it would be easy to address the reason people compare it to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, I wont in this review for the sake of having the show stand on it’s own as much as possible. Though through the review you’ll be able to understand my stance on comparing these shows and why I feel they ultimately have little in common anyway. Also I have no experience with the light novel its based off of. I’ve never been opposed to tackling a magical girl show and here is no exception, so let’s get to it.
From the opening scene of Magical Girl Raising Project we’re led to believe that things aren’t as they seem. The atmosphere is foreboding and darkness is looming around the corner, despite the innocent and happy events that transpire in the first episode. The show didn’t take long to reveal its true intention and when it did I was invested in the fight for survival scenario that it was going for. Having people be forced to fight or compete for their lives is always appealing and alliances for certain characters form quite fast, especially if they are all cute girls. But what Magical Girl Raising Project seems to be absent of is, intention to root for these girls beyond the general empathetic sense. Sure I got emotional and sad when characters died. It’s only natural. Seeing innocent people being forced into horrible situations is awful and seeing them die and struggle is easily gripping. I wouldn’t care about these characters unless their life was on the line. So what is it all in service of? Around episode five I was asking myself this question and for the rest of the series I failed to receive an answer. Sure all the characters have their own motivations but what is the show saying? There must be a reason for all these things to be happening. Isn’t that the point of a narrative like this? It sure seemed like it was going somewhere with the main character Snow White being innocent and a bystander for the whole show. However it never delves into telling us why any of this should matter other than people are dying and that’s bad, so we should be sad. Again this works but only for so long. I don’t wanna watch a show that brutally murders people, makes me feel sorry for them and says nothing. It made me depressed and in service of nothing. It doesn’t even have the courtesy to have the simple message of “this world sucks and we can’t change it”. The ending is pseudo hopeful, I think.
Given the tight narrative and cast of diverse characters it should feel like there would be something tying everything together. Why else would you spend the time developing every character, trying to make us feel for their situation; only to kill them and say nothing about it. Like I said before it feels like just snuff porn. A show that reviles in depression and gratuitous violence isn’t enough to make me care in the long run. Even as I write this review I lost all the feeling I felt for every character except contempt. And the characters aren’t even that bad. Sure there are too many broken characters, but they fall into the realm of reason for the most part (I’m looking at you Swim Swim). It’s easy to say a character is crazy just because, but Magical Girl Raising Project makes sure you know why they are crazy and makes their actions make seem logical and hence lets the narrative flow, and keeps you invested in what will happen next.
All except one. The lovable mascot character is the breaking point for this show. It is the clear villain of all puppet masters and nothing beyond that. Its motivations are never even attempted to be rationalized. Never does it try to make you think about why it may be doing this cruel thing and not care. It is just there to be a shocking villain that is cute and apathetic. Why does this happen with such a diverse cast of emotion from the other characters? Because they want it to feel alien. Which would work if they were consistent, but they aren’t. As the show progresses the mascot reveals its intention extremely vaguely and even shows emotion. It’s as alive as these girls its making fight to the death, so why is it scary? It’s not anymore, just a cheap attempt to be edgy. It is around to say horrible things in a peppy voice and make the girls struggle. In the end even Snow White just gets pissed at it because its being such a dick. I don’t think you want to feel like the main villain is just a dick. Especially if the consequences involve murder. It clearly understand emotions, but why doesn’t it care about these girls. We never know, it’s just gratuitous. Same goes for the horrific ways people die. It’s gory as all hell and after fifteen deaths it becomes too much (civilian killing spree aside). Everything in this show gets old, because for the most part nothing changes, it just repeats. The story progresses but none of the characters do. So that brings up the question, how does this plan for the magical girls to kill each other kick off in the first place? Something has to change the status quo for the shows events to unfold.
Magical Girl Raising Project functions on a tipping point philosophy. Meaning that everything can be going hunky dory but all it takes is one change in the status quo for everything to spiral out of control. It’s the same as the Joker’s “one day” philosophy in the Killing Joke. Giving a group of people the extreme of kill or be killed presents an almost unavoidable outcome. From the very start we know that people are going to kill each other even though some don’t want to. But that really only happens once, at the end. Every other death is by someone who is okay with killing. So instead of people struggling with killing others, we get people cowering until its their moment to die. Literally a battle of attrition for who can stay pure the longest. That’s boring. You would think that there would be some answer to this problem, but the show never gives us one. It follows the scenario to its conclusion and has a Hunger Games ending. There isn’t any shift in the narrative as a whole. No big reveals that change how things happen, or how we perceive the events. Why can’t this show give me something to care, invest, or think about? Again it’s because all it wants to do is be shocking. It wants to be that thing you saw and couldn’t un-see. The thing that you thought was gross but kept watching anyway because you had to know how it ended. The villain is never even challenged until the ending. All these girls have magical powers and never once try to defy the villain. They’d rather just kill each other. What about the lifespan items, one was worth 25 years off your life but the person who bought it never suffered from it. I guess the implication is shocking but what would have really been cool was her dying because her time was up. Just a lot of cool ideas without any real creative ways to use them. It’s like giving a five-year old a chess set.
The ending is by far the worst part. If you don’t give your characters arc’s or motivations or emotional conflict the ending will suffer. This one does. The bad guy dies in a bullshit way and instead of dealing with the problem, the survivors ran away. It doesn’t make any sense as to how or why they escape the rules of the game. They just do. Suddenly the organization that can create magical girls at will and kill them at will is unaware or powerless to kill these girls who have stolen their power and are working independent from their wishes. This is where the disconnect ripples backwards through the show and made me think, why the hell did any of this happen if they didn’t really care? I guess you could say that’s part of the tragic nature of the show. That even though bad things happen to someone, its trivial for others. But what’s the point of having a happy ending then? Why not just kill them all if you don’t care? Or maybe they do care because the mascot could feel emotions. So there is motivation but this show fails to be consistent on it and drowns its resolution with blowing a hole in a person because its shocking and the audience wasn’t expecting it.
The only positive thing about this show is the character development. Which all happens in flashbacks. None of it’s really effected by the narrative, it’s all back story stuff. Magical Girl Raising Project fails to connect and that’s why it falls short. The events are griping but they don’t stick for long. I never felt the events paid off or were worth it. It’s twelve episodes of being sad and depressed and feeling hopeless. If that’s what the show was going for I guess it worked, but even if I step in a puddle I know it’ll eventually dry. That’s all this show is to me, a puddle. I made it through but at the end I was pissed by what it had to say, which is nothing. This show is a good way to fill time and wont bore you, but that’s about it.