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Review of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 11: Magical Calorie Roll-Up and The Other Shoe

Quick Summary

In Magical Girl Spec-Ops Askuka episode 11, "The Magical Girls and This Beautiful World," Asuka Ootorii, seeing Giess standing with his foot on the fallen General Tabira's head, furiously attacks. Giess' armor and weapons, though, were designed with Asuka in mind. Will she be able to stop Giess' plan -- or even survive the battle? Meanwhile, Chisato Yonamine presses her attack against Kurumi Mugen, who's fighting not only against her opponent, but against her own dark memories. How will Kurumi react when Chisato begins acting like the bullies from Kurumi's past? Finally, Mia Cyrus tries to lead Sayako Hata and Nozomi Makino to safety but ends up surrounded by Disas. Exhausted and still bleeding, can Mia punch through? Or hold out until help arrives? For that matter, is there any help left to arrive?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious. 

What's in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

If this were a 1980s sitcom, this is the point where Chisato learned a valuable life lesson. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Moment 1

Chisato's unexpected speed and martial arts had Kurumi on the ropes, despite our hero having more magical power and combat experience. In other words, Chisato was not only winning the physical battle, she was winning the psychological battle, too. Then she made a serious tactical error: She told Kurumi she'd use her a sandbag (punching bag) (4:20). Every memory of the vicious bullies flooded back, and Kurumi seemed to snap -- she went for blood. I was thinking that this was cool -- thematically, it fit, and it was awesome seeing Kurumi cut loose! However, when Chisato gained the upper hand, honestly, I felt frustrated and annoyed. Would it really kill the writers to give me a little Kurumi-power goodness? Oh me of little faith! As Chisato straddled Kurumi and pummeled her, Kurumi rejected the weak interpretation of herself, the self who needed Asuka to rescue her all the time (7:13). She remembered that Asuka was facing Giess and might need rescuing of her own. Declaring that "I'm Magical Girl War Nurse Kurumi", she broke her enemy's hold and jammed one of her hypodermic needles into Chisato's neck (7:20). And that was the end of Chisato's career as a bad Magical Girl!

Asuka is such a badass that getting her arm crushed off just slowed her down. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Moment 2

In terms of raw nerve, in terms of raw guts, I'm not sure if I've seen a moment as powerful as Asuka walking past her own severed arm (9:22). I'm not sure if she cut it off herself to avoid being pinned, or if Giess' weapon dealt the damage. But that's secondary -- after loosing her left arm below the elbow, she stayed in the fight! Not only that, but she retained the presence of mind to ask Sacchuu to analyze Giess to find where the source of the magic powering his armor. That is major badassery! 

Gotta feel sorry for this poor girl... Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Moment 3

This isn't my third favorite moment necessarily because I like it. It's because I think it was so dramatically effective. Chisato regained consciousness while Kurumi was reattaching Asuka's arm (and I'm still in awe of Asuka's stone-cold resolution!). She's crying, because she feels like she failed Giess, who was one of the only people who seemed to care for her and who saved her from an abusive father. Plus, if you remember episode 8, Giess had also helped her take revenge on the teens who had killed her mom. He told her she didn't need to apologize, and I was thinking that yeah, he was trying to be supportive until the end. Then, saying he needed to apologize to her, he told her that he and Babel Brigade had used a remote control device to kill her mother and frame the teens. Why? Because they sensed she could become a Magical Girl (15:14). It was a terrible moment, but it was memorable. Not sure what's next for this poor girl, but I hope it's better than what's come before.

Thoughts

Did you hear the panic in Sacchuu's voice when he thought Asuka had died (9:16)? And the complete shock in his voice when he realized she was still alive (9:32)? Kinda mimicked my reactions! Sacchuu has grown on me in these last few episodes. 

And did you see Kurumi's solution to the problem of what to do with Chisato while she rushed to support Asuka? Kurumi just dragged her (14:35)! Kurumi has this core of practicality that I can't help but admire.

Magical calorie roll-up sure comes in handy, doesn't it? Both Asuka and Tamara used it to good effect in this episode. Too bad it depletes their magic, though if they could use it all the time, it be a bit anti-climatic.

Some time ago, I read a comment or post that I swear from was Karandi James. I really thought it was from one of her reviews of this same series, but I can't remember which, and I spent more time than I had trying to find it. The observation was that both sides in this conflict seemed perfectly comfortable enlisting teenagers as combat soldiers. Whether it be the JSDF for recruiting Asuka or the terrorists recruiting Giess (and his subsequent recruitment of Chisato), the idea was the same: underaged soldiers. 

Sure, Asuka's effective! But is it still morally permissible to recruit teenagers for combat? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

This question really bothered me. Sure, we can point to the differences in motives. It's one thing to recruit Magical Girls because they are the only ones who can save the planet. It's quite another to recruit them because you want some other village's well. But is that enough of a justification?

The core of the question persisted. It bothered me -- like it bothered Yoshiaki Iizuka -- that they had to rely on teenaged girls to protect them. It's not a macho thing; it's an "adult should be the ones protecting children" sort of thing.

Episode 10 gave me a hint. Mia and Tamara Volkova seemed exhausted and beaten down, but they decided to keep fighting. They'd been ordered to, but the show made it clear earlier that no one really controls the Magical Girls. They do what they want. And Mia and Tamara wanted to protect the soldiers and others who were depending on them. 

It was a matter of their choice. 

Giess was coerced into becoming a terrorist. Chisato was tricked into fighting for the Queen and Giess. Neither were really free; neither could exert their wills in their own best interests, because they'd been lied to. In essence, they both were coerced into doing what they did.

Asuka, Kurumi, Tamara, and Mia fought by choice. They knew the risks. They knew the stakes. No army in the world could coerce them, but they still decided to fight.

The Magical Girls decided to stay in the fight. No one tricked them. That's a huge difference from their foes! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

To me, that's a huge difference. I'd hate to ask someone like Asuka to go into the line of fire on my behalf. But if I had to ask her, I'd want her to make the decision freely, with complete knowledge of what she was doing. Risks, stakes, and everything. 

And with the understanding that she would get all the support we could give her.

This is a pretty dark show at times. It's a lot like our world in that respect! That's why I'm heartened to see the sanctity of free will seems important to the show's themes. It's not that it excuses anything. But it does place the power where it should be: In the hands of those who are going into harm's way. 

What did you think of the fight scenes in the episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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5 thoughts on “Review of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 11: Magical Calorie Roll-Up and The Other Shoe

  1. The ending bugged me though… Everyone was acting as they’d won (if only just) and the battle was over. Huh? The VVIP is still around, still needs guarding, and the Bad Guys have the Magical McGuffin.

    1. As I watched it the first couple of times, I interpreted their reaction to be simple relief that the fight didn’t kill them. Now that you mention it, I can see what you mean. I can see the sense of finality that simply isn’t warranted.

      Was it enough to ruin your sense of immersion/suspension of disbelief?

      For some shows, I have to concentrate harder than others to maintain that sense. This is one of those shows! I find that if I keep my attention on Asuka, and if I interpret everything in relation to her, I can maintain the illusion of immersion.

      But it’s hard!

      “and the Bad Guys have the Magical McGuffin.”

      If the General were a real tactician, as soon as she learned that the gate was down, she would have hidden the real box and substituted something that was magical, but less dangerous. Wouldn’t she? I mean, sure, Asuka’s protecting her, so there’s a measure of safety; but contingencies are important.

      I’m really curious to see how they wrap up the season. I know the manga’s ongoing, so I’m not anticipating anything particularly final. Still, if they don’t resolve the “Magical McGuffin,” I admit I’ll be disappointed!

      1. It’s not that it ruined my sense of immersion/suspension of disbelief… It just bugged the hell out of me. The final straw on how badly this whole op has been run if you will.

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