In Magical Girl Spec-Ops Askuka episode 5, "A Very Realistic Way of Dealing with a Problem," Asuka Ootorii goes head to head against the two Russian operatives, who, as she learns to her chagrin, are well-trained in two-man combat. Can she win with the odds stacked against her? Especially since she's out of practice? Meanwhile, Abigail closes in on Kurumi Mugen, who soon has to defend herself against not only Abigail, but two modified Halloween-class Disas. With Asuka occupied and Kurumi backed into a corner, what hope does War Nurse have? Especially against that maniac's scissors?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What's in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Will Asuka remember her fighting skills? Uh, yeah! Now we see why she was the one to bring down the Disas king! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
After seeing Asuka right the two Russian sorcerers, I'm beginning to an even deeper appreciation for her raw power and intelligence. That would be impossible to see unless her opponents were worthy, and this episode did a great job of showing both how strong they were individually, and how well they fought together. She'd engage one, only to be rebuffed by the other's Rusalka; which left her open attack from the first! She knew that getting rid of that water spirit would tip the odds in her favor, so that's just what she did -- by hurling her Rapture Talon, her magically enlarged karambit, at -- and through -- the Rusalka-wielding Russian (5:31). And by through, I mean just that: she sliced him completely in half. She then sprinted to her second opponent, and, calmly announcing that he was no match for her (6:02), proved her point. He ended up in two halves on the ground. She had analyzed their tactics, thought on her feet, and in the end, overpowered them. Utterly overpowered them It's no wonder she was one of the five survivors! I should also mention that she's really courteous, because she thanked their dead bodies for helping get her sense of magical combat back! It's not often you see that level of politeness on the battlefield!
In spite of her own injuries, Kurumi couldn't bear to listen to Abigail disrespect her fallen comrades. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
You know, if you asked Kurumi to say how she feels about Asuka, I'm not sure she could give an honest answer. Sure, she answered that Asuka was her goddess, but in practice, what does that mean? While I doubt she could articulate it, I could see what going into battle beside Asuka did for Kurumi's fighting style. She took on two enhanced Halloween class Disas, as well as Abigail in her Magical Girl form, and she didn't die within moments. That's quite a change from the first time we saw her fight! But despite her new-found resolve, she took a terrible beating. Free-flowing blood obscured her left eye; she could barely stand. Abigail being Abigail, she had to pile on verbal abuse, taunting Kurumi for being too weak to have been one of the Magical Five. And here's where Kurumi showed the quality of her character. "I don't like that," she said (9:30). "...That Magical Five thing. There were eleven of us... It's the six who died who should be the legends!" She was unsteady on her feet, clearly near the end of her strength, but she refused to let Abigail disrespect the comrades who had fallen. I'm not even sure why, but this moment really got to me.
The combination of bright smile and toy wand border on cruel. Now I understand what "Be careful what you wish for means..." Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Asuka had an emotionally rough episode, didn't she? When she and Kurumi visit Nozomi Makino, the poor girl is terrified. She now associates Magical Girls with torture, which is reasonable, but still painful for Asuka. Based on Asuka's expression, Nozomi's reaction shredded her soul. Asuka is feeling guilty that her friend was hurt and tortured, even though it's clearly not Asuka's fault. Survivor's guilt is like that, and what's more, this shows that Asuka has an overly developed sense of personal responsibility. Later, by the end of the episode, we see Asuka still wanting a way out but feels trapped by what she sees as her duty. It was against that backdrop that she confessed to Kurumi that when she was little, she had wanted to be a Magical Girl who could protect everyone (17:34). She sees her inability to protect Nozomi as a repeat of not being able to keep the other six Magical Girls alive back in the war -- in other words, she sees herself as a continued failure. These thoughts had her teetering on the edge of despair. Then, Kurumi pulled her back by reminding her that her actions had saved both Nozomi and her in the recent battle (18:12). Yoshiaki Iizuka arrives and Asuka finally agrees to join his team, but you can tell she's still conflicted. It's at this moment that the episode decides to show us a picture of a young Asuka with a bright smile, watching a magical girl show as she clutches a toy version of a magical girl wand (20:01). The contrast was absolutely heart-rending.
Looks like the cold hearted Commissioner Miura was almost relieved that Nozomi was safe (3:19). Or maybe I'm a victim of wishful thinking! In any event, I have to admit that I'm glad that Asuka and Kurumi were able to rescue Nozomi. The show cam be brutally dark, which is perfect for its message and themes, but even in that context, I need a little hope to keep from getting too depressed.
Even if that "little hope" is just setting us up for the next emotional gut-punch!
Quite a contrast to the little girl hopefully grasping a toy magical wand, isn't it? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
What do you think of what this show is doing for Magical Girl lore? In my review of episode 4, Iizuka admitted that Magical Girls were more or less forces of nature that humans couldn't control. This episode added an additional concept when Iizuka said that "The most effective way to deal with a Magical Girl... it's simply to send another Magical Girl at them" (14:44). Which he said an instant before Asuka showed up and hacked off some of Abigale's fingers. Apparently, he was on to something!
Both of these ideas have an implication for our hero Asuka. She can't be forced to do anything, but at the same time, she -- and the other remaining legal Magical Girls -- are all that stands between humans and Magical Girls like Abigale -- if. that is, they decide to. Not even M Squad and their weapons could prevail in the long term against the Queen or others like her. Only Asuka, Kurumi, or other Magical Girls can do that.
Talk about pressure!
Did you notice what seems to have finally pushed Asuka to make the decision to rejoin? Remember how Iizuka admitted that he felt it was pathetic that professional soldiers weren't enough against a magical enemy? You could tell he felt humiliated that he needed the Magical Girls to fight. Asuka, rather than be repelled, tried to comfort him by telling him there were things only he could do, just like there were things only a Magical Girl could do (19:34). Then she told him she was going to join, much to Kurumi's joy.
Kurumi watches as Asuka -- the Magical Girl who is tormented by the responsibility that's crushing her -- comforts the man who's about to become her commanding officer. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
With Asuka's hyper-developed sense of responsibility, what other choice could she make and still be at peace with herself? Or is the show saying something else? Is it possible that there is no choice that will bring Asuka peace? If she fights, she'll continue to see Kurumi in danger. There's no doubt that she'll witness other members of M Squad die in combat. All of the kinds of terrible experiences that tormented her will continue to do so. But if she tries to not fight, her friends will continue to be in danger; illegal Magical Girls are an ongoing threat. The best she can hope for is a peaceful moment stolen here and there, unless she can find a way to end the threat of illegal Magical Girls once and for all.
Her situation is much worse than that of the military veterans I know, for one simple reason: Every one of them, as skillful and successful as they were, were simply human. Other humans could step in and do the same things they had done, with the same level of success, so they could retire. In the world of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, there are exactly five legal Magical Girls, and it's pretty clear that of those five, Asuka -- Magical Girl Rapture -- is the most powerful and capable. No matter where she goes, no matter what she does, those abilities will haunt her.
Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is saying that's the fate of Magical Girls in this world, and that's tragic.
What did you think of the fights in this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit Discussion of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 5
- Rory Muses: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 5: Mighty Talon
- 100 Word Anime: Magical Trauma and Political Intrigue a Plenty
This Site (Crow's World of Anime!
- Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 1: The Magical Girl Comes Back
- Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 2: Daily Life and Comrades in Arms
- Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 3: A More Terrible War
- Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 4: Babel Brigade - Combat Begins
- Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 6: Wish Upon a Star