This week anime fans were delighted to find out that for their 2024 Winter season, HiDive would be simulcasting not only one, but two uncensored shows. HIDIVE announced that both Gushing Over Magical Girls and Chained Soldier would be broadcast in their slightly censored and uncensored version. Given the subject matter of these shows, one would think that they’re nothing more than lewdness, especially since they’re being aired uncensored but one would be mistaken. By getting through Gushing Over Magical Girls’ first episode, it’s easy to see that there’s more to it than just lewdness.
Who Are We, Really?
It’s a fundamental aspect of life that we, as humans, always believe that we are strong enough to avoid deviant behavior. When we consider how we would respond to a specific situation, we often imagine ourselves as the hero, bravely coming to the rescue and taking a stand against any injustices that may arise. We tend to believe that when faced with a fight or flight situation, we would lean towards choosing a fight. This is because, as social creatures, we often seek recognition and praise. When we engage in extraordinary actions, we not only receive praise. But also enhance our position within the group. While this may be a constant, it’s something we rarely think about or deeply cover. But how we wish to act and how we actually act are very different things and in the first episode of the anime adaptation of Akihiro Ononaka’s Gushing Over Magical Girls, we are presented with an eloquent portrayal of how what we expect our reaction to be differs from what it actually can be.
The thing about reactions is that they are always unpredictable. Until we’re placed in specific situations, we cannot know how we will react. Furthermore, even if we already experienced something once, our reaction to it a second time may vary drastically. How we process a situation is influenced by various factors, including mental and physical health, stress levels, and environmental factors. In addition to that, we also have subconscious likes and dislikes that remain unknown to us until they are triggered. As a result, accurately assessing our reaction to anything becomes a difficult task.
Episode 1 In A Nutshell
Gushing Over Magical Girls centers around Utena Hiiragi, a girl who, by her own admission, is a background character living her life in obscurity. If one could sum up Utena as a drink. She’d be nothing more than water. Her one defining factor in an otherwise bland life is her deep admiration for magical girls. An admiration that borders obsessiveness when it comes to her hometown’s magical girls Tres Magia.
Gushing Over Magical Girls’ first episode commences with Utena wishing she could become a magical girl, and as she does so she is approached by a magical mascot Venalita. Venalita gives Utena an offer that sounds too good to be true… it can help her become a magical girl! However, what actually happens is that when she transforms, she ends up in a revealing and provocative outfit. Venalita then reveals that it has been watching her for some time and is convinced she’s fit to be a villain. Not wanting to head down the path of evil, Utena quickly tries to opt out. This causes Venalita to blackmail her by threatening to release a video of her scandalous transformation to Twitter (a true sign of the times). When she points out how coercive and underhanded the situation is, Venalita curtly replies with what can only be interpreted as; “Well duh, we the bad guys”
Utena then begrudgingly transforms into an evil magical girl and is immediately confronted by Tres Magia. She pleads to them for help, stating she does not want to be a villain. That she was coerced into her present role. While the Tres Magia leader (Magia Magenta) initially believes her, the rest of Tres Magia believe it to be a feint and go on the offensive. Here is where things proceed to go down the rabbit hole faster than the world economy did during COVID-19. Venalita quickly presents Utena with her weapon, a crop named Frustino Dominanza. When something is struck by it, it causes monsters to spawn. Utena strikes a nearby flower causing it to morph into an S&M-themed monster with various tentacles included. And what does a tentacled flower monster do best? Well, ravage magical girls, of course!
Then, in a scene that can be described as eloquent introspection. Utena begins to realize that while she should be appalled that the monster she summoned (and by default herself) is hurting her beloved Tres Magia, she is, in fact, enjoying it. And not only is she enjoying it, she’s REALLY enjoying it. Witnessing the scene before her, Utena goes weak at the knees, hot in the no-no zone, and lets her newfound joy overtake her.
However, as she starts to recognize that something in her isn’t quite kosher, she tries to back off. But this is only met by further threats from Venalita, who once again coerces her into the fray. After seeing no other option. Because, let’s be honest, she no longer has a safe exit. After all, she provoked, accosted, and made enemies of the town’s magical girls. So she’ll get no sympathy from them. Running away would make her an enemy of an evil organization that would mess her up more than the aforementioned magical girls. No matter the option, her choice ends badly. So she presses on.
Utena asks the magical girls in front of her, “Could.. you stick out your butts?” and initially listlessly hits them. However, this causes a lot of personal conflict. She experiences mixed feelings from deriving joy in hurting her beloved magical girls, yet knows she’s in the wrong for feeling this way. As a result, she concludes that the absurd situation she finds herself in cannot be real. She tells herself it’s a dream. And since a dream carries no repercussions, she might as well enjoy herself. She then channels her inner Sir Mix-A-Lot, comes to terms with the fact that she likes big butts and she cannot lie, and proceeds to whip the ever-loving life out of Tres Magia.
Like seriously, judging by shadows and the sun’s position in the sky. When she began her assault, it was early afternoon. By the time she was done, the sun was already setting. She legit went Christian Grey on them for hours. She wakes up the next day thinking it was all a dream. But instantly sees Ventalia in her room, serving as a reminder that everything that transpired was real.
That same day Utena is again forced to fight Tres Magia. A moment of appreciation has to be given to the fact that she’s summoned to the battlefield via Line. That was comedy gold. There’s no magical calling, no outlandish inner feeling that alerts her to a fight. Venalita literally messages her to say, “ey yo, get your ass here” (albeit not in those words, but the sentiment was there). Again, she initially protests fighting. But once more, she’s coerced into doing so by the threat of yet another indecent video being leaked to her family. So, again, she halfheartedly goes into a fight she ends up enjoying. With the help of mannequin monsters, she subjects Tres Magia to what can only be described as tickle torture.
Here, the usual prolonged and anguished inner monologue of an MC who doesn’t want to do something is cast aside. Instead, we get an “it’s already happening, might as well enjoy it” attitude, which is refreshing. Being true to oneself is a higher virtue than most would think, for the most offensive lie is a lie told to oneself. Likewise, the show does a poignant job of showing how easy it is to slip into the addictive nature of something one finds gratifying. As with any addiction, if you’re looking from the outside in, one would think it’s just a matter of self-control. However, the reality is that self-control has little to do with it. When your own body is screaming at you that something is overflooding your pleasure receptors, fighting that feeling is a herculean effort. This wavering of convictions and acceptance of an immoral pleasure is conveyed by everything from the cracking of her voice, the tenseness of her body, and her quivering movements which show how Utena is quickly slipping into her own dark zeitgeist.
Gushing Over Magical Girls Premiere – Overall Impressions
Saying that a show like Gushing Over Magical Girls can only pander to a specific demographic is a woefully inaccurate statement. While this show is an ecchi lover’s paradise, there’s more to it than just that. Seeing as how the main character is a sexual sadist and the heroes receiving her assault are three female characters. It’s safe to say that the show will ruffle some feathers. If you would rather steer clear of explicit content depicting assault, of which this show will include several scenes, we advise you not to proceed further than the first episode.
But, overall, the series does a great job at self-acceptance, even if it is not the warm and fluffy introspection most people would like. The animation in the first episode of Gushing Over Magical Girls won’t win any awards. But it’s far from bad. The colors are vibrant, and the blending of light and shadows is decent enough. There are a few frames where expressions and composition are noticeably off, but it’s nothing too distracting. The voice acting is perfect. Pain, self-doubt, embarrassment, and apprehension are all easily conveyed by the VAs. Since no major fights have yet happened, little can be said about how fluid these will be. If you’re a fan of Prism Illya, Immoral Guild, To Love Rue, or Date A Live, this is a show for you.
Screenshots via HiDive
© Akihiro Ononaka/ Takeshobo/ Gushing Over Magical Girls Production Committee