Magical Girl Raising Project is a popular social game that has an ability to grant players a 1 in 10,000 chance to become a real life Magical Girl with unique magical abilities to help people. However, at some point, Fav, the magical administrator fairy, decides to cut the population of Magical Girls in half. The game quickly changes into a twisted, wicked battlefield as the 16 magical girls get dragged into a battle for survival against each other.
This one quickly became a favourite of mine down to the fact that it involves magical girls. I’m quite a fan of the genre and I particularly enjoy the exploration of the darker side of being a mahou shoujo ever since the success of Puella Magi Madoka Magica back in 2013. In a similar vein, Magical Girl Raising Project has the veneer of cute girls in costumes guarding cities and looking after its citizens and protecting them however they can – from finding a set of lost keys for a young girl to saving the lives of elderly people trapped in a house fire. However, the mysterious creature Fav soon realises that having 16 magical girls within the vicinity is becoming a drain on the mana being produced in the city and announces that it plans to get rid of one magical girl every week (the one with the least candies received from protecting the cities denizens that week). The one with the least to show for their efforts have their powers removed and they cease to be a magical girl anymore. But is that the only thing that they cease to be?
Koyuki Himekawa is the newest magical girl in town and agreed to sign a contract to become a mahou shoujo because of her passion for helping people, not to mention her biggest childhood fantasy was to become a magical girl just like those that she saw on TV. She finds out that she can communicate with other girls like her through a special magical girl chatroom and make friends with them. Some of them are friendlier than others and some are stronger. So when the competition heats up everyone’s determination comes to the forefront. Some double their efforts to help people, some team up together of numerical strength and some, like the infamous Calamity Mary, threaten and frighten their way to supremacy. Fav doesn’t seem too concerned at the mortal peril it has put these young girls in and its pleasant and unthreatening appearance belies evil intentions – much like Madoka Magica‘s Kyubey.
As we progress through the episodes, similar to other elimination-style storylines such as Battle Royale and Future Diary, we learn more about the magical girls, their backgrounds, what motivates them and their real lives. This inevitably builds up our pathos as more mahou shoujo cease to be. These background stories are portrayed so well that you even find yourself feeling sorry for the more unsympathetic characters such as Ruler, whose elitist and controlling ways cause those she thought as allies to stage a coup d’état that puts her in last place – and in the firing line.
This show isn’t afraid to get gory, either. When the blood of magical girls starts being spilt, it’s rather shocking. Here are young, cute superheroes that traditionally fight on the side of goodness and justice and they are being cut down. And is tis isn’t twisted enough for you, we see the appearance of a new, rather grim-looking magical girl known as Hardgore Alice who seemingly can’t be killed regardless of what limbs she loses or what state her body’s in. To survive being being blown to pieces, set on fire and her remains thrown into the river in a metal can is a macabre talents indeed…
I do like how the idea of the traditional mahou shoujo is being subverted here, that these girls (and boys) aren’t just being chosen because they like to help people. Instead it almost seems like pot luck, with some being chosen because they’re using their sister’s phone and use their magical powers to trick others and better their quality of life. Then there are those like Calamity Mary that use their power and weapons to assert dominance and are prepared to do anything it takes to stay on top.
It’s not the first to examine the dark side of becoming a magical girl. Other similar series include Yuki Yuna is a Hero and Il Sole Penetra Le Illusioni – Day Break Illusion. It’s a relatively modern twist on the original magical girl genre of the likes of Sailormoon, Cardcaptor Sakura and Shugo Chara! that has given the genre a breath of fresh air. Every one is slightly different and an absolute treasure trove for mahou shoujo fans like myself.