The premise of Magical Girl Raising Project is quite simple: magical girls in a kill-or-be-killed setting. It’s a tricky genre to write, as it’s easy to come off as pointless “edgy” gore. Fortunately, Magical Girl Raising Project knows how to make it work.
NOTE: This review contains mild spoilers
Magical Girl Raising Project, or MGRP for short, is how you make a survival series. In a show about characters killing each other, there are two essential things:
Make the viewers care about the characters
Give a valid, convincing reason for the bloodbath
While MGRP does the first much better than the second, the good things outweigh the bad ones in this case.
Magical girls are often regarded as something for little girls that you’re supposed to outgrow at some point. Even if you didn’t grow up with anime or didn’t know about magical girls at the time, chances are that you still wished you could have some sort of magical powers. It’s OK – this is a judge free zone.
MGRP uses this concept to present a wide variety of girls from all ages who have that same desire. For them, becoming a magical girl means making something more exciting and valuable with their lives. For some, it even means escaping from a very bad situation to become someone else and feel in control of their lives. Unfortunately, this dream ends up becoming their nightmare when they are forced to reduce the number of participants by killing each other.
It is said that it’s when someone’s life is in danger that a person shows their true colors, and that’s exactly the theme that drives MGRP. The anime uses this idea to their advantage by presenting a big cast and challenging our preconceptions of each one of the characters. Short anime with numerous characters are hard to handle, and they usually only work when the point of the series is to reduce the number of characters (looking at you, Mayoiga). Aside from fulfilling this requirement from early in the series, MGRP also makes sure to give equal screen-time to all characters, as well as moving backstories and even title cards in the middle of the episodes.
As per the gorey aspect, there is quite a big amount of blood and guts in here. Most of the deaths are barely censored, and the deaths were not romanticized, nor predictable. Character deaths happened suddenly and in a way that was believable. That one character that seemed like was going to be the final boss could be killed off earlier than you expected, while other characters that didn’t have much focus in the beginning might end up becoming a main character by the end. Our advice going into this series is to basically not get too emotionally attached to anyone.
Sure, Magical Girl Raising Project is nothing special. Similar things have already been done with shows like Madoka Magica, and Fav was suspiciously similar to Monokuma from Danganronpa (a series with similar themes). Leaving all the explanation for the magical girl program at the end was perhaps not a good ideas, as most of the audience had already figured out what was going on. Overall, the main attraction of MGRP are the characters, the great character designs (those eyes!), and the solid and consistent animation. It’s unclear whether there will be a second season: the source material is a light novel, and every volume has different characters, so it’s not really necessary to make a sequel. However, if you want more magical girl badassery, the Light Novel has recently been licensed by YenPress, and the first volume will come out in June 2017.