Let me begin by saying that I have a soft spot in my heart for most magical girl anime.
I originally typed “soft spot in my head” there, which may have been a Freudian slip.
Anyway. I was introduced to the genre through a friend in Japan who used to send me off-air tapes of various anime, and who decided that I should see this “Sailor Moon” thing that had just started airing.
I quite liked that, so he introduced me to some of the Pierrot anime from the early 80s and, well, one thing lead to another and I wound up owning an awful lot of laserdiscs of various magical girl anime.
Anyway, it struck me that, starting around the time of Card Captor Sakura and Fancy Lala, the characters in these shows were getting to be pretty self-aware. Rather than the oh-my-god-it’s-a-talking-cat characters of older shows, these girls knew that a talking plushie showing up and blabbing on and on about their destiny meant that it was time to make with the frilly outfits and transformation scenes.
So why, really, is this a problem? Let’s be up-front here, it’s probably a good thing to be prepared for the possibility of being turned into a magical warrior for love and/or justice. It gives you a better chance of negotiating, say, appropriate skirt length, less embarrassing magical chants, avoiding winding up in Wedding Peach, that sort of thing.
I’m going to get hate mail from Wedding Peach fans for that last comment, I just know it.
So, to be fair, I had thought that it was a Good Thing that Japanese girls were being prepped for the possibility from a very young age.
Then I started watching Puella Magi Madoka Magica and was forced to re-think this position.
I had been warned that this show was a little darker than your average magical girl show.
Around the time the first happy frilly-skirted warrior for love and justice got her head bitten off by a large clown-faced snake thingy, I came to realize that that may have been a bit of an understatement.
I’m not quite done with the show yet – I watched the first nine episodes in a bit of a marathon session last night – but, so far, every character save two has either been killed horribly, driven insane, or driven insane and THEN killed horribly, with the Adorable with-a-capital A mascot talking plushie looking on happily at the results.
So, girls of Japan, a caution: if an Adorable Fluffy Animal shows up at your bedroom window in the middle of the night saying that it’s your destiny/responsibility/just a really good idea to step into the High Heels Of Justice…
…close the window, draw the blinds, and maybe ask your parents if they wouldn’t mind moving.