Mahou Shoujo Site (Anime) Review

Ayappi, not Asagiri Ayappi, here 。゚(TヮT)゚。

This review will contain 2 parts. The biased and the unbiased review. This will be a VERY long post as I have a lot of things to say, so please do make use of the sub headings to navigate. Also this will contain spoilers from BOTH the Manga and Anime so please proceed with caution.

If you haven’t read my “Defense of Mahou Shoujo Site” article, you can read it here

Table of Contents:
Intro
Unbiased Review
     > Opening and Ending
> ORIGINAL Story
> Characters
> Theme Discussion
> Final Thoughts and Recommendation
Biased Review
===============
Introduction
I have said this time and time again, but I will say it again: Mahou Shoujo Site is my Number 1 favorite anime and manga. Despite the negative reception it has received from many of the international community, mostly due to the overabundance of themes and scenes that set off majority of this generation’s “triggers,” I honestly didn’t give a crap and proceeded to watch the show and read the manga. However just because it is my favorite now, does not mean I will be super lenient with its flaws and not expose them. I can try to defend it with a close analysis of the work, but that doesn’t mean I’ll simply brush over them. With that said here are my thoughts on this anime adaptation of a manga that I consider to be my all time favorite.

Unbiased Review:

Mahou Shoujo Site spanned 12 episodes total for its first season run. This review will focus mainly on the anime’s Opening and Ending, the original story, its characters and will end with my final conclusion and recommendations.

I will not tackle the anime’s art in this review as really there’s nothing that stood out in particular for me to point out. Other than the characters are now colored, are moving, and look cuter (in my opinion) compared to the manga, there really isn’t anything I’d like to say. Well, actually I do, but it’s so minor that it won’t make a difference whatsoever anyway (has something to do with the animation speed of some blood scenes).

Opening and Ending Themes
Let’s start with the OP and ED of the anime, they’re well done and executed. The opening, Changing Point by iRis is in my opinion, well done. The voices have this hint of despair that fits in with the theme of the series: “misfortune,” while at the same time, give energy and excitement to the viewer. This is something, paired along with good visuals and mood setting imagery, which the anime does well too, that is in my opinion crucial to any anime opening. It is an opening for a reason, it sets the mood for something and/or gets people fired up for the show. Normally I skip openings, but this is one of those openings that I didn’t skip from reasons ranging to Nana suddenly singing in Episode 10, to the subtle changes in the openings with each passing episode. Examples of these would be Aya crying blood in the first opening, and switching to Tempest after Episode 2: Tempest.

The ending is probably the more controversial of the two. The ending song is okay, it’s not the best but it’s not the worst. The choice to go live action was a huge but welcome surprise to me, it’s done pretty well. However, the ending decided to make use of sperm cells flying around a real life Tokyo among others. This is one of the things that sparked controversy among members of the international anime community, leaving some utterly confused and some dismissing it as something merely done for the edginess.

Now in defense of the flying sperm cells, remember that the Tempest will “give birth to a new world.” What do most living organisms do when they give birth? That’s right, a sperm and an egg cell. Remember that the “King” will give birth to a new world using “the people’s misfortune.” When a man and a woman do “it” and sperm gets released, remember that there are many of them trying to fertilize the egg cell. In this case, there’s only one King, and many people’s misfortune. It has also been mentioned that “not many will survive the Tempest,” and if you watched Episode 12 of this series you would know that the same sperm cell imagery has been shown, but with a sperm cell withering out when Nana says how not many will survive the Tempest. This is much like how not many sperm will survive after sex.

That isn’t to say that I found the flying sperm cells weird at first though. This is probably because I grew up in a somewhat conservative household that holds topics such as sex and whatnot as taboo. At the first few episodes I found myself skipping the ending to “Ikitai.” I might do a separate piece on that “Ikitai” in the future, for now I’ll stick to the anime.

ORIGINAL Story 

One of the biggest surprises that hit me was really the first scene of the first episode. I called it, it was a foreshadowing of two things: that Nana would be killed in the end, and that this isn’t going to follow the manga’s timeline. The anime made use of an original storyline that is mostly faithful to the source material at the first nine episodes, but proceeds to take its own course starting the tenth. Allow me to highlight first the major differences between the anime and the manga.

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Remember this photo? Yup that’s Alice.

In the anime, we lose out on many things found in the manga. Let’s start with Maganuma Alice, the girl who could turn back time with a flip phone stick. This girl is also related to Detective Misumi, Nana’s human accomplice who “rescued” Aya and the rest of the team from shitty brother  Asagiri Kaname’s attack. While her face was shown at the ending scene featuring Kaname’s rape in Misumi’s “sex dungeon,” it can’t be denied that she had absolutely ZERO screentime other than a cameo in a picture frame.

 

Her disappearance from the anime has caused many of the other differences in this anime, including Shizukume Sarina’s involvement with Nana, and the explosion during Anazawa Nijimi’s funeral. In the manga, Sarina was actually killed by Nana but was saved by Alice’s stick. In the manga, Aya and the rest of the mahou shoujo (she met at least) died in the explosion but was saved by Alice’s stick.

In the anime however, Sarina was just threatened with death by Nana. This non-killing of Sarina ties well with how the writers dealt with a lack of Maganuma Alice in the explosion part of the story. Remember that Sarina was working for Nana at the time, so she knows what Nana planned to do from the very beginning. With Sarina alive, she was able to team up with Asagiri Aya and give information to transport themselves to safety.

My take on this is probably because the anime was limited to a 12 episode run. The writers had to cut some parts of the original manga (which still isn’t finished by the way), to make room for an anime that will fit within 12 episodes, and one of them was to cut off Maganuma Alice. So far, the effects of erasing “shark teeth” Alice hasn’t been felt because the writers did a good job at patching up Sarina’s side of the story. Yatsumura however is where things begin to manifest, please read on.

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Top 10 Anime Confessions

Another major difference is how Yatsumura Tsuyuno died. In the manga, Yatsumura died from using her stick to stop time and save Aya because Maganuma Alice betrayed them in their battle with a really fat site administrator (the one that likes to rap). In the anime, Yatsumura also died from overuse of her stick, but it was with a battle with Nana, who doesn’t appear near the girls at all at this part, in the manga. Again, we can see without Maganuma Alice, things have been taking a very different direction from the source material.

 

While okay, I will admit it was a somewhat good way in my opinion to add some “TsuyuAya” drama and trigger a major character change in Aya without Alice in the story, but at what cost? Two things come into my mind: Pacing and Character Development. For the purposes of this section, I will tackle the pacing first.

If I were to graph the pacing of the story of this anime, here it is:

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This is one of those anime’s that have so much potential but are ultimately bogged down by the pacing. I’m not blaming the writers on this one, I’m blaming the constraint they had to work with. Episodes 1-10 in my opinion were crucial in developing the characters, world and the story so taking a hit there would actually worsen the effects. Many of the major events: Yatsumura and Asagiri’s final happy moments, the assembly of the “anti site admin squad” as I like to call it, introduction of magical girls from other sites, unearthing mysteries surrounding the site and Asagiri Kaname’s antics, were all covered in these 10 episodes and rushing them would not have been a wise decision. Had this been done, it would end up like SAO.

Episodes 11 and 12 felt really rushed to me, despite not really affecting my overall enjoyment and opinion on this anime. One thing that indicated the horrible pacing of the last two episodes was how Aya gained the ability of passing over lifespan and memories to another mahou shoujo out of nowhere. In the manga, she gained this after Yatsumura’s death, okay. It sort of makes more sense now, until you realize that Shioi Rina was the one who pointed that out to Komura Kayo, who were both nowhere to be found at that time (Shioi Rina was sent with Kosame Amagai to heal Sarina). To people who haven’t read the manga, this would cause lots of confusion and give the impression that this is a last minute plot armor device. 

However, despite the pacing problems, it was a good ending to a series that carried themes of “misfortune,” mind you. This sounds contradicting, but the best way I could describe this sort of scenario is “kinda well written, but horribly paced.”

Speaking of the ending, the final message of the anime, “we are not misfortunate,” was in my opinion a nice touch. It’s consistent with Asagiri Aya’s character of being the light in a world full of death and despair, and is just overall satisfying in my honest opinion.

Characters

Let’s go to characters, probably my biggest gripe, which I will divide into two parts: TsuyuAya and Others. Let’s start with Others.

Again, 12 episodes could really bog down a very good anime with potential. Another manifestation of this could be seen in the development of the characters and their overall screentime. One scenario I could think of of me wanting to see more of a character is Kosame Amagai. She’s arguably my favorite character and honestly, I felt like her character started to fade away slowly, only to come back into the limelight at the last part (healing Sarina). This can be seen with Kosame having almost zero lines, but then again she is the shy type of the bunch. I can assure you though, she has more lines in the manga compared to the anime.

However, the big hits in terms of character development were taken by Mikari and Sayuki, with the former taking more hits. Sayuki as we know is part of a yakuza family, but the only instance of that fully showing is her house being a location for Asagiri Kaname’s attack. We don’t get to see their backgrounds unlike the manga, which leads us to dismiss their characters as merely “the rich bitches.” Mikari and Sayuki have really interesting backstories in my opinion, and it really does show that they have lived unfortunate lives similar to the rest of the girls. However, with those completely gone from the anime, there is a possibility that people will think their misfortune comes from the cookie cutter “lonely rich girl” stereotype.

I’ve seen this trend too with many of the negative reviews I have read. While I don’t think the series warrants a 1/10 for “bland, bipolar” characters with no textual evidence support whatsoever, the 12 episode limit might have caused this perception among those who hated it.

Another instance of this would be detective Misumi, but I wouldn’t really complain on this one because his character only gets developed at the later chapters. Meaning the scope of the anime really was going to leave him out. If I can point out one negative effect of this, is that we dismiss him as the horny plot device cop. Yes, horny cop. Watch the last 3 minutes of the anime.

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Please tell me I’m not the only who thought this was the funniest scene in the entire anime

What they did well though in the others department is Asagiri Kaname. Again, the 12 episodes cut off some of his moments (punching Aya) that however, not really detrimental to the story, help develop his character. But the writers make up for this during the beach episode with their choice to remain faithful to the source material. Kaname’s monologue before killing the Nijimin-wota with Nijimi’s panty stick captures his character really well – a narcissistic high school boy who has a “god complex,” thinking everyone below him is trash and should be destroyed. In my opinion, their choice to tone down the abuse to Aya, but go full force with the Nijimi-wota was a good compromise to Kaname’s character.

 

Let’s now move on to TsuyuAya, which honestly is one of the biggest parts of Mahou Shoujo Site. It’s so big, that fans even call the manga as Yuri Shoujo Site and for good reason too.

BEST

Bask in its glory. This is canon.

Asagiri and Tsuyuno’s relationship plays a huge role in both their characters. In a way, they were each other’s catalysts for character development. Asagiri Aya as we know “only thought about dying everyday,” until she met Tsuyuno. Tsuyuno, after her source of revenge (and reason to live) was killed off by Sarina in the apartment duel, found new meaning in life thanks to Aya. Their relationship, much like a normal relationship between humans, has caused them to grow up together and develop each other.

I’ll dive more into their relationship in the next section, but let me start off with what they did right and wrong in highlighting this important symbol. The anime got some parts right with the bath scenes, bed scenes and beach scene. It’s mostly consistent with the manga, and highlights their relationship status well.

What they didn’t do right however, was to, again with the pacing, skip over it and deprive us of the kiss I just showed above. This was a powerful event that helps in the symbol of hope and love in my opinion, and they just had to exclude it. At least we got a confession from both of them.

 

On the subject of TsuyuAya, let’s talk about Asagiri Aya. She is far from being a static character as most negative reviews claim her to be. Yes, she still is “borderline too kind for the world, even bordering into stupidity,” according to Tsuyuno herself, but she has certainly gotten stronger. We can see this in how she chooses to stay with Yatsumura despite her dead body being in front of Nana who could kill her, and especially in how she teamed up with Sarina. The super passive Aya we saw in the first episode, has become this more aggressive, but still passive, stronger Aya. Indeed, in the words of Tsuyuno, “[she] really [has] gotten stronger.”

Theme Discussion

This anime may have taken a turn for the “worse,” but one of the things it kind of gets right is conveying the message I think it harbors. It’s already been established, this world of Mahou Shoujo Site is a world filled with pain, anguish, malice, despair, sadness, suffering and hopelessness. Despite all that, we get Aya.

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Not edited, I promise

Aya is one of these characters that look like a static character at first, but in reality she’s a dynamic character as I just mentioned. This however actually helps in the message of the entire series, that even in the darkest of the darkest worlds, there’s still room for infallible hope. Aya is the embodiment of this infallible hope, because despite of all of the shit thrown at her, she’s still that overly kind human being deep down. Stronger yes, but still kind.

This message of hope extends down to Tsuyuno as well, in her “site admin phase.” She’s dead yes, but she was technically reincarnated as a site admin, meaning she’s alive again. This time however, she’s filled with despair and nothingness, a slave to the will of the “King.” But with Aya’s little speech and her stick’s new ability, Tsuyuno was saved and went back to her normal self. It shows that really, even just a tiny bit of hope could make a huge difference in the world.

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King isn’t amused however

Conclusion and Recommendations

With all that said, I’m sorry if you found my review to be a ramble. But on to topic, would I recommend you watch this anime? This anime suffers from the 12 episode limit imposed by things such as airtime and budget, but overall manages to pull it off with a rushed but very satisfying ending. It cuts some corners, but makes up for it with its writing, themes, and Aya and Tsuyuno. Other characters not so much.

Despite all that I’m proud to declare that this is now my new favorite #1 anime locked on. It was the one reason why I woke up early on Saturdays, so my biased answer is a definite yes. However my unbiased answer is also a yes, but with a few conditions attached.

Are you the type to get triggered with any of the following themes and elements? Bullying, attempted and actual (gay) rape, domestic abuse, flying sperm cells, animal abuse, sadism, blood, despair, suicide, self harm, crime, murder, psychotic tendencies, overall political incorrectness? If yes for at least 5 of those, then I highly advise you to stay away from this anime. This isn’t for the faint of heart and overly sensitive, especially considering that this a PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR anime. (I swear, I see people complaining that the show is edgy when the genre is inherently supposed to be edgy).

Are you the type who likes to deconstruct series and do close readings of them? I highly recommend you read the manga first before even diving into the anime. It’s very different I can assure you that, and I even found myself rereading the manga here and then to highlight some of the major differences between the two.

Are you the type who wants a lighthearted series to watch after a long tiring day at work? If you’re me, then I’d recommend it. But this series is only purely heartwarming during TsuyuAya scenes. Everything else we go back to this world of death and despair, which I’m pretty sure some of us want to forget about with a good fix of anime. This anime is relentlessly realistic, so don’t watch it if you want your escapism fix.

Have you watched the anime? What do you think? Please do let me know down below!

With that, please have a wonderful mahou shoujo life  and  day ❤

Biased Review: 
NO TSUYUAYA KISS >:(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
JUST A CONFESSION. BOOOOOO
0/10. NOT RECOMENNDEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Joking, I love you Mahou Shoujo Site. I always will. You’re the best. Fite me. Everyone watch it, if you can handle it.

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In Defense of Mahou Shoujo Site

If you are uncomfortable with sensitive topics, or spoilers, please do not read this article.

First of all, I would like to say, thank you to the first 5 followers I got. It really made me happy that you followed my blog 

I’ll work hard and do my best to bring more content slowly!

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When people don’t like mahou shoujo site

Back on topic. A recent anime adapted from the manga of similar name, Mahou Shoujo Site has been making rounds in the anime community lately. Personally, like it, if not love it. But for the rest of the anime community, reception seems to be mixed judging from the ratings in BakaUpdates, MyAnimeList and YouTube, and I couldn’t blame them for it. For one thing, it is undeniable that the first episode of the anime does, bring a lot of so-called shock factor into the table. This is especially amplified by the transitions the directors used when switching scenes. This eventually leads majority of the opposition to say that the anime is merely shock value, and offers no substance whatsoever.

Another thing is that some people in the community accuse the show of being a blatant shot at a “Madoka ripoff,” and I couldn’t blame them for it because there are some things that are similar to Madoka in many ways. The most obvious being the fact that the show is dark and has magical girls in it, as well as death and despair.

But probably, the one thing that stood out among all of the other factors that contributed to this anime’s rise to its currently (in)famous  status is how the anime tackles very sensitive topics such as child abuse and rape. In the first episode alone, I could see why the anime gained the title “the edgiest anime of the season.” We have bullies making poor Aya’s life miserable in school (even attempted to rape her towards the end). We have a brother whose pressure from his father forces him to turn his sister Aya into a punching bag. It’s really, as the anime’s tagline says, unfortunate (不幸だね).

However, I personally will admit that I could handle such edge and I continued on to watch the anime. I even started to read the manga, and I am planning to buy Volume 10 of it soon. Since the anime isn’t finished yet, I decided to go and read the manga so I know what will happen next. By doing that, I realized two things:

  1. I love this manga
  2. The edginess in Episode 1 is important and necessary

What do I mean by Number 2? I personally think the Mahou Shoujo Site’s appearance to Aya wouldn’t have made much of an effect had the “edginess” been toned down. If we take a look at the mechanics behind when does the site appear to a girl, it’s obvious that the site is approaching unfortunate young girls. For the site, the meaning of unfortunate seems to be that a person really has to have a sort-of living hell in their lives. And this lines up with the fact that the purpose of the sticks is apparently to collect negative energy from daily interactions with the world. Obviously, living a living hell, which causes despair, is chock full of negative energy.

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I love these two to bits

Let’s take a look at the backstories behind some of our main characters before they became magical girls:

Asagiri Aya: Abusive brother who uses her as a punching bag, bullies that almost got her raped, but cause her physical harm everyday. “Everyday, all [she] thinks about is dying.”

Yatsumura Tsuyuno: Her entire family was murdered by a burglar, and has since lived alone in a state of panic and fear for her life

Nijimin: Her father committed suicide due to debt from loan sharks. Her mother, and she was (from what I understood) almost was forced by these loan sharks to become a prostitute.

There is another Mahou Shoujo who I forgot the name of had her family killed off by a murderer in a stabbing spree.

We can see obviously that these are very, very unfortunate situations unimaginable to happen in our daily lives, living hells if you will. Had these been toned down to just being lonely, then I think it defeats the purpose of the site catering to “unfortunate” young girls. If it was toned down, the Mahou Shoujo Site wouldn’t even approach Aya in the first place. These things do happen in real life, and possibly this was the best way the author could have made the girl’s lives really unfortunate while still being realistic and unfortunate. I know the themes being tackled by this series are very sensitive and serious issues in society, but honestly, I would rather the author use these instead of some unrealistic way to make the character’s lives utterly miserable.

Had Aya’s situation been just relegated to bullying without the physical harm and attempted rape, or domestic abuse from her brother, or really anyone in the story, then the story would deviate from the dark nature the Mahou Shoujo Site possesses.  Again, going back to the sticks and harvesting negative energy, it only makes sense that the most surefire way of harvesting negative energy is to get it from girls who are living a living hell.

Furthermore, I personally think that the accusation that the anime is all shock value is unfair. While it is true that the anime does bring a lot of shock value to the table, advancing a few episodes or reading the manga would reveal that the series isn’t really all shock value. There were plenty of opportunities for character development down the road, and honestly, one episode of an anime isn’t enough to label the entire series most of the time. We could argue every day about the flaws of the writing, and I’ll admit it isn’t the best, but to say that the series brings nothing but shock is unfair and is a weak argument in my opinion.

On the subject of the anime/manga being a Madoka rip off, I beg to disagree. Sure, the series is similar to Madoka in many fronts, other than the fact that both are about magical girls in despair, with magical tools from “magical beings” with ulterior motives. However, the one big difference in Madoka and this series is the way the “magical beings” represented by Kyubey in Madoka and the site administrators in Mahou Shoujo Site approach their targets.

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In Madoka, Kyubey esssentially approaches young girls, and doesn’t seem to have a criteria for them. Kyubey judges based on the potential magic ability, and grants young girls a wish in exchange for being a magical girl, which may or may not cause despair when the wish takes a turn for the worse. In Mahou Shoujo Site, despair is a pre-requisite for one to become qualified to be a mahou shoujo. The site administrators do not grant wishes, they simply give a stick with a random power to the girl in despair.

The mechanics of the mahou shoujo also differ a lot from Madoka Magica. Unlike Mahou Shoujo Site’s girls, in Madoka, the use of magic ability does not adversely affect biological lifespan. Madoka’s system is that with every use, the girl’s soul gem gets darker and needs to be purified by a grief seed to become clean again. In Mahou Shoujo Site, every minute equates to loss of life and physically affects the health of the user. It should be noted as well that the nature of the soul gem is different than that of the sticks, in a sense that if the stick is lost, you simply lose the thing as evidenced in the events after the  incident with Sarina and Yatsumura’s apartment, rather than being a lifeless corpse after a certain distance has been travelled as demonstrated by Sayaka’s gem being thrown by Madoka into a truck.

With all that said, in the end, whether or not the anime is to your liking is up to you. However, I highly suggest following the three episode rule and give it another chance. That is assuming, you’re alright with seeing a lot of blood because if there’s one thing that the anime doesn’t hold back about, it’s blood. I love the anime and manga and obviously I’d love it if people loved it too, but what you prefer is out of my control. I could sit here all day, and try to counter the arguments posed by those who do not like the show, but really, only you have the power to decide what is good for you. Please remember that. I simply wrote this article just to bring my opinions to the table, and to possibly give you a different perspective when it comes to this really edgy anime that I, personally, came to love.

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How about you? Please let me know with a comment how you feel about this series? If you dropped it, would you consider rewatching it? Or at least read the manga?

I think that’s all for now, please have a great day and a happy mahou shoujo life. 

If you want to watch the anime legally, it’s available on Prime Video. If you want to buy the manga, I recommend heading over to eBookJapan for the cheapest digital copy (based on what I could find). Just a quick note however, based on what I noticed, the anime differs a bit from the events in the manga, especially with Sarina.