Should You Watch 'Magical Girl Raising Project'? Episode 1 Fall Anime 2016 Review

Key art from Magical Girl Raising Project.
Key art from Magical Girl Raising Project. (c) Lerche

Alas for Madoka ! The magical girls genre will never be the same. From episode 1 of fall anime 2016’s Magical Girl Raising Project, we can tell that this anime is a direct response -- even a rip-off -- of Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s mega-success. How can you tell? Because episode 1 of Magical Girl Raising Project opens with blood on limp magical girl limbs, bedecked with begrimed frills. Alas, woe.

I have to confess: Magical Girl Raising Project’s art style does less than nothing for me. I hate the magical girl look and always have, especially now that they’re divorced from their kid cartoon origins and have become de rigeur for Maximum Edge. Innocent appearance, gritty subject matter? Maximum edge. The super cute, practically chibi-fied character design coupled with boobs several years older than those faces makes everything feel like Toddlers and Tiaras but with a child-grooming twist.

The premise of Magical Girl Raising Project is that there’s a phone game called “Magical Girl Raising Project,” starring a cute black-and-white mascot that is about as obviously evil as the cute black and-white mascot from Danganronpa . Our main character Koyuki plays the game avidly and has always fantasized of being a magical girl herself, even sharing her dream with her former elementary school friend, a boy named Souta.

According to rumors, one in every thousand MagiPro players get to live as a real magical girl. The rumors are true, and Koyuki gets invited personally by the mascot, Fav, to become a real magical girl. Enter our transformation sequence. Flowers bloom in her hair, her sailor outfit grows flowers, and everything is frills and cuteness.

As Snow White, she can hear the thoughts of people in trouble. We see Koyuki save cats from trees, help old ladies up the stairs and get stalled cars moving. Fav informs her that there are fifteen other magical girls in the city, and with the Magical Phone he’s given her, they can communicate with one another. Each magical girl has a unique design and power: Nemurin, Sister Nana, Weiss Winterprison… and La Pucelle, styled like a French aristocrat.

Each magical girl has a district, and La Pucelle is in charge of the district next to Koyuki’s. La Pucelle warns Koyuki about several of the girls and shares the information that some girls can choose to form pairs to patrol their districts as well. Then La Pucelle shares her secret: she’s actually Souta, Koyuki’s old friend, the young boy who loved magical girls and shared them with her back in the day.

Apparently male magical girls are rare, but La Pucelle is completely female when she transforms. Everything is fantastic dreams coming true and magic powers and friendship until the closing sequence, where Fav announces that the magical girls will be halved to eight. The viewer can’t help but flash back to the grim opening, all frills and blood.

If you’re into the dark magical girls genre, you’ll probably like Magical Girl Raising Project. It’s got this young adult, Hunger Games feel, all dressed up with magical girl frills and powered by Madoka ’s stamp on the genre. If you don’t care about dark magical girls, I don’t think there’s much for you here. It’s not terrible, the character design at least has promise, the premise might be fun if you’re into that, but when you want to watch Madoka, you kinda just want to watch Madoka.

Magical Girl Raising Project is simulcast Saturdays at 12:15 PM on Crunchyroll here. Will you be watching?

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