I’ve reviewed several anime series in the past about Otaku getting dumped on by society – Rumble Garandoll & Akiba’s Trip both put their focus on the social stigmatization of Otaku by larger Japanese society. Rumble Garandoll put its emphasis on more conservative elements of culture attacking Otaku based on ablism some of the more progressive themes in some Otaku-targeted works (which is not certainly monolithic – I’ve covered some more conservative works here). Akiba’s Trip’s climax called out the hypocrisy of the Japanese government touting anime and other media targeted toward Otaku as part of the government’s soft-power initiative on one hand, while often the same political party (and same politicians) who champion that initiative demonize otaku (either directly or indirectly) through their policies and their public speeches (like the whole “Herbavore Male” thing that was going on for a while). Magical Destroyers takes a different tack and focuses on otaku self-loathing.
The premise of Magical Destroyers is that the people of Japan have been brainwashed by the forces of a mysterious figure known as SHOBON, who are seeking to round up and exterminate all otaku. Not the mass incarcerations of those other two shows – they’re all about the murder here. However, an otaku resistance is fighting back, lead by the freedom fighter known only as Otaku Hero, and a trio of Magical Girls – Blue, Pink, and Anarchy.
Each episode’s antagonist of the week, while frequently spouting their hatred and dislike of otaku, also normally will have some degree of behavior that shows that they are some form of otaku themselves – like one whose implement of Otaku Destruction is a car that is assembled like a plastic model kit. This is countered by Otaku Hero’s repeated battle cry – that they are fighting to openly love the things they want to love. A message that is punctuated by the final card of the series (before the closing credits) the words “Keep on Loving.”
It’s a powerful sentiment, and it’s accentuated by some really strong visuals throughout the series. It’s very clear that the studio responsible for this, Bibury Animation Studios, who… doesn’t have a lot of shows that are visually as expressive as this in their portfolio – at least from the standpoint of taking point in Production – really viewed this series as a labor of love.
Where I think things ultimately stumble is with some of the execution of the concepts – some of the humor works. Some of the execution of that core concept works. However, it doesn’t quite pay off that tone, which also leads to a bit of a stumble with the ending, which is clearly trying to go for a sort of Gainax Ending Mind-Fuck. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite land. I came away from it understanding a degree of the sense of “That’s it?” people likely got after watching the final episode of Evangelion week to week, instead of in a binge.
To be clear, I definitely enjoyed the show and I’m glad I watched it, but I also can’t give it an unreserved recommendation either. It is, in a way, one of the more artsy series of this season, and if you’re looking for something a little like that, I’d say to give it a watch.
Magical Destroyers is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
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