I’m a fan of the magical girl genre. Most people are, and those that probably aren’t do at least like one series that fits the bill (Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Nanoha, etc.). Typically there tends to be a series of minimal “requirements,” or tropes if you will, that will cause people to recognize an anime as befitting of the magical girl genre. These include elaborate transformation sequences for getting the girls into their outfits, some magical artifact/item, a cute talking mascot character, and some unknown enemy/force that needs to be defeated by the power of love and/or friendship. So let’s take a look at the current magical girl show of the season, Vividred Operation, and see if it already fits the bill.
Elaborate transformation sequences: check
Magical artifact/item: check
Cute talking mascot character: check
Unknown enemy that needs to be defeated by the power of love and/or friendship: check
Mhmm, yeah, I’d say we’ve definitely got a magical girl show on our hands. So far the only striking difference is that according to the main character’s grandfather the “magical device” of the show is apparently powered purely by science, not magic. Science ladies and gentlemen, it’s the answer to all our problems!
Wait a second…something about this show seems…familiar. Like I’ve seen it done somewhere before. Hmm, let’s see what else this show has.
Implied/very obvious yuri undertones: check (admittedly a lot of magical girl shows do this, but in this abundance it’s unique)
Some sort of fusion between science and magic: check
The entire cast of girls wearing really short shorts: check
Overabundance of crotch/butt-shots of said girls in short shorts: MAJOR check
Ok, now one final thing. Who was the director responsible for this series? Kazuhiro Takamura. Bingo, there’s my answer. This was by the same crew that did Strike Witches. And the proof is quite literally in your face.
So anyways, what’s the story like? Well it takes place in a near futuristic Japan where an energy crisis was averted thanks to the invention of the Manifestation Engine, a gigantic facility that provides power to the entire planet. On the island of Izu Oshima, Akane Isshiki lives a peaceful life with her family, including her sister Momo and their grandfather Kenjirou, the man who invented the Manifestation Engine. Their peaceful life is interrupted when a strange alien force known as the Alone appears trying to destroy the Manifestation Engine. As such, Kenjirou gives Akane a special key that she can use to access special powers. Together with her friends Aoi, Wakaba, and Himawari, our heroes must fight to protect the world from the Alone.
Sounds just about like your standard magical girl plot. Heck you could even make a drinking game around it (please don’t, you might kill yourself from alcohol poisoning)! Still while it’s not something we haven’t seen before in magical girl shows that doesn’t mean it’s boring. All the fight scenes involving the girls and the Alone are very well animated and let the girls make excellent use of their weaponry. And per any magical girl show, this one introduces a special gimmick for our characters. Akane has an extra ability none of her comrades have, namely the ability to “dock.” Docking allows Akane to fuse with one of her compatriots in order to transform into a much more powerful form which reflects which girl she’s currently docked with. So how does the docking procedure initiate? Simple, it all starts with a kiss~.
No, not like that. The girls have to kiss Akane’s forehead each time, not her lips.
So to sum it all up:
Plot: 3/5 (standard mahou shojou)
Characters: 4/5 (some get stereotypical later on, but I love the yuri)
Animation: 4/5 (BATTLE SCENES)
Music: 3/5 (good, but I’ve heard better)
So overall it’s average, good, but not something I’d praise and say everybody has to watch in the end. But still…
[A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ARRIVED!!]
Alright let me step in here cuz this guys actually did think this series was so awesome he just had to force share it with me. I intend to give you the other side of the story from a guy who’s forced to watching this every week with its current fanboy. Actually I could just say “opposite of everything you just read,” but that would be lazy of me (yet totally in character).
First off, let’s get this out of the way. Have you watched Strike Witches? Good. Did you like it? If you answer’s yes, then I advise you ignore the rest of my review and go watch Vividred Operation right now. If the answer’s no, buckle up. We’re in for a wild ride.
Vividred Operation is the story of Mary Sue and all her other Mary Sue friends saving the world from mysterious organization X. No wait that was too easy, let me try that again. It’s more like…fan service Power Rangers. Don’t believe me, let me break it down for you. They all are color coded, even when not in uniform. They use technological weapons to fight them (Red Ranger’s sword is a boomerang). They fight a monster each episode. They call out attacks each time as “Naked [SOMETHING!]. (I don’t remember if the Power Rangers ever did something like that; it’s been a while) There’s someone turning the monsters into bigger, more giant versions of themselves just when you think the Rangers have it won…
And like Power Rangers, the others need to dock [it’s even called “docking”] with the red ranger in order to summon their megazord. Only it’s done through a half-assed kiss on the forehead and the megazord is an busty adult girl wearing the color of whatever girl the Red Ranger happens to dock with.
We even have our own Green Ranger [actually, she wears black and looks like Homura] who plays the role of super-sizing the monsters while at the same time trying not to become friends with the other Rangers. It’s so obvious how that’s gonna turn out, it’s…
Oh, I see a hand raised in the audience, what’s that? Why are they what? Oh, the Mary Sue thing? Sure, I’ll get right on that. Let’s look at each of them, shall we? Akane, or red ranger, is good at pretty much everything, cute as can be, and everyone wants to be her friend. Her only failing is her grades which are in part to balance saving the world, school, and delivering newspapers at 5 in the morning. Oh, and her grandpa (aka Zordon) turned himself into a ferret. Why? Science, that’s why.
Her best friend, Aoi, is a sickly girl who we never see get sick. Ever. So with that out of the way she’s just the perfect best friend type. That’s…it. I don’t think we got much backstory on her at all. Nor of Wakaba who, like most typical tomboy dojo girls before her, becomes friend with Akane after they duel. The closet shut-in hacker is at least interesting because she gets wet for technology. In fact, she likes tech so much it got her out of her room. Have you ever seen a shut-in suddenly become social after one episode? Well I haven’t!
About the only character I actually care about is that evil crow pulling the strings. Her interactions with our lil green ranger leave me with so many questions it’s about the only reason I’m still watching this show.
Animation-wise, no complaints. The meld of animation and CG is very well done, though I wish every single girl didn’t wear short shorts. I mean, I admit I do like that sort of thing from time to time, but not on EVERYONE!
And thus the tally is:
Plot: 3/5 (standard sentai procedure)
Characters: 2/5 (that’s the number of characters I actually care about)
Animation: 4/5 (-1 point for constant butt shots)
Music: 3/5 (nothing special, really)