[Review] Maerchen Maedchen – Episode 1

What’s it about? Hazuki Kamigura is a lonely girl who’s lived her life through stories. When she catches sight of a robed figure no one else can see, she follows the stranger into another world—one where girls use the power of mysterious books to become “maedchen.”

CONTENT WARNING: NSFW screenshots.

I think there might be a funny, clever little magical girl show buried in this premiere. I’m not sure, though—I’m still recovering from the episode’s decision to strip its protagonist naked for the third act, blinding me with shiny, shiny moeblob flesh.

The thing is, the theoretical foundation for Maerchen Maedchen (WHY AREN’T YOU JUST USING UMLAUTS, YOU COWARDS) hits basically all of my buttons. Hazuki is determined to live her life by her late mother’s advice that she “find [her] own story,” and thus reads obsessively and constantly frames her internal monologue as if she were being described in a novel.

She’s high-key on the lookout for any kind of event that would make her life an exciting adventure, so she’s not so much genre-savvy as over-reading in the way that a lot of shy, bookish teenagers are wont to do. Her first instinct on finding a mysterious book in her bag is to (correctly) assume it’s a magical tome, and she’s beyond jazzed that she’s discovered a door into a magical otherworld that will finally let her be The Special.

a waist-down shot of Hazuki in a darkened library. caption: Th-this must be the entrance to the world of magic!

Once she makes it IN to the other world, though, she quickly winds up in a hot spring because of reasons and thus spends an entire final chase scene completely naked. At this point, my brain had one foot out the door, I’ll confess. “But self,” I said, “is it not possible these are slapstick shenanigans? Hazuki frequently has comically large objects in front of her body, after all (except when she doesn’t). Maybe this is not indicative of the series as a whole.”

Then I remembered that the opening credits had already shown their hand pretty thoroughly.

Maedchen has a footage-based OP, you see. In other words, the production didn’t have enough time or dedicated funding to make a completely unique opening, and so the credits play predominantly over scenes of the episode. There’s nothing wrong with that inherently, though it means one has to be prepared for budget issues from the word go.

Hazuki running from a redheaded girl, using a large open book to cover her naked body

What footage did the production team choose in order to set the scene for their isekai magical girl adventure, you ask? Almost exclusively the scenes of Hazuki naked, as well as what appears to be scenes from next episode of her picking a wedgie out of her gym panties. In other words, the decision to strip the heroine naked isn’t a one-off gag-related scene in order to help sell the idea that she feels awkward and exposed in front of her future teammates. It’s how the show plans on selling itself.

If that weren’t worrisome enough, it turns out the show did spring for a unique ending theme. It’s a series of zooms on various cheesecake/pin-up shots of the main characters, including a girl who looks about ten sucking on a lollipop. Oh, and it ends on Hazuki and the girl she spent this episode chasing (Shizuka) naked and holding hands in bed together, but if this series actually turns out to be yuri rather than just fanservice, I’ll eat my hat.

Hazuki and Shizuka naked in bed together, with Hazuki's book covering her chest

It’s a real shame. Hazuki has promise as a protagonist, I’m basically always here for shows about how stories influence people, and there are some genuinely funny lines. But it’s all buried under a leering camera and a mentality of exploiting rather than exploring its female cast. Yup, this sure is a light novel adaptation.

 

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  • Ayal92

    I got to the opening, then closed the tab. I just know they’ll throw away any chance to do anything interesting with the story in favour of stupid fanservice shenanigans, so why bother?

  • Petrosilia Zwackelfrau

    Perhaps this is a stupid question, but how are anime announced/presented in Japan?

    Do Japanese audiences – like our wonderful reviewers here – also have to watch first (and sometimes second or third) episodes to figure out whether something is lolicon/incest/etc.?

    Do they come with any content warning, or different timeslots?

    PS: ANN *is* using umlauts.

    • weeby1

      I think they’re announced/presented in mostly the same way. There is promotional material you can see before release so you can avoid some stuff (this gets put online so you can use it too), and there are time-slots that are sometimes meaningful (late night stuff is generally not kid-friendly for example). But beyond that they don’t get any special content warnings or anything like that.

  • GreyLurker

    Damn….I was really hoping this show wasn’t going to do that, because I am a sucker for Fairy Tale reworks. Will probably still check it out but this review kind of drops it down my priority list.

  • lmd84

    The first review I read on ANN did not mention this fanservice in detail, and had me curious about the fairy tail aspect. This review puts things in a different, and necessary, perspective, so thank you for that. Another series for the rejects pile, undoubtedly.

    A shame, because the fairy tale thing could be interesting, I’m just not going to put up with this kind of fanservice to find out whether that’s the case.