What’s it about? Koyuki has always loved magical girls, but now she’s in middle school all of her friends have grown out of it. The only chance she gets to indulge in her passion is in smartphone game Magical Girl Raising Project. However, one evening the game tells her she has been selected to become a real magical girl, just as she always wanted! The only thing is that she’s not the only one, and not everyone is thrilled to meet her.
Magical Girl Raising Project actually begins with shots of inert bodies in frilly clothes covered in blood, one survivor smiling as she faces down a dark monster. Keeping this review spoiler-free means not discussing the parts I was most enthusiastic about, but the anime makes it clear early on that all is not what it seems. Dark magical girl is a reasonably full sub-genre now, so only time will tell if Magical Girl Raising Project is bringing anything new to the table.
That said, I enjoyed it. My sticking points are the unnecessarily boobalicious outfits on young teenagers and that they shoehorned in a scene of Koyuki getting changed for… no apparent reason. On the other hand, it’s playing with gender binaries in a way that could be really rewarding if done right. Early on we get a flashback to Koyuki’s friend at elementary school, a boy who loves magical girls as much as he loves soccer but is made fun of for admitting this. We also get a hint that the other magical girls, who present more as witches, ninjas or knights than the typical magical girl, are going to challenge Koyuki’s view that magical girls must be “pure, righteous, and beautiful”.
The first episode also touches on philosophical themes it may or may not go into over the course of the series. Magical girls operate outside the law, usually to do good but what if their intentions sour? Should a magical girl go rogue, who can contain her, and how? What obligation do they have once they take on magical girl status? These themes have been covered at length in grittier live action properties like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Marvel Cinematic Universe; it would be interesting to see it framed with moe and mascots.
Again though, to avoid spoilers I’m not going into detail on the aspects I’m most enthusiastic about. I recommend giving it a watch, right through from pre-credits to post-credits, and form your own opinion. I will definitely be watching more.