What’s it about? PriMagi is a stage contest that combines song, dance, fashion, and just a little magic. Matsuri longs to compete, inspired by Jennifer, the impossibly cool past winner, but has always been too shy. She gets an unexpected push, however, when transforming cat-girl magician Myamu drops through a portal and asks to team up.
Waccha PriMagi! is the tenth anniversary spectacular for the Pretty Rhythm multimedia franchise, an arcade game series that has inspired spinoffs and adaptations in manga, TV anime, and movies across its decade-long run. Each entry centers around fashion and music: the goal is not only to earn a high score in the rhythm game but to look fab while doing so, collecting custom outfits that may enhance your capacity to charm and wow the virtual audience. You can see these elements feeding into the plot of Waccha PriMagi, alongside a splash of magic.
Technically, the general rule at AniFem is that we don’t cover children’s programming, but if we can make an exception for dear ol’ PreCure I figure I may as well shine a spotlight on PriMagi and see what’s going on over there, too. If you’re hungry for more officially-licensed magical girl content (licensed and streaming on HiDive, of all places—certainly a more all-ages lineup than last season’s offerings!!) you might want to join me in the audience.
The first episode of this show is fast-paced, colorful, sugar-sweet and full of pep, and the experience of watching it is much like eating Froot Loops straight out of the box (similar color palette, too). It’s fun, leaping into the action and exposition in a candy-toned whirlwind that’s perfect for a young audience, and introducing an energetic cast of familiar and lovable character types.
Myamu is a beautifully chaotic cat who is sometimes a girl (or perhaps a girl who is sometimes a cat? Unclear and unimportant at this stage) who wants to prove herself as a magic-user. Matsuri is a shy but talented kid who can’t quite pin down a dream for her future. Together, they work: Myamu drags Matsuri out of her shell, and Matsuri helps teach Myamu to tone it down.
They’re the kind of stock character types that work well for hooking a younger audience in, and I can anticipate a sweet arc from each of them about following their dreams. For the older audience, I can also anticipate Myamu having some pretty great meme potential.
The opening (and final sting of the episode) also promise an expanding cast of other characters with distinct and fun designs, including, interestingly, an elegant lady in a suit and a rowdy girl that looks to have pretty shredded abs. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pan, but still, the prospect of a buff magical girl/idol is fairly novel. Not to mention how potentially subversive it is to have a more masculine-presenting (or at least, suit-and-pants-wearing) girl in a story at the intersection of magical girls and idols, genres that typically skew extremely feminine in their designs. Even if this doesn’t involve any kind of social commentary through fashion choices, she looks cool, and I’m possibly compelled enough just by her that I might watch the next episode.
I’m also intrigued to see what’s going on behind the scenes at the PriMagi contest. A few select scenes involving slick and shady-looking businesspeople and a cryptic blue-haired boy in a hood have me wondering if there’s more to this stage show spectacular than meets the eye. Is Jennifer, former winner and Matsuri’s personal idol, up to something more sinister than all the sparkly lights would imply? That would be… kind of unfortunate, since she’s the only character so far with a darker skin tone.
But just as the contest is only one performance in, it’s too early to judge. I’m tentatively intrigued by the prospect of the show unpacking the sometimes downright villainous nature of the performance industry via the plot device of evil magicians, but I’m not holding too much hope. A kids’ show can’t always give itself the space for complex social critique—especially when it’s also selling you a game.
If PriMagi is just a bright, sparkly, musical magical girl adventure about the power of friendship and self-confidence, that’s fine. It’s certainly succeeded in being fun and sweet in its premiere, and if it can keep up this energy throughout its run it will potentially be a delightful addition to the catalogue of contemporary magical girl shows.