I’ve reviewed quite a few magical girl parody series before. Usually pretty bad like Bokusatsu Tenshi or Puni Puni Poemii. Now, I’m delving into that field again with Dai Mahou Tenge, a four episode OVA from Diomedea. That’s right, the studio behind Ika Musume & Akuma no Riddle. The OVA started getting released in early 2006 and didn’t finish until late 2008. Which seems excessive, but isn’t that unusual for an OVA. Let’s take a look.
We open with a young girl being told that she must spend a year on Earth. Much to her father’s distress. He’s worried that our environment won’t be hospitable for humans that long even though we easily have twenty years yet. Actually, he’s just an over-protective dad. But with that put aside, Punie travels to Earth for the year and starts attending an ordinary high school. All while dealing with a bunch of zany, magic-related incidents.
The biggest issue with the series is that some of the elements feel under-utilised. One example is Paya, Punie’s mascot character. We find out shortly after he’s introduced that he wants her dead but it never really comes up again in the OVA. He pretty much sides with her whenever something goes down. There’s also Elise, a rival magic girl. She fights Punie once and pretty much fucks off to the background after that. Maybe these elements get more use in the manga this is based off of, but they feel pretty pointless here.
I will give the series credit in that the basis of its comedy is pretty damn strong. Basically, they take a common magical girl or slice of life trope and they ask “what would happen if you combined this with this bad-natured magical girl?” Which leads to some pretty funny moments. The series is also good at subverting expectations, even with its own reoccurring gags. And, unlike a trashy series like Dokuro-chan, this series knows how to use physical humour. It makes it violent enough to have impact but not so violent as to be unpleasant. And the violence isn’t based around our heroine being abusive to a significant other, it’s more about her responding to threats and attacks from others in a comedic fashion.
The characters are, very much, a comedic cast. They all have quirks and fairly basic personalities designed more for comedic possibilities than for complexity. And that’s fine. I’ve always maintained that a comedy doesn’t need deep or complex characters. It just needs a cast that’s funny. Which this cast is. The only real issue is with characters like Elise who are allowed to be funny once and with characters like Tetsuko who are just kind of there.
The anime looks pretty good. The character designs are well thought out. The animation is smooth. There are some great visual gags. And the physical humour hits that perfect blend of controlled brutality.
The cast is really good. Satou Rina does a stellar job of switching from cutesy to deadly serious. With Paya they gave him two actors since his transition involves a switch from a very high-pitched feminine voice to a very deep masculine one, but both Saito Chiwa & Nakata Jouji do very well. I also give a lot of credit to Kawasumi Ayako & Shitaya Noriko for their performances. Takagi Ryuuji’s music is great. Which isn’t surprising since he also worked on Dokuro-chan, where the only strong element was the music & on Muteki Kanban Musume, which was good in every respect.
About the extent of it is Punie commenting positively on the appearances of a few other girls. She never really shows any interest in dating one of them though.
Areas of Improvement:
- I’d have more content with Elise of leave her out. Having her do one thing and then stay to the background feels like you’re getting build up but no pay off.
- More attempts on Punie’s life by Paya. Honestly, I’d have this little mascot character taking advantage of situations, like the whole exam thing, to try and end Punie only to have them fail without her even noticing. I think you could get some really funny moments out of it.
- Let Tetsuko do something. She’s mostly there to have shit happen to her and occasionally she reacts to a situation. But in that regard Anego does a lot more of both than her. It would help if her “friendship” with Punie was played up a little more or she got some unique role within the series.
Most short magical girl parody series I’ve seen have been rubbish. This one is definitely an exception. It may have some aspects that could be better explored or could have more done with them, and may very well in the manga, but it’s still an enjoyable series with some strong gags. Overall, I give it a 7/10.