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Isaki Apam Mehinam Eto Caffe Nam!

February 27, 2010

I was bored tonight. Didn’t want to sleep or any of that other stuff you do when it’s two in the morning and you have nothing else to do. I blanked out looking at my DVD shelf, figuring that if I was awake I may as well watch some crap. So I obviously go for something I haven’t watched, right? “I bet he pulled out one of those DVDs he claimed he bought and never watched.” That’s what you’re thinking. I know that’s what you’re thinking because I’m psychic like that.

Nope. You’re wrong. You should know me better than that by now. No, I pulled out a DVD I’ve seen many times over.

I watched the first DVD from the Magic User’s Club (Mahou Tsukai Tai for you cool kids that like it in Nipponese).

Magic User’s Club is a bit of a old relic and a bit of a progressive series at the same time. It has a lot of the old standbys. The main girl, Sae, has no confidence in her magical abilities, but when she does have confidence she kicks everyone’s asses at the hocus pocus routine. She’s pretty much your standard magical girl lead character. Clumsy and awkward but pure-hearted and full of potential. The main dude, Takakura, is a bit of a spineless type who can’t confess his feelings, but he’s also the type that tries too hard when it comes to trying to impress girls. He’s your old-school main guy stereotype that’s been replaced by the completely spineless otaku-cipher you see in modern stuff.

And that’s where Magic User’s Club is relatively unique. We have two main characters who essentially come from two different genres. They may be tropetastic, but you don’t see these two tropes clashing often. Considering that the OAV is from 1996, that makes the genre mash-up relatively unique. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s something that hadn’t been seen before (you could make an argument for Urusei Yatsura doing the same trick back in the late 70’s and early 80’s), but the merging of two distinct, almost polar-opposite genres is something we still don’t see too often.

That’s been the main thing that I’ve liked about the series over the years: the fact that it’s a series that appeals to all sorts of tastes and people get different things out of it. The OAV’s plot deals with aliens and how Sae’s high school magic club tries to “solve” the “problem” that develops when said aliens arrive on Earth and start to mingle with everyday life.

Yes. Magic vs. Aliens.

Because of this plot-induced conflict, there’s a good amount of action. There aren’t any bullets flying or anything like that, but there’s a lot of chase scenes and the like that result from these kids investigating the alien mother ship. So action fans have something to check out.

At the same time there’s a good amount of humor. There’s plenty of sexual humor that results from Takakura’s fantasies. There’s the humor that arises from the playful homosexual flirting that Takakura’s best friend, Aburatsubo, directs towards him. There’s humor in seeing Sae fall flat on her face almost every time she tries to cast a spell. The series covers all sorts of humorous bases.

The series also makes time to get into the romantic entanglements that pop up. Takakura and Sae obviously have something going on between them. It’s clear from the first episode that they have the hots for one another, and the series deals with that off and on. The series also takes Aburatsubo’s attraction for his best friend fairly seriously, despite using it as a source of numerous jokes. The catch with Aburatsubo is that he knows full well that Takakura doesn’t swing that way, but he also knows that there’s no use in “settling” for someone else. Sae’s best friend, Nanaka, has a thing for Aburatsubo, but the series doesn’t try to turn her into some sort of consolation prize for Aburatsubo. She doesn’t “convert” him back to the heterosexual side of the game, and neither does she magically get another guy to love by the end of the series. They both realize that they’re suffering from unrequited love and pretty much deal with it. Hardly the deepest love story of all time or anything, but for a series about kids waving duck-shaped magic wands and turning robots into panties, it deals with the romantic stuff fairly maturely.

Some people are going to dig the yaoi implications between Aburatsubo and Takakura. Some people are going to dig the moe factor the girls bring. Some people are going to dig the trippy dream sequences Sae has when remembering her childhood encounter with magical stuff. There’s simply a hell of a lot of things for people to like in this series, and I wish more series tried to be as all-encompassing.

Baka to Test is probably as close to Magic User’s Club that I’ve seen a recent series get, although it’s probably a bit too heavy on reference gags and doesn’t really attempt to have a story line (yet). Those aren’t digs at Baka to Test, they’re just differences. But, yeah, I wish more series strived to attract numerous fans rather than cater to narrow demographics. We’d get cooler series that way.

Self-Indulgence 3.5: Magical Supplementary Extras Disc

Magic User’s Club was the first anime series I collected completely on DVD. It’s a relic of those days when the best place in town to get anime was the Sam Goody at the mall. I had to pay full price for the damn discs ($25 a disc for Magic User’s Club, which was $5 cheaper than most DVDs since it only had two episodes per disc.), but Best Buy’s cheaper selection wasn’t as thorough and places like Gamestop had yet to start carrying anime. I only mention that because the series makes me nostalgic for the days where I could actually go to the mall and have fun there. I talked about that shit in one of my previous Self Indulgence posts, but yeah, I miss the days where I could go to the mall and do stuff. I could buy some anime, check out the latest RP books, play Marvel vs Capcom 2 at the arcade, eat pizza and waffle fries, and walk past the goth clothing shop where that cute goth girl was listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure and shit and then never say anything despite me being a huge fan of the Banshees.

Ah, memories. Yeah, Siouxsie Sioux is totally moe.

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