Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
The second episode of Stella No Mahou delivers on the same trusted recipe we experienced in the first one: this is going to be first moe and then industry-themed. Yes, the main theme is still a group of high-school girls trying to make a self-published game, but it delivers that theme with a cuteness that we usually associate with the moe genre.
Is that a bad thing? Thankfully, no. We don’t get overloaded with cuteness and the moe influences are tolerable enough for those viewers who don’t really care about them.
— TVアニメ「ステラのまほう」公式 (@magicofstella_a) October 10, 2016
From the first scene I was reminded of those cute pastel, washed-out colors that dominate the show. While the characters are well-drawn in a similar way that makes them look more like junior-high girls than high-schoolers, the rest of the art gives a certain softness that feels a little weird to my eyes.
There is not much to tell about the plot, to be honest. It was mostly a character building episode in which Honda tries to come to terms with the fact that she shouldn’t be embarrassed about her old-retro shonen drawing style. At the same time, we get to learn something new about each one of the characters:
Murakami Shiina and Seki Ayama are childhood friends and really close. Fujikawa Kayo is friends with an indie developer whom Fuda Yumime idolizes. Shiina goes to a cram school and Kayo works part-time as a waitress. Ayama is writing lewd stories and needs to read out-loud the lines she write.
The episode took its time to provide some character development for all our girls, since one of the main themes was that friendship is important when someone is doing a group project.
— アニメイトタイムズ公式 (@animatetimes) October 10, 2016
Stardust Intention: The episode was full of highlighted moments, but this one was by far my favorite. The only information we get for Ayama’s magnum opus comes from Shiina’s by-heart narration. It’s obviously a science-fiction story, and if I judge from the lewd contents of her notebook, it’s probably a romance. I guess we are going to learn more in the next episodes.
Yumine BL Love: Doujin culture is based on different fandoms, BL being one of them. I loved the way Yumine idolizes a creator, a true otaku trait. We are all part of a fandom, and I am sure that we all have one or two people whom we admire.
Focus: Almost all scenes that showed the girls focused on their art was a highlight for me. I am not watching Stella No Mahou just for the moe element, and I am eager to see more of that creative process.
Honda’s Drawing Style: Honda is so embarrassed about her retro drawing style that she is afraid to show her doodles to her new friends. Her personal style is inspired by old shounen manga she read at her house (that probably means that her parents are also otaku).
I feel so embarrassed showing my art to anyone. I only copied other drawing before.
Honda is just going through a normal creative process that starts with copying our favorite styles in search of our own unique voice. I am sure that by the end of the series she will have found her drawing style. It will still probably have something to do with older men, but you can’t fight your early influences.
— TVアニメ「ステラのまほう」公式 (@magicofstella_a) October 11, 2016
Portable Typewriter: You know that weird little laptop thing that Ayame uses to write? That’s a real thing. I have seen it in many anime, but I wasn’t sure if it exists or not. But it does. The brand is Pomera and it is a digital memo, typewriter, dedicated word processor. This is as distraction-free as you can get. It can actually fit in your pocket.
BL: It’s an initialism for the term Boy’s Love which refers to manga, anime, or fan works (like doujinshi) whose main theme is love between men. These works are created for a presumed female audience. These male to male relationships are often sexual.
It’s obvious that the show is trying to lean heavily on its characters and their extremely cute appeal than on the mechanics of making a game and selling it in Comiket. Each of the characters feels distinct without falling into one of the much-used stereotypes. Murakami is an introverted girl who feels more secure around her friends. Fujikawa is the complete opposite, a girl full of life who likes to socialize. Seki Ayame has all the quirks that can turn her into a great novelist and Yumine is that awesome best friend that cared deeply for Honda. And Honda, well…she is still that shy little girl we met on the first episode.
The level of characterization is pretty good for an anime that’s based on a 4-koma manga. These kind of stories mainly focus on small events that can be resolved with a cute image or punchline at the end, but Stella No Mahou manages through careful writing and scene-selection, to make its heroines stand out.
— silverlink (@silverlink2007) October 11, 2016
The episode was cute and colorful, but other than that, quite uneventful. I was not bothered by that. It’s still the beginning and we need to get to know the girls and a few things about how they are going to work together, but I really hope that until the mid-season, Stella No Mahou will have changed its direction into more game-making action and less moe-making cuteness.
NEXT TIME: Transmitter Item (伝送アイテム)