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.
Stella no Mahou is two episodes away from finishing its 12-episode cour, and the latest episode felt like a taste of the same old recipe. That’s not necessarily bad, since the show has so far given us numerous cute moments between the members of the SNS club, but at times I felt like I was watching an American sit-com: random scenes with random jokes succeeding each other.
Japanese Title: 精密機械
— TVアニメ「ステラのまほう」公式 (@magicofstella_a) December 9, 2016
Discussing the plot of Stella no Mahou would require at least triple the words of what this article is supposed to have. Not because there is an overly complicate narrative to analyze, but because as a 4-koma adaptation each individual scene has its own story cycle. I couldn’t recognize an overarching theme that loomed over this episode, but instead we saw small bits of the same: Shiina’s introverted personality and her ability to lead the club, Honda and Haya’s healthy rivalry, Seki’s transformation abilities and her relationship with her number-one fan, and Teru’s new role as the club’s guardian angel. We met one new character, Shiina’s mother, for whom we only learned that she is a freelancer programmer (like mother like daughter) who approves of the potential homosexuality of her daughter. She is also a freelancer expert because her fridge is full of food and energy drinks.
Apart from the usual sit-com style jokes and reference jokes, little progress was made on the game and the ‘way to Comiket’, as I like to put it.
— TVアニメ「ステラのまほう」公式 (@magicofstella_a) December 7, 2016
Honda the Medium: At one scene, Hana is scolding Honda for not believing enough in herself and her art. Although the voice actor read her lines, Haya’s animation remained still. At first I thought that it was a production mistake, and that’s the first note I made about the scene. When Honda answered and Hana responded that she didn’t say anything, I had to rewind the scene to be sure. I didn’t get the joke, but I did get that it was not an animation mistake at least.
Iris-sensei: The Superman-effect is strong in Iris-sensei. Seki-senpai only has to take off her glasses and apply some make-up to make Haya-chan see the accomplished writer and not the irritating upper-classman with the glasses. Her denial is rather cute. My favorite scenes from this episode all had to do with Iris-sensei, from her overly enthusiastic speech about the literature club to the removal of her make-up from Shiina.
Random Jokes: Stella no Mahou is based on a 4-koma manga series by cloba.U. Their main characteristic is that each 4-panel mini story has its own opening and delivery. That means that the anime is actually adapting many small narratives into a single episode, thus making the viewer feel like he is actually watching a lot of not necessarily connected scenes, just like a Friends episode (or any other sit-com) for that matter. To be honest, this feels like the sit-com equivalent of anime.
Attention: When Honda changes her hair (or rather when Teru makes her change her hair by stealing her ribbon) the amount of attention she receives from her club members and the rest of her classmates is flattering. A change in our appearance can have drastic effects in the way we feel, and as a result, to the way other people see us. Sometimes it’s not the new hair that people notice, but the way that the new hair make us feel.
School Clubs: There are so many anime that take place in a school setting and include clubs in their narrative that we had to write an article about clubs in Japanese schools! Click here to read it! You can read about the way clubs are organized, how important they are in the Japanese school culture, and how they utilize the senpai-kouhai relationship.
LGBT Friendly: Yeah, we get it that Stella no Mahou is not homophobic, and kudos to the writer for including many controversial fandoms in her work. But the scene where Honda undresses in response to Murakami-okaasan’s comment about homosexuality was a bit too much. It was probably the punchline of one of the 4-comas; I am sure it looked better on print.
References: In many episodes, I felt like I wasn’t getting the joke. Japanese culture is very foreign compared to our western way of life, and even though we share many capitalistic similarities, it’s still difficult for a foreigner to fully grasp the subtle references that exist inside anime and manga.
— silverlink (@silverlink2007) December 6, 2016
I want to justify my introductory comment: I know that this is a 4-koma manga and that it’s supposed to be snippets of little jokes that belong to a wider setting, which is the SNS club and their everyday activities. I understand that, and my comments are more of my own views on the anime and not an objective criticism of its quality. I dislike the fact that I have to apologize so many times for expressing my own views, but you can’t imagine the kind of online harassment reviewers get from online fans. Sometimes it’s justified, but other times it’s just, ‘HOW DO YOU DARE, THIS SHOW IS AWESOME’.
Stella no Mahou is a good show. It’s just not my cup of tea. I thought it would be, because of the gaming theme, but it became too much of a cute, feel-good anime.
Even though I got tired of their everyday comic moments, I am still anxious to see how the game the SNS club is making will turn out and how popular it will be during the Comiket exhibition. Maybe it’s just because I am too excited that MANGA.TOKYO is taking part in this year’s Winter Comiket 91!
Did you like the episode? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews!
NEXT TIME: Do you need help, lady? (お困りですかお嬢さん)