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.
With the main conflict resolved and the goal achieved, the last episode of Stella no Mahou spent the entire episode showing random scenes and having its characters do uninteresting things. The always delightful visuals were not enough to save the boring plot, and not even the beach scene brought anything new to the table. Yet, it managed to bring forth a couple of insights and set the premise for a sequel that is probably NOT happening.
Japanese Title: もう一度スタート地点
— 川面真也 (@dekopongas) December 20, 2016
The theme-less opening finds the girls a week before the Summer Comiket, feverously preparing for the event. By the end of the segment the week is over, the game is done, and the girls are already on their way to the main venue.
The episode tried to include every character we have encountered so far and based its narrative on repeating every single detail about these characters. Shiina is shy? We get at least three scenes about that. Honda likes old guy drawings? She finds the perfect Comiket booth. Yumine is a fujoshi? BL everywhere. Fujikawa is a workaholic? We get an unnecessary mention that she worked on a friend’s CD. Teru gets to spend time with the seniors of the cast, as they spy on the younglings. Do you sense the uninteresting tone of my writing? That’s because nothing happened in this episode. Even the way they depicted Comiket was boring. From the mention to doujinshi to the upbeat music during the sales of their game, every scene felt unconnected to the next. When Marika joined the gang, I had to search my memory bank to remember who she was. And right after that, when that girl from the previous exhibition (do you remember that scene? I think it was a girl that asked Honda to draw something for her) wanted to try the game, I was hopeful that we were about to see some gameplay; after all this was an anime about game-making. But no. Instead we had a scene where the girls praised Hana for being the leader of the project. The same Hana who a few seconds later tells Honda that they are rivals and that Hana is not yet a full member of the SNS club. What.
Nevertheless, instead of wrapping up with Comiket, which was, after all, the final destination of the main plot, the production probably thought that an anime about doujinshi whose heroines are cute girls who like BL and most of the times talk with sexual innuendo deserved a beach scene, not in the middle of the season, but as the last scene. While the fan-service is always welcome, its inclusion felt forced. At least the ending credits provided the closure we needed, partly.
— silverlink (@silverlink2007) December 20, 2016
After-Credits Scenes: There must have been some confusion during the production, because the scenes after the credits were way more interesting than the beach section. They should have been reversed. Just before the end credits, Honda asks the girls to head their next project, which is of course going to be based on her favorite art style of old men drawing. After the credits we get to see their first meeting, and their preparations for the Winter Comiket. Second season? Probably not. Good closure? At least we know that the girls are going to continue making games.
Tiny Moment of Truth: Every last or second-to-last episode deserves a small monologue by the protagonist or a moment of complete clarity when everything becomes clear. Honda had that moment when she saw a group of children making their own games and she remembered that she didn’t want to just draw but create a game that will make people smile (I don’t believe she ever forgot, but the writers desperately needed that moment.)
THE Moment: I will be bland. I didn’t like the episode. But there was a scene that made me giggle a little: Shiina is an extreme introvert. At the beach, she not only has to talk to other people, but also play beach volleyball. After a successful catch, she is so happy that she can’t help but express that happiness. Almost instantly, she hits the sand, depleted of energy. Priceless.
Queue Sign: Queues at Comiket get long. Really long, Really, really long. So long actually that someone has to be at the end holding a sign that shows the end of the line. Rumor has it that at very popular booths the end of the line is at a different dimension.
Creation: I think that the episode failed to properly describe it, but there is a certain kind of unique pride involved with having people buy your creation. Comiket is a celebration of independent creations, and people there are actively supporting each other. Creators are fans, and fans are creators.
Fan Praise: A kind comment goes a long way. If you like something, a book, a game, a song, anything, and you have the chance to say something positive to the creator, just do it. Leave a comment under that YouTube video; send a letter to that author; tweet a HURRAY to your favorite game developer.
Fandoms: From Battlestar Galactica LARPS to knitting classes (and these two are just the mildest of examples) there is a fandom for almost everything. Do you want to find someone to talk about self-made cat teacups? Yes, you can. Do you want to create art from pigeon drops on a canvas made of banana peels? I’m sure there is one. Do you want to buy manga drawn in the style you like? Comiket is the place.
I think I expected too much of this anime. Shirobako still haunts my mind, and I think that the next anime that is going to come any close to that is upcoming Sakura Quest. Stella no Mahou was not bad. It was moderately entertaining with a few moments that actually made me crack a smile or two. The game-making segments were not enough and not well presented, but they were there. The games were not the focus, and most of the times I felt that neither were the girls. The focus was on the punchline of the scene, something that was to be expected from a 4 –koma adaptation.
— TVアニメ「ステラのまほう」公式 (@magicofstella_a) December 19, 2016
The story of SNS was good. A few girls, each with her own individual talent, created two games they can call their own. The anime touched, if only superficially, the main game building blocks: music, programming, art, and story. Even though the end credits hinted a second season, I think that the purpose behind the mention to the new game and the Winter Comiket was to provide a closure for the viewers: the girls are going strong to their next game and will continue to do the thing that hey love the most.
Did you like the final episode of Stella no Mahou? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews. We are almost at the end of the season, so keep an eye out for our complete series reviews, and maybe you’d like to see what we will cover in Winter 2017.