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.
Have you seen the new Megazord of the 2017 Power Rangers film?
Here it is:
Megazord is the combination of five unique machines into a big bad-ass robot. The concept has been constant in the Japanese inspiration of the Power Rangers franchise, Super Sentai, for the last 40 years and the idea has transferred to mecha anime and super-hero manga. Stella no Mahou, or any creative endeavor that needs people with individual skills, is just like Megazord. A combination of talents that together create something new and wonderful. In this case, a doujin game.
Japanese Title: カウントダウン
— TVアニメ「ステラのまほう」公式 (@magicofstella_a) November 1, 2016
Despite being a writer, I associate more with Shii-chan than I do with the rest of the characters. Aya’s concerns as the script-writer are very real and I can totally relate to them, but Shiina’s introverted nature automatically makes her a soulmate. Lately, all my favorite characters are introverted or damaged in some way (see my reviews for Fune wo Amu and 3-Gatsu no Lion). Shiina is quite mild compared to the protagonists of the aforementioned shows, but she is still describes as a poor talker, unable to hold a proper conversation, and somewhat oblivious to commonly accepted social behavior. Even the way she talks has a staccato robotic pitch that makes her adorable. She and Aya spend the day in Honda’s room after she fell ill. They spend their time going from one comedic bit to the next.
The second part, on the other hand, propelled the plot a bit. The girls were not picked for the Winter Comik Market and will instead take part in a doujin games event that will take place in six days. The day before the event they decide to spend it at school, boost their efforts, and finish the game before the event. This was probably my favorite part of the series so far. The name of the game, Stella no Mahou, is not just referring to the main character and the fantasy setting. Like many works of art, there is a hidden meaning that makes sense to the creators and to those fans that are keen in discovering every little bit and detail about their favorite titles. Stella is the Italian word for ‘star’. Shii-chan says that the talents of the four of them needed a fifth point to create a star, a combination of five points that are connected to each other. That fifth point was management, believe it or not. Just like in Shirobako, the main point of this episode was that there must always be someone who makes the planning, that girl that brings the individual pieces together and is responsible for creating the whole. The magic word for this episode was ‘synergy’.
Cute New Club Member: Who is she? Are going to see her again? Of course we will. She is in the opening credits. The way Aya sends away all those people though… Adorable.
Flat Design: At some point, Shii insists on a flat design for the game, a minimalist UI design genre that uses few stylistic elements that give the illusion of three dimensions with the use of drop shadows, gradients or textures. It is focused on a minimalist use of simple elements, typography and flat colors. Have you noticed it in the ending credits?
Artists Create from Experience: I’m not sure if I am qualified to talk about this (there goes my impostor syndrome again) but I have often found it difficult to write from experience. Most of the times I feel like my ‘experience’ is nothing worth writing about, or that my ‘memories’ are too untrustworthy to base my words on them. Still, I know that most of what I write is based on both my experience and memories, whether I do it consciously or not. Is it possible that Aya wrote a wonderful piece about love without ever experiencing love? I doubt that we’ll have a chance to read it, but I don’t see why not. She probably wrote a piece on love that has bits and pieces of things she felt, things she wrote, and things she saw. Artists always create from experience. Whether their work can relate to our experiences is a completely different subject.
Yonkoma Manga: I probably have already mentioned a few times that Stella No Mahou is based on a 4-koma, a comic-strip format that consists of four equal-size panels ordered from top to bottom. The first yonkoma was Jiji Manga, written by Rakuten Kitazawa (who write under the pen name Yasuji Kitazawa) in 1902. The style usually follows a semi-formal structure that is called kishōtenketsu. The world is formed from the kanji of the four stages of a 4-koma manga:
4-koma are similar to the short form comic found in the west. Dilbert is a famous western example. They are found in almost all types of Japanese publications, from newspapers and cooking magazines to graphic novels and game magazines. They are usually one-offs, but many feature a subtle ark that allows serialization.
I wanted to end the Themes section with an explanation of what a 4-koma is, because each episode of the anime gives me the feeling that it is created by combining lots of small stories into one big narrative. Even though I have never read a Stella no Mahou 4-koma, it was obvious that the episode was divided into parts, each with its own little plot, twist, and comedic conclusion. I am not complaining, quite the contrary. I enjoy the way this series is unfolding.
— silverlink (@silverlink2007) November 1, 2016
Stella no Mahou is a story about the every-day reality of countless doujin groups in Japan. In my review for the first episode, one of the first things that I mentioned was that fans are expected to be creative themselves. The work of the previous generation serves as example and inspiration for the new. It’s not merely entertainment; it’s the promise of artistic expression passed on. Isn’t that wonderful?
What did you think of the latest episode? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to check out the rest of our reviews for Fall 2016.
NEXT TIME: Sale Meeting (そくばいかい)