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.
I’ve always treated Stella no Mahou as my feel-good episode of the week. There’s nothing like a group of girls making indie games in an anime world full of pastel colors to lift your spirits up.
Episode 7, however, was much more than that. It was a sweet testament on the most important reason why people who really care about an art are ending up creating it. Episode 7 was a, misunderstood at first, love letter to creators everywhere.
Japanese Title: はじめての思い出
— TVアニメ「ステラのまほう」公式 (@magicofstella_a) November 15, 2016
Before discussing the episode further we should get the opening and ending scenes out of the way. Do you remember that redhead from the last episode (or was it the one before that)? That same girl that was thrown out of the class by an angry Ayame returns and she seems anxious to challenge Honda in a duel. The hows and the whys we will find out in the next episode.
The first scenes are misdirecting us from the main theme, but they also serve as a necessary introduction. Yumine lends Honda a manga; Fujikawa describes how much she loves music and how her creations feel like her babies; Shiina talking about passion and logic; and then the rapid succession of scenes that built up a misunderstanding revolving around BL, forbidden love, and sexual innuendo; Fujikawa’s love and admiration for her senpai Teru and the similar feelings Honda has for Yumine; and in the end Yumine’s jealousy and awkward fantasies about a BL scenario. Every one of these scenes served a dual purpose: to give the comedic effect we have associated with the series and to build the foundations for the second part of the episode.
This is the first extensive flashback of Stella no Mahou. The whole purpose of that part was to show us that most of what we come to be as adults is due to experiences we had as children. Yumine and Honda were bonded in a way few people have the chance to bond. Yumine, indirectly, taught Honda that creating something is not for the sake of the creation but for the enjoyment of those that will interact with it. The greatest masterpieces can be reduced to nothing if they can’t inspire joy and hope. The board games Honda created were flawed; the mature men she draw were simple. But the first drove Yumine out of her social inclusion and into a group of friends, and the latter paved the road for Honda to express her love for her dad and for creating games. And together they formed a friendship that brings us back to the present and to a Yumine not afraid to express her love for BL.
Art conjures emotions. If it fails to do that then it wasn’t art to begin with.
Sad Music: The piano music that played every time Fujikawa brainstormed lyrics created an amazing mood. The scene reached its pinnacle when Fujikawa’s face changed drawing styles. There must be some obscure, artistic reason behind that change that I don’t know about.
Old and New: Yumine is playing a portable console that looks a lot like a Gameboy Advance SP. To get closer to her, Honda brings from her home what seems like a first generation Gameboy. Quite the generation gap there.
BL Details: In particular one; Yumine’s double male symbols instead of pupils. Priceless.
Diversity: At one point during the whole sensual misunderstanding between Honda, Yumine, and Fujikawa, Honda tells Fujikawa that it doesn’t matter if her love interest is a girl or a boy and that she will support her. Japan, strangely enough, is very progressive when it comes to themes in artistic creations, and very conservative when they engage with such themes in reality. This is exactly the reason why I’m not sure if this was a sign of LGBT acceptance or just a normal anime scene.
The Starving Artist: Shiina comments on the theme of the starving artist, ‘It’s not easy to make a living as a creator.’ This is true for any creative endeavor, but it’s especially true for the anime sector, where the recent controversy about the average salaries has made quite an impact.
Passion Vs Reason: Fujikawa and Shiina represent the two opposing sides of this artistic coin. Passion is necessary if you want to create something that feels new, fresh, and hits straight where it hurts, but without reason your efforts could prove meaningless. A balance of the two is necessary in every artist.
The Power of Imagination: Imagination is present throughout the episode, from Honda’s ridiculous assumptions to Yumine’s erotic scenarios. Imagination is the prime fuel that drives creators forward. Without it, art would have never existed and our lives would have been indeed dull. Imagination is what preserves the inner child inside very creator, that spark of genius that is necessary for them to reach the realm of things that do not yet exist.
I am glad I started Stella no Mahou. This episode and its art analogies and metaphors were worth it. Sometimes I feel I am too much of a romantic when it comes to art, but I always thought that recently there are too many anime being created as promotional material and the people who create anime care less and less about the medium. The only thought that brings me hope is that these same creators went into the industry out of their love for it, and if they were given the chance they could create something truly wonderful. But then, they are too many, and money has to be made, and Blu-rays have to be sold, and, and, and… This is an entirely different discussion.
— silverlink (@silverlink2007) November 15, 2016
The episode revealed that the girls are already talking about their second game! What could it be? Will they make it to Comiket? I don’t know if the girls will make it, but I know someone who will. Manga.Tokyo will have a booth in the upcoming Winter Comic Market 91! We are so excited!
NEXT TIME: Don’t Underestimate Debugging? (デバッグなめたらダメだよ？)