Lately, I’ve been drawn to the world of indie games and fanfiction stories. While the western fan audience has a certain infatuation with canon material, the otaku culture of Japan seem to be more focused on fan-generated comics, games, etc.
Stella No Mahou is about a group of school girls making their own self-published games. You can imagine my curiosity, and after enjoying New Game! last season, I had to check this one out.
Japanese Title: スタート地点
What is this Anime about
Magic of Stella is based on a Japanese 4-panel manga series by Kuroba U, serialized in Houbunsha’s seinen manga magazine ‘Manga Time Kirara Max’ since October 2012. It is produced by Silver Link.
There is a sudden surge of industry-related anime lately, probably due to extensive internet coverage of the doujin culture of self-published material and the fandom that has elevated the scene into a very important otaku sub-culture. If you watched New Game! last season, expect something on the same light but with a more indie flavor.
Honda Tamaki and her best friend Yumi are getting ready for their first day in high school when they will have the chance to choose the club they want to participate in. Clubs are very common in the Japanese education system, where students are expected to create their own groups according to their interests. They usually choose a club when the school year begins and only rarely change for the rest of high school.
Tamaki, who slightly reminds me of me in her age, has no idea what club she wants to join. From when she was little she had so many hobbies that she never focused on a single thing. Her love of making board games to share with her friends led her to SNS, a club that’s making their own video games.
Tamaki joins as the club’s illustrator and meets Shiina Murakami, the club’s president and programmer, Ayame Seki, the glass-wearing (stereotypes) scenario writer, and Kayu Fujikawa, the music composer.
During their first meeting, they agree on a common goal: create a visual novel in time for Summer Comiket!
Pixels: This series had me at ‘pixels’. The intro is great: not for the catchy pop tune that we expect from these kind of shows, but for the pixel-heavy sequence that features a mini-bio of all the members of the doujin team. Pixels are small dots of heaven.
Gaming References: A show that focuses on videogames must have a ton of video game references. Not many of them appeared in the first episode (or I just missed them). I loved the mid-episode screens with their ‘Loading…’ and ‘Push Start’ signs, the video game sounds when Tamaki and Yumi test the puzzle game, the 8-bit Title Box, and the pixelized avatars in the next episode preview.
SNS: The name of the club, SNS, stands for Shinda Sakana No Me Nishou Busoku Shuttle Run Club. In roughly translates for ‘Slimy Dead Fish Eyes Not Enough Sunlight Sprinting Club’. I guess we will get an explanation in a future episode.
Themes & Trivia
Comiket: The girl’s goal is to create a visual novel game to show at the next Summer Comiket event. Comiket, otherwise known as the Comic Market (コミックマーケット), is the world’s largest dōjinshi fair, held twice a year in Tokyo, Japan. It is organized by the Comic Market Committee. It focuses on self-published anime, manga, video games, and other otaku-related titles. Manga.Tokyo was at the last Summer Comiket. Check out our articles here!
Dōjin: As we mentioned before, Japan values self-published titles. Fans are expected to show their love for their favorite titles through art, writing, music, and every artistic medium that allows them to create their own works. Dōjin is the general Japanese term for a group of people or friends who share an interest or activity and create a dōjinshi work (manga, novels, fan guides, art collections, music and video games), like the videogame the girls want to make in Stella no Mahou. If you want an English equivalent for dōjin, you can find a rough synonym in ‘clique’, ‘fandom’, or ‘indie team’. This sub-culture is so popular in Japan that in 2007, self-published works made up 48% of the sales in the otaku industry.
Visual Novel: This is the genre of the game the girls want to make. A visual novel (ビジュアルノベル) is an interactive game that features mostly static drawings in the anime-style and is featuring mostly static graphics, most often using anime-style. They consist predominantly of narration of events and they have very few interactive elements (multiple choice paths). Visual Novels are one of the most popular genres in Japan, where they made up nearly 70% of the PC game titles released in 2006.
Stella no Mahou is not something extraordinary. The first episode established the plot and now we just have to see it to the end: The girls want to build a visual novel game to sell at Comiket. You would be surprised at how simple and yet complex this scenario is. Every year, there are thousands of similar groups all around the world creating their own works. Not only games, but albums and manga and anime. They write fan-fiction and they draw comics. The world is full of creativity, and, besides the obvious marketing boost to Comiket, this anime is about awareness. I’m not expecting a masterpiece out of this. If the music and animation was so awful that it made the series unwatchable, you would probably have read a different review. But they are not. They are ok-ish, and that’s all I expect. Now, let’s get those pixels rolling.
Let’s Make A Game!
If you were expecting knee-deep plots and crying-out-loud drama moments, then you are in the wrong show. Stella no Mahou is going to be cute and informative, and that’s about it. Stay for the next episode if you are curious how an indie game is made and want to learn more about the terminology behind the production while watching cute little high school girls do silly things.
And for the pixels. Stay if you like pixels.
NEXT TIME: Fun Production (たのしい創作)
TV Anime Official Homepage : magicofstella.com
Twitter : ＠magicofstella_a