So let’s just rip this pasty off right at the start: The characters involved in Gushing Over Magical Girls‘ graphic, uncensored, sexual antics are, indeed, middle schoolers. But the profound intention of this storytelling choice must be understood, for this anime is a story that seeks to confront and commentate on the sorts of crimes that impressionable young minds can be manipulated into. The non-consensual sexual violence that Utena visits upon the girls of Tres Magica constitutes abuse, of course. But she is only being spurred to action by the machinations of her authority figure mascot, Venalita. In this way, Gushing Over Magical Girls positions itself as a bold, unflinching analysis of the cyclical nature of abuse, daring the audience to confront—
Oh god, I am kidding, obviously. Ha ha, holy shit, can you imagine?!
Look, the reasoning for the barely-pubescent status of Gushing‘s girls is simple: it centers the core gag of typical-seeming anime magical girls getting involved in situations decidedly inappropriate for their stylistic setting, and also the author and presumed primary audience want to see some cartoon middle schoolers getting tied up and spanked. And it’s this genesis that everything else in the series must pay second diddle-fiddle to. You’re either very much here for what it’s selling, or you’re a morbidly curious reviewer who requested this series because he wanted to see how it might pan out, or you’ve already run screaming for the hills.
The thing is, that core joke of Magical Girls Gone Wild honestly is a pretty good one, if you ask me. Villains in these sorts of shows often are manipulated peers of the heroes like Utena. Tying that in with the often odd prevalence of BDSM aesthetics among those enemies, and there’s some solid humor to be mined from “Okay, but what’s the real reason this villainess is so keen on tying up and smacking around these magical girls?” Viewers could roll with that concept-based humor for the first fifteen minutes of the first episode, regardless of the preteen ta-tas being shoved in their faces. The issue is once the cat o’ nine tails is out of the bag, that is all this pack of Gushers has to offer, at least for the beginning. By the time the giant wax candle monster appears in the second episode, you can guess how this show will go.
The dearth of actual comedy in this series is contentious enough. Gushing seems to think that magical schoolgirls in escalating inappropriate situations are enough material to ride on. Thus, each episode is delineated into half-length pairs that play out like the setup of Wile E. Coyote cartoons, except ending with the coyote getting tickle-tortured or sensory-deprived instead of falling off a cliff. The lasciviously languid approach applies to the whole of the series’ material, however, leaving things lacking as far as the madcap pacing that would help wring some laughs out of so much of the technical absurdity on display here. Instead, the anime is lent this very sluggish, “Wait, this is still going?” vibe to its pacing, which should never be the case in a screwball comedy.
Now I know comedy, quick-fire entertainment, need not be necessary for effective porn. But then the denser sexual elements of Gushing Over Magical Girls are points it may not be obligated to explore, but at least is decently equipped to. There is something inherently interesting about Utena’s struggles with coming to realize her sexual desires while also lacking in trustworthy adults or healthy situations with which to understand them. Except that Gushing isn’t interested, not yet anyway, in digging into the hormone-addled struggles of teens navigating their blossoming kinks in a way that might be cringe-worthy, but ultimately relatable and funny. Nana & Kaoru this ain’t.
Things, admittedly, have picked up by the third episode spent with Peter Gushing. The introduction of Kiwi gives Utena someone a bit more compelling to play off of. It’s complicated by Kiwi’s apparent masochistic awakening at the behest of Baiser’s bullying. Also, Kiwi’s a funny little jerk who swears a bunch, and I find that amusing. It’s kinda messed up the way this show can demonstrate its ability to lube up and seemingly slide into an “Awwww” moment simply by hinting at a mutuality between a couple of its hentai gremlins. If the series is willing to explore those angles in other characters or propel itself into a broader (much better, in my opinion) possible joke of the whole of magical girl/villainess combat being over-complex BDSM roleplay. In that case, it might wind up having something more than it does. Because even if the explicit exposure and fetish fanservice are enough for a hyper-specific audience, it’s still a shortcoming if the rest of the series is barely worth fast-forwarding through.
As a bonus, in the spirit of HIDIVE getting the uncensored AT-X version of this show, click here for an extra review pic, guaranteed to contain 100% uncut material, too hot for ANN’s front page!
Gushing Over Magical Girls is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
Chris is hoping that following this series at the same time he’s keeping up with Precure won’t result in him being put on a special list. Please direct any call-out posts to his increasingly decaying Twitter, or whip him into writing more quality material for his blog.