One of the grandest traditions in the history of anime is the magical girl genre, which goes all the way back to Himitsu no Akko-chan and Sally the Witch, which were directly inspired by the popularity of the 1960s American comedy Bewitched here in Japan. Fans of the genre got a treat in 2011 with Madoka Magica, written by master storyteller Urobuchi Gen of Nitroplus, which brought an “Empire Strikes Back” level of darkness to the genre. Now there’s a new “magical girl anime for grown-ups,” Maho Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, or Magical Girl Raising Project. It’s a world in which players all over Japan play a magical girl-themed social game, but a few of them are chosen to become actual magical girls with real powers. The game is literally a system for raising the best magical girl possible, but the downside is that the girls who are removed from the system were not collecting enough “magical candy”…die. There are some great innovations in the anime, including the virtual chat room the girls interact with each other in, and the first formal “otokonoko” magical girl, because this is 2016. So far the story is dark and interesting, shaping up to be something like an anime version of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were One.
While a new anime season means I’m usually busy trying to keep up with all the new shows, I sometimes find myself working through past series, too. One I’m enjoying is ReLife, about a very special company that gives people the chance to restart their lives. On the surface it’s a fanciful slice-of-life show about a 27-year-old young man named Arata who’s given the chance to return to high school, but it has deeper themes, too, including the reason why Arata ran away from his former life as a respectable company employee: the suicide of a respected senpai as a result of workplace bullying at a burakku kigyou (“black company”), a word that describes companies that care about their profits, never the health and welfare of their employees. Because the series was streamed all at once, rather than weekly, it seemed to get very little attention from anime fans outside of Japan, so I wanted to give it a recommendation as a show that’s probably worth your consideration.
J-List stocks all the best anime art books from Japan, with hundreds in stock at any given time. One book we like a lot is the official artwork for the new Your Name anime by Shinkai Makoto, filled with all the visuals of the film. Browse all artbooks in stock here.