The Wandering Witch is Mad for Maerchen Maedchen!

Posted on Mar 28 2018

Welcome, all, again. Today’s subject of discussion is Maerchen Maedchen, a choice which might confuse regular readers. Don’t feel bad, though, because it confuses me, too. The show itself, my decision to review it, all of it. To be completely honest, this show is somewhat aggravating. The story seems completely misdirected; the artwork and animation are rather rudimentary; even the voice acting seems stilted and unpolished. Any one of these flaws might seriously compromise an otherwise good series–and that observation might just explain this show’s unique charm. It reminds me of community theater or, even more closely, of an elementary school play. With apologies, it’s just so bad that it’s actually kind of good in a weird, undefinable way. Like some animated magical girl Gong Show that’s pretending to follow a script. But that in itself makes Maerchen Maedchen a very relaxed, relaxing viewing experience; you can sit down and watch the antics of some of the clumsiest and least-coordinated magical girls since Mahou Shoujo Nante Mouiidesukara, without any fear whatsoever of becoming emotionally attached to the characters or affected by their situation. Totally NSA!

Our primary protagonist in this tale is Hazuki Kagimura, a high school student who has lost her mother and now lives with the new mother and older sister provided by her father’s remarriage. They all get along well-enough, but Hazuki has always had a habit of inhabiting books moreso than everyday life; that habit is now progressing into full-blown escapism as Hazuki faces the mounting social pressures of adolescence. Let’s just say that she is very familiar with her local library. One day after school, Hazuki purchases some books at a bookstore only to realize afterwards that there is an extra book mixed into her order. She attempts to open it but cannot, then stops her efforts when she is distracted by a hooded figure running past. She associates the hood with those worn by mages in a book she’s reading, and follows the mysterious figure out of curiosity. Were Hazuki more observant, she might have noticed that nobody else seems to see the person whom she’s following. But she’s got tunnel vision, to the point of running into other pedestrians. In fact, her pursuit is so headlong that she allows herself to be lured into and then trapped in an alley by the very person she’s been following. This girl is amazed that Hazuki can see her, and issues dire threats before flying away upon a broomstick. Unfortunately for her, she got so caught up in her tough act that she forgot her own bag of books when she flew off. And so Hazuki scoops them up and sets out in pursuit, eventually arriving at the library. She finds her assailant using magic to open a passage between realms–a passageway that Hazuki herself then opens through the magical intervention of that extra book from earlier. She has passed straight from the mundane into the arcane, arriving on the grounds of a school for magical girls, called maedchen, who use the magic of books.

And at that moment, myriad possibilities exist for this story. At the very least, I was hoping for some sort of Negima-like exploration of each girl’s powers and how her personality fits her book. Instead, we have yet another fight show wherein groups representing different magic academies battle each other in a tournament called Hexannacht, with the grand prize being the granting of the victor’s wish. Talk about squandered opportunity! You have the situation of emotionally volatile teenage schoolgirls who possess phenomenal power by virtue of contracts made with their magical books, called Origins. These books are the source of our many modern folktales and fairy tales, but because certain of these are actually archetypes of human desires/experiences, they are much more powerful than those containing lesser stories. (All are cultural touchstones.) And our own timid, friendless Hazuki–whose surface familial situation mirrors that of Cinderella–is indeed chosen by that very tome, said to be one of the most powerful in existence. How might the different legends, brought together in one place and given life through their contracted girls, interact? What changes can the collected dreams of humanity effect upon the world when joined? We’ll probably never know.

But wait, I thought you liked this show? I do. Forgive me, but I do! There is an innocence, an artlessness to this show that is endearing. The premise is squandered; the story and its telling are blase; and the artwork and voice acting both vacillate between merely adequate to embarrassingly bad. In short, it’s the animated version of a ’70s sitcom; I’m constantly waiting for canned laughter to erupt. And yet it’s fun to watch. This is a show that you can easily afford to miss–but don’t!

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