The Wandering Witch as Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl

Posted on Jan 29 2020

Welcome, all, again. I recently raided my backlog of series-to-be-watched and pulled out 2011’s Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl–literally pulled it out of my DVD collection, where it’s lingered for who knows how long, now? It was time. After all, I’ve for years watched snippets of its footage on AMVs, stared raptly at random images of Erio and Meme. Heck, at some point I apparently even bought the series! Might as well watch it, right?

The show’s plot seems deceptively simple at first glance: due to family circumstances, a second-year high school student moves in with his aunt (his father’s sister) and transfers into the local high school. New home, new neighborhood, new school. Seems reasonable to expect him to make new friends, at that. Before moving, Makoto Niwa was given to understand that his aunt is single and has a job, so he arrives at her house anticipating having a lot of free time and being left largely to his own devices. As it happens, however, his aunt dotes upon him. And while she is single, she also happens to be a single parent, a complete revelation to Makoto! Meme has a daughter Erio who is Makoto’s age, but who seems to have been kept secret from a large part of the family due to the fact that Meme never married Erio’s father, who later left. And if the stigma of her illegitimacy wasn’t enough of a burden, Erio has taken to wrapping herself in a futon after being traumatized the previous year and losing part of her memory. Seems that she went missing for six months and was eventually found in November along a stretch of beach near her hometown. Although she appeared physically unharmed when found, Erio has no recollection of her time missing. Her response is to blame alien abduction, perhaps not surprising given that her hometown is in an area well-known for UFO sightings. She even convinces herself that her true identity is that of an alien sent to observe human behavior, all from the protective fabric embrace of a futon. (Which kinda makes you wonder how she might have fit in with the group over in Kill la Kill. . .)

What does all this mean for Makoto? Pretty much whatever he chooses to let it mean. Because while Makoto knew nothing about the existence of his cousin, his new town has had months of strange, futon-wrapped behavior to fuel gossip and sway opinion. In short, Makoto walks into an environment in which he might become instantly stigmatized due to his family’s reputation, and that kind of social pressure can be pretty hard on an adolescent (indeed, Makoto keeps score of his everyday life by tallying “adolescent points”). New acquaintances tend to progress through a series of questions with him: Where do you live? With whom? Then you actually live with Towa Erio? What do you think of her? By this point, some folks are already giving up on Makoto and un-acquainting themselves from him. Their loss, as Makoto proves himself to be a stalwart defender of his family, if not their lifestyle choices. [He tolerates his aunt’s seductive teasing but speaks well of her to others; he never indicates resentment of his parents’ move overseas, despite the inconveniences it causes him; he sets out to help his cousin reclaim her very human identity with no expectation of gratitude.] Makoto might sometimes be painfully blunt and give his own idealism too much credit and credence, but he’s still a stand-up guy.

And Makoto’s good tendencies get noticed. Certainly I don’t consider this show legitimately harem, but two female schoolmates end up very impressed with Makoto’s underlying good nature and dogged determination to protect his family. One such is Ryuko, a cute, energetic girl who plays basketball and early-on develops a strong crush on Makoto, but has great difficulty accepting his relationship with Erio. In fact, Ryuko tells Makoto quite pointedly that while she can’t be on Erio’s side in her struggles, she could be on his. But Ryuko’s got some solid competition in Maekawa, a long-legged classical beauty with a tendency towards physical delicacy. (And you’d best believe that Maekawa’s father almost instantly notices his daughter noticing Makoto!) A third girl named Yashiro Hoshimiya takes something of an interest in Makoto, but she seems more determined to prove the validity of her claim to be both an alien and an esper than to pursue any romance. (Receiving less screen time than the other girls, Yashiro is the only character who might actually have the powers she claims. . .)

Why did I wait so long to watch this show? It turned out to be great fun! Erio might have ditched the futon sooner than I expected, but the story only got richer. Me, too, for having watched.

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