Magic User’s Club OVA

November 28, 2004 on 11:47 am | In Magic Users' Club | Comments Off on Magic User’s Club OVA

Nosebleeds and magic finally join forces to create 1996’s six episode OVA Magic User’s Club.

Magic User’s Club is about a “Bell” that descends from space. Earth attacks it, so it decimates their forces. As long as Earth does nothing, the Bell will conquer the planet without hurting anyone. Things continue like this until Takakura Takeo, president of the Magic Users’ Club at his high school, decides to take action. He’s just blustering to impress the girls, but they take him seriously. However, because of the club’s opening gambit, the agents of the Bell take an interest in magic and set out to analyse it. Therefore, the Magic Users’ Club actually does have to stand up and face the alien threat. What is really surprising is the ability of director Sato Junichi to balance the plot perfectly with the characters.

The Bell threat is a definite source of confusion; these aliens don’t say anything, and it is uncertain whether they are actual aliens because their designs are as far from organic as you can get. The silence that accompanies these creatures, whatever they may be, gives a different feel to the science fiction in which aliens discuss what they’re doing to humans. Sato’s approach is to sometimes show what the Bell’s eyes see. While this shows their calculating way and provides some insight into what they are, it also gives a little bit of service because it strips the characters of the clothes. Basically, something for everyone.

As president, Takakura has to face up to many things; Miyama, the girl who made his life hell in childhood is president of the much more successful manga club, and has grown up to have ample cleavage and a team of servants. Try as he might, he is still under her thumb. Takakura’s desire to make something of the club is almost certainly a direct result of all of Miyama’s bullying, as is his lack of self esteem. However, Takakura refuses to live completely in her shadow and has an active fantasy life that is provoked by any little bit of service that he sees. Takakura is a very frequent nosebleeder, and is nowhere near as pathetic as he might sound. His dedication to the club and its members, and his gentle humour of Aburatsubo makes him a very nice character.

Sae is the true heroine of this anime, because it has always got to be a girl in these things. Sae has no self confidence, which is a great pity, because she is the most magically talented of all of the characters. This is just how these things go. One of the series highlights is watching Sae trying to come to terms with her ability and trying to rely less upon her magic bear, Jeff-kun. The sweetest moment comes at the end of the beach episode (because, yes, there is indeed a beach episode on offer here), which almost brought a tear to the eye.

Magic User’s Club is anime that has a fair amount of focus, that doubles as a romance in which everyone except the club’s ko-gal is in love with everyone else.
This romance would be fairly standard were it not for Aburatsubo. Aburatsubo is the club’s vice president and only gay member. He has romantic designs on Takakura, who is aware of the advances but ignores them. Outside of yaoi, homosexual characters are relatively silent or make a couple of cute remarks about one of the other men and not much else. A large problem with writing homosexual characters is that their sexuality can come dangerously close to being their only personality trait. While this is something very strong in Aburatsubo, he is written with actual emotions. Some analyses of Japanese life see something tragic about the pursuit of yaoi, and while Aburatsubo does have a doomed love he is strong enough to overcome it. Consequently, Aburatsubo is more than just a cheap laugh and brings something fresh to a love story between two shy magicians.

The character design and general animation are very nice to look at, but this was made in 1995 and there are a few failed experiments in CG – this is some of the ugliest computer generated stuff ever included in anime. It takes up only the tiniest portion of screen time and so is forgiveable, but it’s interesting to note that GONZO’s Maeda Mahiro was behind the mechanical designs.
Impressively the space scene plays without any sound at at all; because this isn’t anime crammed with dogfights, the scenes outside of the atmosphere can afford to be physically accurate. Of course, because it’s unexpected and the first thing featured, viewers may fear that their sound equipment has imploded.
Voice acting is of a very high standard, with tragic beauty of the nineties Konishi Hiroko providing brilliant work as Sae and Onosaka Masaya putting in one of his marvellously flustered performances as Takakura. The support cast is also very strong, with Koyasu Takehito in the part he was born to play as Aburatsubo, and other sweet young things of the era Iizuka Mayumi and Iwao Junko lending their talents as Nanaka and Akane respectively.

This is a nice, sweet OVA. Despite its godawful CG, it has some very attractive cell work. Gently romantic, with many fantasy sequences, a little bit of fan service and a character whose boobs precede her, Magic User’s Club is a lot of fun to watch.

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