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First Impression: Marchen Madhen

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Synopsis

This a story that begins with the meeting of a bookworm and a mage. Hazuki Kagimura is a girl who loves stories and often escapes to them when facing a situation that she’s is not able to handle. One day she encounters a mage named Shizuka Tsuchimikado and upon discovering her doing magic, earnestly follows her. Through her tracking and a mysterious book that she had found earlier, Hazuki finds herself in a mysterious school. Here girls (called “mädchen”) are selected by the magical texts from which the world’s stories are born and Hazuki herself is said to be chosen by the book of Cinderella. Thus, begins her new life in at a magic school and becoming friends with Shizuka.

The Good

It may seem like another magical girl type of story, but the overall concept of the series is rather interesting overall. For one thing, there is some actual sense in how the magical realm and the normal are connected in this plot in comparison to so many other fantasy series in which the only thing we mainly get is the “it’s magic” explanation, it’s a nice little change. Oh sure, there’s parts of that trope here but the fact that there is a semblance of a system is something to give a point to the worldbuilding.

As for the characters, for the most part, they’re fine. With the main character, she doesn’t seem all that different from certain character types with the whole unable to fit in and finding solace in books spectrum, but as a main character it is different to have a bookworm taking the role especially when they’re usually a secondary type of character. And the fact that she’s so eager in learning more when finding out magic is kind of endearing on her part.

When looking at the episode as a whole, it gives a rather solid introduction for the story and left just enough of a mystery to have the viewer look for the next episode. On another note, the magic that was shown so far also shows some potential giving that it derives from both books and stories, and personally, that’s a fun sounding concept right there.

The Bad

The overall build-up of things was, strange to say the least. For another there was some clear attempts fanservice going on in the second half of the episode. Really, it’s the first episode and we get hit with a show of skin from the main character and a show of certain assets from another? It’s unclear whether it was for comedy purposes or for the perceived fanservice attempt that it is, but for this writer, it felt like the episode was pushing itself a bit.

And it wasn’t just with the second half of the episode, you could already see that the episode was pushing things with the portrayal of the main character. While she had the interesting quality of being a bookworm who easily believed in magic, the fact is that it’s clear that the entire plot is trying to make her into this underdog type. From the way she’s not able to socialize with others very well to her being over apologetic and insecure, it’s like she’s a mix of all those female underdog characters added with a daydreamer quality.

While not necessarily bad on her part it just seems that the episode is trying just a little to hard in being a different type of fantasy/magical girl story, in this writer’s opinion at least. Honestly, the negative moments of the episode are more on whether you’re used to certain tropes or not and how much you’re able to tolerate them.

Conclusion

Overall the episode leaves a “meh” kind of impression for this writer. The main character is cute in the way she seems to love fantasy and books but the way she’s portrayed as this underdog type of character with her social awkwardness and “need to read when encountering a bad situation” makes it seem like the episode is trying a little too hard, especially with that second half. Still the concept is good and the episode did a solid introduction, so it’s clearly interesting enough to check out at least.

Rating: 6.5/10

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