If one thing about this episode stands out, it’s the twist. The reason it stands out is because while parts are made very obvious, others are not. The twist in Magical Girl Raising Project‘s fourth episode has layers.
What happens in Magical Girl Raising Project episode 4?
The episode begins with a flashback showing what Ruler’s life outside the game is like. We see that she likes to be in control, but isn’t. At this point there’s pretty clear links between what the magical girls desire and what they gain as powers. As the episode explains, Ruler’s power is to be able to control people, as long as they are within a five foot radius, and she maintains her pose. Starting the episode by explaining what makes Ruler Ruler made it quite clear that she was going to be the one to go. I wasn’t expecting how she went though.
This episode has set up Swim Swim as a character to look out for. Her plan to take Ruler out of power is very interesting, as the plan makes use of her role as the most trusted lackey. The reason she betrayed Ruler is also a huge twist, which ties back to Nemurin’s last dream hop. The little girl she told could be a princess, was actually Swim Swim, who is a little girl. She makes the logic jump from “I can be a princess” to “I can only be a princess without Ruler in the picture so she must die.” The fact that she’s only a grade school makes this all the more scary. I don’t know if we’ll get to see her become a threat to our heroes again in the show, but if they don’t that gives me more motivation to read the novels.
The art of villain sympathy
The episode really made me feel bad for Ruler. She’s still a villain and a jerk who was planning on letting Snow White die, but you can’t help but feel for somebody when their group betrays them. The dynamic of a coup d’etat of Ruler is a very interesting idea. When I generally think of a ruler being overthrown, I don’t really feel that bad, I’m generally on the side of the protesters. That might just be the American in me speaking though.
Ruler’s a rather interesting case, as while she was planning on letting Snow White kick the can, she didn’t end up achieving that. She also was a horrible boss to her underlings, but she didn’t seem to wrong them in any major way. Ruler being betrayed is able to be at the same time a satisfying story of the underlings fighting back to their shitty boss, and also a sad story of a girl being betrayed by the one she trusts. It kinda makes you want to see Ruler say “et tu Swim Swim.”
This episode has shown that Magical Girl Raising Project is capable at making people fell confident that they know where the show is going, and still surprising. I’m definitely going to be paying more attention to the little details in this show going forward. I’m starting to get more excited about watching it!
Low angles as a tone setter
Visually this episode was still more of the same. The animation was slightly less consistent, which does worry me a bit going forward. It’s still at the point where it’s a completely acceptable product, so I hope it’ll stay that way for the coming weeks. The episode made good use of low angle shots, which fit the scenes surrounding Ruler’s death quite well. A low angle allows the object in focus to seems higher and mightier. By framing Swim Swim in this way, from an angle that could even be Ruler’s dead body, it sends the message that Swim Swim is a threat, and shows the pitiful state of Ruler’s corpse without being in frame. Not that the shots of her body don’t do that, with all the blood.
The episode was directed and storyboarded by Yusuke Kamata, a key animator who has previously directed episodes like episode 22 of Haikyuu’s second season. He’s also did work on the first Danganronpa anime. I look forward to looking at more of his work and seeing if the style from this episode is apparent in the rest.
This episode made me wish we’d get some more of Ruler, and when killing off a villain does this, it means the show did a good job. At least that’s how I see it. I hope that Magical Girl Raising Project manages to do this with it’s future villains. I also have to eat my hat or something, as my prediction of Souta dying by this episode was wrong. He’s still totally going to die though. Mark my words.