Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Battle Girl High School
Anime Studio: Silver Link
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Magical Girl
Released: October 1st 2018
Extras: Clean OP and Ed, Trailers
Mysterious invaders have attacked the Earth! As the Irousu roam the conquered lands, mankind has been driven back, but there’s one last weapon that may still turn the tide: super-powered schoolgirls! At schools like the Shinjugamin Girls Academy, elite classes of Star Guardians alternate between regular schoolwork and learning to kick Irousu behind. It’s a duty that the members of the Shinjugamine Hoshimori force, like freshman Miki Hoshitsuki, take seriously, but as they’re basically normal girls who just happen to get their powers from a magic tree, there are normal life issues they have to contend with as well. With the arrival of their latest mysterious recruit, however, things are about to get deadly serious. Their final exam is about to begin and if they fail, the whole world is doomed.
Despite having the reputation of being the second worst anime adaption of a social network game (just behind School Girl Strikers if you were wondering), Battle Girl High School is not a truly terrible show. In fact, it actually pulls some things off relatively effectively.
In terms of action, the series offers plenty of moments that should please magical girl fans. The battles are fast paced, feature plenty of flash, and set our various protagonists against some interesting looking beasties. Yes, the various monsters that make up the villain of the week foes are derivatives of familiar entities, but they have enough tweaking to occupy that realm of being familiar enough to not feel too far-fetched, but different enough to be interesting. In fact, if I were to pick the show’s strongest quality it would easily be the moments that the girls are fighting full tilt against their various enemies.
The design work in general is similar insofar as the various costumes and weapons looking somewhat familiar – there’s more than an air of Flip Flappers at times, albeit with a harder colour palette – but with minor tweaks to give them a touch of originality. In terms of a storyline, what we get is better thought out than you may expect given the nature of the source material too. Perhaps most surprising though is that certain common stumbling blocks are downplayed. For one, the fan service levels are pretty low and mostly censored, despite seemingly setting up moments to fit it in. Also, while one of the characters fits the problematic aggressive lesbian stereotype, it’s not as in your face as many shows present.
Despite these positives though, the show suffers quite a bit, thanks primarily to it feeling like it has an inability to commit to particular points. A big part of this relates to the storyline itself. When it’s being broached, it’s really not too bad. The problem is that around half or more of each episode often feels like its forgotten that there’s a bigger arc to advance, and opts instead to run through the standard Cute Girls Doing Cute Things itinerary. This wouldn’t necessarily be a negative if the characters were particularly engaging, but at only twelve episodes in length, the series really tried to tackle far too big a cast. The result is that instead of three or four well rounded characters to get behind, we end up with twenty-plus that rarely move beyond standard facial designs and one-dimensional traits, such as the short-ponytailed likeable but bland lead, the stand-offish tough one, the respected upper classman, or the over-enthusiastic snaggle toothed girl. The other downside to this approach is that the series sets up a big bad, but doesn’t end up giving them much of an explanation or more than a passing role in the action.
In the end, Battle Girl High School is what I would term a frustrating anime. It has all the raw materials to be a decent series, and the three part finale certainly proves that engaging episodes and focused storytelling aren’t outside of the realms of possibility for it. It doesn’t really drag, and the overall presentation of the discs is really nice, but the show itself feels like it lacks the focus it needs to become a must-have for anyone not already a fan of the genre. 3 out of 5.