Rule of Three Review, Bubble Digest: Tokyo ESP, Magimoji Rurumo – Episodes 2-3

Pop goes the watchlist?

Both of these shows barely made the cut during Premiere Week, and they remained on my bubble after their second episode. This doesn’t usually bode well, and yet… well, I suppose there’s a reason we call it the “Three Episode Rule” and not the “Two Episode Rule,” after all. When all was said and done, one show jumped up my interest list while the other continued to hover in an uncertain gray area. Which is which, and how do we proceed from here? Your answers and more beneath the jump.

Tokyo ESP

Now see, why couldn’t you have just done that from the beginning?

Tokyo ESP had me on the fence at the end of its first episode (mostly I stuck around just to see if it would ratchet up the crazy to Future Diary levels). And then the second episode jumped us back in time to tell the story of how Urushiba Rinka became the famed “White Girl” (it’s an unfortunately literal translation of shiroi shoujo), and suddenly I felt like I was watching a different anime entirely. The sudden shift in tone, setting, plot, AND characters threw me off in a bad way, and I went into episode three fully expecting to drop the show by the end of it.

And then something great happened: About halfway through the episode, Tokyo ESP just clicked. It found a way to strike a balance between the insanity of the premiere and the character focus of the second episode, managing to be both utterly ridiculous (yakuza! flying penguins! a cameo from the Ghostbusters, because why the fuck not!) and surprisingly personal, so that not only was I enjoying the hell out of it, I actually found myself caring about what happened to the characters.

It also helps that this show (can we call it TESP for short?) knows damn well it’s drawing its inspiration from the X-Men and isn’t afraid to be obvious about it. So not only does Rinka’s dad have Wolverine’s hair, he also sports a trio of knives between his fingers (albeit briefly). There’s a fine line between plagiarism and homage, and TESP is pretty clearly the latter.

We’ll see if the show can keep me invested, but I’m here for at least one more week to see if my sudden spike in interest was an aberration or a trend. If Tokyo ESP can deliver the sheer fun of this episode on a regular basis, then I can’t think of any reason not to stick around for the full season.

Magimoji Rurumo

Oh, MagiRu, what am I going to do with you?

I had about three different false starts to this review, because I just don’t know what to tell you. If I’m being totally honest, I kinda like it. J.C. Staff is killing it with the animation and the comic timing (as they’re doing with the equally problematic Love Stage), and when the series isn’t focusing on the boys being perverts the characters are pretty likable and the gags pretty funny. Even the ecchi (dirty/lewd) elements are relatively restrained, particularly for the genre, and some of it is fairly harmless teenage hormone stuff.

And yet… there’s the not-so-harmless stuff, too, like the boys trying to peep on the girls’ locker room, or Shibaki trying to kiss Rurumo while she’s sleeping. The series plays these like lighthearted “boys will be boys” shenanigans, but for many girls these are real, legitimate threats to our privacy and sense of safety. These are sources of anxiety, NOT humor, and the more cultures treat this as normal behavior, the more that behavior (and the ensuing anxiety) is perpetuated in society. It’s problematic, for sure, and every time it crops up in the show I feel my hackles raise a bit.

And yet… when the show ISN’T doing these things (and it’s been doing them less and less since the premiere), it’s really quite fun. And while the boys’ behavior may be played for laughs, you could make the argument that the real punchline is usually their subsequent punishment – and yes, the boys are CONSTANTLY being punished (pretty much any time they step over the line, in fact). Also, Shibaki’s mother is amazing. A. Maze. Ing.

So where does this leave MagiRu on my watchlist? I offer you a big ol’ shrug. All I can tell you is that I don’t hate it and I often kinda like it, even though I’m a bit ashamed to admit it. Given that it’s a watchable series even during its more infuriating moments, I feel like it could also serve as an interesting study of gender roles in comedy. For now, MagiRu stays on the watchlist but also on the bubble. We’ll see how long it can hover there.

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