Mami KoyamaAyaka SaitoRina SatouKana Hanazawa
Magical Witch Punie-chan
Also known as: Dai Mahou Touge
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 2006
Writer/director: Tsutomu Mizushima
Actor: Rina Satou, Ayako Kawasumi, Chiwa Saito, Jouji Nakata, Mamiko Noto, Noriko Shitaya, Atsushi Imaruoka, Ayaka Saito, Eriko Hirata, Hajime Iijima, Haruhi Terada, Kana Hanazawa, Kazuhiro Nakata, Mami Koyama, Masato Funaki, Nami Kurokawa, Nobuo Tobita, Saeko Chiba, Touko Aoyama
Keywords: anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 4 episodes, or 8 half-episodes
Website category: Anime late 00s
Review date: 16 November 2014
The Magical Girl, in Japanese anime, is a clearly defined genre with sub-genres of its own, like the Magical Girl Warrior (e.g. Sailor Moon), the Magic Idol Singer and the Cute Witch. A magical girl will be cute and pure of heart, with a transformation sequence into a very girly dress, a catchphrase, a magic wand and a special friend who's a small animal (usually talking). Sometimes she's a bit of a simpleton and/or bad at schoolwork, although such girls might well become less ditzy as the series progresses.
Not to be confused with Magical Girlfriend, which is wish-fulfilment for boys, not girls.
This show's Punie is a Magical Girl and more specifically a Cute Witch. She's a princess from Magical Land who's come to Earth to spend a year at school, training for the day she'll become queen. (This is straight from Sally the Witch, the original magical girl anime from 1966-8, although Himitsu No Akkochan's manga came out first. Curiously, the creators of both were inspired by the American TV show Bewitched.) Anyway, Punie is in perfect accordance with every word I've written above. She's the genre embodied. Magical Land looks like a cross between Disneyland and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Her sisters look about five and have baby-ish speech patterns. She's polite, pretty and worshipped by all the boys.
The twist is in "pure of heart". She's pure evil.
This is parody, of course. It's from Tsutomu Mizushima, the writer/director of the similar Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan. The difference is that Dokuro was a good, if manic, girl if you overlooked her habit of beating people to death. She meant well. She'd resurrect Sakura afterwards. Punie, on the other hand, is a cold-hearted killer who'd push a friend into the path of a deathtrap and whose response to the arrival of baby twin sisters was to start studying combat techniques to beat two opponents at once. When she says "submission is a princess's way", she means submission wrestling holds that are indistinguishable from torture. Magical World is a dictatorship, based on economic oppression and slavery. She'd sooner destroy the Earth and all nearby planets than let anyone live who knows she's bad at mathematics. (That's not hypothetical. It takes a helicopter gunship attack by Vietnam veterans to stop her doing this.)
Admittedly people get resurrected in both shows, but here that's just a cheerful disregard for continuity. Otherwise there wouldn't be anyone left alive by the end of the series, e.g. the sports festival episode that ends in a massacre of the entire school.
My main problem with this show is that there's not enough of it. It's four episodes long, not including the mini-episode made up of "omake" DVD extras. That's not enough. Dokuro-chan was similarly a four-episode series, but then got a two-episode sequel two years later. It has massive story development, to the point of changing sub-genre. It feels satisfying as a developed (if twisted and parodic) narrative. Punie-chan, on the other hand, never got those extra two episodes and has anti-continuity to boot. It could have easily been extended into a narrative that goes somewhere, but it wasn't. It's just four episodes of evil comedy. They're funny. I wanted more. Unfortunately that's all we have, although the omake extras mix up the formula.
They don't abandon the cuteness, by the way. That's half the fun. Punie's mascot, Paya-tan, keeps switching between "super-cute" and "grizzled cigarette-smoking war veteran who's sworn to assassinate Punie"... and then back again to "super-cute". Punie's sisters are little darlings, despite also being foul-mouthed would-be usurpers. Punie herself is cutesy a lot of the time and her magical powers involve anthropomorphic Disney-like creatures, although: (a) horrific things then happen to them, and (b) she doesn't use her magic much anyway, more often just beating people up and breaking their bones. (A lot of her enemies have a magic-suppressing item. This just makes it worse for them.)
The title sequence is funny, by the way. It starts with flowers and pastel colours, but soon has Punie doing a happy dance in front of burning buildings.
This isn't a deep show, but it's a very funny and brutally nihilistic one. It lives on the contrast between light and darkness, so for instance the horror of Punie's good, noble and optimistic friend Tetsuko is an integral part of the comedy. If you can think of a line to cross, this show will have crossed it... no, wait, I'm wrong. It avoids fanservice. Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan indulged in tons of it, but the Magical Girl genre isn't traditionally so inclined (except for Cutey Honey) and so Tsutomu Mizushima's created a show that's paradoxically much more modest than, say, Sailor Moon. If you're buying the American R1 DVD, by the way, make sure it's the 2011 special edition rather than the 2008 sub-only release without the omake mini-episodes.
"Lyrical Tokarev, kill them all!"