Chinatsu AkasakiMutsumi TamuraAyaka ImamuraAkira Sekine
Magic of Stella
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2016: M
Also known as: Stella no Mahou
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Director: Shinya Kawatsura
Original creator: cloba.U
Writer: Fumihiko Shimo
Actor: Akira Sekine, Aoi Yuki, Ari Ozawa, Ayaka Imamura, Chinatsu Akasaki, Daiki Mukoyama, Juurouta Kosugi, Maria Naganawa, Mutsumi Tamura, Rie Murakawa, Ryoko Maekawa, Satomi Arai, Sayuri Sadaoka, Shino Shimoji, Shun Horie, Wataru Kato, Yo Taichi
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 15 November 2017
Stella no Mahou
It's about an after-school club for making computer games. Not a lot happens. They make a game and take it to Comiket. Then they make another. That's it. It's a nice, likeable show that's a bit soporific for the first half of the season, but then livens up in the second half. In the end, I quite liked it and I'd happily watch a second season.
(There's no magic or fantasy in this show, by the way. I think the title refers to something in one of the games.)
There are usually four club members, plus some friends and supporting characters. They're all schoolgirls. The problem with the first half of the season is that everyone's basically just being nice, without creating enough friction or distinctiveness to push the show in anything you'd call a direction. The episodes are pleasant, but a bit forgettable. Everyone's friendly and supportive, working together towards a common goal. Going through the cast... 1. Tamaki Honda's the main character and the club's artist. She has a rural accent that she usually hides and she might possibly like her father a bit too much, which might be why she's always drawing mature men. 2. Shiina's the deadpan, insecure club president who's bad at talking to strangers. 3. Ayame and 4. Kayo are the club's scriptwriter and musician respectively and they're quite similar types, both being chirpy, cheerful and a bit happy-go-lucky.
I didn't mind watching them. They're nice people. However the show only comes alive halfway through, with ep.6 and ep.7 having memorable things happening before the club attracts a reality-resistant fangirl in ep.8. Her name's Minaha Iino and she transforms the show. It comes alive. Episodes actually have somewhere to go. Minaha wants to challenge Tamaki as an artist, while also worshipping Ayame's writing so much that she refuses to admit that Ayame is Ayame. In Minaha's version of reality, there are two Ayames. One is the chirpy wannabe in glasses (to be disliked) and the other is a beautiful, otherworldly genius (to be adored). Ayame can turn herself into Minaha's Ayame by removing her glasses and putting on make-up.
What's more, Ayame's embarrassed by that old story Minaha loves so much. She wrote it ages ago and it's a bit on the filthy side. This was particularly funny in ep.9.
It's not an essential show. It's a gentle, likeable one that improves from "inoffensive" to "lively and funny". I like the way Honda improves her artistic skills in ep.9, doing intelligent things to stretch her talents and working pretty hard at it. There's quite an interesting discussion in ep.11 about the meaning of artistic creation and whether it's egocentric to say there are things only you can do. The season ending is warm, satisfying and nice. The stupid misunderstanding in ep.7 could have been annoying, but instead piles up to such an extent that it does become genuinely funny. I wouldn't say the show's good enough to recommend, but it's never bad and it's always happy and likeable. I enjoyed it. There's enough in it to make it worth watching.