Magical Play (Complete Series)

Magical Play (also called Magical Witchland on ANN) is a queer little series that is an amusing mix of magical girls, sketch comedy, slice of life, and fanservice. It is technically 22 (really short) episodes long, however for the DVD release they smashed them into four (fairly long) episodes. It is unfortunate that they did that, as the four long episodes wear on too long, although they do distinguish between the various segments by displaying the title of each new one before it plays. The series originally aired on the internet before migrating to the television (and eventually the States in the form of the DVD).

It is a simple little anime that centers around Padudu, a girl who wants to become a magical warrior by compiling a good record sheet. The land is scattered with various competitions and exercises with which to fill her record (which looks a lot like a bingo board where the goal is to get a sticker on every square). Padudu meanders around, encountering one-off and recurrent characters, none of whom become friends or foes. In most stories this set up wouldn’t really work, but with the sketch-like randomness of Magical Play, it works.

In Padudu’s home world the people gain an animal friend at an early age (a concept not too far removed from that of The Golden Compass movie/book), and her animal companion is a fish which she wears as a cloak. The fish, as an alive creature, is a constant food source with the unsettling idea that it can regrow its flesh: all Padudu has to do is scoop some flesh out from under her cloak and it will grow back. For those reasons, and others I won’t go into here, the fish is a character that the viewer feels sorry for if they view the show as anything more than a sketch-style comedy where the absurd is reveled in.

It wouldn’t be prudent to go over any other elements of plot: what little plot there is would be best discovered on your own. However, there is an evil witch queen, a crazy subordinate, a girl who wears two flat cats for clothes, and a road that never ends. Magical Play never really reaches a satisfying conclusion, however how many Monty Python shows or movies reach satisfying ends? If you find yourself understanding what I mean, give the show a try. It can be picked up on the cheap through the internet.

Title: Magical Play
US Distributor: ADV
Number of Episodes: 4 (or 22)
Availability: Apparently out of print, but easy to find used… particularly via Amazon.
Links: ANN Encyclopedia
Rating: 65


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