Magical girls are one of the most commonly recognized archetypes and themes in Japanese animation. While they feature teenage girls who can transform into powerful beings and fight evil, a great deal more can be said about what they represent: dreamers, defenders, and facing the maturity of an adult while holding on to the innocence of a child. They have become an integral part of anime culture as boys and girls, men and women have enjoyed what they have to offer; for varying reasons, of course.
But before I go off on a conversation about magical girls in general, let’s revisit a magical girl original animation that, while still decent as a series, is less about the undertones and more about the fan service.
Vividred Operation brings us into a future where the entire world’s energy comes from the Manifestation Engine. However, when a group from a parallel universe simply known as “Alone” tries to destroy it, it’s up to Akane and her friends Aoi, Wakaba, and Himawari to fight back! As they transform into magical girls complete with a “palette suit” uniform, the colors of these girls shine with the hope of humanity’s future, and take down the baddies one by one!
The look and feel of this series is rather nostalgic to me. While I understand that anime in general isn’t particularly quick about changing their styles over the years, the visual effects, the sound effects, and the musical score feel like this project came from the last decade, even though it was produced just last year! Not that that’s a bad thing.
As one can imagine, the magical girls of this series have the typical elements: they start off as normal girls, they have special weapons, and they have transformation sequences, albeit much sexier ones by comparison that include their lingerie in the first stage and full nude in the second.
It goes without saying the series falls in the Seinen category, as it largely appeals to a mature male audience. Whenever there are girls with special powers and flaunt their stuff intentionally or unintentionally, proverbial nosebleeds are just bound to happen; and this series has plenty of it. Each of the girls also have a distinct weapon, including a boomerang, a hammer, a blade, and whatever this is (yes, I know it’s called a collider).
But we can’t discuss Vividred Operation without discussing the use (or in my opinion, the overuse) of fan service. The girls go to a high school where bloomers are included as part of the regular uniform. Japanese schools today don’t even have them for physical education classes, despite what anime suggests. And of course, we can’t get around the fact that there will be plenty of shots of the lower-rear end of the girls.
I realize the girls themselves aren’t intentionally doing things to tease people, but there is still a very high level of foolery. For example, the choice word for the girls’ first weapon stage is “naked,” which likely refers to the idea that they are transparent, open, and hiding nothing. The second stage is called “vivid,” which argues a much more vibrant or bright version of this colorful concept (pun intended).
But who am I kidding? They’re totally saying “naked” (in English, too)! That implies so many other things!
And of course, if you get a chance to watch the uncut BD/DVD version of the series, you will get all of the nudity as well. Despite what all the cover art for the series might look like, this is clearly not a show for young children.
But despite all of the gripes I might have about this series having too much fan service, I have been desensitized enough to essentially ignore it. And once you accept that this show is going to have inevitable adult content, it’s actually a decent watch. Like other magical girl series, the show does take on more serious subjects in the realm of “mature themes.” It is also not without its share of the feels.
The series, believe it or not, also has a plot (and not just “plot”) that’s very easy to follow from beginning to end. It may be incredibly obvious why the show itself is called Vividred Operation, but you really can’t appreciate it unless you have gone through the first eleven episodes first. This is not a situational type anime where you can just skip around and still feel like you’re watching the same show.
And when it comes down to it, a proverbial message of love and friendship continues to ring in its canon. Call it cliché, but perhaps it is the most beautiful part of the series, despite all the distractions we had to get there.
So if you like the magical girl archetype and want some extra fan service from it, then check out Vividred Operation. It’s not quite a masterpiece, but it is a fun watch, if you like that sort of thing.