From its early genesis, Nurse Witch Komugi R was a series built on parody, a conceit that means this latest release comes ready-loaded with pop culture references, nods to anime and video games, and all while offering a passable wind-up of the magical girl genre.
Premiering last winter, the series is a reboot of the short 2002 OVA run that was likewise a self-parodying spin-off of The SoulTaker – or Studio Tatsunoko Production’s apparent attempt at wooing a more adult audience and the disposable income that comes with it. For example, it featured characters from that show, albeit in wildly different situations and with different personalities. This latest reboot does away with some of that first formula, in favour of something more modern, cute and bouncy. The end result isn’t entirely sure of what it’s trying to be.
At its heart is the pink-haired accident case Komugi, who strives to make good on her idol dreams and headline a show at the Tokyo Sky Dome. At fourteen, she has to make do with bit parts on popular sleuthing shows, where she plays a series of dead bodies with questionable killers (Winnie the Pooh and Pikachu, among others) and serving as the official idol of her family’s clinic – hence the nurse moniker.
After tripping over and treating a cat-like critter, Komugi is scouted to be a Cam-P Girl but a magical girl by any other name will still smell as saccharine. Here’s where the meta humour comes into play, with her new-found sidekick, Usa-P, saying she now has the power to transform her clothes into an embarrassing outfit. Complete with Sailor Moon transformation scenes and ludicrous special move titles, it serves as a passable satire, though rebooting the series to do so after Madoka Magica so thoroughly turned the genre inside out seems an odd choice.
But where would a magical girl be without her squad? Both her friends, Kokona and Tsubasa, discover their own critter and adopt the mantle of magical girls, becoming Magical Maid and Magical Sister respectively, though they remain blissfully ignorant of one another. This despite all wanting to be superstars and working on some of the same skits and shows. The aim of each is to battle the nasties bothering the town, where cards fall from the FanC world and bring inanimate objects to life. By defeating the monsters and collecting their cards, the girls get closer to their goal.
If the series had any bias, it would be more towards the three girls on their quest to becoming idols. It’s here that the series seems content in being more Love Live! than Madoka. It comes with all the usual high school staples and interpersonal relations: trying to get good grades, going shopping, and navigating the minefield of teenage dating.
The humour, however, was one of the more engaging aspects, with the jokes and sight gags usually hitting the mark and leaving me tittering all the way through, and not just at the poor animation. Tatsunoko Production are known for their bombast and fluctuating animation style. This series is clearly a quick and cheap turnaround and it shows.
Nurse Witch Komugi R isn’t a series I’d be in a hurry to recommend, but there are rewards for watching. These mostly take the form of innuendo, puns and pop culture refences. As far as parody is concerned, it isn’t half bad, but each of its component parts have been better executed elsewhere.
Clean opening/closing animation