Nurse Witch Komugi R: Complete Collection (Cert 12)
3 Discs DVD / 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 282 minutes approx.
If you have a good memory or have been an avid anime fan for some time, this title may sound familiar to you, since it was originally a first part OVA made back in 2002. In 2016 it was subject to a reboot (and you thought that was just in Hollywood) via this 12 part TV series, which may explain the “R” suffix.
A parody of sorts on the magical girl genre (no witches however, making the title a tad confusing) the central protagonist is 14 year-old Komugi Yoshida, a spirited, energetic girl with big dreams of being an idol popular enough to play at the Tokyo Egg Dome. If only she weren’t so clumsy and ditzy but her positivity and boundless enthusiasm holds her in good stead.
One day Komugi finds an injured rabbit like creature named Usa-P and treats him back to health. By way of a reward, Usa-P wants Kogumi to become a Cam-P Girl to help recapture the scattered FanC cards from another realm called FantaC, that turn people and objects into monsters. Learning of Kogumi’s fear of cockroaches, Usa-P uses this to force Kogumi to accept and Kogumi becomes Magical Nurse!
Believe it or not, the original Nurse Witch Komugi was in fact a spin-off from an adult anime called The SoulTaker and Komugi was a mutant nurse in that series. In this revised version, Komugi is only the daughter of two medical practitioners running a small clinic, for which Komugi holds cosplay performances as a promotional event before a loyal crowd of mostly elderly perverts.
Having not seen The SoulTaker or the original Nurse Witch OVAs I have nothing to make comparisons too, but the differences appear to be quite significant, right down to name changes and characterisations. Whether it was as openly goofy as this reboot is not easy to detect but the idea of this being a mickey take is rather obvious.
One mistake people should avoid making is assuming that this is a take-off of Madoka Magica since both share many common elements, but in Komugi’s defence it was created almost a decade earlier, so if anything the role of influence is reversed. But again, comparisons are superficial as Madoka goes places this fluffy series wouldn’t dare tread.
You have to wait until the second episodes in for a full explanation as to what the FanC cards are all about, but the potted history version is that evil invaders of the FantaC realm were sealed away inside 108 FanC cards by Cam-P Girls. Centuries later a princess doing some spring-cleaning threw the cards out into the human world which awoke the evil inside once more.
That is the backstory as told inside thirty seconds, an indicator that plot is not much of a priority here, bolstered by the “Monster of the Week” format the bulk of the episodes take on. It is not until the last two chapters that we have a sequential storyline involving an American idol named Lillia whose plan to conquer Japan professionally takes a dark turn.
And that is pretty much it. Without an overarching storyline this show relies on the ability of the characters to connect and engage the viewer as supportable personalities, which will vary given the nature of the series. Komugi’s “always the bridesmaid” fate of coming close to a break out job as an idol posits her as the nominal underdog of the trio, which her chirpy demeanour helps make her somewhat endearing.
Komugi isn’t alone in this supernatural battle though, as uber successful idol Cocona Saionji and cross-dressing idol Tsukasa Kisaragi join the fray as Magical Maid and Magical Sister respectively. Their mascots are sarky racoon Tanu-P and cheeky cat Neko-P, and along with Usa-P, they can detect monster presence which they relay to their girls via a piece of jewellery shaped like them.
Cocona seems to have that magic touch as her success demonstrates but she doesn’t let it go to her head; however once she transforms into Magical Maid, her persona changes a little and a hint of arrogance surfaces, at least initially – it is forgotten by the end of the run. Tsukasa’s androgynous shorthaired appearance and preference for wearing boyish clothes is inverted for her Magical Sister form, her hair now long and her attire an unmistakably girly dress.
If it wasn’t for the infectious energy of the cast and the mildly amusing antics of the mascots, there is a danger many people might not make it past the first few episodes once the structure is established. Things begin with a regular slice-of-life adventure, be it in the classroom or a part of the girls’ idol endeavours then at a crucial point, a monster will appear to jeopardise everything.
Lest we forget this is supposed to be a parody which the writers seem to have done, evident by the lack of any genuine spoofing, aside from the trio being unable to recognise each other as Cam-P Girls despite barely looking any different. Beyond this, the closest we get are the guest appearances from characters belonging to other shows and franchises but recognition is dependent on your age since the featured guests are from days long passed.
The visuals courtesy of Tatsunoko Production is exactly how you would expect them to be for a show like this, bursting with eye-popping colours and resplendent with excessive glitter and sparkle distractions to disguise the pedestrian animation. The song and dance sequences featured in most episodes are rendered in jarringly noticeable CGI, which may as well have been lifted directly from a video game.
Because Nurse Witch Komugi R has no objective other than to offer undemanding, upbeat entertainment, to criticise it feels borderline cruel yet there is no escaping the fact it is the embodiment of visual confection. Its lack of substance works against it in recommending it as anything other than a last resort time filler. Inoffensive but also sadly inconsequential.
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Disc 1 only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Ending Animation
Rating – ** ½
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