In recent years, there have been many attempts to cash in on the popularity of mahou shoujo anime with the otaku crowd by balancing the ordinarily shoujo genre with moe and fanservice elements. With this wave of magical girl shows aimed at an older demographic, several anime have decided to play a darker take on the genre, as seen in the likes of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha and Uta Kata. Kaitu Tenshi Twin Angel could be said to have an almost notoriously adult background, being based on a pachisuro game-cum-fanservice manga. The anime rides the ‘dark magical girl’ bus and does so to great results.
In some ways, the first episode of Twin Angel reminded me of Batman. It starts in the dead of night at the docks where a pair of magical girls are fighting against the crime syndicate Black Auction (an obvious nod to the black market.) I couldn’t help but think that a major crime organization was a bit more of a dark opponent then we would expect from a magical girl show, almost as Batman fought darker villains than you’d expect from a superhero comic – and in neither case to the works stop being a part of that genre just because of it.
The trend continues with the series’ main villain, The Baron of the Fourth Dimension. The Baron reminds me of the Joker in that his intentions are mysterious and he loves to play mind games with the characters, seemingly for no reason other than to thwart them for his entertainment. He takes a position of intellectual superiority and acts upon his viewpoints, which I think further the comparison.
One more thing made me draw a connection not so much just to Batman, but to pulp stories in general. One of my favorite aspects of the pulp genre is that the stories tend to involve little to no exposition. The backgrounds of the characters, how they came to be in this position, and usually where they will go afterward, are inconsequential and therefor not stated. This is true, too, for Twin Angel. Perhaps it was allowed to be this way by he nature of what it was adopted from and it’s length, but the result is an OVA that gets in, tells a story, and gets out, no time wasted – which I love.
However, while I can connect it to pulp stories all day, this is still definitively a magical girl show. It’s all about cute girls learning the true power of friendship as they take down villains. It’s filled with heart and fiery passion for it’s hopeful ideals.
The show is laden with mahou shoujo tropes that it expects the audience to pick up on, being aimed at a crowd that is likely experienced with the genre. We are meant to be able to assume the nature of the girls’ powers and mission as well as their personalities based on minimal information because we just know how these shows are. When Mysty Knight shows up out of nowhere to help the girls, we are meant not to need an explanation (this is exemplified by his looking exactly like Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon.)
Assuming the knowledge of the viewer is a very efficient way to write because it means that the experienced viewer won’t have to sit through the boring expositions that they’d really do fine without, and can get into the meat of the story instantly.
That is where the real magic of Twin Angel lies. The plot is fully satisfying in it’s mere two-episode run and the writing is air-tight. The dilog is nothing new, but it is perfect – it is the result of fully realizing the material of the generic genre story and therefor being able to tell it in a way that uses it’s very familiarity as the crux of it’s entertainment and brings it’s thrills through execution.
I attribute this entirely to the series writer, the brilliant Hideyuki Kurata who created and wrote Kamichu and Read or Die (TV and OVA) as well as wrote such great works as Bamboo Blade, Battle Athletes Victory, Excel Saga, Kannagi, and Sasameki Koto. He’s a man who truly understands how to entertain a viewer and succeeds time and again.
As I mentioned before, Twin Angel is a bit darker than the usual magical girl anime. The villain is quite ruthless and causes the girls a good deal of physical and emotional trauma. However, the darker scenes only serve to make the traditionally passionate and emotional scenes of a magical girl anime that much more powerful and effective. The message of this OVA is that ‘friendship is power’, and I really felt it sold that point home in it’s run.
And when things get emotional here, they get heavy. Haruka’s character is completely broken down, and then her steady rise back to her feet is quite a sight to behold. Aoi was a stupendous character, getting one of the most surprising speeches I’ve seen in a show like this, delivered spectacularly both in the strength of the dialog as well as the voice acting.
Backing these emotional scenes was a really excellent and fitting soundtrack. I was shocked to find that the composer, Ken’nichiro Ooishi, hasn’t done any other soundtracks, because I loved what I heard. Unfortunately, I don’t know if they would even release an OST for such a short and relatively obscure OVA. Much easier to find are the opening and ending songs, the former of which is extremely catchy and well-produced.
Well, that about does it for my Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel posts, possibly the most unread posts I’ve done in months, lol. I really felt that this anime was a great success on the part of it’s staff and cast. It is obscure, and by it’s very nature, I probably can’t convince many people of it’s greatness, but ah well. I had a lot of fun watching and blogging it.