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Media Blasters presents

Magic User's Club #1: I Will Follow You! (1996)

"I've been a klutz since I was little. I'm not sure if I have ever been able to do anything right, but I can't stay like that forever...right? That's right, isn't it Jeff?"- Sae Sawanoguchi (Hiroko Konishi)

Stars: Hiroko Konishi, Mayumi Iizuka, Onosaka Masaya, Takehito Koyasu, Junko Iwao
Other Stars: Rei Sakuma, Akio Ohtsuka, Tomohiro Nishimura
Director: Hideki Takahashi

Manufacturer: Cine Magnetics
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (13+ for ecchi humor, brief nudity)
Run Time: 00h:55m:06s
Release Date: 2001-04-10
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

Mahou Tsukai Tai!—roughly translated as "I want to use magic"— is a six-part OVA which Media Blasters is releasing on three DVDs as Magic User's Club. The series features character designs by Ikuko Itou (Sailor Moon S) and spawned two manga, a shoujo version by Ohta Tami, running in the Fantasy DX magazine, and a more recent shounen version by Sham Neko. Magic User's Club also has a 13-part TV series that is a continuation of the OVA, and at press time, had its first installment just released on DVD. To clear up any misconceptions, while this is technically a show about a magical girl, it isn't magical girl anime—despite being marketed as coming from the creators of Sailor Moon. Bibbity bobbity boo!

Now, I'll just start the summary off by saying I was not expecting Magic User's Club to begin this way—I almost thought I had the wrong disc! In dead silence, we see a massive alien spacecraft descending on the earth, as helpless military forces wage a hopeless and losing battle against the machines—not exactly a typical opening for a show of this type. We learn that this alien presence, known as the Bell, has declared it is going to take over the world, but in the year it has been here it has not acted malevolently. In fact, its reconnaissance robots even obey traffic law, and people are used to it. However if attacked the Bell will fight back, which leads us to the stars of this series, the members of the Kitanohashi High School Magic Club, whose mission it is to take on the aliens with magic.

Sae Sawanoguchi (Hiroko Konishi—Nene of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040), is a very klutzy and insecure young girl, who we first see bicycling down the road in her magic user's uniform. Well, it seems Sae isn't the most accomplished magic user (in fact, she stinks), but has hope that the leader of the magic user's club, Takeo Takakura (Onosaka Masaya), can help her get over her awkwardness and learn. Takeo is your basic geeky, horny teenage boy, and his lecherous tendencies have him paying particular attention to the female attributes presented to him, with a vivid imagination. He also masterminded the plans to attack the Bell using magic, something they apparently know nothing about, though this is more a ploy to show off to the ladies than any aspirations at being a philanthropist. Unlike Takeo, his co-conspirator, Ayanojou Aburatsubo (Takehito Koyasu), is extremely popular and good looking , however, he is also very gay, and quite attracted to Takeo, which proves quite distracting. Sae's best friend, Nanaka Nakatomi (Mayumi Iizuka) has a thing for Ayanojou, but doesn't think she and Sae should be in the club, as neither are any good at magic. Aside from Akane Aikawa (Junko Iwao), who decided to skip today's meeting, they make up the whole club—not exactly a formidable opponent to a spaceship capable of wiping out entire navies in a single shot.

To make matters worse, the Magic Club is having its meeting place encroached upon by the much more popular Manga Club, headed by the anatomically animated Mizuha Miyamas (Rei Sakuma), whose bouncy buxomness is too much for Takeo to reckon with. However, if he can keep his club together, maybe, just maybe, they stand a chance of defeating the Bell—if Sae can get her spell casting to work, that is, and if they can maintain their anonymity with a pair of pesky reporters trying to uncover their identities. Izadi aba mehinamu eto cafe nan! D'oh!

This show is simply hilarious. Whether it's Sae fighting with her broom while trying to fly, or Ayanojou continuing his constant, unwelcomed advances towards Takeo, or Takeo's incessant ecchi fantasies, there is plenty of humor to be found here. The facial expressions in the animation are perfect and priceless, and the voice acting is excellent. While not a whole lot has happened in these first two installments, there is still plenty to laugh at, as Sae, who still writes in her diary with crayons while talking to her confidante plush bear, Jeff, tries to bolster the confidence she needs to work her spells, while Nanaka keeps trying to persuade her to quit. The characters are charming, and the animation is very nice looking, and has some wonderful moments. I wasn't too keen on the CGI opening, but this doesn't seem to be a regular part of the show. The theme for Magic User's Club is also quite cute, which is how I would describe the whole show.

However, a few warnings for purists, who may have a problem with the use of (generally well done) overlays for replacing the original Japanese signage and character information cards, and I was a little less enthused about the hard subs which are used more regularly—I'd have preferred alternate angles and/or soft subs for these. The runtime is also a bit on the low side, but the OVA series is only three discs total, and with the higher episode count on the TV series, this averages out. Despite these possible drawbacks, the quality of the show, and level of entertainment still outweigh any negatives. This is great fun, and gets my high recommendation. I can't wait for more!

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Overall, things look very good here. Colors are strong, black levels solid and compression artifacts minor. On the progressive system, there is a moderate amount of rainbowing, but for the most part is not very noticible—if you are looking for it you'll see it, if not you won't. Aliasing is also an issue, though it isn't too distracting. The opening CGI looks the worst, with lots of shimmer, but the body of the show is only effected in scenes where the artwork gets extremely detailed, like shots of manga or tight, high contrast patterned backgrounds. For anime, this is about average on the better end of the scale.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is well presented in both original Japanese and an English dub. The soundstage is nicely utilized with appropriate use of directionality, including some offscreen dialogue in places. No distortion or other technical deficiencies were noted. I would point out that the opening 35 seconds are silent—which had me checking the audio controls. The remainder had a nice tonal balance, and good mix of dialogue to sound effects and background music.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Magic Knight Rayearth, Rurouni Kenshin, Virtua Fighter, Earthian
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Creditless opening
  2. Photo gallery
Extras Review: Not a whole lot in the way of extras, but we do get the nice looking clean opening credit sequence which is always nice to have, especially considering how fun this one is.

A 9 image photo gallery is also included with some great color stills and concept art featuring some of the main characters.

4 trailers for Magic Knight Rayearth, Rurouni Kenshin, Virtua Fighter, and Earthian round out the extras.

The menus are cute, with the main one animated, and the rest having crayoned themes from the show. This disc was available in limited quantities in a cool clear cover, so limited edition junkies (like me) will want one of those. The regular version contains a simple insert with chapter listings backing ads for more Media Blasters/Anime Works' titles.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

I have been "bewitched" by Magic User's Club. Cute, silly, and dosed with liberal amounts of ecchi humor, the tale of a little wouldbe witch is lots of fun. The characters are instantly likeable, the story and premise are interesting, and the antics and situations our young apprentice gets up to are hilarious. I love it. I need to conjure up some more!

Jeff Ulmer 2001-12-05