Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls is a magical girl anime unlike any other–though it may not look like it on the surface.
This short-form anime follows Urara, Hanabi, and Inaho, a group of ordinary school girls with cute quirks who are approached by a cute mascot and are given the powers of a magical girl in order to fight the monsters of an evil queen. Or, to put it another way, the most stereotypical magical girl anime plot possible. Of course, that is part of the joke.
This anime parodies magic girl anime in any number of ways and not just in plot points. Each girl transforms once an episode–into the exact same costume as her normal clothes. Attack names and transformation words randomly change each episode and feel like ramblings that are completely out of context–and that’s mainly because they are.
Naria Girls isn’t really a magical girl anime. Instead, it’s an ad-lib comedy show. Each episode has a loose cliché magical girl plot. However, outside of a few framing device lines, the entirety of the script is ad-libbed.
Each episode is made up of two main scenes. In the first, they are given a common magical girl school-life problem as a prompt–though they tend to ignore it and instead talk about anything they want. The blond girl Hanabi tends to try to keep the other two on the given topic while the other two do their best to derail her. Conversations range from words that bug them to discussions of random things they worry about. After that, the scene is reset and the girls follow the prompt seriously in order to follow the plot.
Then, in the second main scene, the girls encounter a monster (voiced by a guest voice actor not so subtly advertising another anime he or she is currently acting in) who uses a magic mirror to force the girls into an illusory situation designed to destroy the girls’ friendship. Basically, each of these is an improv comedy scene not unlike those of Who’s Line Is It Anyway?
One of these scenes involves, as this article’s title suggests, a nerdy man going to a maid cafe and ordering takoyaki (imagine a savory donut hole with octopus in the center). The maid offers to replace the octopus with her own baby teeth. It is a conversation as absurd as it is hilarious.
But it’s not just the scenes that are ad-libbed. The animation is too. Using Kigurumi Live Animator KiLA, the voice actors are put into special motion capture gear which animates their actions and gestures on the fly. While this results in a low-budget 3D look to the anime, the fact that the gestures all perfectly match what the actresses are saying makes the improv comedy even better.
If magical girl parody and/or ad-lib comedy are your thing, you might want to give Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls a try.
Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls can be viewed for free and with English subtitles in the US on Crunchyroll.