Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式 on Twitter

A young hero and wizard set off on a journey to save to world from the forces of evil… in a parody of old-school RPGs.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, manga author Hiroyuki Eto’s hit manga series Magical Circle Guru Guru is getting its third anime series. We had the chance to watch the first two episodes at the Tokyo premiere this past weekend.

Magical Circle Guru Guru follows our heroes, a boy named Nike (pronounced knee-kay) and a girl named Kukuri as they travel the lands to defeat the evil Lord Giri. During their journey, Nike and Kukuri meet new friends and allies to help them defeat the forces of evil.

Our story opens in a fantastic parody of a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) role-playing game (RPG). We soon learn the evil Lord Giri has been revived and King Uruga XII is looking for heroes to defeat him. Nike and Kukuri are chosen for the task and they gear up for their long journey. 

Anime adaptations of video game properties aren’t uncommon. But, parodies of the NES era of RPGs are less common. Magical Circle Guru Guru is one of those fantastic parodies of classic RPGs. 

The pacing is par for the course to anyone who has played old RPG classics like Dragon Quest. By episode two, Nike and Kukuri have already started a quest and headed for their first destination. It’s exactly what you’d expect when it comes to the basic narrative, but since we’re dealing with a parody of RPGs, this is exactly what we want from the opening of the series. Nothing too fancy, just some quick exposition to get us set up for the journey we’re about to go on and our first real taste of adventure.

Image source: KADOKAWAanime on YouTube

The general character designs are exactly what you’d expect to find in the manuals of an 80s RPG, but occasionally, the visuals switch to 8-bit style graphics as we watch the classic RPG parody play out before us. True, those visuals are few and far between, but when they appear on screen, it’s a real joy because they’re used to emphasize the humor inherent in the series. For instance, the entirety of the opening sequence is rendered in in pixel art graphics with villagers talking through text boxes. This puts us right in the mindset that a journey is waiting for us, but at the same time being presented in a humorous fashion.

But while the homage aspect is strong, it’s the comedy that really drives the series. As a parody of classic RPGs, we’re treated to some beautiful gags about item shopping and battles among many other RPG tropes. The best part about the comical parodies is they run the gamut from easy-to-spot to perfectly subtle.

For instance, there are jokes that pertain to the characters’ levels, hit points, and magic points that are right on the nose. They’re simple in their design and mimic the character status screen in RPGs. But, then you have great joke about one of the monsters’ weaknesses. The joke subverts all our expectations about monster weaknesses and makes us question the protagonists’ qualifications as the heroes of the story. Both styles of comedy are perfect for the series and since the jokes come in rapid-fire succession, there isn’t a dull moment in the series.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式 on Twitter

If the first two episodes are an indication of the rest of the series, Magical Circle Guru Guru is going to be a fantastic action comedy parody of classic RPGs.

Magical Circle Guru Guru will begin airing in Japan on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. There is currently no information regarding a Western simulcast.

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