Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

Magical Circle is on its third anime TV in 25 years. But, when were the last two times it was aired on television? Let’s head down memory lane and take a quick look at the history of the franchise.

Our romp though history begins 1994 when the first Magical Circle series called Mahōjin Guru Guru was aired on All-Nippon News Network and its affiliate stations. I was in late elementary school in America and my grandfather had sent me a VHS tape with hours of anime recorded on it.

When I first laid eyes on Magical Circle, something clicked. This wasn’t the action-packed or even the family friendly anime series I’d been watching from an even younger age. The series had humor I’d never seen in anime; humor that slowly built over time rather than going for a rapid-fire style. But, most importantly, the humor was easy to follow despite the comedy using some wordplay and references to role-playing games (RPG). Add on top of this a grand tale that just captures the imagination from the first moments of series and young me was hooked and I wanted more. Unfortunately, after 45 episodes, the series reached its end. It was a good run and had me thinking about the series on and off for years.

Little did I know after this series had left the air in Japan in 1995, the short Magical Circle movie called Gekijōban Mahōjin Guru Guru (literally Magical Circle: the Movie) was released one year later. I had the displeasure of not knowing about it for nearly a decade and seeking it out was still difficult at the time. But, now thanks to the wonders of Amazon, anyone can purchase the movie and watch it, provided you have a region 2 DVD player.

Magical Circle slowly started to descend into the recesses of my memory as I watched more anime. Until one fateful day in 2000 when the magic of a new Magical Circle series called Doki Doki Densetsu Mahōjin Guru Guru began airing on TV Tokyo Network and its affiliates. At this point, I was in high school and this childish series should have been beneath my cultured appreciation of anime. But, like its predecessor, it captured my heart all over again.

Not only is the same comedic timing there, the story finds new and different ways to develop the characters and the story progresses to new and fun locations as well. It was as if I’d been transported back six years and these characters were waiting for me with open arms and I reveled in the series. Then terror struck me for a second time, the series concluded after 38 episodes.

Image source: KADOKAWAanime on YouTube

Now, in 2017 we’re getting a whole new Magical Circle anime series and this man is ready to watch it. Anime Now! had the chance to see the first two episodes of the series and I jumped at the opportunity before anyone else could. I was determined not to let any of my colleagues take my chance to see a series I’ve loved for the better part of 20 years. And what’s been revealed to the public so far takes me right back to 1994 when I first saw the series on a VHS tape my grandfather sent to me from Japan.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

But, in the interim between the second and the current anime series I took the time to read the entire manga series by Hiroyuki Etō and have dabbled in the spinoff series he’s written as well. The manga series has stayed relevant in Japan for many years now and has even seen a reprint compilation of the original series into eight volumes. But, are the comics just as entertaining as the two previous anime series? The answer is: definitely.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

What makes this entire franchise fun is the certainly the comedy. That’s what’s had me coming back to the series for over 20 years. For instance, one of the first scenes in the series features Nike’s parents trying to force him to become a hero. His mother does this by giving him a hero lunch—a plate of food that looks like a RPG world map.

The manga and the 1994 and 2017 anime series all have different takes on this same joke. Yet, at its core the joke follows the same principle and coveys it through the vision of the author or directors. Along with the great comedy is the amusing cast of characters of Nike, Kukuri, Toma, Juju, Lunlun, and Kita Kita Oyaji. They all have distinctive personalities and bring a different flavor to any situation they find themselves in. And like any good parody of an RPG, the characters all have their classes and the series uses those to great comedic effect as well.

Magical Circle has an interesting broadcast history with three different anime series. I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to see all three. And now with online streaming, I hope more people can share in that experience as well.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

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

Mahōjin Guru Guru (1994) is available on DVD through Amazon Japan.

Gekijōban Mahōjin Guru Guru is available on DVD through Amazon Japan.

Doki Doki Densetsu Mahōjin Guru Guru is available on DVD through Amazon Japan.

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