Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

Magical Circle Guru Guru has us following a hero and mage on their journey to defeat the forces of evil. But, what if the hero of the story isn’t who we think it is? What if the actual hero is hiding in plain sight, but we’re so caught up in the adventure we don’t notice it.

Magical Circle Guru Guru’s hero and heroine Nike (pronounced knee-kay) and Kukuri have traveled the lands fighting the forces of evil. But, it’s generally Kukuri’s magical powers that defeat those monsters. So, as they’ve gone about their journey, the two have slowly learned the secrets behind Kukuri’s magical powers—that secret resides in her heart and her feeling for Nike.

With Kukuri’s magic being the driving force behind defeating monsters, it’s odd Nike is seen as the hero of the series. In actuality this is one giant ruse we’re duped into believing as the narrative rarely revolves around him. So, who is the actual hero of the story? When we look at the story very closely the answer becomes clear: it’s Kukuri and the hints have always been there hidden in plain sight.

It’s actually quite fascinating how Kukuri’s story is hidden. We’ve become conditioned to believe the character who’s in the forefront of the story is the hero. In this case, Nike is the character who we believe is in that position. This comes from how everybody around him calls him “hero.” By doing this we, too, begin to believe he’s the most important figure in the story. But, when we dig a little deeper we soon realize he’s, in fact, the second most important character in the series with Kukuri being the most important; the story always returns to Kukuri and her development.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

It actually begins in the third and fourth episodes of the series. (This is because the first two episodes are designed to let us become acclimated to the characters and setting.) So, when we go to the third and fourth episodes, we get one of the first major story arcs. It revolves around a town being overrun by monsters while Nike and Kukuri are training. The thing is, when we look at what’s happening within the story, what’s more important is Kukuri’s training, not Nike’s training or saving the town. It seems strange at first, but consider it like this. Nike’s sword training is passed off a one giant joke, where as Kukuri’s training and her training house is designed for the expressed purpose for her to become more powerful. And one of the ways this happens is being able to control her emotions.

It’s a very short bit during Kukuri’s training, but we see her making happy, sad, and angry faces. It doesn’t make much sense at first unless we contemplate the nature of her magic. However, this little bit slips by so fast we overlook it and instead pay closer attention to Nike fighting monsters. Here’s the thing, though, at the end of Kukuri’s training she receives a giant pink heart. It’s an important moment because the heart is a literal representation of Kukuri’s growing emotions for Nike. The part of her training where she makes faces is recognizing how happy, angry, and sad interact with her heart. That she needs to develop those feelings to increase the power of her magic. We’re not overtly told this either, hence it slips by us at first. However, the notion Kukuri’s heart is important begins to play a crucial role soon after these events.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

The sixth and seventh episode continue on the trend of examining Kukuri’s emotions. It’s shown through fairies who love to gossip, especially gossip about romance. However, Kukuri isn’t quite at the point where she’s in love with Nike. Yes, she’s enamored with him, but those emotions haven’t budded in to romantic feelings. Yet, we see signs of Kukuri’s changing emotions by the end of the two episodes—namely a magical wooden knife the fairies give Kukuri. Although the knife is passed off as an item that will assist Kukuri, all it does is reveal a message that reads, “I love you hero.” While Kukuri’s embarrassed and upset at the fairies, this is where she begins to discover her feeling for Nike. And it culminates when she uses her strongest magic because she’s thinking about Nike and how she truly feels about him. 

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

The same runs true during the events of the eighth through tenth episodes of the series. While we’re told Nike and Kukuri need to defeat a monster in a tower, that’s not the most import part of the quest. Rather it’s the knowledge that Kukuri’s powers are connected to her emotions; when she’s happy her magic succeeds and when she’s sad or angry, it fails.

Again, this has little to do with Nike being a hero and everything to do with Kukuri growing in power. We even see the effects of Kukuri having fun and being happy in the ninth episode during a magic battle. The wizard she faces has such a scary face she can’t concentrate. But, the moment Kukuri’s able to laugh, her magic works. While it doesn’t harken back to developing her romantic feelings, these episodes keep in line with the idea of her emotions and emotional state being important to her magic.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

What’s happens in the next in eleventh and twelfth episodes throws us for a loop, though. These two episodes actually follow Nike more than Kukuri. It’s a clever writing tactic since it puts Nike in the forefront of the series. However, that doesn’t mean Kukuri’s development is out of the picture. There are small clues strewn about the episodes that show us she truly is the character we need to pay attention to.

The most important clue comes during the final boss battle of the two episodes when we meet two angels. What makes these two angels extremely important is the small bit of expository information they give us: they protect people with very emotional hearts. Although this seems like a throwaway line and just a filler joke, in actuality the information has a direct connection to Kukuri’s training in the fourth episode. Remember, her emotions are linked to her heart. In other words, her magic is linked to her romantic feels towards Nike. So, if Kukuri’s feeling for Nike are growing stronger, her magic is also becoming more powerful. This is such a short scene, though, we easily miss it in the midst of the action.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

However, it’s during the events of the thirteenth and sixteenth episode it becomes patently clear Kukuri’s the hero, not Nike. It’s an odd statement because Kukuri is turned into a devil for two of those episodes. But, this is where the development of her heart and feelings come to the forefront of the story. These episodes are the first time we see concrete evidence of Kukuri’s romantic feelings towards Nike. But, her jealousy gets the better of her and her magic turns her into a devil. What we’re seeing is the manifestation of Kukuri’s feelings up to this point in the story; all of her love and jealously come out in one giant bang. The thing is, we don’t easily recognize this because we’re conditioned to believe Nike is more important to the story, not Kukuri’s feelings.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

What happens, then, is a turn in who we perceive the hero of the series is. Think of it in these terms. While Nike is trying to save Kukuri between the thirteenth and sixteenth episodes, what we’re seeing is Kukuri and Nike becoming closer to each other. But, the latter has always been a part of the story. It’s impeccably represented in “play” we see in the sixteenth episode. This play is Kukuri’s subconscious playing out her dreams of being romantically involved with Nike. Sure, Kukuri isn’t actually participating in the play. But, the play is the culmination of her feeling for Nike to this point. Thus, this is where it begins to click the series is really about Kukuri.

Image source: 「魔法陣グルグル」公式‏ on Twitter

The seventeenth through nineteenth episode confirms how Kukuri’s the hero through the link between her magic and her love. It’s deceptive, too, since the focus shifts between Kukuri and Nike. But, one key moment is when Kukuri and Nike are fighting a monster. Rather than going into a panicked state, Kukuri finds herself imagining a romantic time with Nike. The result is the creation of a whole new spell. While part of the spell’s creation is due, in part, to Kukuri seeing a drumming toy, it’s really her feeling towards Nike that completes the spell. Without her love for Nike, Kukuri wouldn’t have been able to create the magical spell. So, even through the episodes are split between Kukuri and Nike’s development, Kukuri is always the one we want to pay attention to. 

And the nineteenth episode shows us why Kukuri’s the one we should have always been paying attention to through a fable of one of her ancestors and her fiancé. In the fable the lovers fight over how Japanese amberjack should be prepared. The result is the basis for the magic that initially sealed Lord Giri. What’s interesting about this revelation, though, is the amount of love Kukuri’s ancestor had was how effective the seal was. The same is true with Kukuri. The power of her love for Nike drives the power of her magic. Hence, when she successfully uses her magic, it’s always directly related to how much love she’s feeling for Nike. And Kukuri’s love have been the through line of the larger narrative.

Almost every aspect of Magical Circle Guru Guru’s story is designed to bring us to the conclusion Kukuri’s the hero. It’s so well hidden in plain sight, though, it doesn’t dawn on us until later in the series. Because of that, it makes us want to look back over the series to catch all the small details we missed and enjoy the series once again.

Magical Circle Guru Guru is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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