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Manga / Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

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Military history is not the same anymore with magical girls around.

"It was said that Magical Girls defeated the very last boss whose mission was to wipe out humanity. But... the truth is there are no real endings in this world. Even after that boss was defeated, true peace never returned. We fight on a new battlefield of international crime, indiscriminate terrorism, civil wars, conflict... The Magical Girls' battle isn't over. It never ends."
Asuka Otori

Three years ago, the extradimensional Netherbeasts invaded Earth. The world's military was brought to their knees, finding their weapons powerless against such foes. But, thankfully, a group of five Magical Girls fought off and stopped the invasion, and were hailed as heroes across the world.

Asuka was the leader of the legendary Magical Five, but fast forward to today and she hasn't used her Magical Girl powers in a long while, wanting no more to do with the whole thing. But circumstances have eventually forced her to wield her power once more...

Magical Girls Special Operations Asuka (Mahou Shoujo Tokushuusen Asuka) is a Darker and Edgier Magical Girl manga by Fukami Makoto, and also serves as a Deconstruction by way of realistic outcomes. How would the world fare when Magical Girls and Netherbeasts are common knowledge, as well as their obvious military applications? Do Magical Girls get PTSD?

The manga was serialized in Big Gangan from 2015 to 2021 for 69 chapters, and was compiled into 14 volumes. An anime adaptation aired in Winter 2019, which was licensed by Funimation for an English release.

Do not confuse it with the game Spec Ops: The Line.

Magical Girl Special Operations Asuka provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In addition to magically-enhanced bullets, M-Squad uses incendiary bullets against enemies.
  • Arc Words: "An even more terrible war".
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Sayako's post-traumatic stress is given more focus in the anime, as is Nozomi's love of busts.
    • Mia's investigation of Jerome's corpse involves a battle with a Voorhees class Netherbeast. In the anime, she also fights a magic terrorist who wants revenge on the US military for killing her family.
  • Asshole Victim: Chisato's father totally deserved to have his head crushed in the hand of the magical mercenary Giess/Geese/Geiss with how he abused her; he repeatedly told her that she should've died in the accident that killed his wife, tried to sell her to a brothel and then finally tried to beat her to death (which was interrupted by the aforementioned mercenary).
  • Badass Creed: The Magical Five's motto: "He who laughs last laughs best.". It's even featured in the opening credits of the anime.
  • Badass Normal: All of M-Squad's non-magical girl members. They may not possess any magical powers, but are still able to keep up with the magical girls using nothing but their anti-magic weaponry.
  • Bad Boss: For the most part, the magical girls are generally treated in a humane and professional manner by their respective nations' militaries. Even Big Bad Brigadier treats her subordinates well. The one glaring exception that plays this straight is the Russian general staff at the Zavolzhsky Site, who regularly brainwash Tamara using a fantasy-granting device and intend to throw her into as many battles as possible until the day she dies.
  • Beehive Barrier: All Magical Girls get a barrier that's powerful enough to block off mundane firearms, making them Immune to Bullets. Only magically-empowered weapons can pierce through such barriers, and as barriers from different Magical Girls will disrupt each other, going into melee is the best way to take a Magical Girl down.
  • Big Damn Heroes: M-Squad coming to aid Kurumi during her fight with Abigail.
  • Big Applesauce: The UN assault story arc, when the Babel Brigade launches an all-out attack on UN HQ, devastating downtown New York in the process with a zombie horde in Spanish Harlem and a pair of undead dragons.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Babel Brigade is a terrorist organization dealing in illegal magical weapons and threatening world peace. M-Squad and their allies are fighting them, but they kind of forgot the whole "rule of law" deal somewhere along the line. The rules of engagement are occasionally suspended and they employ magically-enhanced torture on captured criminals with no pretense of due process. At one point, an NPA officer likewise says that "people who don't exist have no rights" when discussing someone in their private cells. Asuka mentions at one point that she doesn't expect to be entirely clean of guilt, either.
  • Book Ends: Asuka repeats her narration at the end of the first episode at the end of Episode 12.
  • Bowdlerise: The anime adaption isn't without violence, swearing or sexual themes, but it was toned down compared to the original
    • The Disas sent Asuka "just" the severed hands of her parents, in the manga, she got their severed heads mailed to her three weeks after they abducted them.
    • The scene from the brothel Chisato's father wanted to sell her to was merely suggestive (the prostitutes were just sitting on their customers laps, giving them seductive smiles and embracing them), in the manga they were shown in the act of actually servicing them (they were positioned in a way that didn't show any genitals, though).
    • In the manga, the rape of the two high school girls in the course of the Disas raid on Naha city is depicted much more unambiguous and detailed than in the animé, where the scene could be also interpreted as Mia Cyrus having managed to save the girls from being raped unlike in the manga.
  • Born of Magic: The fairies that create and assist magical girls are referred to in the manga as "synthetic fairies", suggesting they were artificially created rather than born the normal way (they seem to behave like normal people, though, including having free will to do good or evil (e.g. Sacchu called Abigail's fairy a traitor against the Spirit Realm Treaty Organization)).
  • Cast Full of Gay: Nearly every girl in the series is showing some degree of lust towards other girls in some way.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The magical axe "Ilmarinen's Topor," which is first used by the twin Russians Watchman and Chef, is later retrieved for Asuka to land the finishing blow on Giess.
  • Chick Magnet: Asuka turns out to be the lesbian version, with at least fellow Japanese Kurumi, Russian Tamara and extradimensional General Tabira (though she seems to have perverted feelings towards all members of the Magical Five, Asuka bears the brunt of it) pining for her.
  • Child Soldiers: A subject that's repeatedly brought up. High school girls are being sent into combat because they're the only ones who can fight the monsters.
  • Clark Kenting: "Perception blocking" is an explicit magical girl power, protecting their identities while transformed.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: After Asuka and Kurumi save Nozomi and leave her with an injury, Abigail spews two F-bombs and goes out to kill them both. Also doubles as Atomic F-Bomb.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Kurumi gives Chisato a torture session after she's captured as a "formality." She knows Chisato has no information to give her; she's just indulging her sadism.
  • Les Collaborateurs: During the war against the Disas, some humans chose to collaborate with them in exchange for superpowers; One such group was called "Ghost Mask". In the modern day, the Chief of General Staff in Russia is allied with the Babel Brigade, making sure the briefcase from Naha makes its way to them in exchange for help with a situation in Ukraine.
  • Combat Breakdown: The battle of Asuka against a rampaging Tamara in Chapter 42 devolves from fighting against each other with their full might to losing their weapons, to finally beating each other up in hand-to-hand combat on the ground.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: Due to Jurisdiction Friction, office politics and an uneven distribution of magical firepower, the cops can't go in to save Nozomi from terrorists, and neither can M-Squad. But they can tell Nozomi's friends Asuka and Kurumi, and then step back as the magical girls go deal with the kidnappers "on their own."
  • Country Matters: Asuka calls Abigail this more than once, and given what she does to her friend, not without reason.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: The "pretty" part is teased during a CPR training episode, where Kurumi "wishes she were" the training mannequin that Asuka was demonstrating on.
  • Cute Is Evil: Most Disas/Netherbeasts look like cute mascot creatures. Doesn't stop them from sadistically ripping apart humans in all its gory details. Enemy Magical Girls may also count, although they slant a bit more towards being sexy given that their costumes tend to be even more revealing than those of the Magical Five.
  • Dark Is Evil: The familiar of Asuka and Kurumi looks like a flying mouse with a very long tail, the familiar of Abigail (the evil magical girl using scissors) looks similar to a small ogre.
  • Deconstruction: By way of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome. Not to mention the protagonist is a Shell-Shocked Veteran Magical Girl Warrior.
    • There is a bustling Black Market for extradimensional artifacts and weapons, usually paid by way of living humans to the traders. There are also 'illegally empowered' Magical Girls, as well as magical mercenaries, who usually work as enforcers for the underworld community or as terrorists.
    • The incredible power of a magical girl has resulted in a large boom in business for human trafficking. Hundreds of little girls sold into slavery can now be contracted into a small army of super soldiers.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Magically-enhanced bullets are used by normal soldiers to stand a better chance against Netherbeasts and even rogue Magical Girls.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Kurumi hums the opening theme before torturing Chisato.
  • Due to the Dead: Kurumi doesn't like it when people refer to them as 'Magical Five'.
    Kurumi: "Magical Five?" I hate it when people call us that. Do you know there used to be eleven of us? Two died on their way to the final battle. And only five of us walked out alive of that battle. It should have been the six who died who are remembered...
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After the Battle of New York, Babel is finally destroyed and Francine's plans are stopped, though at the cost of Mia, Francine, Sayoko, and countless people's lives. However, the survivors of the Magical Five manage to go on with their lives. M Squad is disbanded, with Iizuka planning on using the template to build a new magical paramilitary unit. Kurumi finally admits her feelings for Asuka, who reciprocates and they enter a relationship. Peipei continues taking care of the Astrologer and plans on opening her own business. Tamara joins the UN to help lead the second generation magical girls. Asuka discovers she has the power to resurrect the dead, and uses it to revive Sayoko.
  • Elite Army: The Magical Five, of course. They consist of the world's most powerful magical girls and are humanity's best defense against the Disas.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous:
    • The Magical Girl Operations Developmental Unit or M-Squad, an anti-magic special forces unit under the JGSDF's Ground Component Command.
    • The Magical Operations Response Group, the American Army's anti-magic special forces unit.
  • Explosive Leash: When Indian secret agents abduct the Chinese magical girl scientist Dr. Luo Min, they put an explosive vest on him and start the countdown when the Chinese magical girl Peipei attacks their convoy to rescue him to prevent the Chinese from recovering this valuable asset.
  • Fictional United Nations: The UN is the same as ours, but it has a Magic Security Council (likely to emphasize the parallels between magical girls and nukes that are repeatedly drawn in the comic).
  • Five Rounds Rapid: The military doesn't quite get the memo that when the enemy has their Beehive Barrier up, you don't shoot with regular ammo - you need magic bullets. With that said, when they do have magical bullets or enhanced artillery, they do use those.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Magical girls, are, as the name says, all female, but there are other forms of related magic that can be wielded by both male (such as the Russian mafioso Storozh (Russian for "guard"), who commands a water spirit he describes as a real-life version of a rusalka or his colleague Povar (Russian for "chef"), who wields energy barriers, a magical axe and a magically enhanced handgun) and female (such as "Crescent Moon" Sandino the Colombian magical mercenary) sorcerers.
  • Giant Medical Syringe: Kurumi Mugen is a nurse-themed Magical Girl who uses a giant syringe as one of her primary weapons. While she is the group's healer, she also doubles as their Torture Technician and at any given time her syringe could be loaded with anything from truth serums to flesh-melting chemicals.
  • Glamour: The Magical Girls' barriers also provide this, obscuring their identity unless they want it to be revealed.
  • Gratuitous Russian:
    • "Yes, sir!" isn't a simply "Da!/Да!", it's "Yest'!/Есть!".
    • Tamara's main attack is called "Volshebnyj ognemyot/Волшебный огнемёт" ("magic flamethrower"), but both the Japanese and English dub actor pronounce it so wrong, it's almost impossible to make out without subtitles.
    • The Russian mafia group Kasyanov was a member of and that came back in the Ukraine arc is called "Oboroten'/Оборотень" meaning "werewolf".
    • The M-Squad agent (Constantine Asimov) in Oboroten' is called "Priyatel'/Приятель" ("friend").
  • Heroic Sacrifice: An ordinary police officer rams his car into a rampaging Disas in Episode 10, giving Sayako and the injured Nozomi a chance to escape while the creature kills him.
  • Human Traffickers: They deal with Otherworld traders for magical artifacts. Four kidnapped humans for a bunch of magical artifacts is a steal for them.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In the attack on Naha (on Okinawa), the Babel forces try to exploit this when they avoid hitting a US base to avoid drawing the US military into the fighting. This doesn't work; the US and Japan are military allies, and both governments immediately give the go-ahead to their respective forces to work together.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of Asuka's classmates jokingly suggests that she's a protagonist from a late-night anime.
  • Living Battery: What the Disas wanted to use the humans for if they would've won their at first covert and later overt war against humanity (if the magical girls would've failed to prevent the leader of the Disas from fully manifesting himself in the human realm (according to Kurumi, the fully manifested Disas leader could've kicked the asses of humanity's combined military forces in about 36 hours)).
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: In Chapter 37, the "Sister's Binding" codename turns out to be this, used by the Russian general staff to keep Tamara in line by feeding her fantasies of having a loving older sister.
  • Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction: Child Soldiers, Shell-Shocked Veteran, Cold-Blooded Torture, Black-and-Grey Morality, basically a textbook example.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: With emphasis on 'Warrior'. The girls add military-grade accessories on top of their otherwise girly costumes, such as utility belts, pouches, combat knives, and more.
  • Maid Cafe: M-Squad's Home Base is disguised as one.
  • Mildly Military: When Mia Cyrus and two CIA SAD agents are preparing to raid a drug lord's den in Mexico, they casually banter about how a magical girl's superpowers work right outside the den's front door.
  • Military Moe: Cute, busty magical girls who used to fight a magical war in the army, and now serving in paramilitary special task forces.
  • Military Superhero: All of the girls used to be part of a special operations squad during the heyday, but in the present, only Mia Cyrus remains affiliated with the US Military. Asuka herself is eventually recruited back into a special task force to deal with Netherworld traffickers.
  • Most Common Superpower: The Magical Girls are all quite busty, with Kurumi perhaps the biggest among them all.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In Chapter 37 at a karaoke bar, Nozomi proposes starting off with a song by "Minae Amuro."
  • No Ending: For the anime, both in-universe and out-of-universe. Out-of-universe, the show ends with major plot points unresolved and practically holds a sign up stating "Read the Manga to Find Out What Happens Next!". In-universe, episode 12 ends with a monologue about how real life has no endings, and that the magical girls must fight on.
  • No-Sell: With the use of magical girls/items by criminals, terrorists and mercenaries, ordinary police officers, soldiers and intelligence agents are useless against them unless they have magically enhanced weapons, ammo and items.
  • No Such Agency: The NPA's counterterrorism unit doesn't exist. They certainly don't have secret cells where they torture terrorists for intelligence. Akinori's job is just boring desk work, not interrogating prisoners who totally aren't in custody.
  • Orichalcum: A magical metal that is used in e.g. bullets against Disas or rogue magical users.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Every Magical Girl is essentially this, with their abilities so far beyond what any human can achieve, even a Tier-1 special forces operator can't come close to matching their physical strength alone. When Tamara is kidnapped by the Babel Brigade, the Russian military goes on extreme alert, shuts down all major airports in the country, sets up roadblocks on every major highway, deploys special forces to find her, and early-warning aircraft are scrambled to immediately patrol the borders and prepare to shoot down any suspicious craft. Iizuka comments they're acting as if a nuclear missile has gone missing.
  • Police Are Useless: Not entirely, but when Nozomi is captured and tortured, Commissioner Miura Sena refuses to mobilize anyone, as the only possible outcomes under the current circumstances would damage the police's reputation. However, she does tell him that M Squad could hypothetically be called to help (leading to such a thing happening).
    • In an ordinary battle, the ordinary officer tends to get killed easily.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: When Babel Library forces attack the military compound in Naha, they let Disas troops pillage the city of Naha as a diversion and during this raid two of the foot soldiers (who look like goblins, making this scene a possible Shout-Out to Goblin Slayer) rape two high school girls they come across.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some of the story arcs are based on contemporary events such as the perennial Somali Civil War and the War in Donbass.
  • Rousing Speech: Invoked. While Asuka is talking to Leyla, verbally putting her in her place in Chapter 52, Iizuka realizes that what she is saying can inspire the allied forces, and has Shima patch in her comms to the rest of the troops so they can hear it, too.
    Asuka: Prostrate? Seriously, I'm sick of how stupid you lot are. The revival of the Disas Beast... so that's what the Babel Brigade was after. Well, you did a splendid job. "His defeat must have been some sort of mistake"?... How naïve. Certainly, New York has been met with impending danger. However, we have the five magical girls who had once destroyed the Disas Beast, the second generation magical girls, and special forces trained in magical warfare. You're in awfully good spirits considering all you did was resurrect your decapitated king. And you were the ones who attacked us and lost in the first place. We have suffered many losses. Everyone fought to protect the things dear to them, but even then, there were many things that slipped through our fingers. But as a result... we've become stronger than you. Humans are strongest when they get back up after being beaten down. You will be defeated once again, and once again we will endure hardship. Even then, we will emerge victorious!
  • Secret Police: The NPA's nonexistent special unit both qualify. They're militarized police units focusing on magical weapons trafficking and counterterrorism, and are above the law in their actions, with full license to use torture (including magical and sexual torture, in M-Squad's case) to extract information from suspects, or to execute targets without trial.
  • Sexual Extortion: Played for Laughs when Francine jokingly orders Asuka (her subordinate) into her bed. Asuka just tells her where to stick it.
    Francine: A perk of being in charge. Asuka, come to my bedroom tonight. That's an order!
    Asuka: That's a no.
    Kurumi: That's right. She already told you before!
  • Shout-Out:
    • In episode 4, the Kero-chan Expy pauses the action to deliver some (totally unnecessary) exposition on Magical Truth Serum, just like Kero-chan himself at the end of many Cardcaptor Sakura episodes.
    • The classes of Disas are shout outs to horror movies: Halloween, Voorhees, Gremlin and Cenobite.
    • In episode 12, while filling out a mountain of paperwork, Asuka quips "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
    • Episode 12 has Kurumi make a reference to Red Scorpion before torturing Chisato, stating that it's her favorite movie and she often watches the torture scene from that movie.
    • In Volume 10, the entire arc to rescue Tamara is called Saving Phoenix Tamara.
    • Sacchu told Chisato and Giess to "go ahead make my day" in episode 10.
    • Two Disas looking like goblins raping two high school girls during the raid on Naha could be understood as a reference to Goblin Slayer.
  • Starter Villain: Episode 1 climaxes with Asuka confronting Kim Kanth, the leader of the East Asia United Front terrorist organization. He and his goons don't last long.
  • Super Registration Act: Japan adopts the "Response to Magic-Related Incidents Act" as a way for legislation to be used if hostile monsters/magical girls/magic mercenaries and terrorists attack Japan.
  • SWAT Team: An anti-firearms squadnote  escorts Kim when their armored bus transport is ambushed and taken out.
  • Superhuman Trafficking: The result of hundreds to thousands of young girls trafficked every day combined with their ability to become magical girls.
  • Surveillance Drone: They are used by both legitimate (army, police) and criminal organizations frequently.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Asuka may want to leave the business of being a Magical Girl behind her, but the combination of insistence from her JSDF contacts (including fellow Magical Girl Kurumi) and her two Muggle friends finding themselves embroiled in deadly magical terrorism-related situations makes her reluctantly reconsider.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: After defeating the Disas three years ago, the members of the Magical Five decide to go their separate ways, with only Asuka and Kurumi remaining in the same country. However, they still reunite when the situation calls for it, such as the battle at Naha.
  • The Siege: The JGSDF Naha Garrison is under siege under a Babel Brigade terror attack, led by Giess. It's only mean to distract JGSDF and US military forces in order to get to Tabira and secure her magical artifact.
  • Theme Naming: The different classes of Disas/Netherbeasts tend to have names that are Shout Outs to horror film franchises, such as Halloween, Voorhees, Gremlin and Cenobite.
  • There Are No Therapists: Played straight and averted. We don't see anyone giving the Magical Five psychiatric care for their PTSD, but Kurumi does heal Nozomi's PTSD (through neurosurgery rather than psychotherapy, in her case, and it needed to be done before the events were stuck in her long-term memory).
  • Toplessness from the Back: In Episode 9, a girl on the beach is shown sunbathing topless.
  • Torture Always Works: When the protagonists use it, anyway, although it's usually just one-half of the equation - Kim Kanth was shot up with drugs/truth serum, while Nazani was injected with a cocktail of magical sense-heightening drugs by Kurumi.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Peipei couldn't save the abducted Chinese scientist from being blown up by an explosive vest placed on him by Indian agents, but did save his daughter he had with him, but witnessing her father being blown up right before her eyes caused her to lose her memories. Peipei seems to purposely not help her in recovering her memories because that'd bring back the trauma.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: In the manga, the Disas shapeshifted into people and infiltrated human governments in the beginning.

Alternative Title(s): Mahou Shoujo Tokushuusen Asuka, Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka