Stella-rium by Kano
I started my journey whilst sobbing in my cry
At least I feel as if I could reach the sky
As I fought with the tender star-filled night
You were watching me
I don’t know… I want to know… I want to feel it…
If I’m not anything
I’ll become something
Back then, when this throbbing was born
I surfed there along the wave of space-time
It was a miracle that wasn’t scary
Let’s jump into the incomplete
And open the promised door
And welcome the dazzling smile!
Welcome back, it’s time for Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be discussing Wish Upon the Pleiades, known in Japan as Hōkago no Pleiades (lit. “After-School Pleiades”). Originally running as a 4-episode online anime (with short episodes) in 2011, it was remade into a full 12-episode anime just last season. Animated by Gainax, this anime is an advertisement for Japanese automaker Subaru. …You think I’m joking, but I’m completely serious.
The concept is thus: Magic in this universe is measured by potential. Only those who’ve yet to become anything can use magic. In other words, you must be a nobody, and you lose your ability to use magic if you become a somebody by picking one of your limitless potentials, with the rest disappearing, never amounting to anything.
A certain alien race could have become anything, but instead chose to not make a choice. After a certain event, the race’s spaceship’s engine is separated into 12 pieces and scattered across the universe. The alien recruits 5 girls from different timelines to help him collect these parts. As they’ve yet to become anything, he is able to allow the girls to use magic. But a mysterious magical boy is also after the engine fragments.
Something interesting about the story here is that two of these girls know each other… err… not really. They know their timelines’ versions of each other, being childhood friends. However, for both of them, the other eventually left them behind. This makes up for about half of the protagonist’s character arc, with the other half involving a romance with a mysterious boy in a garden that’s seemingly inaccessible without magic. This boy looks mysteriously like the enemy magical boy.
The remaining 3 girls get focus episodes, but they’re quite unimportant compared to the main pair, and could have been completely cut from the series with no real issues. In fact, one of the series’ main negatives is that the cast doesn’t really have any moments where they play off of each other, rather, the other girls just blend into the background when one is in focus.
As with many classic magical girl series, the magical girls here have staves, and they’re all designed to resemble the front bumpers of various cars, and even make vehicle sound effects. While this seems like a quirky thing to laugh at, it quickly fades into the background as something normal. I was quite surprised at how quickly I got used to it.
What I also found interesting was the complete lack of combat. It’s more a race to capture the engine fragments than anything, with the girls not gaining any offensive magic whatsoever. Think Cardcaptor Sakura except replace Sakura with a team of five and without having to fight the clow cards, but keep Syaoran. I don’t think we’ve seen a combat-free, fanservice-free magical girl series in a long time, so I found this quite refreshing.
With the slow-paced, simple plot and the few plot twists being stuff I can’t discuss at all without spoiling everything, I’ll leave it at that.
Wish Upon the Pleiades is available on Crunchyroll and has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
More magical girl series like this, please. I’m tired of seeing series grasp for darkness just to try and appeal to fans of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This is one example of simplicity being key. That said, the handling of most of the cast could have been better.
This is worth watching for fans of the genre.