Otaku USA Magazine
A Kind of Magic

Nurse Witch Komugi was a colorful, frenetic OVA that lasted for six episodes, originally released back in 2002. It was meant as a parodical spinoff of the series SoulTaker, with several of the characters that appeared in that anime taking on weird parodical versions of their previous selves. It followed Komugi Nakahara, a young cosplay idol with a secret: She’s actually Nurse Witch Komugi, and she’s endowed with special powers to fight off viruses from Vaccine World.

It’s a hilarious and raucous ride that parodies the magical girl genre, much like Excel Saga spears so many others, and while it has nods to its source series sprinkled throughout, it became very much its own beast in the end. It even got two additional OVA episodes released as a sequel in the form of Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte Z. Now, 14 years later, Komugi is back with the rest of her friends in the rebooted TV anime series Nurse Witch Komugi R. It’s a whole new ball game, but it’s Komugi’s first real shot at making a name for herself in the grand scheme of TV episodes. What’s more, even if you took in all of the old Komugi stories, you’ll be able to appreciate this new series just as easily.

Let’s Komugication!

From the opening scenes of Nurse Witch Komugi R, it’s clear that this iteration of Komugi isn’t interested at all in parodying the magical girl genre and is instead playing things straight with a CG-centric idol performance at the beginning of the first episode. Komugi is unfortunately interrupted during the middle of her concert, only to wake up and realize she was dreaming.

In this series, instead of working all the time as an idol and professional cosplayer, Komugi has a family, little brother, and is actually aspiring to become a famous idol and performer. She also has to go to school, so that adds an entirely new dynamic to the show. She’s essentially the same Komugi we know from the other series, but she’s a lot more childish and cut from the same cloth as other “magical girl” types out there. Her medical connection comes from her father, who’s actually a physician. There’s no random “vaccine” correlation from the beginning, but Komugi herself has a special ability to help out with her dad’s patients, and she’s plucky enough to get things done.

We find out how Komugi gets her start as a magical girl pretty early on. When she happens upon a small, injured creature known as Usa-P, Komugi provides some medical treatment and gets the creature fighting fit once more. In exchange, Usa-P offers special magical powers that allow Komugi to become a “Tombo-E Girl.” It’s up to her to save the world from droves of bizarre enemies, including crazy enemies that change people into other forms in the name of film and a whole host of other weirdness. Though the show’s overall tone has changed, it still retains plenty of the silliness the original Nurse Witch Komugi displayed.

Friendship Is Magic

Komugi won’t be doing it alone this time around, however. In the Nurse Witch Komugi OVA series, Komugi fought against and sometimes alongside rival Koyori Kokobunji, who worked with Komugi as an idol and cosplay model. There’s Kokona Saionji, one of the main characters, whose appearance is somewhat similar to Koyori’s though she has short blue hair and is actually Komugi Yoshida’s fellow idol and schoolmate. As the second Tombo-E girl, the Magical Maid character, her magical girl getup resembles that of a maid. She’s a kind, gentle soul, though while she’s transformed she tends to go into sort of a “bold” side that has her doing a multitude of weird and brazen things that she doesn’t always retain memory of when she’s gone back to normal. She has her own mascot character named Tana-P, and she’s gunning to be the #1 idol of all time.

Then there’s Tsukasa Kisaragi, the third Tombo-E girl, who runs into the mascot character Neko-P. He allows Tsukasa to transform into the Magical Sister persona, which like Magical Nurse and Magical Maid, has its own outfit. She’ll normally wear more masculine clothing in public, but when transformed her outfit resembles that of a Catholic Sister’s dress with cat ears and a tail. She’s more of a tomboy when she’s dressed as a civilian, but when she’s transformed her girlier side comes out. It’s an interesting duality, especially when she and Komugi are such close friends and nearly like night and day.

These characters come in stark contrast to those from the Nurse Witch Komugi past. They’re all varying personalities without so much of the snark and cutting lines the OVA would often spotlight, and as such the show ends up feeling more like a Pretty Cure or Cardcaptor Sakura parody than anything else. These new characters and relationship dynamics work well for the new show’s attitude, however, which makes it much more accessible as a whole for newcomers to the characters and franchise.

A New Legacy for Komugi

The Nurse Witch Komugi name has been around for quite some time, so it’s interesting that the anime world has come back around to explore the show once more. However, trends have changed since the show was in vogue back during its debut in 2002.

When Nurse Witch Komugi first came out, it was much more popular for silliness, references to other anime, and the “Gainax” style of anime with the mile-a-minute dialogue, ridiculous jokes, sight gags, and more. The lines on the characters were thicker. Things were brighter, more flamboyant, and crazy.

You can really tell how things have changed and how the world has been altered to attempt to hook a modern audience, especially with the attention paid to CGI-fueled idol performances and the moe style of animation. Side by side, the two would be nearly unrecognizable if you didn’t know they were supposed to be in the same universe, but that might be exactly what the franchise needs if it’s to be reborn and reach a new audience.

Getting Magical with Komugi

There’s been a legacy of darker magical girl shows over the past couple of years, and it seems to be a growing trend. Nurse Witch Komugi R is a return to the magic and innocence of the genre, and while it’s somewhat parodical in some instances, it’s very much a fun romp that you should take even if you already watched the OVA episodes. It’s got just the right amount of raunchiness and hilarity, and if you’re a magical girl fan, you definitely owe it to yourself to check it out.

Nurse Witch Komugi R is available from Sentai Filmworks and Crunchyroll.