Sister Nana encourages the other girls to work together to solve their problem instead of attacking one another. She is rejected by Ripple and Top Speed, but refuses to give up. Elsewhere, Calamity Mary and Magicaloid earn Candies in a less than honest way – by shooting people and then “helping” them. Magicaloid explains to Mary her history with Sister Nana. She lent Nana the “gadgets from the future” her magic allows her to summon in order to help Winterprison (Nana’s real life girlfriend) become a magical girl. In return, Nana paid her a large amount of money. Magicaloid was only in it for the money, and was upset when Winterprison actually became a magical girl. The robotic girl lies to Nana, saying she has “special connections” with Raising Project’s admins, and will contact them in exchange for more money.
Nana and Winterprison then receive a message from Cranberry, asking them to meet her in an abandoned quarry. Nana is certain that Cranberry, the most experienced magical girl, is on their side. However, Cranberry is revealed to be the one behind the “game,” and to be obsessed with facing strong magical girls. She fights Winterprison, easily overpowering the latter’s wall-making abilities – until Sister Nana uses her magic prayer to boost her lover’s abilities. Cranberry lets the pair go, unwilling to eliminate an opponent who can match her so evenly.
The sixteenth magical girl, Hardgore Alice, finally gains her powers and joins the game. Sister Nana volunteers to teach her, hoping to find another ally. However, Alice is only interested in meeting Snow White, and immediately runs off to find her.
The episode ends with La Pucelle, alone and separate from Snow White, being challenged to a fight by Cranberry.
This episode differed in structure from the first four. Instead of having one central plot centered around a small group of the girls, such as Snow White and Pucelle or the Ruler Gang, it jumped around with a variety of short scenes. In a single episode, we got Nana’s attempted recruitment of Top Speed and Ripple, Magicaloid duping Nana, the fight with Cranberry, the introduction of Hardgore Alice, and even a short scene with Swim Swim, the gang’s new leader, planning their next Candy theft. The result was, unfortunately, a disjointed story that suffered from its attempts to show what every remaining girl is up to rather than following a consistent thread.
The fragmented story also contained jarring shifts in tone, jumping from Magicaloid’s fairly comedic scheme to the revelation of the true mind behind the ‘game’ – Cranberry. Really, I feel like this is something that could have had most of if not an entire episode to itself, and I’m disappointed that it was jammed in with all the other plots in this crowded episode. However, that doesn’t mean the scene itself wasn’t excellent. Cranberry is a chilling character, and her early reveal allows the viewers to get inside her mind and learn more about her. While stories like this usually leave the reveal of the “mastermind” for later, finding out about Cranberry early on gives the show a chance to explore the backstory she’s hinted at having (where did her obsession with strength and fighting come from? What happened in the time gap between her becoming the city’s first magical girl and everyone else joining?)
The other parts of this episode I liked were the relationships between Nana and Winterprison and Magicaloid and Mary. The first have a sweet, loving relationship, and it’s always great to see an open, non-subtext lesbian couple in anime, especially one who are allowed to be affectionate with one another on screen. Nana’s determination to make Winterprison into a magical girl so they could fight together was also adorable. In contrast, we have the outlaw and the robot, who acknowledged in this episode that they are both heartless and unafraid to bend the rules, but are shown to have a genuine appreciation for the other’s ruthlessness.
Unfortunately, the last character to get major focus in this episode didn’t leave nearly as positive an impression on me. Hardgore Alice continues to be one-dimensional, appearing briefly on the hunt for Snow White and then vanishing just as quickly. Our protagonist herself was almost entirely absent, save for a short scene of her thinking about her feelings for Sou/Pucelle, which did nothing but take up more time that Episode 5 already didn’t have to spare.
The weakest episode of the show so far, but with a few great scenes and character moments (and Cranberry!) to raise its Dio score: