The promotional image for this film makes it look as if this would be your standard group magical adventure but little did I know that Aura: Koga Maryuin’s Last War is much more down to earth than that and leads to an enjoyable but flawed film.
Aura is directed by Seiji Kishi whom some might recognize as the person who directed titles such as Angel Beats and Persona 4: The Animation and it was animated by AIC A.S.T.A who also animated Persona 4, so the staff had some experience working together.
Ichirou Satou, is an ordinary high schooler, living a normal life, until one evening when he forgets his text books and sneaks into the school building. He bumps into a kuudere girl named Ryouko Satou (they aren’t related) who is cosplaying as a witch. She calls herself ‘The Researcher’ and rambles on about a fantasy quest she is currently on; however Ichirou thinks she’s just a weird girl who is just making things up and ignores her.Both start to learn more about each other after one of the teachers recommends Ichirou to become Ryouko’s friend.
Ryouko has ‘adolescent delusions’ (a person who thinks he or she has magical powers), In recent years this has started to become a popular trope; TV series such as Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions and Oreshura are examples of this and from what I’ve watched, they haven’t been executed very well. Thankfully this doesn’t affect this film in a bad way; as a matter of fact, the film does a good job in providing some genuine comedy and drama when it comes to both main characters. On the other hand, there is a moment where Ichirou finds out that half of his class also have ‘adolescent delusions’ but they are never really used, only to provide small talk to the main characters; the other half of the class mostly come off as unlikeable jerks.
Aura’s main weak point though is its presentation. Compared to other anime films I’ve seen, Aura looks like an extended OVA series with unimpressive animation. There are only glimpses of great animation put to good use and the character designs are also very generic with the typical ‘moe’ designs. It’s not terrible but I find it very weak. The voice acting, however, is fine.
While the film has charm and had the audience and me laughing at times, there are moments where the film provides unnecessary scenes. There is even the ‘boy accidentally walks into shower with girl inside’ scene that was very cringeworthy,
However, what I have to give to Aura, is that it gets its message across in a satisfying manner; Ryouko and Ichirou’s relationship and the time they spend with each other, including the reveal of their pasts, does show that, and it all leads to an impressive ending.
While unimpressive in the animation department, Aura is still an enjoyable romantic drama that has the right message about adolescent delusions.