“You’re a grown-up! Don’t whine to a kid about your problems!”
Really. What’s a magical girl but the perfect metaphor for adults “kicking the can” down to to the next generation, forcing them to deal with all of the problems the previous generation couldn’t, or rather wouldn’t, deal with themselves? And isn’t about time some magical girls realized that and, at the very least, got really pissed about it?
Magical girls, and the sentai/tokusatsu types they’re spawned from, are relatively unique in that they’re almost always created. Someone goes out of their way to bestow upon a girl the powers to fight evil. They’re given a purpose and guidance from the get-go. They may not like it or appreciate it initially, but even if the circumstances that lead to the girl meeting the bestowing force are accidental, the actual creation is never an accident. Even if it isn’t outright destiny, such as in Sailor Moon, a magical girl becomes just that with inherent purpose.
Compare that with western super heroes. Characters like Spider-Man and The Hulk gained their abilities through accidents, and had to create their own sense of purpose through the resulting circumstances. The mutants from X-Men are genetically predispositioned to have powers, but what they do with that fact is again a matter of choice and circumstance. Others like Bat-Man and Iron Man make a choice to use their wealth and knowledge to right perceived wrongs, and in that process grant themselves “powers” to do just that. Western heroes tend towards accidents or reactions– it’s all very serendipitous.
With a lot of magical girls, not only are they predestined or chosen in some way to gain powers, it’s also often to correct the mistakes of others. Yeah, Bat-Man and Spider-Man started their heroics to deal with family members dying, but they continued beyond that initial act– that they continue to be heroes is largely a choice. Spider-Man isn’t “the dude in the neighborhood dude looking to avenge Uncle Ben,” he’s “the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” He’s defined by something abstract. A magical girl is often defined by the explicit purpose behind her predestined position. CardCaptor Sakura becomes the CardCaptor because she goofed and released the Clow Cards. Now her story is based around that very act, and she wouldn’t be in this position if someone hadn’t created these cards and have the need for protectors and “captors.” She’s just cleaning up someone else’s mess. The same goes for Sailor Moon. She’s the reincarnation of a Moon Princess, and she has to deal with the ongoing messes created by those Moon People.
With magical girls, it’s always someone else’s fault, but it’s the job of the magical girl to clean it up. It isn’t just a general, abstract feeling like Captain America standing up against bullies or anything like that. There’s a concrete problem. It isn’t the girl’s fault. She still has to deal with it. And it’s often the fault of the powers bestowing upon her that “crown” that cause it all.
It’s a feeling every generation feels, but it’s also pretty telling that this is a genre that’s especially popular with peeps Millennial age and under. It’s a feeling they’re especially tuned into– that the world’s screwed up, it’s their elders’ faults we’re in this mess, and they just kicked the can down to the next gen to deal with it, all while continuing to do everything that caused those problems in the first place.
And it’s very appropriate to see Just Cause voicing this frustration at an adult doing just that. The magical Colombian terrorist she fights in this episode suffered at the hands of prior generations, but rather than use her magic to attempt to solve things, she becomes the very thing that killed her family. She in turn has the gall to spout all of this to a representative of the latest generation to suffer at the hands of their elders, someone who’s felt that same burden and more. And given the terrorist’s relative young age, it goes to show that the tables get turned earlier than you expect.
It’s just a matter of time before some of these high school magical girls are the next wave of problem causers.