Rating: 4.5/5 – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Magical Girls?
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow
This book had me from the moment I looked at the cover. No, not from the titular magical girl wearing the frilly adornment of her craft while brandishing the assault rifle. Okay, that might have had a little to do with it, but up in the left-hand corner, right under the listing for the writer and the artist, is a third entry: Military Advisor. That’s right, this book brought in a military advisor to assist with getting things as correct as possible given the fantastical nature of the book.
I love, love, love the concept behind this book. After a group of magical girls (think Sailor Moon) save the world from impending catastrophe, they find themselves having to integrate back into society, to return to their lives as “normal” girls. Some decide not to abandon their magical nature and find new lives working with the military, others find ways to use their abilities to help society as a whole, but Asuka, the central magical girl of this book, simply wants to go back to the life of a high school student. She soon finds that’s not so easy when you’ve spent a good portion of your youth at war. The impending new threat that may draw her back into the life isn’t helping matters, either.
The book isn’t trying to actively drum up support for veterans, or make light of the post-traumatic stress disorder many soldiers feel as they attempt to rejoin the real world. It’s easy to draw those kind of parallels, but at its heart this is still just a manga story, albeit one that still tries to take its subject matter somewhat seriously. While the magical girls, and the monsters they fight are certainly fantastical, the world itself is only slightly removed from our own. At the center of it is Asuka, a girl who can’t make friends easily thanks to the life she used to lead, and isn’t finding it all that easy to leave that life behind her. The parallels, as I said, are there. It’ll be up to you to decide how close or far they come to reality.
You can’t do a magical girl story without having solid artwork. Seigo Tokiya manages to blend the lacy bows and flowers typical to the genre with detailed firearm renderings and horrifying explosions to give us a totally unique and – despite the overall tone – fun take on the whole thing. Each girl – we encounter three of the original five-girl squad in this first volume – has their own look and personality that shines through as much if not more in the way Tokiya draws them as the words they’re given to say. Its difficult to say whether Tokiya enjoys drawing the military equipment or the magical girls more. We’ll just have to settle for both of them being really well done.
In the interest of full disclosure, I never served in the military, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of what Naoya Tamura, the “military advisor” from the first paragraph, brings to the table. That they felt it necessary to credit such an individual on the cover says something about the lengths the creators wanted to go with this book. It seems to follow a familiar formula – getting “the band” back together – but I think the real fun of reading this series will be the journey it takes to get that reunion to happen.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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