pmPuella Magi Madoka Magica was 2011’s surprise hit, introducing a dark take on the anime perennial favorite “Magical Girl” trope. While entering into a contract with Kyubey, a seemingly cute anime mascot, an adolescent girl is granted a wish in exchange for becoming a magical girl who fights witches. Kyubey’s motives, however, have sinister consequences for his contractors.

By its design, Madoka‘s endgame laid groundwork for several spin-off series, including alternate timelines, parallel story arcs, and prequels. Puella Magi Tart Magica riffs directly from a short scene in Madoka‘s denouement, in which several tragic historical figures were suggested to have been magical girls themselves. Tart is Joan of Arc’s tale.

Religious Jeanne (Joan) D’Arc is intrigued when Riz, a magical girl from Italy blows into her small town in fifteenth century France. Riz brings with her an “angel” she calls Cube. Cube tempts Jeanne to contract with him and become a magical girl like Riz.

Fans of the Puella Magi series will naturally recognize Cube as Kyubey, and in turn, will notice parallels between Kyubey’s temptation of Jeanne with his pursuit of Madoka in the original series. Mysterious Riz’s cool, confident gaze and long dark hair will remind fans of Akemi Homura, while earnest Jeanne’s doe-eyed innocence will call to mind Madoka’s own when she first entered the world of the Puella Magi. Later, when she takes on her destiny, Jeanne cuts her long braid, looking more like the tomboy we would expect. What’s more, the magical girl costumes appear to be designed to mirror the attire of fifteenth century Europe. One character, for instance, wears a masquerade mask, and dress with intricate ruffles piled upon one another. Jeanne’s costume, predictably, looks like Knights’ armor, with a small cross on the breast plate.

Even better, this volume has well-researched end notes that document the Hundred Years’ War, French politics, as well as the life and legacy of Joan of Arc. The several ways Jeanne’s name has been interpreted are all noted, including “Jeanne Tart.” Riz and Kyubey call Jeanne “Tart” due to how she signs her name.

Since this is the first book in the series, the sinister motives of Cube, Riz, and the truth about Jeanne’s role in the world of the Puella Magi is only hinted at. Time will tell whether subsequent volumes will take readers on the dark journey fans of the series will anticipate.

While not every offshoot of the expanding Puella Magi storyline has worked, Tart has the potential to be one of the more worthy additions.

Puella Magi Tart Magica, vol. 1: The Legend of Jeanne d’Arc
by Magica Quartet
Art by Masugitsune, Kawazu-Ku
ISBN: 9780316383141
Yen Press, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)

  • Jessikah Chautin

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Jessikah graduated with her MLS from The Palmer School of Library Science and has been working at the Syosset Public Library as a children’s librarian since 2003. She enthusiastically developed a children’s graphic novel collection for her library and enjoys developing programs around some of her favorite titles. As a child, Jessikah grew up on a healthy diet of Matsumoto, Toriyama and whatever anime series she could find. She often had a hard time deciding if she would prefer to be recruited as a Mahou Shoujo (Magical Girl) or a Gundam Pilot, a debate that still plagues her to this very day. If she could have any power it would definitely be telekinesis.

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