Puella 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
Yen Press, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)