A new mobile game is all the rage in N City. In this game, Magical Girl Raising Project, you play a magical girl using superpowers to save people. And rumor has it that a lucky few players will get turned into magical girls in real life!

The rumors are true. Magical Girl Raising Project has turned a select few players into real magical girls, complete with costumes and special powers. The girls are running around N City saving people, which earns them candies in the mobile game. You would think these real-life superheroes wouldn’t care about in-game candies, but they don’t have much choice. The game sends them a message: there are now too many magical girls, so some of them will have to go. At the end of each week, whoever has the least candy… dies.

At first, the girls work frantically to rescue more people and earn candy. Then they realize two things that will change the way they play this deadly game. One: candy can be stolen. Two: the game wants to eliminate one magical girl per week, but doesn’t care how it happens. The girl with the least candy is safe, if someone else dies.

As the game spirals into a murder frenzy, most of the girls form pairs or small groups. Every girl has a unique power and her own agenda. The game is now about survival and revenge, bloodlust, and altruism. Where will it end? Will any magical girls survive?

This two-volume series is packed with emotion as well as violence. The reader gets to know many of the magical girls, sees their fears and hopes and attachments before (usually) their gruesome death. And the deaths are indeed gruesome. While the series does not throw around gore on every page, or even go overboard with it during the fight scenes, it doesn’t shy away from showing the violence. Readers will see not just blood but, occasionally, exposed bones or intestines. And then they will see the grief and rage of the magical girls who were friends with the deceased. The series is pretty intense.

At the same time, this manga does have some fascinating strategy angles. Each girl or group of girls has a plan. These range from “lay low and try to survive” to “take out our opponents one at a time” to “keep saving people because that’s what magical girls are supposed to do.” Their plans factor in their individual abilities, which include shapeshifting, super-healing, hearing other people’s thoughts, and more.

The art is active and detailed, focusing on the girls’ emotions and also their elaborate costumes. Most of the magical girl outfits are skimpy, with cleavage and short skirts galore, and the angles from which the girls are drawn often lend themselves to panty shots. It can feel a little weird to have side boob and underwear on display in a way that is clearly intended by the artist, if not by the characters, while a girl is fighting for her life or sobbing over a friend’s body. However, this fan service is prominent in other manga series: see Puella Magi: Suzune Magica for another example.

Consisting of two volumes, this manga is based on a light novel series. The light novels have all been released in Japan, but only half have been translated into English.

The premise of Magical Girl Raising Project will appeal to fans of kill-or-be-killed stories like The Hunger Games or Battle Royale. Readers who like the Puella Magi series as a grim, serious twist on magical girl stories may enjoy this one for the same reason. Packed with combat, tactical maneuvering, and raw emotions, this series is a good pick for readers who want high stakes and intense action.

Magical Girl Raising Project, vols. 1-2
by Asari Endou
Art by Pochi Edoya Marui-no
Vol 1 ISBN: 9780316414180
Vol 2 ISBN:  9780316521314
Yen Press, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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