Author: Magica Quartet/Masaki Hiramatsu
Manga-ka: Takashi Tensugi
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: June 2013
Synopsis: “Kidnapped and stuffed into a trunk by an unknown assailant, teenager Kazumi bursts forth from the confines of the case to discover that she has been stripped not only of her clothes, but also of the memories of her life before the kidnapping. When she is recovered by a pair of schoolgirls, she doesn’t recognize them as her best friends and roommates, Umika and Kaoru. As Kazumi tries to settle back into her normal life, she quickly realizes that her former “normal” was anything but!”
Puella Magi Madoka Magica was one of the best anime series I’ve seen in some time. The concept, the characters, the execution – it was a well-constructed story all on its own, but also one that laid out an entire universe’s worth of potential. I wanted to know more about this world’s magical girls, and who else had their wishes granted and became bound to battle witches. Puella Magi Kazumi Magica – The Innocent Malice is one of several spin-offs that have come about to fulfill just such a wish. Unfortunately, based on the amount of nudity and skimpy outfits on underage girls this book has, I’m not the particular audience Kazumi Magica spin-off is targeting.
This book definitely starts off at an interesting point. A young teenager named Kazumi awakens to find herself discovered naked in a box by a man she doesn’t know. She has no memories of her past and how she got there, and only seems to recall her name. This doesn’t seem to faze her much though. As our new peppy and enthusiastic lead, she’s appeased by a good dinner and helping her ‘kidnapper’. Fast forward a little ways and Kazumi discovers she has the ability to transform into a magic-wielder wearing a very skimpy outfit that hardly covers much more than her full-frontal nude transformation sequence already exposed.
After this we’re introduced to a whole team of magical girls. It was great to see this idea tackled from the get-go – a group of girls who all made pacts in order to have their wishes fulfilled and now work together to defeat witches. It seems like a natural thing to happen, but the original Madoka Magica didn’t have much time to play with this dynamic. Sadly, neither does this series. There are seven magical girls but I could not keep them straight. Excluding the three on the cover, we’re given only brief introductions to the others. By mid-book everything just became a blur of girls jumping, zapping and twirling all over the place. They seem like interesting individuals, but few were given enough time to stand out.
It only takes the first chapter spread of this volume to show what the book does intend for you to focus on however. Kazumi spends the book either naked, or wearing her magical girl outfit (when it actually fully forms) that is mostly just small scraps of fabric stuck to her person. Fortunately the other magical girls have more in the way of actual clothing, though several designs still manage to make the girls look nearly nude in black and white anyway. This book is drawn for those who finished Madoka Magica and thought ‘it was good, but too bad those little girls were wearing so many clothes’. While an afterword in the book openly jokes and comments on the fan-service shots and lacking clothes, it does nothing to elevate the skeeve factor I felt by it being there in the first place.
The artwork is simple. It’s a bit haphazard and doesn’t offer much to the story aside from more confusion. The whole reading experience feels very erratic with pacing on fast forward and action sequences nearly impossible to follow. Who just did what to the who now? Dire situations where the breakneck pacing could’ve worked to the story’s advantage were hampered by weird decisions, like deciding to stop for a home-cooked meal when panicking over a countdown to their friends’ death.
While I love the idea of Puella Magi Kazumi Magica’s core premise, there was too much underage nudity and nipple-strap outfits for me to feel comfortable reading it. By the end I felt grateful that its shallow characters and messy pacing were enough to keep me away from subsequent volumes. The underage fan-service was not something I was looking forward to consider justifying to myself if the rest of the book did in fact hold up. Fortunately, and unfortunately, it did not.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes