Ah, it’s the weekend again, which means it is time for me to share my thoughts on yet another volume of manga. This time around, I’ll be focusing on another spin-off of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
It is established within that series that famous women throughout history were magical girls, and Puella Magi Tart Magica: The Legend of “Jeanne d’Arc” takes that idea and applies it to Joan of Arc.
The series was written and illustrated by Masugitsune & Kawazu-ku, otherwise known as Golden Pe Done. They previously worked on Puella Magi Madoka: Homura’s Revenge!.
Tart Magica began serialisation in Manga Time Kirara Magica‘s 10th volume on November 8th, 2013. At the time of writing, three collected volumes have been released.
This first volume contains chapters one to four.Joan of Arc is revered as a hero of the Hundred Years’ War and a saint of the Catholic church. But her leadership and strength of character in her time did not escape the notice of Kyubey, who, even in the fifteenth century, sought magical girl candidates for their valuable energies. With her friends and fellow magical girls fighting at her side, Joan fights the English occupiers of France – but will she soon find herself fighting something much more sinister?!
Chapter 1 is set on the outskirts of Paris, during 1429. There, Joan of Arc, referred to as ‘Tart’ from this point forward, heads out to the battlefield. She is accompanied by Riz, Melissa and Eliza. All four are magical girls.
Tart and her allies end up fighting English forces, including enemy magical girls. Their foe goes from being magical girls to being a witch, which Tart and her allies take care of.
The chapter ends with Tart meeting with a familiar face that she refers to as ‘Monsieur Angel’ – we know him as Kyubey, though.
Chapter 2 focuses on Tart’s first meeting with Riz and Kyubey – or rather, ‘Cube’ as he refers to himself. Naturally, the whole thing plays out with the younger Tart getting caught in a Witch’s labyrinth. After Riz takes care of the situation, Cube offers to make a contract with Tart.
Tart’s father interrupts before Tart can give an answer in chapter 3. Everyone returns to Tart’s home afterwards, where Riz meets the rest of Tart’s family. Tart also has doubts about becoming a magical girl.
Riz becomes a guard for the village, and she and Cube spend a few years there protecting its peace. However, when Cube decides the time to move on has arrived, the village is attacked once Riz has gone.
That leads to a turn of events that gives Tart the resolve to accept Cube’s contract.
Tart departs from her village with Riz and Cube in chapter 4. They arrive at a town where Riz senses the presence of a witch, and she ends up separated from the other two. As such, Tart is forced into her first battle with just Cube at her side.
After the battle, Riz tells Tart what happens when a magical girl exhausts all of her power. Riz does not intend to allow Tart to succumb to that fate.
Tart’s feats in the battle are recognised, and Cube says that there is a fate within her stronger than he had predicted.
This volume ends with a huge info dump about the ‘Age of Jeanne’, in a very small font. It may only take up a single page, but there is a lot to take in. On the page after that, there’s also some information about Tart’s home village and family.
I really like the magical girl twist on Joan of Arc’s story, but I’m less keen on the text boxes containing history lessons scattered throughout the story. Whilst it is nice to have reference to the events that happened during Joan of Arc’s time, those walls of text aren’t exactly the most pleasing thing to see.
Other than that, this is a particularly enjoyable start to the Puella Magi universe’s take on La Pucelle’s tale. The action scenes are fairly enjoyable, and there’s no shying away from showing character being impaled by blades.
I’m also glad that the consequences of a magical girl exhausting her power are established early on. A few of the other spin-offs have that as a big dramatic reveal, but it starts to lose impact after seeing the same reactions several different times.