This time around, I figured I would go with something a bit different and share my thoughts on something that is not a manga series. No, what I will be talking about here is the first volume of Magical Girl Raising Project, which is a light novel.
The series is written by Asari Endou and illustrated by Marui-no. Nine volumes so far have been published by Takarajimasha under their Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! Bunko imprint.
Yen Press has licensed the series for an English release. Kadokawa Shoten’s Comp Ace magazine serialised a manga adaptation of the series with art by Pochi Edoya between September 2014 and October 2015.
Magical Girl Raising Project also got an anime adaptation during the autumn season of 2016. You can read my review for the Magical Girl Raising Project anime here.SUGAR AND SPICE – BUT NOT PLAYING NICE!
The hit smartphone game Magical Girl Raising Project is not only free, but one in tens of thousands of players will win real-life powers. In N City, sixteen of these lucky girls help the city’s citizens – until upper management announces that each week, the least productive magical girl will lose her gifts. But this is no ordinary contest, and as the rules become increasingly sadistic, the competition to keep their powers becomes a vicious battle for the girls’ very lives…
In this first volume of Magical Girl Raising Project, there is a prologue, nine chapters and an epilogue. I won’t go through each of them one by one, particularly as the whole death game set up of the plot makes it all too easy to start getting into spoiler territory.
Don’t worry: I won’t spoil anything here.
For those who are unaware, a light novel is effectively a Japanese novel with the addition of anime and manga style illustrations throughout. The primary demographic of light novels are young adults, though as with any rule there are exceptions. Of course, my focus here is on one specific light novel: Magical Girl Raising Project.
As described in the blurb, Magical Girl Raising Project is a popular smartphone game. 16 girls are granted actual magical girl powers through the game, and they end up competing with each other to gather the most Magical Candies. Whoever collects the least over the course of a week is forced to lose their powers, and as a result, their life.
The 16 magical girls discover they are trapped in a fight for survival fairly quickly, and this leads to various allegiances and fights.
One things that the light novel has over the anime is that it is not immediately obvious when a character is going to kick the bucket. However, the anime actually spends more time establishing the magical girls’ pasts and personalities, often resulting in a bigger punch to the gut when your favourite character is unceremoniously killed.
The anime does that by drawing from side stories not present in this first volume of the series. Though it generally made it obvious when a character was going to die, I do feel that the anime is better at getting the audience to connect with the characters.
There’s one particular character who experiences a particular dream – that is not mentioned in the light novel at all. That dream is quite a catalyst for some major events, and it also gives another character some attention that she barely receives in the light novel.
Fights between the magical girls are inevitable, and the light novel is inconsistent about describing them. There’s a scene where two magical girls meet, and then it skips straight to revealing the result of the battle whilst skipping the gory details.
Some fights do actually get described though – for example, the climactic battle at the end. I enjoyed reading those action-packed scenes, though perhaps that came as a result of my favourite characters participating in them.
Talking of characters, there isn’t really one main protagonist. Instead, the light novel jumps around the sixteen magical girls’ points of view. Magical Girl Raising Project may have a large cast of characters, but with various groups, it is actually fairly easy to follow along.
For the most part, each chapter of Magical Girl Raising Project tells the story and then ends with a group chat through the Magical Girl Raising Project game in which Fav reveals what has happened during the week. It’s a fairly interesting way to recap on events, and I particularly like the way it fits in with the whole smartphone game thing.
All right, enough about what’s written in the light novel. Let’s turn our attention to the illustrations scattered throughout instead. When the illustrations come up, they take up an entire page. The only colour illustrations are right at the beginning of the light novel – those that appear during the story are black and white.
The magical girls’ appearances are described throughout the light novel, but those illustrations show us just what they look like. I really like Marui-no’s art, with my favourite illustration probably being the one seen in the afterword. It shows Ripple and Snow White, who appear to be wearing each other’s outfits whilst retaining their own colour schemes – so Ripple has a black version of Snow White’s outfit, whilst Snow White is wearing a white version of Ripple’s.
I did enjoy reading the original light novel translated into English, but I feel that the anime is the best way to experience Magical Girl Raising Project. Sure, death flags are obvious there, but the light novel just doesn’t have the same level of characterisation.
Regardless, I’ll almost certainly be picking up the second volume once it is released – I’m eager to experience more from Magical Girl Raising Project, whether it is with new characters or familiar faces.