Now we are in 2018, I want to get back to sharing my thoughts on manga and light novels every weekend. What better way to restart doing that than with Magical Girl Raising Project: Restart I, the 2nd light novel in Asari Endou’s Magical Girl Raising Project series.
You can find my thoughts on the first volume by clicking here.
With nothing else to add, let’s take a look at Magical Girl Raising Project: Restart I.
The deadly game is back!
Once again, sixteen magical girls have been assembled for a high-stakes challenge. Every three days, their magical phones pull them into an RPG-like simulation where they have to work together to fight enemies, solve puzzles, and earn magical candy to advance. A staggering ten billion yen reward awaits them at the end – but only for the play who lands the finishing blow. With such a tantalising prize on the line, it’s only a matter of time before the girls turn on each other – and if their hit points drop to zero, a game over will be the least of their worries…
So as you can tell from the blurb, the Magical Girl Raising Project game has been revived – though this time as an RPG that puts virtual reality to shame. When the game begins, the magical girls are assured that the injuries they suffer in the game won’t affect them in the real world.
Most of the magical girls seem to be unwilling participants in the game, but suddenly being pulled away from reality every three days leaves them with very little choice but to join in.
Various groups form within the game, and the perspective of the story jumps between the girls within each of those groups. There isn’t really a main character, though Pechka does have the honour of appearing on the cover of the light novel.
Each chapter ends with a ‘Master Side’, which seems to focus on some mysterious person who is watching the game unfold. We also get brief cameos from a certain white-clad magical girl – and she has gone through quite the change since her appearance in the first light novel.
A new bunch of magical girls introduced means a whole new set of characters to get attached to (though not too much – this is Magical Girl Raising Project, after all). If you were to ask me to pick out my favourite magical girls from this new group of sixteen, I’d probably go with Pfle, Shadow Gale, Nonako Miyokata, @Meow-Meow, Detec Bell, Melville and Akane.
Pfle and Shadow Gale are always together – even in real life. Shadow Gale is effectively Pfle’s put-upon servant, and they have quite an interesting dynamic between them. Pfle is able to get to places faster than anyone else, thanks to her magical wheelchair. Shadow Gale, meanwhile, has the power to power up machines by modifying them. Maybe not the best power in an RPG with a fantasy-like setting, but she does get the opportunity to display her power at one point.
Nonako Miyokata has the ability to befriend any living animal – something she takes advantage of when they encounter monsters in the game. This ability is the reason I quite like her – she is able to bring a little extra help along thanks to it.
@Meow-Meow is a Chinese magical girl. Her ability to trap things inside talismans means that she can produce some huge attacks, and the other magical girls soon discover that they don’t want to get on the wrong side of her.
Detec Bell is effectively Sherlock Holmes as a magical girl. Her ability to talk to buildings is useful for solving cases, but not so much for the game. Still, even without it, she plays the role of detective pretty well.
Melville is Scottish – or that’s at least the phonetic accent the light novel is aiming for. The thought of a Scottish magical girl amuses me a fair bit, which is why I’m a fan of hers.
Akane is the most mysterious member of this group of sixteen magical girls. She clashes with the others at the beginning of the game, and she is keen to find ‘the musician’. Her ability is pretty good, too.
That’s just a handful of characters. The point of view generally jumps between Magical Daisy, Pechka, Nokko, Shadow Gale and Detec Bell. There may be others, but those are the ones that most time is spent with.
For the most part, these girls are all part of different groups after the game starts. Jumping between different perspectives makes it easy to see what each group is doing.
We also have a new mascot called Fal. I’m sure Fal looks similar to Fav, but they have different personalities. Fal doesn’t seem to be as bad as Fav was.
Since this is Magical Girl Raising Project, what should be a simple game soon turns deadly. Characters do just up and die without very little warning. I’ll admit to being caught off-guard with the first death.
Characters I thought may last the longest also meet their fates pretty quick. My expectations were played with here, and I’m glad for that.
As you may have guessed by now, this is only the first part of Magical Girl Raising Project: Restart. Sure enough, it ends on a cliffhanger – well, technically two. One from the main Restart plot, and the other one from the Master Side.
Of course, I am very keen to find out what happens, though I’ll have to wait until March for the release of Magical Girl Raising Project: Restart II.
For the most part, though, Magical Girl Raising Project: Restart I is an enjoyable read. If you enjoyed the first light novel (or its anime adaptation), then it is pretty easy to recommend this as well.
Some of the stuff in the real world didn’t interest me much – I have absolutely no interest in Pechka’s crush on some boy. Perhaps that real world stuff will tie in with events in part 2 – I won’t know until I read it.
The point where the plot ends is also frustrating – everything is in place for a climactic battle, but the story ends just as the action kicks off. Still, that should make the beginning of Restart II rather interesting.
As things stand, there is yet to be a main antagonist introduced. Magical Girl Raising Project‘s first light novel nailed its main antagonist – she was a great character who many came to despise due to her ruthless efficiency.
There are hints of a main antagonist in Restart I, but their role is mostly just observing. As to how much of a threat they actually are… well, it isn’t entirely clear just yet.
Of course, it is also worth mentioning that there are a few pieces of artwork scattered throughout the book – this is a light novel after all. Once again, illustrations are by Marui-no, and they are certainly pleasant to look at. It does feel like there are less in the later parts of the plot, but there is still another volume of Restart to get through.
If you enjoyed the first Magical Girl Raising Project, than this is something that I can easily recommend. You could probably dive in without any knowledge of the first light novel, though having read certainly does enhance the experience.
I’ll hold off on comparing this to the first light novel for now, as we only have half a story. But once I’ve got a hold of Restart II, I’ll certainly be letting you know which I prefer.