The ninth light novel in Asari Endou’s Magical Girl Raising Project series is the second collection of short stories in the series. This one features magical girls from every entry in the series, from the original Magical Girl Raising Project up to Magical Girl Raising Project ACES.
This volume contains eleven short stories, and a plethora of magical girls.
Blood, sweat, tears, and some laughs in between!
From the very first Magical Girl Raising Project all the way to Magical Girl Raising Project ACES, dozens of magical girls have found a special place in our hearts. Though it may seem like they spend their days fighting one bloody battle after another, there’s more to these magical girls than meets the eye! This collection of eleven bonus stories includes some of their lighter exploits and even gives a few glimpse of the girls’ lives as regular teenagers!
Magical Girl Raising Project: Episodes Φ (Φ, or phi, is the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet, by the way) may be on the lighter side, but at least one story does get somewhat violent as the magical girls go about doing their thing. There also happens to be a murder mystery, though that story is set so far in the past that it “has nothing to do with Magical Girl Raising Project“. If nothing else, it does demonstrate just how long-lived magical girls can be.
Said story, General Pukin’s Case File: The Murder of the Mage is the only one told from a first person perspective, and from the view of a male character rather than a magical girl (though we know gender is no object to becoming a magical girl in this series). That makes this particular story stand out. It isn’t one of my favourites, though.
Most of the stories are set either in or around the events of the previous light novels, with each one handily informing the reader right at the beginning when they take place. I’d assume anyone picking up the ninth volume in a series of light novels would have read the previous entries, though this one does offer a brief synopsis of each story up to this point. A refresher on what has happened before, I’d say.
The stories included in Episodes Φ are all pretty solid, though it stands to reason that a reader might prefer one or two over the others. As for me, my favourite stories from this collection are Hot to Tot About Music, The Three Sisters Raising Project restart and The Elf of the Inspection Department. Coincidentally, magical girl Tot Pop shows up in all three of said stories.
I’m a little disappointed Tot Pop didn’t get to be the one of the cover stars for this volume, considering she gets the most appearances out of any character in Episodes Φ. She’s a British magical girl with a punk rock motif, who also claims to be another magical girl’s lover – I like Tot Pop a lot.
Tot Pop is more of a side character in The Three Sisters Raising Project restart, but said story gives a little bit of insight into the game that is central to the plot of Magical Girl Raising Project restart.
Episodes Φ also introduces a few magical girls who had never made any appearances before, interacting with more familiar characters. Whilst the main plot of Magical Girl Raising Project seems to be expanding out to a grander scale with things like the Magical Kingdom and the Three Sages, Episodes Φ gives us a smaller scale but more insight into the lives of the characters.
Marui-no continues to provide the illustrations for the light novel, including a few coloured ones right at the beginning depicting events from a few of the stories. One is even a rare opportunity to see a couple of magical girls in their human forms
With magical girls being killed off at the drop of a hat in the main series, it is nice to be able to spend some time with characters who may have not got much time to shine. Much like the first Episodes, Episodes Φ is a very welcome addition to the Magical Girl Raising Project series.