What some might see as an angel of God might actually be a form of the devil.
PUELLA MAGI TART MAGICA: THE LEGEND OF “JEANNE D’ARC” VOLUME 1
WRITER: MAGICA QUARTET
ARTIST: MASUGITSUNE / KAWAZU-KU
TRANSLATOR: WILLIAM FLANAGAN
LETTERER: ABAGAIL BLACKMAN
PUBLISHER: YEN PRESS / HACHETTE BOOK GROUP
COVER PRICE: $13.00
Previously in the Puella Magi Magica franchise: Audiences fell in love with the critically acclaimed Puella Magi Madoka Magica series, which eventually lead to three movies. Rodrigo, when he first reviewed it, described it as Watchmen for the Magical Girl genre. In the series, we know that Madoka and her friends are not the First Magical Girls Ever, and in fact Kyuubi has been recruiting magical girls for thousands of years. Madoka sought to end the cycle of magical girls and witches, and in doing so, unleashed the potential for the franchise to make an unlimited amount of prequels. The legendary Joan of Arc being a magical girl is one of them.
A CALLING FROM GOD… MAYBE
The story opens with a prologue like from a Shakespearean Tragedy, but anyone who is familiar with history knows that Joan of Arc’s personal story does not end well. She’s eventually captured and convicted of witchcraft by England, and burned at the stake.
And then we see the story of a younger Joan, called Jeanne, or Tart, before she took up the sword to free France in the name of God. A mercenary comes to town, who we find out is a magical girl, and wants to recruit Jeanne as one as well. Throughout the story we see Jeanne’s relationship with her younger sister, her internal struggle over what to decide her wish should be if she chooses to become a magical girl, and the agony of living in a country torn by civil war.
Not only does the reader know the fate of Jeanne from the start, but I am willing to bet that most readers of this manga also have seen the original anime that featured Madoka. And if they have, they know Kyuubi’s secret, which makes what happens in this volume incredibly sinister with how it manipulates Jeanne’s emotions. Kyuubi is at its most terrifying when it doesn’t realize the damage it does by playing with human emotions.
There are a few instances of massive walls of text, but those are in supporting material, and not world balloons. But when considering that this is a full manga volume and not a single issue, it doesn’t seem as jarring.
WHAT WOULD YOU WISH FOR?
The artwork in this volume is a very specific style, which not everyone will be a fan of. Part of the original anime’s power was the storyline that was paired with the cutsey-style art that continued to disarm the audience. It’s here, but there’s a noticeable difference from the original anime.
In the anime, the adults looked like adults. Here, very few of the adults look like adults, and so many of them look to be the same age as Jeanne. That may be because there were plenty of child soldiers in war, but it was also jarring in a different way. I think this is something that not everyone is going to like, and I even am not a fan of it, but the whole experience of the story and the art has so much going for it that it won’t stop me reading this story.
There’s lots of detail that I’ve come to appreciate in manga in the backgrounds, and I also appreciate the obvious attempts to stick to period French clothing.
BOTTOM LINE: VIVE LA FRANCE
I went into this series a bit leery, as I found Madoka’s story to be amazing and I’m wondering how often one can go back to the well before it’s a problem, but so far so good. I’m expecting my heart to be broken with this story, but knowing its pedigree I can at least expect that it’s going to be a good one. And it’s off to a great start, in both respects.
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