Original Story: Magica Quartet
Translation: Su Mon Han
What They Say
Suzune Amano is a hard-working middle school student, but her ever-smiling face conceals a dark secret — that she’s a magical-girl assassin. As the magical girls of the town are picked off one after another, the remaining few fall into despair. In their darkest hour, what path must these girls take?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
After a brief glimpse into Haruka’s messed up past, we head back into the heat of the battle. And it turns out Haruka was in a pretty bad state as she soon reaches a breaking point and turns into a Witch. It’s a bit of an interesting moment, in that it would probably actually work a bit better if you haven’t watched the original anime, as a lot of the focus is on the shock of revealing the twisted bits of the franchise’s magical girl system. It certainly still works thanks to it being equally about the reactions of the characters, though I have to imagine it’d packs more of a punch when these reveals actually come across as twists to the less informed reader. Regardless, Suzune takes down the Haruka Witch, and leaves the other girls in more than a little of a shock.
Kyubey then comes in and fills in the rest of the twists, and launches into a backstory for Suzune. And honestly, it’s nothing too crazy, as it turns out our heroine was learning from an older magical girl, Tsubaki, who neglected her own soul gem for the sake of Suzune, until she inevitably became a Witch. It’s a bit of a straightforward reveal for Suzune’s motivations, and though it works it kind of feels like the bare minimum answer. On the plus side, though, we get a nice touch as it turns out that Suzune’s power was to hold the ability of a single Witch that she’s defeated, and she’s kept Tsubaki’s all this time. It’s just a little thing, but it definitely helps to add some extra punch to the story, since as mentioned the backstory otherwise felt a tad generic when considering the whole franchise.
With the rest of the volume, the remaining girls struggle to come to grips with the new information they’ve gained, and try to decide what to do. Will they accept Suzune’s answer to the messed up system they find themselves in, or will they still decide that she’s wrong in the end? And just who is the mysterious character revealed in the cliffhanger at the book’s end?
Thanks to its presence in the series as a whole, this volume actually finds itself in a pretty interesting place. Ultimately, its twists feel a bit like treading old ground if you’re familiar with the main series, which is a shame considering the setup in the first book was quite powerful. On the other hand, for people new to the franchise, they should still feel plenty fresh and hold some impact. As a result, the book is left in an awkward place where series fans aren’t going to get quite as much out of it. Still, even with that unusual conundrum, what’s presented here is done quite solidly, and there definitely are a good number of tweaks to add some freshness, which is much appreciated. And on top of that, now that all of that is out of the way, the next entry seems set to tread entirely new ground, and it looks to be potentially barking up quite the intriguing tree. For now, though, readers will find a plenty enjoyable read, even if it isn’t quite as strong as the first volume.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: Older Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 15th, 2015