Light Novel Review: Magical Girl Raising Project [Volume 1]

This is an old review. Here is the link to the updated review of the official translation of Magical Girl Raising Project. 


Forewarning: Magical Girl Raising Project has been licensed by Yen Press. Please support the official release once it comes out.

‘Magical Girl Raising Project’, a very popular mobile game where you can become the ultimate Magical Girl. Rumor has it that if you play the game, there is a chance you can become one in real life..

Sixteen individuals have been selected to become Magical Girls, conducting their duties. However when the administrator behind the project suddenly declares to half the number of magical girls, it quickly turns into merciless game of survival between the Magical Girls.

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Having sixteen magical girls fight each other to the death alone is a compelling premise. On the other hand, it contains risks which can fault the series very easily, from how well the novel can support its characters before they kill them off to how effectively the story’s twists can shock us. While Magical Girl Raising Project is able to pull its premise off well, what it has right now is just scratching the surface of what it could do.

While on the surface, the series appears to be a dark Magical Girl series, upon closer inspection, the light novel puts more emphasis of the aspect of the survival game. Even though there are clear antagonistic forces, most of the Magical Girls aren’t out to kill. Each person has something they feel strongly about and when those values are threatened, they are forced to act in order to protect them. From trying to save someone to protecting what’s precious to carrying out the duties of a ideal Magical Girl, the game becomes a test of willpower and perseverance for these superpowered humans.

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The story opens up in the first chapter with rumors of various Magical Girls being seen around the city. Like in the social game, Magical Girls are needed to help rid the world of any potential danger, collecting Magical Candies along the way. We get introduced to two of the newer recruits amoung the other Magical Girls in the city, Snow White and Ripple. They conduct their own business as normal until one day the game’s administrator, Fav, has called everyone for a very special event. Due to the overabundance of Magical Girls, he decided to half the amount of people by eliminating the one who has the least amount of Magical Candies at the end of the week. It turns into a competition at first between the sixteen Magical Girls but it quickly goes downhill when they realize elimination means certain death.

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For sixteen characters, it can be hard to cover every single one of them in about 250 pages. To cover all sixteen characters, the novel spends sections dedicated to the backstories of certain Magical Girls. While the highlighted portions worked for certain characters and their relationships, it became a fight between Magical Girls for content. With so little time given to each person/team, we aren’t able to fully get to know some Magical Girls, which resulted in some of them being very one-note.

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However, I should mention that Volume 4, Magical Girl Raising Project: Episodes, is a novel dedicated to exploring more about the Magical Girls from the first volume and the next arc (Volume 2-3).

The way the story conducts itself as the game continues can be a double-edged sword. The story can be very blunt when it comes to relaying information. In the worst cases, the novel likes to assume that the reader understands what is happening around a character, even though we don’t have prior knowledge of how that situation came to be. Alone, this can be troublesome, but seeing how the the story has a habit of moving between certain moments in time, all while moving between perspectives, it can add to the confusion. On the other hand, the abruptness of the reveals or deaths play up the shock value, simply because the novel withholds information; we don’t know exactly where characters are at certain times or locations and what they’ve done that ended up killing someone.

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The illustrations were drawn by Maruino, who has done a couple other light novel series in her unique artstyle. The characters she draws veer towards the more loli doll-like design with distinct characteristics fitting each Magical Girl’s look. The color illustrations leans towards the darker colors and the Magical Girls themselves match the tone. The black and white illustrations likes to use the raw colors to create a defined contrast, outlining the Magical Girls in a white border for a black background.  Additionally, if you are ever confused on which Magical Girl is which at any point in the story, there are two pages with all the profiles depicted in chibi format.

 

Just by what the first volume has to offer us, it was simply too short for the amount of content it wanted to show off. The large cast of characters followed by the alternating narrations led to the novel hurting itself. However, the executions of key plot elements and character deaths kept the novel moving along. The concept and the way it presents its twists are alluring and keeps you thinking as the game of survival continues. Magical Girl Raising Project definitely has the potential to be a good series.

As a prediction, I’m guessing this will be the weakest volume of the series and considering that the next volume will be a two-parter, I will be definitely be coming back for more.

Rating: Recommended – Highly Recommended*

*- If this interests you, check out the next volume as well.


 Author: Asari Endō

Illustrator: Maruino

Fan Translator: PlatFleece

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