Unmagical Girl, Vol. 1

By Ryouichi Yokoyama and Manmaru Uetsuki. Released in Japan as “”Hihou” Mahou Shoujo no Sonogo no Nichijou” by Ichijinsha, serialized in the magazine PoniMaga (Pony Canyon). Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Beni Axia Conrad. Adapted by Gretchen Schrafft.

Expectations can be tricky. It’s almost impossible to go into reading something without an idea of what you’ll think of it. When I first saw that Seven Seas had licensed Unmagical Girl, my first thought was to dismiss it as another one of the endless series of “let’s kill of magical girls in a grimdark way” series that the companies have been licensing in an effort to have the next Madoka Magica. I was therefore pleased to see that that isn’t the case for this title. This is the sotry of what happens when a magical girl ends up in the real world, and the fallout from such. The cover depicts the titular magical girl walking through a shopping district, looking pensive. I was thus expecting some sweet yet melancholic soul searching. Wrong again. Now I’ve actually read the title, and it’s clear that we’re going after broad comedy. If you liked Aho Girl, you’ll like this.

Our heroine – or, more accurately, our straight man – is Mayuri, a plain glasses-wearing girl who “doesn’t have any friends” in the best protagonist of a manga tradition. Her father used to direct anime that was known for being “niche”, which is to say not very popular. He did have a title called “Pretty Angel Nirvana” which is now very popular… about five spinoffs later, and now no one really remembers or cares about the original. Oh, and he’s dead. Her mother sends Mayuri an old computer with some of his stuff on it, though, and after accidentally crying tears on the computer while wishing for a friend, Mayuri is startled to find the computer exploding, and out stepping NirBrave, the ditzy yet powerful heroine from the original series. She’s now in the real world, which poses endless problems, as she reacts to problems in a magical girl way, eats like a magical girl heroine (i.e. a ton), and is, in general, somewhat obnoxious.

How much you enjoy this very much depends on your love of loud, brash comedy. I compared it to Aho Girl earlier, and it’s pretty accurate – I had a lot of fun reading the manga, but it quickly began to pall as I realized that it seemed to be hitting a lot of the same notes. There are some amusing things here – NirBrave’s horror at reading a porn doujinshi of her series made me chuckle, and the landlady is an excellent caricature of the type of landlady you see in a lot of series like these, who has the ability to get money out of a stone. Later in the series we also get some more magical girls and magical villains, as apparently NirBrave’s arrival in the real world started a trend, and we see NirBrave facing off against her fellow magical girl NirWind. Unfortunately, its occasional attempts at depth and pathos fall pretty flat. It’s not for kids – there are a few blatant panty shots here and there, and a nude transformation sequence that seems to inflate NirBrave’s bust by a factor of three – and it’s not really for magical girl fans either. If you like broad, slap-on-the-black style humor, though, you may have fun with Unmagical Girl.

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