Death and Magical Girls
I’m going to be honest and point out that even now I still haven’t finished the anime of this story. As much as the concept appealed I just found the anime too abrupt and that I didn’t have any time to get to know the characters or care about them before they died. So, I decided to check out the light novel and see if it told the story in a more appealing manner. Admittedly, I made this decision a fair while ago and then the book that I received from another blogger as a prize ended up in one of my travel bags and was only unearthed during my recent work trip. How that happened I’m not quite sure but the book has now been read and I’m ready to review it.
Read each and every death in Volume 1: Available from the Book Depository
I think the first thought I have around this book is surprise. I’m surprised by the fact that the whole game plays out in the one volume and we meet the characters very quickly before they are consequently knocked off. In that respect it is very much like the anime. I am however really curious about how there is a whole series when the story seems pretty concluded here. Admittedly, there are ideas that could lead on to future stories, but for all my interest in this story things are nicely wrapped by the last of the 192 pages here and so my overall desire to go onto volume 2 is fairly low.
The characters are perhaps the weakest part at play here though. It isn’t through any fault of their own but there are just too many magical girls, too many scenes to write and too many deaths to play through for any of them to have any real impact. At times I was left confused as to where a certain character came from and whether we’d encountered them before or if I remembered anything about them and before I really had time to reconcile those thoughts the character would be dead.
It also doesn’t help that a lot of the characters end up coming across one note because of how little time they get. Each one seems to have one defining trait or characteristic that is repeated in the narration whenever they appear as if to try to make us remember them but that is about all we get from them in terms of character. It makes any connection with them difficult and it makes it difficult to really emotionally invest in the game they are playing. Even Snow White has appearances scattered throughout the pages and it is really difficult to get any kind of feel for who she is as a person.
The story though kicks off and doesn’t really stop until the end. While death matches are nothing new, and magical girl stories seem to be very fond of taking cute young girls and crushing their spirits through edgy disasters, there is something compelling about this journey. The characters are granted powers and use them in a variety of ways but it is interesting learning about Fav and the magic kingdom and all the behind the scenes aspects that underpin these characters killing one another.
With stronger or more developed characters this plot and the way it rolls out would be incredibly compelling. As it is, it is very bingeable and I found it hard to put down for a break as the events flow from one to the next with a sense that we are driving toward something.
The writing itself, at least in the English translation, is nothing special but nor is it intrusive. The chats and online conversations are a little awkward at times but otherwise it is unremarkable. Likewise the few visuals scattered throughout the book, which are usually a highlight of light novels.
Want more? Try Volume 2: Available from the Book Depository
This probably wouldn’t be my first recommendation if someone said they wanted to start reading light novels, but at the same time I didn’t actually dislike it. The book was a quick and simple read, told a decent story, and didn’t feel overly bloated. While I wanted more from the characters and felt that this didn’t get me emotionally invested enough, I still enjoyed the read.
Have you given this book a go? What did you think?