Kazumi, a teenage girl, wakes up in a suitcase without any clothes or memories. She soon learns that she is a magical girl, and part of a team know as the Pleiades Saints, who fight to protect their town Asurano from witches. But something about the Pleiades seems off and as Kazumi learns the truth about them, magical girls and herself, will anything be right again?
Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice Volume 1-5
Story by Masaki Hiramatsu; Art by Takashi Tensugi
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Magical Girl
I’ve really enjoyed the forays into the Puella Magi Madoka Magica universe. I loved the main series and ended up enjoying the second series, Oriko, as well. This series, Kazumi, took a lot longer for me to get on board with. While occurring in the same universe, it doesn’t feature the characters from the main story as prominently. Kazumi plays with the same elements of friendship and hope, but takes a different route.
The essential theme of the Puella Magi * Magica universe is holding on to hope and never giving in to despair. This is the essence of Kazumi. She is filled with boundless energy and always has a smile on her face. She eats like she lives; to the fullest. Even without her memories, she is dedicated to her friends, especially Umika and Kaoru. She is the heart of the Pleiades Saints, and the reason for them coming together as a team.
The majority of the series is about who or what Kazumi is. As the pieces of her past are put together, Kazumi starts to learn that things aren’t as she was led to believe. It’s a rather winding path, but each revelation did lead logically to the next, so at least it was easy to follow. But each revelation seemed to also lead to one of the girls falling into despair; Satomi when she tells Kazumi where she came from; Saki when she thinks Kazumi is killed by Mirai; Mirai gives herself to Saki’s witch form. Kazumi who was supposed to be the teams hope also ends up being their despair.
Kazumi Magica can be seen as a parallel to Madoka Magica. Like Homura, the Pleiades Saints are trying to fight against their fate as magical girls, and trying to keep one of their friends alive using their magical powers. At the end, it is Kazumi who gives Umika and Kaoru the hope they need to live and keep fighting. The series ends on a happier note for Kazumi than Madoka, but knowing the fate of magical girls in this universe, I don’t think it can ever be called happy.
Another thing that made this series hard to get into at the beginning was the art. Hiramatsu went for more risqué costumes and poses in the first volume that made me think it was more for fanservice, but it was toned down as the series went on. Otherwise, I did like Hiramatsu’s designs, and the witches were just surreal. Some of the battles weren’t as easy to follow and required a second read or two to understand.
Puella Magi Kazumi Magica is a true spin-off of Madoka Magica. It gives us a new cast of characters fighting the same battles both outwardly and inwardly. It keeps the spirit of friendship and hope alive, despite the terrible cost their choices have made. For, in the end, it is the choices that Kazumi made for herself and her friends that keeps that hope alive. It might be slow to start, but if you’re a fan of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica Universe you owe it to yourself to give this series a chance.