Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: December 11, 2019
Price: $13.00
Creator(s): Magica Quartet (writer); Fujino Fuji (artist)
Format: 162 pgs., Black & White, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9753-8757-0
Age Rating: 13+
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

The story in this book is as convoluted as the title, possibly because it’s adapted from an anime spinoff to the Puella Magica Madoka series.  Fujino Fuji is trying frantically to tell a convoluted story with too many characters who are physically similar, and that makes the artwork hard to follow in a few scenes.  I do give credit for the artwork, which is otherwise excellent.  However, for anyone who has not watched the original series or read the main manga series, the terminology will be confusing, as weird alien beings are referred to as "witches" and "familiars," and the magic as portrayed often makes little sense.  A spell which seems to have summoned small shovels is an example of this, as it apparently causes the instant defeat of a creature who has put up a protective sandstorm.

Still, the characters are excellent, and if you’re willing to put the effort into following the story, there are several fascinating subplots.  Also, for a change, there are transforming magical girls who don’t just transform to create opportunities for fan service pinup illustrations.

On the other hand, the changes from the anime to the manga in terms of story structure were not always for the better.  It is possible that the manga creator was saving some things as back story for later volumes, but the current version will mostly appeal to fans who are already familiar with the main series and the anime version of this tale.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.