Ever drunk Gold Star Labris? Don’t. It’s for idiots. It’s 98% alcohol and it’s supposed to be diluted in a river of water and a mountain of ice. Even so, people get sick and die more often than the government would like to admit. Yet – I just finished a couple of bottles (no water and no ice, thanks a lot), because Zannen, author of IMAGICA=verse asked me to give her a…
I felt like it, so why not. Maybe she was kidding, maybe she’s now banging her head against the wall for asking, but that’s what she gets!
You know what I found in this comic? Manga magical girls! With heart-shaped pupils (that really cracked me up)! And some sort of a Magical Girl Idol to boot, all wrapped up in a dramatic story of a poor family vexed by awful debt collectors. Seen it before? Yeah, pretty much. Is the art awesome? No, although it’s getting better. Typos? Yep, and that’s getting worse. But the story is heartfelt and well told. It has potential.
Monsters are popping out of nowhere, threatening the world while providing for a Magical Girl stardom rivaling that of whatever talentless and tone-deaf pop singer/band is superfamous nowadays. Only Magical Girls can stop these monsters! I bet tanks and regular bullets just won’t do. How come? I’d like to know – I’m a soldier and a scientist, I’m curious about it. Seriously, fantasy stories could use a bit of rationale that doesn’t rely upon just “because the author says so”, once in a while. Magic can be an extremely lazy concept. Almost religious. Be bold, break the mold, find some reason to define your world! Rhymes aside, it will make it more compelling.
Why these beings exist is yet unknown, but the government has created a monster classification system that looks very videogamey. Nice nod at the gaming world, although, yes, well, not exactly original. But then again, the story is clearly aimed at young teenagers hunched over smartphones and tablets fighting for digital glory, so there’s nothing wrong with that – the intended audience is reached and can easily relate to the story. Perfect. It’s very important for an author to know who her readers are and Zannen does. And, wow, the drama in this comic, along with the nice representation of Valencia, a good, shy girl who fails to impress the clone judges of that Magical Girl Idol, only to accidentally run into a much humbler, yet cool guy who is actually interested in fighting monsters, rather than collecting Magical Girls as an eye candy for the drooling masses! I like that. The eldest child of three, Valencia does her very best to help her poor mother get out of debt. You must feel for mom and Val, because they saw their husband and father fail his business and then commit suicide. A rather powerful touch is that Val doesn’t want to share this specific suicide detail with others – at least, she doesn’t with her new employers. Check this out:
Isn’t it something? She is telling these guys that her dad ran away, but we see what actually happened. Really nice way to convey her emotions! Maybe shame, perhaps wanting to defend her family’s privacy. Passing judgement on her father, as he preferred the “easy” way out (at least from Val’s perspective) than fighting with and for her family. Or maybe an unwillingness to open up to these new people – not yet, at least. Or all of the above!
Pacing is a bit awkward – hey, time perception changes when you’re drunk, but I am not getting a sense of how much time is passing from one scene to another (working on better paneling would help). Zannen knows how to introduce new characters and how to make us care for them, especially Val and mom, but the focus on characters’ interactions seems a little off and tend to go hand in hand with the pacing problem. As of right now, I’d like to see a bit more of other characters – I understand Val is the main character, and mom complements her well (maybe she knows a secret or two about why Val has developed her powers, rather than manifesting them at birth), but Val’s making everyone else look a bit flat, as she navigates the tough waters of learning how to be a powerful Magical Girl. Stories become alive when a sense of breadth and depth about characters and their interactions with each other abound, so I am hoping Zannen will tell us more about the rest of the cast, especially mom and her two trainers/employers, Derek and Isaac. You see the problem with the figure below?
No? Well, I know I’m drunk, but I can’t remember who is who, because these two tend to blend into each other. Yes, one has dark hair, the other one has blond hair, I also never pay attention to men, but I swear, I tried to keep track of them several times, and couldn’t make it. They are just used as props to turn Val into a Magical Girl. There is potential in the relationship she could develop with them, I’d like to see more! A friendship, maybe conflicts, I don’t know, anything that does away with the flatness of these two.
To sum up, before I pass out on the couch, the story has potential, the art is getting better and better (anatomy comes to mind), those pesky typos need to go (especially from more recent pages), I’d like to see more character development and better pacing, and this comic has some rather refreshing depth to it. So, keep at it, Zannen (as of today, the comic stopped updating at the end of September), you’re doing a nice job!
ZZZZZZZZzzzzz* Hang on, I nearly forgot: check out IMAGICA=verse, and vote for it on Top Web Comics!
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