Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Spin-Off Manga Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica

Just look at this cover. We're in for a rough ride!Madoka and co. have set to the world on fire! The Blu-ray's have dominated Amazon, terrifying plushies are packed for shipping, and a full roster of Madoka figures are racking up pre-orders. Since the completion of the first series of Puella Magi / Mahou Shoujo, a freshly created, rabidly devoted fan base has been turned loose on the retail market with one thought in their minds: Consume!

Of course with only a scant 12 episodes and a mere half-dozen characters, the milking of Madoka can only go so far. What’s a money grubbing franchise rights holder to do? If you’re Aniplex, blindly authorize the first manga company to come knocking in hopes they can create some new characters suitable for the creation of figures and pillows. Houbunsha, publisher of Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice, to the rescue!

Kazumi Magica
opens with the titular character locked in a steamer trunk having lost all of her memories and clothing. Upon bursting out she confronts a fair haired stranger who offers her a meal and calmly explains that there has been a mistake. You see, he was supposed to have a bomb in the suitcase, not a naked female teenage amnesiac, and must have gotten his trunk mixed up with whomever kidnaped our hero. Whoopsie, how embarrassing! Fortunately(?), he then receives a phone call from the kidnapper who demands they meet in 30 minutes to exchange trunks or else the kidnapper will call the police to report the bomb.

What follows is a bizarre encounter between our would-be bomber, some corrupt police, a couple of Puella Magi, and Kazumi herself playing defense for the bomber because ‘Good Guys don’t waste food’.

Did you get all that? I can wait here if you need to go read that again. Ready? Okay, let me drop a bomb on ya: This beginning is EASILY the high water mark of Kazumi Magica. It is insane, disjointed, and totally out of place. It also represents the only shred of originality Kazumi Magica will ever muster.

Over the course of the next five and a half volumes, Kazumi will rediscover that she is a Puella Magi and part of a team of 7(!) other Magical Girls known as The Pleiades Saints dedicated to fighting witches . As it turns out, all of the recent witch activity is merely the symptom of a larger Big Bad. Our evil mastermind is yet another Puella Magi who is turning unsuspecting women into witches by way of such nefarious concoctions as Black Cosmetics and Evil Nuts. Yes, I said Evil Nuts. Girl Power!

There is, of course, the revelations about the nature of witches and their relation to the Puella Magi, but we already know all of this. The enemy’s motivations are moderately interesting, but not enough to put with with the couple hundred pages of tripe that precede it.

As the unnecessarily drawn out ending finally neared I found myself absently flipping through, praying for the end and desperately hoping there would be at least one surprise. I had long since tired of Kazumi’s annoying naiveté and overplayed ‘Thin girl who eats a lot’ antics. None of The Pleiades Saints exhibit any traits that couldn’t be summed up in one word from the book of Moe (Bookworm; Tomboy, Spiritual, Bitch, and Violent, with Kazumi filling in as Glutton), let alone given a chance to experience a ‘hero’s journey’. Ironically, the story may very well have stood a slight chance from the viewpoint of Kazumi’s villain instead of the ensemble cast of blah that is our heroes.

Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica 3Yet not everyone indulges in manga for the story. Many come simply for the art. Well, they’re out of luck too. To say that Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice is average is being charitable. The art of the manga as a whole favors a heavy black and white aesthetic with minimal shading. Interesting perspectives or scene composition simply do not exist until the final volume, at which point they only seem to appear at the expense of backdrops. Character designs are just as dull, clichéd, and overused as the moe girls themselves. Worst of all, the dress designs of the Puella Magi feel flat out WRONG in the Madoka universe and more closely match bit characters from an old episode of Slayers. The very fact that Kazumi’s transformed costume is that of a witch is just… Well, it certainly is NOT clever foreshadowing. Honestly, why even create a magical girl if you are going to phone in the bloody dress!

This bland, lowest common denominator design even extends into the manga’s action sequences. All of the Pleiades Saints’ weapons are your garden variety staves, spells, or guns with none of the wonderfully over-the-top finishing moves the Madoka anime showcases. The designs of the witches fare better, particularly the last one, but the barrier dimensions are reduced to a gothic pillar or geometric pattern in the background with no connection to the theme of the witch.

With too large of a cast full of undeveloped, stereotypical characters, an annoying lead, and pedestrian design, Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice is a bucket of average hurriedly whipped up using the standard recipe and thrown at the Madoka franchise in the hope something sticks. Judged on its own merits, Kazumi Magica would be below average. The real offense here is that Kazumi Magica cannot be judged on its own merits. It is part of the Puella Magi/Mahou Shoujo franchise and, as such, is an affront to the character, artistry, and spectacle of its predecessor. It is unworthy of even the most merch staved fan’s time. I would have been less offended if Houbunsha had sold me six books of character sketches and asked me to circle the ones I wanted to see turned into action figures.

Reviewer Rating: 1/5 Stars – Broken 1star


  1. Kazumi Magica wasn't nearly finished when you wrote this, and still isn't. I would say you can't fully appreciate this manga until the end of chapter 12 or chapter 13, although it starts getting a little better before that. That's when things get interesting. And Kazumi's witch costume is foreshadowing something... just not what you think it is.

  2. Thanks for the update! Unfortunately, there is no way short of threats involving death and/or dismemberment that I could be brought back to Kazumi's adventures after what I've been through ;)