I hate to say the anime was better
I just finished getting through the first volume of Magical Girl Raising Project. A Japanese light novel I just had to get my hands on as soon as it was released in English.
Why did I start reading it? I think I landed in Magical Girl Raising Project the same way most people did. Through Madoka Magica. After being thoroughly traumatized by that I heard this was of a similar vein and watched the anime. I'll probably go into reasons why I liked that through the review but after watching it and finding out the original novel was coming out in English I had the release date in the calendar every since!
What is it? In the world of MGRP, there is a completely free app game called Magical Girl Raising Project and rumour has it some players of the game can become actual magical girls. The rumours are true and there ends up being a total of sixteen magical girls running around the large N city. The game announces that there are too many magical girls and the number needs to be cut. Obviously, no one is willing to give up their awesome magical powers so they battle for their power and soon their very survival.
What are the character's like? Many of the characters don't get the screen time they did in the anime. Yes, the anime had 12 episodes and this book only had well...a book but due to missing scenes(That I've heard are in another book but aren't in this one so I can't judge.) many of the characters come and go with only really one scene or less for us to get an idea of who they are. For those that are familiar with the characters, this is especially true for Magicaloid 44 and Nemurin doesn't even get any lines. The characters that do get time I love. Out of the ones the novel chooses to focus on, there aren't really any girls I dislike. Some I'm terrified of, but don't dislike.
Anyone particularly cool? For some reason, I really, really like the villainous magical girls in this book. Swim Swim is one that stands out to me. She fascinates me in the same way horror stories do. She's cold, calculative, deadly but so...innocent of it all at the same time. She's terrifying and awesome. The second one I like is Cranberry. For one I like her design, she's a beautiful elf-like magical girl who's actual goals completely contrast that elegant appearance. She's simple and brutal. On the other side of the scale, I like some of the more innocent magical girls too. Snow White, the cover character, wants to be the best magical girl she can be. A hero of justice. She wants to help people and as you would expect is shocked and disgusted at what is going on but doesn't know what she can do about it. There are other good magical girls trying to band together and fight back against the system but I find Snow White the more realistic of these girls. She's bewildered, scared and confused. She's a great relatable look into the horrors of this book. I also like Tama cause she's a cutie puppy magical girl who just wants love.
So what's the bad news? As mentioned before the book has some missing scenes. Many of the back stories are either quickly summarised or skipped over. I actually think the most detailed one they had was Hardgore Alice but that's because her backstory takes place during the book's timeline. An important scene with Nemurin and Swim Swim is skipped over too, which is a shame because it was fun to figure out what that scene meant later on and was on of the biggest impacts Nemurin had to the story. There is one thing I hate to complain about because I'm guilty of it too in my writing but there are large parts that are very tell not show. It's mainly because the start was very rushed which I don't know if I want to class as a complaint or not. Even the blurb explains there's going to be lots of anarchy and death so I can see why they wanted to skip straight to it rather than go into the detail but I can't say I wasn't a bit disappointed and felt a bit more disconnect from the story when it kicked in because of it.
And the good news? Despite these flaws at the start, I was still very drawn in by the end. Even watching the anime and knowing what happens I still didn't find it hard to keep my interest and read all the way to the end (which is impressive for me. I find it hard to keep my interest in books most of the time which is why I tend to listen to them more). I don't know whether it's just me but I found when they story began to follow Snow White more I felt more drawn to the book. She was so natural and understandable. Ripple, our secondary protagonist was interesting too, struggling with her want to be a good magical girl and her want to look cool 'cause teenagers but Snow was the one who kept me hooked in this story. Also, as much as the book missed scenes from the anime it added a lot more detail about the powers behind the magical girls, which is something I really wanted to know more about. As much as we don't get to see the Magical Kingdom we do get more detail as to how this survival game happened. How it was allowed to happen. And lastly, the ending was much better. The anime almost left the ending a bit ambiguous, it was unclear whether the last two characters made contact with the Magical Kingdom or whether they stayed rogue. The book wraps things up a lot nicer. We're told how the Magical Kingdom dealt with the incident and where is lead out survivors. The art is also very good. My only complaint is there isn't enough of it.
Would you recommend? Yes, but I would say watch the anime as well whether it be before or after reading. The two together make for a more complete story.
This has been a review of the first volume of Magical Girl Raising Project ebook version. You can buy it in Paperback or ebook here.