For general information on this novel: Magical Girl Raising Project entry
This review is for the third volume of Magical Girl Raising Project. This series is written by Asari Endou and features illustrations by Marui-no. The fourth volume is set to release July 17, 2018. There are 10 volumes in Japan at the moment, plus two side story volumes.
Volume 3 is the second half of the “Restart” storyline begun by volume 2, which ended with a cliffhanger. This volume has the remaining magical girls working their way through some cyber dreamworld video game, hoping to escape by defeating a final boss known simply as the Evil King. Will it really be that simple though? And what does the mastermind behind this fearsome game intend to accomplish in all this?
This is an odd book to review on its own, in that I imagine everyone who picked up volume 2 will definitely want to read volume 3. This is the second half of the story, and things can only get more exciting in the second half of a survival game, right? At any rate, I enjoyed reading through to the conclusion for this violent and tragic story arc.
This book starts out with a bang, but then it’s slow going for a while as teams continue a gradual but steady progression through the game and various characters muse over their situation and investigate one another. It’s good to have some variety in a story’s pacing, but it did take a while for me to get re-invested in the remaining players. This isn’t really a series for character development, as much as it is for plot twists that reveal unexpected aspects to the characters.
Eventually things pick up again by the final act of the book though, as the floodgates are opened regarding who committed the murders of the first volume and what the motivations behind them were. (I am rather pleased to say I made at least a couple correct guesses!) At the same time, things come to a head once the confrontation with the Evil King takes a clever and unexpected turn, and it’s repeatedly up in the air who will survive each violent encounter. The action is handled as well as in previous volumes, and it remains entertaining to see how the characters will use their special abilities in unorthodox ways. I found the character Clantail particularly fun; her ability to transform the lower half of her body into any animal provided plenty of possibilities for the author to work with. Personality-wise, my personal favorite remains Pfle, the ever-unflappable little manipulator.
There are a few plot points in this volume I had mixed feelings on, however. Some plot developments were a stretch, and there was one reveal in particular (more of a non-reveal honestly) that I just felt meh about the whole book. (Said non-reveal was kind of spoiled for me beforehand by the way, which I suppose bummed me out a bit too.) Also, a lot of the plot beats in this were quite similar to a certain sequel for a certain game series I really like–which isn’t a huge deal, but it did affect my reading of this story.
I won’t end on a negative note here though, because overall I did have a good time with this one, and I look forward to seeing where the series will go from here in future volumes. Raising Project is an exciting page-turner well-worth looking into if you’re in the mood for an action-packed story that does its own thing and isn’t afraid to put major characters in legitimately mortal peril.
Cho’s Rating: Recommended
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