So I decided to do something a bit out of my comfort zone and bought the first volume of the manga, Prisma☆Ilya, from HMV. It’s not buying manga that’s out of my comfort zone, but buying Japanese volumes! Knowing that this manga was released with furigana (small hiragana font written beside kanji), I was pretty confident I could read through it without too much trouble. I’ll talk about that later, but first let me say that this is a really great manga!
As you probably know, it’s a spinoff story to the Fate series, in which Illya is a normal schoolgirl, and Rin is a magical girl with an insufferable rival, Luviagelita Edelfelt. Rin and Edelfelt don’t last long as magical girls however, as their rivalry gets to the point where their magical sticks abandon them in search of new masters. Enter Ilya (don’t take that the wring way ;p) – passionate magical girl fan, with a crush on her older brother (played by Shirou). While taking a bath after marathoning a whole boxset of her favourite magical girl anime she is nearly KOd by one of the magical sticks falling from the sky. The stick, Ruby, makes short in recruiting her as a magical, and from there a quest to collect the class cards (Archer, Rider, etc) begins! Naturally, the quest involves a rival magical girl destined to eventually become a close friend, and high-flying, Nanoha-esque magic battles!
It’s really fun stuff. To begin with, the artwork is really nice, and also versatile. The manga looks great whether it’s being fanservicey, dramatic or cute. And it doesn’t just look good while doing it – it pulls off a really fun package which does include a bit of ecchi, some parody elements, tense moments, action and an undercurrent moe factor! The fanservice element is rather restrained in the first volume, but I’ve seen some scans from later volumes and that looks set to change. There’s definitely a loli tendency to the manga, with some very lovely drawings of Ilya! As for the parody elements.. let’s just say that if you are familiar with the magical girl genre (that’s me!), then you’ll love a lot of the cliches it exploits and the the gags. The action is good and definitely a big part of the manga, so far anyway. The battle scenes are extended across numerous chapters and often have a very real sense of danger, even if they are interspersed with timely comic relief.
The characters.. well, it’s difficult to make much of a judgment after one volume. But in the case of the two main characters, Illya and Miyu, her over-achieving and seemingly cold rival, the characterisation is already really good. Illya is moe in the traditional magical girl sense. She’s got a girly crush, is still quite immature, but has a strong heart and is very friendly and warm. I like that kind of character. Miyu has more of an emotional aura, and we don’t really know the story behind her walled-in personality. However, towards the end of the first volume we already see there’s another side to her that will unravel. It’s very much a Nanoha/Fate situation.
So overall, I definitely recommend this manga to those who enjoy the magical girl genre!
(Sorry about the blur in one area on these photos – my lens had a smudge on it for some reason)
On reading the Japanese:
The great thing about furigana is, not only does it mean that knowing all the kanji is not required, but when you come across words you don’t know, you can easily search for them in a dictionary. I really wish all manga came with furigana! When it came to the battle scenes and tactical discussions, I ended up learning a few words! It took me quite a long time to make it through this volume, partly due to the fact that I was reading it in Japanese, but mainly due to the fact that I’ve been squeezing it into a busy life schedule. However, it was definitely worth it!