Magical Girl Obsession: Magical Girl Comparison Project

Hi, I'm Mela, and (sigh) I like Magical Girl Raising Project.

This is one of those magical girl series you aren't supposed to like if you're a fan of the genre. It's dark, it has a lot of violence, and to those who haven't watched or (preferably) read it, it seems like torture porn. But if you actually do read/watch, you learn that's not the case; none of the violence is glorified, the world is an interesting one filled with interesting characters on all sides, and it has a running theme about how bureaucratic apathy allows for terrible things to happen & good people have to push back against it to change things.  It also has some fairly creative powers and designs.

So yeah, now that the books are available legally, I'd recommend them to anyone.  I'm still anxious to see how the cliffhanger at the end of the second book plays out, and since it's part of a murder mystery (a genre that's traditionally left me cold), I think that says something.

Like most things that get a following, MGRP has a fan wiki. And being a fan wiki, it's on Fandom's awful Wikia platform, where even the best maintained wikis are awash in a sea of shallow videos and intrustive ads. Sadly, MGRP isn't even one of those; while they stay mostly up to date on what's been released, they seem to deliberately refuse to acknowledge anything from the legally releases such as spelling tweaks & such. What is there is somewhat poorly written, with lots of missing information and awkward phrasing for what is there. I'd sooner recommend Wikipedia or even TV Tropes for info if you're curious - that's how poorly done it is.

One area where all of these lack is noting the many, many strange changes the manga adaptation of the first novel has made. Only the first volume has been released in English, with the second currently only available for pre-purchase on Kindle, but there were so many that I was surprised no one has addressed them.  So in the interest of thoroughness, with a bit of editorializing, I've noted the differences between the first volume of the MGRP Unmarked manga and the novel (along with the suprisingly faithful anime adaptation).  Let's get going in our traditional bullet format.

WARNING: This contains spoilers for Unmarked (and maybe a little beyond) and assumes a bit of familiarity with the story/characters. If you wanna skip it, fair enough. If not, venture past Nokko & friends for the comparisons.

This way for spoilers, girls!

  • An overall trend in the art is that characters like Swim Swim and Hardgore Alice, both of whom are pretty deadpan, are frequently rendered with what I can only describe as "generically crazy" trappings - frenzied expressions, Joker grins, etc. It hurts the story, especially the growing horror that is Swim Swim's various choices.
  • Both open with Ako Hatoda having her lost key returned by Snow White, but in the manga, it takes place after the first elimination.
  • In the novel & anime, La Pucelle mentors Snow White after having been mentored by Sister Nana for an unknown amount of time. In the manga, both La Pucelle & Snow White get powers at roughly the same time and are mentored together by Nemurin.
  • In the novel & anime, Nemurin dies in her sleep, as she could only use her powers while asleep & rarely left her house. In the manga, she bleeds to death randomly while out on patrol with her two proteges. I'm torn about this one - on one hand, it makes the reactions to her death, especially from Snow White, a bit more powerful, but on the other, it takes away the reason she was the lowest earner as well as her get-out-of-death power loophole.
  • Also, in the manga, Fav straight up says that elimination means death at the beginning, which removes a lot of his manipulative nature. It's much more satisfying in the novel/anime, where various other magical girls get together after piecing together clues and confront him.
  • Ripple's backstory is very different and very messed up in the manga; here, her step-dad was physically abusive & walked out on them, and when Ripple snapped & hit her mother, her mom had a breakdown & happily thought getting hit meant her husband had returned, refusing to even acknowledge her daughter ever existed. In the novel & anime, Ripple is ashamed that her mother is constantly remarrying any loser who stands still long enough, making her a constant target of bullies for being a "whore's daughter", and she ran away when the last step-dad tried to grope her. (The anime fleshes this out a bit more than the novel.)
  • In the novel/anime, no one ever really knows about the coup that Swim Swim arranged that led to Ruler's death (although Ripple & Top Speed do have a hunch). In the manga, because she's a generic supervillain now, Swim Swim outright brags about her plan's success to Sister Nana & Winterprison when they visit to thank her. Again, I really think the manga mishandles Swim Swim & removes a lot of the horror attached to her.
  • In the novel/anime, Snow White learns La Pucelle is her old friend Souta fairly early in the story, and La Pucelle dies at least a week before Snow White meets Hardgore Alice. In the manga, this comes out right before La Pucelle leaves to chase an attacker (a "candy thief"), immediately after which the entire scene with Magicaloid44 and Hardgore Alice happens.
  • In the novel/anime, we see different degrees of Cranberry confronting La Pucelle (the novel has them exchanging intros, while the anime has the actual fight), coming after Cranberry fights Winterprison in a quarry (thus, we the audience already know what Cranberry is looking to do). In the manga, the quarry fight is omitted entirely (there's not even a passing reference), and we don't learn it was Cranberry who killed La Pucelle until after Winterprison's death.
  • In the novel/anime, Ripple's fight with Calamity Mary is a flashback where Mary was hoping to use her as a new punching bag. In the manga, it's Ripple & Top Speed stopping Calamity Mary from shooting & healing a random civilian to farm candy. Mary also has a more teacher-like relationship with Magicaloid44, who seems less of a ruthless pragmatist and more of a naive child.
  • A subplot unique to the manga is that Sister Nana becomes convinced that Hardgore Alice's ability to heal from any injury might lead to some sort of resurrection magic, and she & Winterprison are finding allies in people who lost someone to get their help.  This is what leads to the fight with Swim Swim's team (Swim Swim doesn't want to give up "being Ruler" by reviving the actual Ruler), not the planned ambush to follow Ruler's "teachings" & shore up power.
  • In the novel/anime, Sister Nana's suicide comes during Calamity Mary's shooting spree (which isn't in the first volume of the manga). Even in those, her motivations vary: the anime has it mostly out of grief for losing Winterprison, while the novel has that compounded with realizing that she never believed in the ideals she supposedly espoused since she can't bring herself to help Snow White & Alice contain the damage. In the manga, it's immediately after Winterprison's death and largely closes the volume.
  • Finally, there's a backup story unique to the manga where Koyuki's two friends from school (Yocchan & Sumirin) gossip about magical girls & their connection to a possible serial killer (Yocchan stumbles onto the killing game but is immediately dismissed). Their conversation implies that Ruler was a middle schooler, since they talk about a murdered middle school girl & the flashback shows a shadowed body with a hairpin that resembles Ruler's brooch. This varies from the novel & anime in that Ruler is an office worker in her late 20s.

I'm not sure I'd recommend the manga adaptation to anyone except other MGRP fans, and since no one but me is probably fool enough to admit to being one, I don't think I'll have to worry about it. When Yen Press releases the second volume, I'll make another post detailing those differences. I wonder what strange new subplots will be put in to make up for dropped characterization in that one...


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