Magnifique Noir Book 1: I am Magical By Briana Lawrence 2017

Bree is a Youtube gamer. Marianna is an aspiring chef. Lonnie is a powerhouse in the ring. Amid college classes, girlfriends, and general life craziness, when monsters attack their city they become Magnifique Noir. Under the tutelage of Golden Blaze the magical girls become Cosmic Green, Galactic Purple, and Radical Rainbow. But the team is nearly defeated by a powerful monster… until Prism Pink shows up.

Briana Lawrence was a guest at Convergence this year, along with her wife Jessica Walsh. They are two wonderful ladies, and were willing to answer my questions on plus-size cosplaying.

Black queer magical girls? Awesome! (If you don’t agree, this isn’t the blog for you.) It warms my heart to see people of color creating in the fandom space. There is no reason someone should have to fight to be welcome in their fandom as long as they treat everyone with respect. I hope geekdom does get more inclusive, and love to see the new work inspired by fandom come out.

Both books contain full color illustrations and amusing comics. That is probably what makes the books slightly more expensive but they are well worth it. Magnifique Noir leans into the magical girl tropes, and I suspect I only got half of the geek references. In my defense, I don’t identify as a video gamer and haven’t kept up on anime. The Wee Dictator has gleefully called me a Newb.

The second book contains two plot twists—one I saw coming at the end of the first book and the other that left me going “whoa!”. There is diverse representation—lesbian, bi, ace, and another that would be a spoiler. The characters deal with real life trolling as well as monster attacks. The monsters almost feel too meta, when someone is behaving monstrously they turn into a monster that Magnifique Noir must fight.

I was left eager for the third book. Only hints of the backstory are given and I want to see more. The second book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but I have a suspicion about where it is going. I would like to see the next book delve more deeply into what the monsters are and where they are coming from.

Despite juggling plenty of characters, each one is unique. The relationships among the girls and with their family is well developed. When faced with monsters they all act in a way that feels real. The tone of it makes the ordinary girl becomes magical girl that can fight work. Because the world stayed consistent I was able to accept the more fantastical elements.

This might be a small pet peeve of mine, but the character Bree felt too close to the author’s name of Briana. I suspect the details of running a gamer you tube channel are true to life, which does make it a better story.

While the illustrations are beautiful, they aren’t all done by the same artist. There are slightly different images of the same character which I find jarring. The first book had some editing issues—tenses not matching and using “off of” a lot (ugh!). The prose in general was not the best in many places. But the stories and characters were good enough for me to keep going, and the second book shows definite improvement.

I admit I haven’t been into anime for a while, but besides Sailor Moon a bunch of my favorite series weren’t mentioned. (Vampire Princess Miyu TV series has the best mind bending plot twist ending of any series ever.) Reading this made me want to watch the Sailor Moon R movie that I unfortunately only have on VHS and Sailor Moon in general. Seriously, that show was so queer but stupid American dubbers tried to censor that out. Sigh.

Magnifique Noir doubles as a loving magical girl tribute and something fresh. May all geeks find enjoyment in these pages. Now I must hunt down Sailor Moon DVDs.

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