Originally written in 2016.
This month I had the privilege of reading fantasy comic IMAGICA=verse by Zannen. Although featuring an intriguing world, there were some issues in the story execution.
IMAGICA=verse focuses on Valencia, a girl living in a world where magical girls are normal. Due to her family’s debt, Valencia seeks out work as a magical girl to help pay for everything. After a big studio rejects her, Valencia is approached by Isaac and joins the smaller Imagica Studio. With Isaac and Derek’s help, Valencia learns how to use her powers. However, between hidden truths and Valencia’s oddity as a magical girl, mysteries are abound for her to overcome.
To begin, IMAGICA=verse has issues with overall flow. Sometimes this manifests via confusing paneling. Often, the pages where the panels are mixed with an image outside them have an odd overlay that breaks the visual/dialogue flow. A prime example is when Valencia reveals she’s a magical girl to her mother, though there are numerous instances. However, there’s a larger issue in regards to time flow. The chapters tended to transition poorly, and it’s hard to tell how much time passes between each. For example, Chapter 5 ends with Valencia’s reveal to her mother; Chapter 6 begins with Valencia at a grocery store. Later on in the chapter, Valencia flashes back to how she’d begun to learn “Sight Vision.” Little is given to gauge time passage between chapters, and the Sight Vision’s learning flashback is hard to place timewise. Overall, these bumpy time transitions make it hard to immerse oneself in the story. Additionally, it’s also hard to absorb how fast Valencia is learning her powers, which is a key story point. While paneling can be improved with practice, I feel this comic needs to have better indicators of a consistent timeline. In total though, the issues in flow make the story feel rough and hard to push through.
In addition, IMAGICA=verse needs improvement with conflict execution. The comic does have good conflict setups, from magical girl fighting to mundane money problems. Unfortunately, the execution doesn’t always work. For instance, in Chapter 4 Isaac mentions Valencia’s mother doesn’t know Valencia is a magical girl. There’s little indication he’d know this so the conflict of the “secret” feels sudden, but still potentially interesting. Yet, with no real build-up, the conflict is solved next chapter with little developmental change. The lack of build-up made the conclusion lackluster, especially since the solution was benign acceptance. Regrettably, there are a number of conflicts in this comic that could be interesting, but are solved too quickly to be worthwhile. I feel taking more time with the conflicts may help some. As it stands, though, the conflicts’ quick resolutions ruins the tension that could intrigue readers.
Notwithstanding, IMAGICA=verse does have promise. As mentioned, the conflicts could be worthwhile, mostly because there’s an intriguing world setup. For magical girl stories, it’s more common to set them in the “real world” and have the magic be secret. While some of this comic’s world is “normal” to ground the reader, magical girl aspects have been integrated into the society. This can be noted from events like the public box trial in the grocery store that any magical girl can try. Additionally, the rules for the magical girls is well established, such as the Sight Vision being a universal one girls use by channeling power into their eyes. There are numerous examples, but overall the world is very thought-out. This gives the comic a unique flavor, thus providing a good foundation to make a compelling fantasy story. Though the issues still exist, there’s good material that sets-up the comic to be something great.
All in all, IMAGICA=verse is an intriguing comic with potential. There are definitely issues regarding a choppy flow and messy execution of the conflicts. Nevertheless, the world set-up and basis of the conflicts is interesting regardless. IMAGICA=verse had 182 subscribers on Tapastic when this article was written. I look forward to this comic’s future, as its potential is definitely present and it has shown steady improvement.