The Fall 2018 Manga Guide
What's It About?High school delinquent Majiba Kayo is a sweet looking girl - until she opens her mouth. Accidentally turned into a magical girl, this class-skipping and chain-smoking ass-kicker isn't afraid to put her fist where her mouth is!
Saving the world from evil is tough, but when you don't want to do it, it's even tougher. Kayo, along with her magical guide Myu and eternal 3rd year henchman Rei work together in fighting off the evil beasts known as atasunmos, while still looking cool as hell.
Machimaho: I Messed Up and Made the Wrong Person Into a Magical Girl! is an original manga written by manga veteran Souryu. The first volume is available to purchase for $12.99, released on October 23rd, and published by Seven Seas Entertainment.
Is It Worth Reading?
Machimaho has a premise with some potential, but it's squandered. It oscillates wildly between types of story without earning it. It's also not funny at all.
The issue with the humor is that it's just repetitive. There's a joke mocking long-winded exposition dumps where the cute mascot character explains their motive in assigning the magical girl powerset. The main character, a brusk firecracker, hits them, wanting them to shut up. Fine, except that this is a joke that's repeated twice. The first time it makes sense, as the motivation of the mascot can be inferred based on genre trappings. The second time, however, it's not the same character, it's a dark mirror of the mascot character who assigns evil energy. This is someone whose motivation we need to understand, as this is new territory for the story; it's earnest world-building rather than satire. However, because this crucial exposition is hidden behind a joke that's deliberately designed to make your eyes glaze over, you barely process the information. Not only is it a lazy repeat of a joke the reader has already seen, it actively makes the story harder to follow.
This is a problem that spans the whole of the manga. I can't tell how much of this is genuine and how much is parody. This is most evident in the portrayal of the main character. She's a ruffian stereotype who goes through cigarette withdrawals after an hour and has no problem beating up those close to her at the slightest provocation, but she also cares intensely about her friends. The transition from mean-spirited jokes where the punchline is always violence to standing up for the weak like a Shonen hero isn't graceful at all. Yes, she maintains the same mannerisms, but the fundamental change in what drives her makes Machimaho impossible to take seriously. Dramedy is a fine tonal choice, but Machimaho is just jumping from one lazy trope to another.
Machimaho does have some very good art, but appreciating that is hard when it's in service of a story this unpleasant and boring. It's trying to be a magical girl One-Punch Man, but doesn't have the beating heart, social consciousness or even inventive joke structure to keep it afloat. It falls flat on its face at basically every point, and it's just mean on top of it. Not recommended.
Machimaho is a prime example of an amusing concept that struggles to execute said concept entertainingly in the long-term. A tough, delinquent, downright abusive magical girl seems ripe for comedy, but the joke gets old fast—and it's about the only joke there is in this first volume. Stretched thin over almost two hundred pages, it gets tiresome to see Kayo's face twist into anger as she pommels poor hapless Myu or sends her foes flying with one punch. However, at least there are attempts to shake up the formula with the introduction of Rei as her devoted lackey and Shusai as a villainous magical girl who, from an objective point of view, might actually be the heroine—both of whom help add some variance to the formula. There's also the strange aside that Kayo lives in a sterile white space beneath her parents' mansion that spits out whatever item she asks for. It's written off as a result of her “tech genius” parents' indulgences, but it does little to add to the story other than to show there's one more odd thing about this no-nonsense young woman.
Action-packed and dynamic, Souryu's art definitely pops off the page. The anger radiates off of every jam-packed panel, which adds frenetic energy to this wacky world. At the same time, Souryu can pull off both cute and scary in character designs, making punching bag Myu even more endearing through adorableness and designing the monsters to be truly frightening.
Machimaho is a great concept on paper and may yet develop into something more. However, this early on, it's repetitive and in-your-face to an extreme that makes it hard to laugh at and sympathize with its characters. Kayo doesn't have to be heroic to get readers to root for her, but she does have to be more than paper-thin.
If there's one thing that you can say for Seven Seas as a publisher, it's that they know how to go all-in on a genre. MachiMaho marks the latest of their “weird magical girl” titles, which also includes Magical Girls Spec Ops and Unmagical Girl. (Can Magical Girl Ore be far behind?) This story is one of the more violent spoofs of the kid-friendly genre, full of profanity, erections, and of course lots of blood and gore. It's totally bizarre, which sometimes works but more often feels like the story's a bit too ambitious in its scope.
The basic plot follows Myu and his complete and total failure to pick an appropriate high schooler to be his magical girl. Kayo is a brash, crude, chain-smoking delinquent, and the story is so invested in reminding us of this that it brushes past the little details creator Souryu drops in that imply that she was basically made this way by her parents' neglect. Among those are the fact that she's actually incredibly smart, cares about her friends, and is really lonely in her weird underground bunker-house – in other words, she truly could have an investment in saving the world if someone bothered to help her cope. The story in this volume, at least, isn't interested in going there, however, choosing instead to focus on full-on parodies of the genre (a naked transformation scene that takes way longer than it should), overt sexualization (her outfit with its suspiciously nippley gems), and the fact that old school delinquent Rei is actually a twenty-five-year-old in a pompadour wig. All of these are funny, but they'd almost have worked better in a short story. Drawing them out for a full volume (and beyond) makes them fell over-used and lessens the humor.
The fact that the art is very busy and heavily toned doesn't help with this, and at times the book feels exhausting to read. Much like how Black Clover's early volumes were loud even without sound, MachiMaho's first book is noisy and overwhelming even with short chapters and little plot. There's a good parody in here; it's just bogged down by the mangaka's attempts to beat the point home with a stick.
Machimaho: I Messed Up and Made the Wrong Person Into a Magical Girl!, or MachiMaho for short is one of several satirical magical girl manga that have been sprouting up lately. While stories like Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! and Is This a Zombie? use teenage boys as the main protagonist, Machimaho's chosen heroine is a delinquent school girl with a smoking habit.
Majiba Kayo may look like your classic magical girl protagonist but once she opens her mouth, the reader learns she's anything but. She skips class, chain-smokes, and swears like a yakuza member and refuses to transform into her alter ego! Tasked with getting rid of beasts known as atasunmos, Kayo punches her way through all of the world's problems and bullies around her 25-year old henchman Masanido Rei and magical guide Myu.
With vibes reminiscent of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, this gritty magical girl manga spins all the classic tropes into a joke. During transformation sequences, characters ask what's taking so long and Kayo demands to know why she's naked. Instead of having a cutesy bedroom, Kayo lives in a desolate underground bunker. However, though a lot of tropes are reversed, the staple panty shot is no stranger to Machimaho.
Kayo's character grows on you the further you get into the volume. She has a few teary-eyed moments where she says she'll fight for her friends and mentions she's kind of lonely without her parents being around. Of course, all of these brief glimpses into her character are immediately shut down within two panels and she's back to her old self. Rei and Myu, though support characters have their character traits laid out to the reader within seconds of being introduced.
Machimaho has moments of laugh out loud humor, but overall blends in with the rest of the parody magical girl manga. Its art is overwhelming to the point where I'm not sure where to look and I feel like I've seen all these characters before. Maybe if it was written earlier, when satirical magical girl was harder to come by, it would feel fresher to me, but for now, Souryu's original manga doesn't quite have me captivated.
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