original work by Machiko Fuji; story by Tomomi Mizuna; art by Mieko Yuchi; translated by M. Kirie Hayashi
published by Udon Entertainment; $7.99 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Nana is a normal human girl who is friends with Majoko, a witch of the same age from the Land of Magic. A magic diary serves as the portal between the two worlds. The girls have lots of adventures together in the Land of Magic. This volume opens with the conclusion to the cliffhanger from volume 1. Further adventures in this book include helping an old clay pot find a beloved owner, attending the Snowman Festival, searching for the runaway Mirror Fairy in the Land of Mirrors, and a visit to the Land of Toys. All of the chapters but the first are self-contained stories.
This second volume is just as delightful as the first. Majoko continues to be impulsive and overly confident. The authors are careful to make her a likeable character by showing how her faults come from youthfulness. I love that she understands how special and unusual the Land of Magic is and is filled with enthusiasm and curiosity. I do worry that Majoko seems to be have a very slow learning curve. I’m hoping as the series continues that she will begin to mature. Perhaps some of Nana’s own maturity will rub off on Majoko.
There were two chapters I found particularly heartwarming. The first is when Majoko and Nana help an old piece of magical pottery find an owner he got separated from years ago. The years have not been kind to the pot. Yet, when he is reunited with his old owner, she immediately welcomes him and showers him with affection regardless of his appearance. It’s a wonderful lesson on the true worth of each person.
The second chapter I found moving is when Nana’s mother accidently throws out her favorite doll, Katie. Nana and Majoko travel to the Land of Toys to find the doll. They find out how bitter abandoned and abused toys feel. They also discover the power of love. Katie is able to use all the love Nana has given her over the years to reform one of the abandoned toys, making him happy and emotionally whole. It’s a touching lesson on treating our possessions with respect.
The page layouts are simple and easy for young readers to follow. The drawings are a little simpler than the standard manga, but they don’t lack details. There is lots of energy to the artwork to keep young readers engaged in the book. One nice extra with this book is a two-page guide on how to read unflipped manga. Not just how to read a page, but even how to read the balloons within a panel. I really like having this in the book, so it’s right there if young readers get confused.
Udon does make one small misstep. The inside back cover tells readers, “For more cool stuff, games, and free previews, visit MangaforKids.com.” However, the only thing currently on the website is free previews. I hope they correct this soon. I hate for them to disappoint young, excited readers who are looking for ways to have more fun with the books and characters.
I still think The Big Adventures of Majoko is a great series for both sexes, though I realize that boys are much less likely to read a series with two girl protagonists. The stories are short and quick-paced. There is plenty of humor to keep things entertaining and from getting too serious. It’s a great series for introducing kids to manga. Parents will enjoy the books, too. I’m glad to see Udon continue it’s commitment to quality manga for younger readers.
(The publisher provided a review copy.)