Here’s our spoiler-free review of magnifiqueNOIR Book One: I Am Magical by Briana Lawrence. Get your copy by becoming a member today and then join us in the member portal to get your questions answered by Briana!
One doesn’t have to be a Magical Girl anime aficionado to appreciate magnifiqueNOIR. This is story about friendship, about complicated relationships, and about discovering your truth. It’s also a story about kick-ass, queer, black women with magical powers and cute outfits.
As someone who was introduced to anime via Sailor Moon, and who is only partially out as bisexual, this book speaks deeply to me. Briana’s style of writing brings all the pink, sparkly, magical fun that the genre demands and layers in rich character development. She writes about beautiful and not-so-beautiful things, but all in a beautiful way.
And the cakes. Oh my goodness the cakes! You’ll want to eat them right off the page. Marianna, otherwise known as Galactic Purple, works in a bakery and Briana spares no detail.
Here’s the breakdown of magnifiqueNOIR: I Am Magical using our Scale:
Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt, Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts, Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts
magnifiqueNOIR features four magical black women who predominantly interact with each other and with other women important in their lives.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts
For those unfamiliar with Magical Girl as a genre, this is a great introduction featuring all the Magical Girl staples: secret hideout, mysterious leader, monsters from an unknown origin, cute outfits, cute yet powerful attacks unique to each character. Think of it as a feminine alternative to the machismo of Marvel’s Avengers, with the same level of firepower.
While the overarching plot of the book relates to monsters and how to defeat them, the real underpinnings of the story are the relationships that develop between the members of magnifiqueNOIR. Each woman approaches being a Magical Girl differently, which can lead to tensions in the group as the pressures of battling monsters threatens to tear them apart at the seams.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the romance in magnifiqueNOIR. Briana balances several romantic subplots ranging from new crushes to “it’s complicated”. Your heart will squee for Bree, or Cosmic Green, as she bumbles her way through starting a new relationship.
Briana Lawrence is not just a writer though; her artwork, as well as the work of other artists, is sprinkled throughout the book in an appetizing mixture of character bios and mini-comics. As readers we get a peak inside the mind of the author and how she intended for her characters to be seen. The mini-comics enhance certain scenes in the book, and sometimes add new information you wouldn’t get just from reading the story.
Above and Beyond General Media = 5/5 pts
Briana adds depth and breadth to the genre, unpacking what Magical Girls look like when they are black and queer. Briana goes out of her way to demonstrate how the different support networks of each girl, particularly when it comes to being “out” with their families, affects their confidence level and moods. It is this level of raw emotion and realism that lifts magnifiqueNOIR above it’s peers.
Unlike a good portion of entries in the Magical Girl genre, with magnifiqueNOIR you’ll get equal parts substance and form. The sugary sweet is perfectly balanced with the bittersweet realities of day-to-day life.
Watch the magnifiqueNOIR: I Am Magical book trailer: