second verse, same as the first

The Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo ~Bewitched Agnes~ manga began serialization in Dengeki Comic Gao last month, and with two chapters and a short promotional video to its name I thought it was high time that this upcoming series was brought to light.

The only concrete information we have about the anime thus far is that it is airing for 13 episodes in the summer of 2005, is animated by J.C. Staff, and the main character is voiced by Inoue Kikuko. What follows is conjecture based on a reading of the first two chapters of the manga, and while the writing credit goes to J.C. Staff and thus suggests close parallels to the anime, its accuracy can’t be guaranteed.

In the manga the main character’s name is Agnes Bell, and is one of four “Magicality” girls come from the land of Lilum to watch over the generic Japanse suburb they have inhabited. The other three have settled into normal, happy lives, but Agnes (known as Asaba Ureshiko to the non-magical folk around her) is having some difficulties. At 27 she has already gone through one husband, a process no doubt expedited by her dual role as the Ring Master, the one bearing primary magical responsibilty for an arbitrary quadrant of her plebian Japanese surroundings. As such she can’t afford to relinquish her magical abilities, and here’s where the gimmick of the story comes in: if a Magicality girl kisses a member of the opposite sex, she loses her magic. Forever. The other three girls have done this but Agnes has not, a sad comment on her love life with her (former) husband and the perfect plot hook for a romantic comedy brewing with the college senior who shows up in the first chapter to board at her house (to be close to his new internship, of course).

Agnes seems caught between a childhood of magical girl antics and the responsibilties of a mature adult, not wanting to let go of the former but subconsciously craving the latter. Events are conspiring to force her to choose between them, as a new recruit from Lilum appears to challenge her for the Ring Master position. It seems that much of the overt conflict in the manga will arise from this character, who has the capricious temperament of a demonic Yotsuba, not making Agnes’ choice to pass the wand to a successor any easier.

As a magical girl story the manga is failing thus far; we haven’t seen a single transformation sequence, dilemma of the week, or much magic aside from the new Ring Master candidate’s pranks. I don’t know to what extent the promotional clip that my screencaps are from has any bearing on the anime plot, but if it is at all indicative it seems it will diverge from the manga significantly. I wouldn’t mind this; although I am enjoying the manga for its fine art (reminder: scan some samples) and generally entertaining premise, it’s not what I was expecting from a show with “Mahou Shoujo” in the title. As the anime release approaches no doubt more information will come to light in this regard.

A final note: a Google search for “Bewitched Agnes” yielded this. I think (hope, pray) that it is a coincidence.