It’s Never Too Late to Be a Magical Girl!

cover of A Magical Girl Retires Park Seolyeon, translated by Anton Hurcover of A Magical Girl Retires Park Seolyeon, translated by Anton Hur

A Magical Girl Retires by Park Seolyeon, translated by Anton Hur

Millennials grew up watching Sailor Moon. Sure, many of us grew up watching the heavily censored version on American television, but the magic was still there. And watching Sailor Moon lead many of us to the manga and other magical girl series. For kids and teens, the magical girl was almost aspirational. We witnessed young girls who showed femininity being powerful. We learned that you didn’t have to be old to make a difference in the world. That you could be cute and silly and still be important. That with the right accessories, we could all transform into the most impactful, most authentic, most awe-inspiring versions of ourselves.

But that was years ago. Now millennials are entering their 30s and 40s. Many of us are in debt, working jobs that don’t pay us what we’re worth. We’re afraid of the direction our world is going in, but we’re also feeling absolutely powerless and incapable of doing anything about it. And we don’t get to do any of this while wearing cute sailor outfits. If there was ever a time to be a magical girl, surely we’ve missed our chance. Our window of opportunity is gone. The only way we’ll get to experience the magical girl is through nostalgia for the anime and manga we read in the ’90s, right?

Wrong! It’s never too late to be a magical girl. Just look at Park Seolyeon’s A Magical Girl Retires, a story about a 29-year-old millennial woman who feels completely trapped in her life. Having recently lost her job and drowning in debt, she is on the brink of jumping off Seoul’s Mapo Bridge when a woman drives up next to her and tells her now is not her time to die. In fact, her life is just beginning.

The woman turns out to be Ah Roa, a magical girl who is very much a grown woman. She’s on the hunt to find the greatest magical girl of all time, and she thinks our protagonist might be it. Yep, turns out it’s never too late to find your magic. Even when you’re in credit card debt. Our protagonist becomes a magical girl, using her magic credit card to fight the evils of climate change. But the whole ordeal is much tougher than it looks in manga! After all, being a magical girl is a full-time job, and our protagonist is certainly put to work.

As a millennial and lover of all things magical girls, I adored this celebration of all things magical girl and how they might play out in the real world. The illustrations by Kim Sanho took me back to all of my favorite mangas I read growing up. This one was such a fun read.

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