Feb 13 2015
Here’s a fun fact about me – I love a good Magical Girl series. The genre itself just screams female empowerment, which I’m all about. It’s a great genre to explore female friendship, relationship complexity, identity, and power of femininity and breaking away from traditional roles. And though the genre has roots firmly planted in Japanese anime and manga, the concept can transition to other media.
It’s almost natural to have a Black female lead – it’s a genre that we can really shine in. Like the Magical Girls before us, we crush ideas of femininity and power by taking our own spin on it. But alas, there hasn’t been much in the way of Black girl visibility in the Magical Girl genre.
Enter Mildred Louis, who decided to take matters into her own hands and create a Magical Girl series with a twist – not just a Black girl lead, but a whole lead of women of color! Mildred introduces the series well herself, with the following:
“Shortly after beginning their first year at college at Silvermont University, five young women discover that they’ve each been chosen to help protect not just our world, but a newly discovered sister dimension as well. As they venture forward through their college years, their lives start to take on forms of their own, providing them with new opportunities to learn just how much power they have over them. Agents of the Realm is a college years’ coming-of-age story, taking influence from a number of timeless Magical Girl-themed stories”
The main character is Norah Tanner – my new favorite unbothered Black magical girl. She’s a new freshman at Silvermont who doesn’t quite have it together. But her frizziness and preference for spending time alone is endearing – there’s nothing exciting about a perfect leading lady. She sits in the back of class, mumbles, and fumbles through situations made worse by her awkwardness. But Mildred makes it work.
While Norah fumbles her way through learning about her new powers and figuring out the mysteries of the alternative Realm, she finds other Agents along the way – each possessing different powers and strengths. You’re going to have to read it yourself to get the full effect of when Adele Silveira, Kendall Matthews, Paige Fierro, and Jordan Liu enter the scene.
Throughout reading Agents, I couldn’t help thinking about how amazing Mildred’s art and story were. The artwork moved fluidly, and I was memorized by the authenticity of the detail to each character’s design (seriously, how cool does Norah’s hair look in the panels?). And I felt that Mildred successfully created this entire world for the reader to be sucked into.
I believe that it’s necessary to have stories like Agents in the Black History Month conversation because it’s about time we took the narrative into our own hands. Black girls have long been excluded from the Magical Girl genre – and it’s a shame for that. Norah and her team is powerful and feminine, and I had so much fun reading. Most importantly, Agents of the Realm embodies a strong point about the message of #BlackComicsMonth – it’s about bringing Black stories and creatives to the forefront – to let these stories and creators be seen, heard, and celebrated. Agents of the Realmdoes this flawlessly, by redefine the meaning of femininity and girl power, and embracing diversity and Black girls at the forefront.
Here’s to the success of Agents of the Realm and the hope that more folks go out and support this necessary narrative of the power of Black girlhood.