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Thorn Explains: Magic Items

Thorn Explains: Magic Items published on 23 Comments on Thorn Explains: Magic Items


Leif: Magical girls need special items to transform, right? Like a locket or a pen? Doesn’t that mean . . . if the item gets lost, they’re sunk?

Thorn: Oh, losing your magic is a lot harder than that.

Transformation items are a little bit like heartswords — they appear “out of nowhere” when the magical girl’s power activates for the first time. Either because you were working to learn it, or because you were in a situation so desperate, your magic automatically manifested in response.

From then on — also like a heartsword — you don’t have to physically carry it around! You can summon it from “hammerspace” at the moment you need to transform.

So these items are basically impossible to just lose. The only way to really get sunk is if someone takes the transformation item and destroys it. Then you won’t be able to transform again . . .

Until some new dramatic situation gives you the power to manifest a replacement. (Usually with a higher power level, and a cool new outfit.)

When a Dark Magical Girl gets caught, they’re usually sentenced to “a period of time in power-blocking bracelets” and “destruction of their current transformation item.”

When a case comes up for bracelet-removal, the reviewers consider whether they’re more likely to manifest their next item out of “a drive to do good” or “a drive to keep doing evil, but this time with more power.”

Leif: So if a dark magical got half their bracelets off, could they only manifest half an item?

Thorn: Either that, or get stuck halfway through the transformation. . . . That’s totally a guess! Not a scenario I’ve seen in person, or anything!

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23 Comments

I’m safe in presuming there’s a more legalistic means to determine when a magical is and isn’t safe to consider reformed? Because just saying they’re “driven to do good” honestly doesn’t mean much.

What would you say is the legalistic means to determine when a real-world person is eligible for parole?

I’d imagine for Ceannis, there’s gotta be some kind of release program, monitoring, so kinda like K? Only I can’t imagine K is being treated the same as other magicals that have gone rogue. Saying someone is “evil” doesn’t mean shit, it’s how they broke the laws of the nation they reside is. Legally, Laceleaf’s stalker can be convicted of disorderly conduct, terroristic threats, etc. Same with K, seeing as he committed four murders and several dozen cases of involuntary manslaughter. But that’s not “good” or “evil”, so you’d basically have to keep rogue magicals under lifetime observation/parole regardless of their incarceration status.

I asked about real-world parole, though. What’s the American legalistic means to decide “it’s safe to consider this non-magical person reformed, and start lifting restrictions that were placed on them in response to a mundane crime they committed”?

And I mean a broad/generic answer, not a specific case study from a particular criminal. Because this strip isn’t about dissecting specific cases either, it’s about trying to give a simple summary of the overall idea.

I mean, real world American parole involves the individual in question typically either being sentenced to parole or supervised release off the bat (Typically either because of the severity of the crime or, more realistically, their melanin count). Coming out of actual incarceration, I believe that the individual can have a point where they’re either eligible for parole or can petition the court to have the ability to go before the parole board.

Granted, certain criminals don’t *get* a chance for parole (Serial killers and extremely violent offenders come to mind). It’s also very much on the decision of the board reviewing the parole, but then we get into individual ideas on what prison and incarceration are for. Plus, there’s the whole, “Each state has its own laws and regulations” deal. Plus, in the US there’s no federal parole system, they got rid of it in the late 80s.

Overall, it’s still at the discretion of any individuals reviewing the case on whether or not the individual applying for release is considered a, “threat to society”. If anyone else can correct me or add in anything I forgot, please do so.

Welp, that all lines up with my (non-professional, I’m definitely not a lawyer) understanding of how it works.

So in Ceannis, the legalistic process is, the magical person either becomes eligible for power-blocking parole or successfully petitions to go before the power-blocking parole board. And it’s at the discretion of any individuals reviewing the case on whether or not the magical individual applying for release is considered to have “a drive to keep doing evil.”

…which is too much text to comfortably squeeze into the comic. But maybe I could replace Thorn’s “when we think…” with something like “when the individuals with legal authority to review the case have reviewed it, and consider…”

(Okay, that’s still pretty long, but I’ll work on it.)

Does Leif mean “pin”, not “pen”? It’s hard (though amusing) to imagine a mage holding a transformation fountain pen instead of a staff.

And I’d always wondered about Kale’s half-transformation. Is it painful or uncomfortable to get stuck partway through, like not being able to take a full breath?

Flora’s right, pens were famously used for most of the transformations in Sailor Moon! (One of the few trends that wasn’t copied by the entire magical-girl genre afterward. I guess everyone found jewelry was more merchandisable.)

They almost never get used for actually writing anything, but the manga reveals that they can only write the truth…so Venus immediately starts using it on her homework, to get all the answers right.

I apologize to all Sailor Moon fans (I missed the bandwagon as a child, and couldn’t get into it as an adult). I’d seen a little merchandise like that around, but I didn’t know it was based on real transformation items from the show!

Can heartswords be destroyed as well?

I’d imagine “no” because of the implications (damaging your soul and that of all your future incarnations!?) But I’d have thought many of the same implications applied to transformation items too, so.

At a guess: Heartblades MAY change if something soul-deep changes, e.g. Thorn theorized that a Heartblade-wielder who became a Vampire would see changes… So perhaps soul-deep distress may warp the blade, but I think they’re proof against external tampering.

Now I’m curious what Kale’s Heartsword would be.

My bet is a backsword. “Straight, single edged blade. Can be pessimistic. Practical and determined.”

In fact, no — if Kale was a natural backsword, he would’ve been more suspicious of Northwind Prismaceuticals from the start, and probably would’ve made an earlier exit with less collateral damage!

They sucked him in because he was an optimist. They manipulated him by playing to his belief that everyone was basically good and well-intentioned, and put him in the role of a rescuing hero. He’s a currently-very-traumatized broadsword.

Leif, btw, is a saber. The way to manipulate him is by setting impossibly-high standards, convincing him they’re legitimate, and then guilt-tripping him for not meeting them.

…I haven’t picked the heartsword types for every single character, but if you want to know how a backsword responds to being controlled by an oppressive system, I’m pretty sure that’s Katya.

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