It’s often difficult to reconcile the differences between science and magic in a work of fiction that discusses both. However, the concept of both coexisting is a fun one to explore, and with the right care, it can be a good one. How to Treat Magical Beasts: Mine and Master’s Medical Journal is a great first volume that uses magical powers and scientific prowess to help out the protagonists treat otherworldly creatures.
How to Treat Magical Beasts opens with Ziska, a young apprentice of an unnamed veterinarian who comes from a family of mages. While her magical powers are not as strong yet, she is nevertheless determined to be proficient. However, the world she lives in believes in magic less and less, and as a result, most of the people in her village are unable to see the titular creatures that roam the land. This means that she struggles with taking care of the multitude of magical beasts that are in need of assistance. While her veterinarian mentor denies that he believes in magic, after the first chapter where he sees and helps Ziska with tending to a Lindworm (a dragon-like creature), it’s apparent that there’s more than meets the eye. From here, we are treated to an episodic slice-of-life fantasy of the day-to-day adventures of the duo as they work with their regular clients as well as their irregular ones.
Like Seven Seas’ previous western release of Giant Spider and Me, I thought this premise was a weird one that oddly worked out in the end. However, unlike the former, How to Treat Magical Beasts has a consistent tone within its story, not veering to horrifying or cute suddenly. While the creatures do have some magical backstory attached to them, they’re portrayed as majestic rather than terrifying. The mood matches the art style, which feels laid back and soft, and there aren’t that many distracting elements within the volume. This rings true with the bonus pages after each chapter, which are intentionally drawn in a lightly sketched style, I was expecting lighthearted fantasy, and it matched my expectations.
While scientific jargon is not explained too much here, in How to Treat Magical Beasts, it’s more centered with medicine and illnesses pertaining to veterinarians. Much like the magical portrayals, the science elements are lightly touched upon. The veterinarian does talk to Ziska about the implications of using undocumented remedies, as well as the fact that modern medicine might not work on the various creatures the duo treats., It might disappoint those looking for a harder look at the science of mystical beings, but what’s offered is accessible enough that someone not familiar with medical terminology would be able to understand the situation at hand. It helps that the explanations during tense moments (such as when an animal is on the verge of death), contribute to the dire mood the manga conveys.
The main characters are good foils for one another, but the lack of interesting backstory unfortunately makes them a little too underdeveloped for my taste currently. Ziska is a determined but inexperienced mage, but other than some passing references to her heritage (specifically to the type of magic her family practiced), it’s not fully explored. Even the story regarding how she ended up with the veterinarian is barely mentioned, which would be a perfect plot thread to begin within the first volume.
That being said, there is some great banter between the two main characters, with the veterinarian posing some good questions about science and magic while remaining grounded in his world’s realism. Ziska, on the other hand, wants to help everything they encounter, which can turn detrimental to her if she overdoes performing her magic. I hope that future volumes would go into Ziska’s backstory a little more since it would help with expanding characterization in the future.
How to Treat Magical Beasts: Mine and Master’s Medical Journal Volume 1
The first volume of How to Treat Magical Beasts: Mine and Master’s Medical Journal is a delightful treat that appeals to all ages. Its handling of the mundane and magical is a theme done well, and the duo of main characters is a likable one indeed.