Review by Frank Plowright
The cover blurb describes Jade Street Protection Services as a cross between The Breakfast Club and Sailor Moon, and that’s spot on, but it completely avoids the highs of both. A group of girls being trained at a magical high school all earn detention, but having some magical skill means their ability to avoid detention is easier for them than it would be for others. It proves a bonding experience beyond anything they might have imagined, drawing them closer together and making them realise that trust is a commodity in short supply.
Interesting moments occur in Katy Rex and Fabian Lelay’s magical fantasy set largely in the real world, but it never entirely gels as a whole. Spirits are high, there’s a lot of can-do attitude and bravery, while diversity is ingrained from the start. However, while there’s effort made in handing out personality traits, the cast never transcend box-ticking apart from Emma, from whose viewpoint we see much of what happens. She’s the shy and insecure person, surprised the remainder of the class invite her along on their adventure in the first place, and still at a loss when hanging out. Her self-doubt transmits at a deeper level than the characteristics of the remaining cast.
Lelay’s art doesn’t really sell the project either. His surface style is taken from manga, but there’s no consistency. Some panels will feature a really nice side-on facial portrait of a cast member, while another standing next to them has a squinty face with poorly placed eyes. Considering the possibilities of people using magic, there’s not enough visual imagination either. It leaves the impression of Lelay being a promising artist, but not quite at professional standard.
He also contributes to the plot, which has a spark and those nice moments, such as ideas about knitting and cockroaches. Overall, though, Jade Street Protection Services has the feeling of creators reaching for something, but falling short.