Alright i know what your thinking – “dude, its been months since the Madoka anime finished and your only NOW reviewing it?”
Well firstly it isn’t the anime I’ll be reviewing today – But instead the manga that were released at the same time.
At first glance the manga series is a relative carbon copy of the series, and as the story progresses the story does copy the anime relatively closely [ a fact helped by the artist and writer having access to the storyboards and scripts of the anime]
and yet rather than take the lazy path and simply create a carbon copy of the series, this manga has instead used the scripts and storyboards as a guide, a fact that as a result created a series that can easily stand on its own – in fact you could read this entire series without ever seeing the anime and still enjoy it. Another credit is the fact that [ no doubt in part to fan reactions to the anime as artistic licence] certain scenes from the anime series have been expanded and even [in this case of the infamous events from episode 3….you know which one] have been shown with more detail than censors would have allowed on the series.
The first of the two spin off titles for the Puella Madoka Franchise this 2 volume series serves as more of a side story [in a manner – that’s all I can say without giving outright spoilers] than as either a stand alone or as an inclusion to the main storyline.
In this story its in fact that spear wielding, apple munching redhead Kyokou Sakurai who takes the spotlight as she finds and takes in Yuma, a young orphan who, despite kyoukos best efforts, is inextricably drawn into her world when a sudden rash of Magical girl slaying’s make there way into Kyoukos neck of the woods.
To is credit, and like the anime, the villains of the piece are not simple cookie cutter villains, but instead realistically drawn out people with motivations – indeed at times you can see things from there perspective[twisted as they are].
While the artwork is detailed and able to clearly I.D. Each character my chief complaint about this series is the sudden lurch from kyoukou and Yuma and instead towards an ending that felt less story driven and more to sell more titles to the Madoka fanbase.
Kazumi magica, out of the three here, both stands on its own from the main series – and yet feels the least like Madoka – Allow me to explain……
In this [to date] 2 volume series We are introduced to our heroine Kazumi, a girl with no memories of her past and yet who has the powers of a Puella Magi, and her battles with witches. Kazumi in her none magical times lives with soccer mad Karou and popular writer Umika, fellow teens and both Puella magi [both of which are themed on their pastimes – Karou’s a football based attack, complementing Umika’s ability to create a book capable of various abilities]. Later on the cast is completed with the introduction of the Pleiades saints – a group of Puella magica that Kazumi, Karou and Umika are members of.
And yet we get the hint, like its progenitor, that things are not what they seem – like the fact that the number of attacks by witches seem to also to be related to other Puella magi.
And what are the “evil nuts”, strange grief saeed life devices that can instantlly turn anyone into a witch, Puella magi or human alike?
And Why are the Pleiades saints themselves hunting other puella Magi?
And all the while, in a more darker twist, we get the hint that Kazumi’s Past may not be as bright nd spunky as the mangas overall plot makes out…..
Be aware though that this series is a stand alone in almost every sense – with the exception of a brief nod to the original Madoka series [ and later on the addition of an all together diiferent version of Kyubey] there will be none of the original cast turning up in this series, making the characters all the more necessary to be able to stand out – which, which while managing to give them all basic character backgrounds and motivations to become Puella magi, that’s all it is – basic.
At the end of the day though, out all the possible areas that could have niggled me, its the artwork in this series, that I find annoying – gone is the detailed artwork of Madoka and Orico, and instead we are given what could best be described as someone trying to copy Noizi Itos style, and yet coming off as nothing more than a pale copy.
All in all, while at two volumes we are only beginning to scratch the surface of this universe, I cant help but wonder if we’ll be eventually awarded for our patience.
No one could deny the effect that Puella Magi madoka magica has had on anime fandom, and with a western release of the anime coming this year from Aniplex USA, that madoka has the potential to become a necessary addition to any anime fans collection.
But are the manga likewise worthwhile?
Orico, out of the three titles, stands as one that is more suited to fans of Madoka already, as there’s little in the way of introduction to the series or the characters.
With Kazumi – while it would be easy to cross this one off, there are still little hints that keep bringing me back to it every time – just like the anime!
As for Madoka – this one, while intended more for the fan of the anime, is also ideal for non Madoka fans as well, as it gives the reader everything they reed to know and is sill as gripping and as entertaining as the anime.
As of this years New York Comic con American manga publisher Yen press have announced their plan to release the the original madoka manga series in the west, starting next year.
As of this date there are no plans to release either Kazumi magica or Orico magica.