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Magica Quartet

Author of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Vol. 1

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This was really good. I would say the anime (which came first) is better, but this is pretty damn close. Got all the tunes stuck in my head again and all the emotions came back. I consider this my favorite anime.

For those who haven't watched the show, I'd do that before read this. I mean you don't have too, but the ending makes more sense. Don't be fooled by the cover because this quickly becomes a Camus-like story.
Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
I think its safe to say that Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an international phenomenon. The story is written by Magica Quartet with the art done by Hanokage, and I cannot recommend this series enough.

A new student transfers into first year high school student Madoka’s class. The girl is familiar, a person from something Madoka knows must have been a dream. It being anything else was impossible. Cats don’t offer magical powers in exchange for your deepest wish. Yet here this girl, Homura, is and she’s fighting a rather familiar looking cat. The offer is again given. If she speaks her deepest wish, she will be granted both magical powers and her wish. But it isn’t all fun and games. The world of magic is a world of high danger and seemingly little personal reward. The lost are not mourned here, and evil stalks the innocent.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is very much a subversion of the magical girl genre. Despite having many of the staples such as cute protagonists with candy colored hair and transformation scenes, a lot is done to avoid tropes and stereotypes usually associated with the genre. The story starts out rather lightheartedly. Madoka is faced with a mysterious situation and the invitation to become a magical girl. But this isn’t a world of villains easily defeated by the power of friendship alone.

The world of Madoka Magica has a hidden side. Witches stalk certain places, warding off areas so regular people can’t find them where they spread darkness and evil. These witches aren’t the typical person with dark magical powers. These are formless, changing beings of utter grotesqueness. The danger here feels much more real than in many other similar titles I’ve read. There is a real question as to whether all of the characters will come out unscathed when another battle starts. The main character also doesn’t just blindly agree to becoming a Magical Girl. Multiple people warn her about making a hasty judgement. Madoka’s own experiences enforce this. I think this is the only magical girl manga where the main character really grapples with this choice.

This grapple with what to do is enhanced by Sayaka, Madoka’s friend and fellow potential magical girl. Madoka and Sayaka, while friends, are quite different in some important ways. While Madoka doesn’t have any sort of deep wish, Sayaka does. But it isn’t a wish that would benefit her, and so she waits, contemplating her options and tries to figure out what would be best.

Something else that, perhaps, isn’t terrible important plot wise but something I very much appreciate being included is Madoka’s family. I know that may sound odd, almost irrelevant, but here me out. So very often parents are ignored or not written into a story when it would inconvenience the plot. School also often falls into this elephant in the room category. But Madoka has not one but two parents, ones that aren’t conveniently working in another city or another country, but actually live with her. Not only that, but it appears her father is a stay at home parent as he is always shown cooking for the family while Madoka’s mother, smartly dressed in a suit, hurries off to work.

I’ve never quite thought about it before, but there aren’t very many books, manga or otherwise, that portray this family dynamic. It’s one I appreciate, though, as that’s how I grew up. My mother left for work every day in a business suit and my father stayed home and tried to wrangle myself and my siblings into something resembling controlled chaos. It’s always nice seeing something in literature that so obviously resembles you, your life, or something your familiar with, and this portrayal of Madoka’s family definitely fits that bill for me.

The translation was done by William Flanagan, who is the translator of series such as Fairy Tale. I’ve always liked his translations, and Madoka Magica is not different. In particular, I appreciate how the translations of onomonpeias are handled. I’m talking specifically about the large text superimposed and combined with the background art of certain cells. A translation in small text is included, a literal translation. Beneath that is what that particular sound would be in English. For example the ‘pi! pi! pi!’ of the alarm clock has the inclusion of ‘beep! beep! beep!’ in ellipses beneath that. I like how this was done. Giving two translations doesn’t take up that much space, and helps many different kinds of readers. The translation remains very true to the text while also clearing up any possible confusion that could occur without having to flip to a glossary or notes section in the back of the manga.

The art in the manga is very versatile and captures the essence of Madoka and the two worlds she inhabits very well. Madoka is a generally kind, happy person, the sort of individual who we often follow in magical girl stories. The art reflects this well. Scenes depicting Madoka with her family and friends, or showing her at home or school art very bright with lots of white space. Backgrounds are sometimes a bit minimalist, but never to the point of nonexistence which is so often found in shojo manga. The art changes, sometimes very drastically, when faced with witches and their warded strongholds. These sections are filled with terrifying looking creatures and warped architecture. Dark shadows abound and a real sense of the macabre shines through.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is popular for a reason. This is a manga that takes traditional magical girl manga and takes it to places not usually trod. It is just as much a story about choices and people’s inner desires as it is a story about magic and the ongoing battle between good and evil. This is a series I look forward to continuing, and I cannot recommend reading Puella Magi Madoka Magica enough.

This review originally found on Looking Glass Reads.
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1 vote
kateprice88 | 2 other reviews | Jul 19, 2018 |
I admit, I would not have picked this up except it was a group read for the month. I generally don't go for new manga series anymore. I used to read a lot of manga and I followed new series but have not for over six years.

This caught my eye because I saw it described as a dark take on the magical girl genre. And it was the group read book so I figured I'd pick it up.

I really enjoyed it. I almost feel like it is a bit ruined that I went into it knowing that it is a dark take I am suspicious of the adorable creature who offers to make them magical girls in exchange for a wish. I think I will continue with the series, though I want to research how long the series is. The last thing I want is to get into an insanely long series.… (more)
renrav | 2 other reviews | Sep 22, 2013 |
Not going to lie, here, but the manga version of the end of this series is nearly as breathtaking as the one aired right after the Great Kanto-Tohoku Earthquake in March. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this series in post-earthquake Japan – a guy even volunteered for the suicide mission of going into the Fukushima reactors to stabilize the troubled rods in March because he had hope after seeing the end of the series on TV. And now, reading the manga version (which, of course, in many ways can’t compete with moving pictures and colors) has made me fall in love with this series all over again. And this is why it’s made my best of 2011 (and best of the decade so far) list. Note: if you haven’t seen the final episodes (eps 11-12) and/or read this volume of the manga, you’re going to get spoiled.

It needs to be said: at the end of the day, “Madoka Magica” is not a romantic story of magical girls, magic powers, and fluffy dreams. It is a story of loss, repeated loss, and the choice of what to do with those feelings of grief. You can choose to believe in yourself and your friends, regardless of all of the hits that keep coming, or you choose to lose hope entirely, and reject the rest of the world in favor of your own personal (even if tiny) revenge.

This is also a story of questioning if there is such thing as preordained fate (Homura’s endless time-travel to save Madoka from the fate of becoming a magical girl), and if interfering in that preordained fate just screws things up more than what was originally intended in the first place. Kyuubey says it himself in this volume: because Homura chose to become a Magical Girl, chose to endlessly pursue Madoka throughout time and space, this world and all parallel worlds because she thought she was saving her, she unwittingly created the most powerful of Witches of all time. It begs the question – do we have our fate planned out? If so, should we choose to accept whatever comes our way? Or should we fight it and risk something as possibly drastic as what Homura faces with Madoka and her alternate Witch-self?

This is what I love about this show. Nothing is easy, and everything is a risk-benefit analysis. It makes you think. Yeah, it’s got cutely-designed girls, but that’s not what it’s about. Not in the least. Once you lose hope (and you’re a Magical Girl), your Soul Gem turns to a Grief Seed and poof, you’re a Witch. There’s no reversing the process. There’s no going back. There’s no way to regain that lost innocence and lost blind faith that you once had before. And in many ways, in real life, this is very true – once you’ve lost hope in something, anything, it’s really almost impossible to get that previous innocence back.

I admire Madoka, because of her fearlessness and innocence in terms of not being afraid of what may come down the road. She saw what happened to her friends, but became a Magical Girl anyway, even if she knew she was going to be facing off with her alternate-self in order to save the world. I’m not sure I’d have the balls to do that. She lost so much, and yet, she didn’t lose hope. She nearly drowned in grief, but once she saw what it did to her friends, she managed to pick herself back up and believe once more. She even sacrificed her own bodily existence to reshape the universe so that girls wouldn’t hurt so much as to become Witches. Now that takes guts, and if I were in her shoes, I’m not sure I’d have the faith to go on.

So yeah, you can see I’m pretty passionate about this series. I cried throughout reading the last two chapters of this volume, as well as the last two episodes of the show, because I wanted to recapture my own faith in everything, my own innocence – and not in a religious sense, but in a sense of not just having to survive, but believing there’s something greater out there for me so that I can keep on fighting for it. It’s something I’ve been working on since I quit self-harming myself ten years ago, and it’s a constant struggle. “Madoka Magica” is one of those series that, even though it’s complete fantasy in terms of setting, can make you want to recapture your own ability to believe in the best of others regardless of what the truth might be.

So thank you, Madoka and co., for being there, and for giving so many hope after such a shitty first half of 2011. I sincerely hope that this series gets picked up for US licensing (since it’s Kodansha-published, I think there may be a chance for that), so that Madoka’s message gets out to all.

But don’t think that this is the end of the “Madoka” universe – not in the least. There are two more manga series, “Oriko Magica” and “Kasumi Magica: The Innocent Malice” still in production and serialization at the moment in Japan. I’ll be reviewing those soon, too. Hopefully we’ll get as much as we can before Magica Quartet calls it quits for this series and moves onto something else.

So if you want something that will make you think, laugh, and cry without being ridiculously sappy or romantic, go for “Madoka”. This is one choice in reading material you will not forget. I know I won’t.

(posted to goodreads, librarything, and
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1 vote
usagijihen | Aug 3, 2011 |

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