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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

Currently reading

The Dead Zone
Stephen King
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
Samuel Richardson, Angus Ross
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Piper Kerman
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Vol. 01 - Magica Quartet, Hanokage In 2011, I started watching the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica as it was airing in Japan. I don't normally watch anime this way (but when I do – *shot*) but Madoka was incredible from all technical standpoints. The writing, the art, the animation, the music, the character and background designs, everything about it was so wonderfully neat and polished. (Yes, like all anime it had its quality and off-model moments, but man. I'm currently saving up for the series on Blu-Ray, because it's simply too gorgeous to only behold in standard definition.)So naturally, I picked up the manga when it came out over here. I just couldn't get enough of this delightfully dark and subversive magical girl story, which made me bawl my eyes out during the last episode, so hard that I actually needed to be comforted by a family member. The anime is that good.Hanokage and Magica Quartet's manga adaptation follows the anime to the letter, and while this is usually a complaint, I have no qualms with it whatsoever. It still feels fresh. It's nice to look at the slight differences in art, character expressions, dialogue, and compare and contrast them. I mean, I had no idea that the manga would actually go as far as showing Mami having her head ripped off by Charlotte the witch, and all the blood and gore that went with it. The anime cuts away to Homura breaking free of the binding spell Mami cast on her earlier, and Madoka and Sayaka's shocked reactions as Charlotte throws Mami down to the ground and starts devouring her off-screen. Charlotte also looks a hell of a lot scarier than I remember her in the anime. Okay, in the anime she's kind of cute and goofy, until she unhinges her jaw like a snake and unveils her rows of razor sharp teeth, but uh... the manga forgoes any attempt of that and just shows us this:I also really love Madoka Magica for just how grounded in reality it really feels, despite dealing with... you know, magical fantasy. There's serious gravity and emotional consequences to the girls' choices, and there's one particular scene with Sayaka asking Mami if she should use this one wish (that Kyubey grants in exchange for them becoming Puella Magi) for somebody else's sake. Mami replies: “Do you actually want them to have their dream come true? Or do you just want them to be indebted to you for making it come true?” Having seen the anime, there's also a great scene where Kyoko confronts Sayaka about it – because surprise surprise, when Sayaka makes the wish for her injured friend Kamijou's sake in the hopes he might reciprocate her affections and return to his one passion in life, he starts dating her best friend instead. Ouch. (Also, the writer of the anime himself commented that even if Sayaka and Kamijou had this 'happy ending' where they started going out with each other, it wouldn't necessarily work out for them in the least.)Okay, now, back to the manga. I love the artwork and character designs. All the inking is so light and airy, and everyone just looks so adorable. Kyubey reminds me more so of one of those super cute Normal-type Pokémon, like Minccino, Eevee, or Buneary. Maybe it's because Kyubey doesn't have those soul-sucking red eyes in the manga, and they have more expression to them in this medium than in the anime. Still, it's not like Kyubey isn't scary in the manga, right? ...Right?(Christ, it's like the artist looked up an image of the Jeff the Killer meme and thought of the best way to translate it to the face of a Pretty Cure mascot.)Nope, Kyubey's still his manipulative, conniving and ever so adorable self. Granted, the former descriptors don't really happen in this volume, but you still get the hackles on the back of your neck raising when he's prancing around Madoka halfway through and telling her she's so naturally talented, her magical powers would be on par with a goddess. Right at a moment when Madoka is pondering about her insecurities and how weak she feels. Oh, and he's perched not a few feet away when Sayaka visits Kamijou in hospital for the second time, when he's feeling absolutely terrible and Sayaka just wants so badly for him to stop being in such pain. Damn you, you little cat-weasel-fox-alien thing!The supporting characters are all great too. Mami's her usual playful self, and her horribly sad backstory strikes a more poignant chord for me in the manga than it does in the anime. You see, Mami was dying when Kyubey pounced in front of her and offered her the choice to become a Puella Magi. Thus, she wants Madoka and Sayaka to think very carefully about their wishes, since she never had the choice herself. And it's ultimately tragic, because Sayaka rushes into her decision not one chapter after Mami is killed.I also can't wait to see more of Kyoko in this manga. She was one of my favourite characters in the anime, but I'm going to have to read the second volume, of course.To conclude, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a very well done manga, a darker version of your typical magical girl series, accomplished by mixing it in with some pretty nightmarish images contrasting some feel-good fluffy shoujo art, and a Faustian contract with a bucketload of angst. 5/5.(This review is also available on my blog: http://book-wyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/manga-review-puella-magi-madoka-magica.html)