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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. 02 - Magica Quartet, Hanokage Thank you, Madoka Magica. I really needed that punch in the gut.So, here we are with the second volume of the manga, which covers roughly episodes 5 to 8 of the anime. Naturally, the story this time mainly revolves around Sayaka, who has now become a magical girl for the sake of healing her friend Kyousuke Kamijou. However, just as Mami foretold and Kyoko continues to warn her, becoming a Puella Magi just so you could make somebody else's wish come true never works out. Ever. As Kyoko says: “You see, miracles are not free of consequence. The faith you put into your wish is equal to the amount of despair it will bring. If you add them up, it all equals to zero, so that everything is according to the laws of this world.”I mean, Sayaka starts out in this volume as fairly confident in her abilities as a Puella Magi, and then she just keeps being thrown down to rock bottom. It's never over the top, though. Shortly after Sayaka nearly dies when Madoka mistakenly throws away her Soul Gem, we get a glimpse into Kyubey's crueler side as he shows Sayaka the meaning of true pain for magical girls, and admits to leaving out information on certain parts of the contract, because nobody bothered to ask. "Hmph. You girls always react this way when I tell you the truth. Each and every time. What's the big deal, anyway? Why does your soul matter so much to you? I just don't get it." And also: "The only wrong thing I did was omitting some details about the changes your body would undergo." Feel free to shake your fist angrily at this fictional cat-weasel-fox-alien creature. I know I sure am.Sayaka's reaction to everything is totally natural, and she goes through denial, anger, depression, and then some form of acceptance, but by then, it's way too late, and her despair turns her Soul Gem into a Grief Seed, thus ensuring the birth of a new witch. Her argument with Madoka is really painful to read, and her breakdown with Kyoko in the final chapter is just heartbreaking. However, Sayaka isn't the only despairing magical girl in this world. Kyoko and Homura have their fair share of issues caused and exacerbated by becoming a magical girl, and while the focus of this volume is mainly on Sayaka, these two also get a chance in the spotlight. Kyoko starts the volume at Sayaka's throat, despising her and telling her she was an idiot for wishing for the sake of somebody else. Despite their initial misgivings, Kyoko mellows out and shares a moment with Sayaka, on why she regrets ever wasting her one chance for a miracle on somebody else, and it's really quite sad. Sayaka's reaction is one of feeling sorry for Kyoko on the one hand, but sticking to her newfound principles on the other.Homura, on the other hand, shouts at Madoka for being so oblivious to what's really going on, and how both Madoka and Sayaka are now beyond her help. It may seem a bit of an overreaction, but when you learn – in the next volume/batch of anime episodes – why Homura is the way she is... it's pretty gut-wrenching stuff.And all the while, Kyubey is never far away. His dialogue, actions, and even his facial expressions undergo this slow metamorphosis into being extremely creepy over the course of this volume. Remember in the last review where I said in one panel, Kyubey looks like the Jeff the Killer meme? Yep, he cracks out two of those really frightening faces towards the end of this volume.It's okay, Magica Quartet and Hanokage. I wasn't planning on sleeping tonight, anyway.Enough about facial expressions, though. Kyubey is manipulative and merciless as ever. He prances around Madoka promising her the powers of a goddess, he chastises Sayaka for not thinking before she contracted, tells Sayaka that Madoka would be so much more powerful than any Puella Magi in the world (which results in Sayaka yelling at Madoka during one of her breakdowns). He even very nearly gets Madoka to enter into his contract, preying on her kindness and her desire to help Sayaka out of her depression, and promising Madoka power when she is at her most vulnerable. Because, like Kyoko proved earlier, making a wish to help somebody else always works out for the best. Right?I mean, Kyubey can't exactly lie – just withhold information – but man, if he ever teamed up with Johan Liebert from Monster (as cracky as it may be), I really think Johan's wish to become the last person standing at the end of the world would come true. Ahem.Kyubey also pulls this creepy line out on the very last page, and going back to Naoki Urasawa's Monster, it's one of the rare times a still image in a manga has actually scared me. (I won't tell you which panel I was scared of in Monster, because it's in the final volume and I don't wait to spoil that series for anybody.) Anyway, Kyubey pulls out yet another Jeff the Killer expression and says: "In this world, a woman who is still on her way to maturity is called a 'girl', right? Then... isn't it possible that all of you who are on their way to becoming witches... are called magical girls?" You can almost hear the 'DUN DUN DUNNN', can't you?5/5.(This review is also available on my blog: http://book-wyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/manga-review-puella-magi-madoka-magica_5.html)