**spoiler alert** Suddenly, Kyuubei isn’t looking so adorable anymore.
The manga definitely shows the bonding between Kyouko and Sayaka far better than...more**spoiler alert** Suddenly, Kyuubei isn’t looking so adorable anymore.
The manga definitely shows the bonding between Kyouko and Sayaka far better than the anime – but this was probably due to time constraints per episode. But within manga, one panel can hold what an entire episode of the anime can hold just with facial expressions and body positions alone. Kyouko’s story was a little less bloody than the anime, which was a shame, but there are things you can do in animation you can’t do in manga. Two sides of the same coin shown here with both Kyouko and Sayaka’s relationship and Kyouko’s backstory/wish when she became a magical girl.
The pentultimate chapter of this second volume’s title pretty much sums up Sayaka thus far within the story: “hontou no kimochi wo mukiaemasuka? (will you confront your true feelings?)”. She was pretty rash about becoming a magical girl, and now she has to pay for her wish that she must fight for, or die. And the scene where she finally just breaks down during her battle with one of the Witches is just as shocking and memorable as what was aired on television. If anything, the few panels used in the manga just enhanced the feeling of Sayaka’s descent into rage and madness.
On the shallow side of things: oh man, the magical girl transformations are so much cooler in the manga. WOW. I love Kyouko’s the most out of the four I’ve seen so far (Mami, Kyouko, Sayaka, Homura).
And oh god, Kyuubei eating his own corpse as he so casually explains how and why the universe needs Witches and magical girls…that’s still high-octane nightmare fuel (if anything, worse than the animated version). I’m going to be seeing that in my nightmares for the next few weeks alone.
And of course, we end just as Sayaka plunges into the deep end of her madness and Kyouko watches her. Ugh I can’t wait until the final book – waiting is torture!
(crossposted to librarything and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)(less)
**spoiler alert** 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 G...more**spoiler alert** 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 librarything, goodreads, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)(less)
Totally retouched and retranslated, Dark Horse Comics’ delicious new omnibus edition of the first series of “Magic Knight Rayearth” is miles above Tok...moreTotally retouched and retranslated, Dark Horse Comics’ delicious new omnibus edition of the first series of “Magic Knight Rayearth” is miles above Tokyopop/Mixx’s previous effort first published 10 years ago. Kids, this series is apart of the golden era of shoujo manga. If you want to read a classic “magical girl” scenario with a twist, you always know to go to CLAMP. This retouch of “MKR” is just a reminder of CLAMP’s ability to pull you in regardless of your age, gender, sex, or preferences in terms of comics, anime, and manga.
After Tokyopop’s version went out of print several years ago, I was afraid that “MKR” would be lost to the North American market for a long time. Luckily, Dark Horse went and scooped up the license, and then gave “MKR” the treatment it deserved from the get-go with a beautiful new, detailed translation (far more accurate than Tokyopop’s), as well as retouching the actual art before slapping it all together into one volume. There are six volumes in the series, split into two plot lines known as I and II. This edition collects the first three volumes, or the first plot line, I, in one volume. And considering how expensive English-translated manga has become, Dark Horse is doing us all a solid by releasing this in one omnibus for a low price.
Dark Horse’s retouches have made the colors brighter, the shadows darker, the lines sharper, and all of the little details stand out in a way that couldn’t have happened during its original serialization both here and in Japan in the early to mid ’90s. Thankfully, technology has given us the tools to give series like this the midas touch and make them gleam like they should have (but weren’t necessarily able to) from the start.
“MKR” was one of my first manga series that I read in English, so it’ll always have a place in my heart even with the early shoddy translation by Mixx, later Tokyopop. But now I feel like that place has been given a good spring (or summer?) cleaning with all of the cobwebs and possible questions now gone and instead in its place, a shining throne for one of the best shoujo series of the ’90s.
This is going to be a pretty short review, as I’m just looking at Dark Horse’s re-release of the original, but all I can say is that I am one happy customer. This is definitely going on my bookshelf once I get the funds (thanks to net galley for the preview, though, you guys area awesome). This is how it should have been done, people. This is what CLAMP’s stories deserve, no matter which ones they are.
If you’re a fan of the shoujo/magical girl genre, this definitely deserves at least one read, if not a place on your own shelf. You need to read one of the best titles of the ’90s so you can come share my nostalgia of How Manga Used to Be. All joking aside, definitely give Dark Horse’s retouch of this series a look. I think you’ll like what you’ll find.
(posted to librarything, goodreads, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)(less)
I’ve been a fan of “Kannagi” since the anime came out a few years back, and thanks to Bandai publishing it in English, I’ve been able to catch up on v...moreI’ve been a fan of “Kannagi” since the anime came out a few years back, and thanks to Bandai publishing it in English, I’ve been able to catch up on volumes I haven’t always been able to get my hands on the original versions for in the States. Nagi is an awesome character, and this series is so very fun because it plays with very old ideas, and then (lovingly) parodies them with new ones (not to mention obvious anime/manga cliches like maid cafes, moe characters, and magical girls) without becoming a cliche itself.
This volume delves into Nagi’s sister, whose tree wound up on (Catholic) church land, and how their original united story became two separate tales within Shinto culture. I love how Takenashi made this tale truly her own, so along with fighting sisters we have the more subtle commentary on two faiths battling it out in modern Japan (Catholicism vs. Buddhist-Shinto/Shinto) for people’s hearts and beliefs. Or maybe I’m reading into it too much to come to that conclusion, I’m not sure, but that’s what it felt like when reading it.
This is also a story about identity crisis – mainly Nagi’s, as introduced in volume 1. Modern man seems to have no respect for the old ways, and so when her tree gets chopped down and she becomes free from it, she feels useless in terms of her job of getting rid of evil spirits/keeping bad things away. But the way Takenashi solves this is hilarious – by having Nagi discover magical girl-genre anime, demand that she be given a magic stick like the one in the TV show she watched, and now actually uses it to banish evil spirits. Art following reality following art? A little confusing but awesome all the same.
Takenashi ratchets this up in the second volume with the introduction of Zange, her little sister and the second Nagi tree, and how the two are fighting for Jin’s attention/affection/friendship/etc. Her little sister’s tree is still standing, and she’s committed a taboo – taking possession of a human body for a long period of time. So Nagi gets yet another layer of angst piled onto her identity crisis – her sister is still whole, and more powerful than ever, not afraid to trample human beings that have forgotten the old ways in order to attain “graven idol” status. This isn’t to say that Zange’s evil, but she’s very mischievous, and she has her own goals of topping her older sister and attaining worship over her to take over the legend of the tree. Misguided ambition, maybe, would be the terms best suited for Zange, but that doesn’t stop Nagi from continuing to banish evil, even with her ridiculous magical girl stick, now decorated with traditional Shinto sacred paper to help her in her fight. She’s an annoyance, but a dangerous one, which gives us a little taste of foreshadowing for future volumes to come.
Oh, and Nagi treats herself like a goddess AND a magical girl hero, too. It’s fabulous.
The translation in certain parts is iffy (“Fool of a Jin”, which I’m guessing came from “Jin no baka”, would probably sound better as “Foolish Jin”), and so it feels like Bandai kind of banged this one out instead of giving it a good workover like it deserves. It’s not like they have that many manga projects going on, so I kind of expected more from them on this one.
Otherwise? This is a really fun installment in the series, and I encourage everyone who hasn’t read the first volume to do so. The great thing is that anything you might not understand in terms of cultural or translation notes, Bandai does provide them at the end of the book. Good on them! So don’t worry about the stuff you might not get, and just go with the flow for the “Kannagi” series. It’s just that fun and awesome.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)(less)