**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**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)...more
**spoiler alert** Suddenly, Kyuubei isn’t looking so adorable anymore.
The manga definitely shows the bonding between Kyouko and Sayaka far better than**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)...more
I don't see what all the complaints are about re: this volume of the Fringe comics. While, if you've been watching the sh(crossposted to librarything)
I don't see what all the complaints are about re: this volume of the Fringe comics. While, if you've been watching the show more or less in order, you would have already known the particular chapter of Broyles' backstory that they chose to include here (which is why I didn't give it the extra star). But the rest were particularly interesting, especially Nina's story (which was particularly sad), and what really sealed the deal for Peter to leave Iraq to come with Olivia. Gene's little story was both cute and scary as hell. Olivia's story was a little too short for my liking, and it left me hankering for more.
As for the 'Beyond the Fringe' one-off stories, I think I liked the story about the library the best. I won't spoil its contents, but I think an episode could really be developed around that little chapter. And the story of Lola was awesome, too. I hope that there are more comics to come!...more
This is a gorgeous, wonderful book. I just have to say that right up front. It has all that I look for in this genre (alternate history/steampunk) – mThis is a gorgeous, wonderful book. I just have to say that right up front. It has all that I look for in this genre (alternate history/steampunk) – mad scientists, detectives, general paranormal activity, feisty females, and a little (but not too much) romance. Oh, and did I mention it also features a primitive version of Skynet?
When you throw all of the above mentioned features together and put it into an accessible YA package, you have my heart for life. This is a great adventure and relief to read – I was afraid that it might be too stereotypically chick-lit in terms of the romance area (considering the publisher being Harlequin and all), but Cross writes it in so subtly that you’re halfway in before you figure out what’s going on between Finley and Griff. And that itself is a breath of fresh air when you consider anything with romance in the realm of YA, especially as of late.
All of these elements are hard to get right by themselves, much less when you throw them together and make a delicious soup like this one.
And then there’s the mystery element – who is the machinist? What are his objectives? Cross subtly builds up the tension between the romance and the appearances of Jack Dandy (Jack the Ripper), along with trying to keep Finley’s head (and soul) together yet balances all of these things with the talent of someone from Cirque du Soleil. And the primitive version of Skynet robots killing (or horribly maiming) people! I enjoyed all aspects of this book, and can find no faults at all with it. And coming from me? I guess that’s high praise, seeing how picky I am and all.
Aside from the novella that’s just been released, I really hope that this isn’t the last full-length book set in Cross’ finely constructed ‘verse. I’ll be reviewing the novella as well, but I’ll still be waiting for news on a second book. More like squirming in my seat like a five year old, but you get the idea.
Want some steampunk that’s empowering for girls? Pick up “The Girl in the Steel Corset”. Afterwards, you’ll want a steel corset of your very own.
(crossposted to shelfari, librarything, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more
Oh man, that ending. Sign me up for book 2. “Anna Dressed In Blood” reminds me a lot of “Supernatural” – except with a younger (only child4.5/5 stars!
Oh man, that ending. Sign me up for book 2. “Anna Dressed In Blood” reminds me a lot of “Supernatural” – except with a younger (only child) protagonist and a kick-ass antagonist and an ending that definitely won’t leave you alone. If you’re not cool with gore or scary stuff, this may not be the book for you as Blake holds nothing back in her excellent abilities in the sensory language and imagery department. However, I loved this one, and it’s definitely on my list for best of 2012 so far.
What the most wonderful thing about this book is the fact that Blake has no fear whatsoever in torturing her darlings in order to get what she wants from them – and nowhere is this more obvious than the case of poor Anna. However, even though she does torture her darlings (and frequently), she also gives them tools with the power to fight back – which is one thing that also makes this book so unique. It seemed no matter what Blake did to make the situation worse, her characters were able to deal with it in a credible (even with the fantastic and phantasmagoria as subject matter) way. Her world is very stably and tightly built, and I found no areas where I found things weak or insufficient – Blake is also really great at worldbuilding, as well as her character construction and arcs. While I did want a little more on Will (especially when it comes to the last third of the book), but over all I’m very satisfied with what I got.
As I said before, Blake’s use of sensory language and imagery was so impressive that there were points where I had to put the book down, walk away and digest (no pun intended) what was going on. I’m a fan of gore in my books, especially in YA, and Blake definitely didn’t hold back there – so I hope more YA authors also get the courage to put a bit more gore in their horror novels. But it wasn’t just the gore that was finely done – I could feel Anna’s hair, hear the drip of the blood from her dress, feel the smoky ghosts and taste the incense and oil from Cas’s mom. I love it when I can fully immerse myself in a world with no distractions and Blake definitely writes one great world from the sensory angle – definitely one of the best YA debuts in the sensory department of the last two years.
Blake also brings in the classic gothic genre angle to this concerning how she structured Anna’s story and Thunder Bay, which was also wonderful as it’s rare to find a good modern gothic genre novel. The supernatural angles are richly diverse with some I’ve never even heard of before (the cousin of Voodoo, for example) which made for an even better reading experience.
I also loved the fact that I saw nothing about this book (except for maybe the romance element – I had the feeling it might happen, and it did) coming. The twists and turns truly surprised me, and in a good way. I love it when the author can do that as very little in YA feels that surprising or original anymore, and for a debut this was really well done. I love it when the author can hit me over the head with their plot twists and make me love them even more for doing so, and Blake does this all in spades. And when I was done? I wanted to reread it again. That’s an uncommon feeling for me, and it was one I was glad to experience by the end of the book. I definitely want more of this world, stat.
Final verdict? This is a must read. It’s dark, it’s romantic, it’s gory and it definitely has something for everyone of all ages and both genders. “Anna Dressed in Blood” is out now from Tor/Macmillan in North America, and the sequel, “Girl of Nightmares” will be out in August. I know I can’t wait. This is one debut you just can’t miss!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)...more
(crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)
This has been on my tbr list since last year, before the cover came up.(crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)
This has been on my tbr list since last year, before the cover came up. The idea of curing cancer and damning the human race to extinction tasted a bit of “The Children of Men” (if you’re a fan of “Wither”, you simply MUST read “Children of Men”) and a bit of “Big Love” and the TLC show, “Sister Wives”. Combine all of this together? One amazingly wonderful clusterfuck of a horrifying future that just seems all too real and possible, especially these days.
Apotheosis: the process in which cells die and thus prevent conditions like cancer from happening within the body of any living creature. If you cure this process without any substitute for cells to age and recycle out of the system, you come up with a nightmare scenario that DeStefano has created in her new trilogy, “Wither”.
I won’t lie – I finished “Wither” in more or less one sitting. I literally could NOT put it down. I love dystopia-themed books, and the idea of sister wives fascinates me to no end (no thanks to my brief stint as a mormon as a child – don’t ask). This book is most definitely not for the squeamish, starting out with a bang (literally, and many of them) for our heroine, Rhine, and the girls who come to be her sister wives in the household of Linden and Vaughn. The idea of having to become breeding stock is abhorrent to any modern female these days (and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, obviously), and there were parts of this book where I had to put it down for a few moments before picking it back up again just to process the sheer obscenity and horror of having girls as young as 13 (or younger) being used as incubators for fetuses.
But I think this is what DeStefano was aiming for – to really visit the horror of this world where everything looks and feels pretty on the outside, but is completely rotten on the inside upon the reader, to impress upon the audience the sheer helplessness of the feeling of the timebomb in one’s body, knowing exactly, more or less, how long you’re going to live, knowing what your worth is based on your fertility.
Frankly, in a world where we’re trying to find cures to all diseases possible, DeStefano has balls for writing this book. And I give her major props for this – it takes a lot of bravery to speak up and say “well, uh, we uh, might need diseases so things like this scenario won’t happen”.
To say that I’m anxious for the next book is putting it lightly. Definitely one of the best of 2011, hands down. I know I’ll be rereading it quite a bit over the next year....more