Sean O'Hara's Reviews > Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Vol. 01

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Vol. 01 by Magica Quartet
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Jun 03, 12

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bookshelves: mahou-shoujo, manga
Read on June 03, 2012

Madoka Magica starts off like a typical magical girl story. Kaname Madoka is just an Ordinary Middle School Student living her Ordinary Middle School Student Life with her two friends, Sayaka and Not Important to the Story. One night she has a nightmare in which she sees a dark-haired girl fighting an eldritch abomination. As the eldritch abomination is on the verge of defeating the girl, an Adorable Cat-Bunny appears to Madoka and says that she can change the outcome if she makes a contract to become a magical girl. Madoka awakes, relieved it was all a dream.

But that day at school a Mysterious Transfer Student arrives, and is none other than the dark-haired dream girl. The Mysterious Transfer Student takes Madoka aside and tells her that if she values her friends and family she shouldn't do anything to upset her Ordinary Middle School Student Life. When Madoka and Sayaka are hanging out at the mall after school, they hear a voice calling to help -- a voice that only they can hear. They go to investigate and find the Mysterious Transfer Student trying to kill the Adorable Cat-Bunny. Which they stop with the help of a second magical girl, Tomoe Mami (who, despite being a middle school student like themselves, is incredibly well endowed). After chasing away the Mysterious Transfer Student, Mami and the Adorable Cat-Bunny explain that Sayaka and Madoka both have the power to become magical girls and fight eldritch abominations. Oh, and if they sign-up now, he'll even throw in a free wish!

In an ordinary magical girl story, they'd accept immediately and go on to fight for right with the Power of Friendship(TM). This is not an ordinary magical girl story, as becomes clear by the last chapter of the book.

The story is faithful to the anime to the point of being a Cliffs Notes version. I wish they'd taken time to explore the world a little more, giving more detail to things like Madoka's family, Kamijou and Miss Not Important to the Story. The biggest change from the anime is in the art. While the series had a slightly futuristic setting, the manga seems firmly grounded in the present day -- Madoka's classroom is an ordinary classroom without glass walls or electronic blackboards, her house doesn't have digital wallpaper, and the city seems like an ordinary modern city. Although this pales in comparison to the change to Kyuubey, the Adorable Cat-Bunny. While he was cute in the anime, his face was non-expressive and permanently set with a mysterious smile ( /人◕‿‿◕人\ ). Here, though, he displays a number of expressions and moves his body more fluidly (yes, the manga is more fluid than the anime) which gives him a much kinder vibe. Which is awesome.

It's hard to judge a manga adaptation of an anime that you've already seen. You can't tell whether your reaction to a particular scene is brought on by the scene itself or your memory of its counterpart in the anime, and so I don't know whether the manga will be any good for people who haven't watched the anime. But for me, it's an enjoyable reenactment of the series.
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