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Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story – Manga Review
Just like super heroes, magical girls don’t always have it easy. The Puella Magi Madoka Magica TV series surprised and impressed several viewers with its dark and dramatic reimagining of the magical girl genre. Its popularity has spawned games, three movies and several manga adaptations. Madoka Magica: The Different Story is a spin-off manga written by Masaki Hiramatsu (who also wrote the Kazumi Magica spin-off series) and illustrated by Hanokage (also responsible for the manga adaptation of the anime). The three-volume manga focuses primarily on Mami Tomoe and Kyoko Sakura, who were given a secondary role in the original series.
At the beginning of the story, Mami befriends Sayaka and the two colloborate to take down witches together. Their mentor-student relationship and great teamwork make them an unstoppable pair, and at the same time the readers are given some insight on the backgrounds and inner thoughts of said characters. Unfortunately personal circumstances and different views start to surface and threaten to tear apart their friendship. This is the main conflict that carries through all the volumes. Fans who felt that Mami and Sayaka lacked screen-time and development in the original, will definitely be pleased to finally see them in the spotlight. Even fans who don’t particularly care for the characters, might gain some new appreciation for them. What about Madoka, Sayaka and Homura then? Not to worry, all of them play important roles in the story as well, contributing more than just their obligatory presence. Much more cannot be said about the story without spoiling it, but anyone who has seen the anime and the movie sequel will know that they can expect a lot of interpersonal drama.
As far as the art goes, all the characters look exactly like they’re supposed to, which is a huge plus, as it’s a huge pet-peeve of mine when a manga adaptation’s character designs look nothing like the original. However, the action parts can sometimes be confusing and unclear. The surrealistic nightmare world and imaginative witch-designs just don’t work as well in black and white panels (as opposed to energetic animation with bold colors) and there were a couple instances where I found myself trying to figure out what exactly is happening in the fight scenes. The dramatic moments, on the other hand, are handled quite well and make you feel the pain the characters are going through.
Madoka Magica: The Different Story is a quick read and a real treat for the fans. It remains faithful to the emotional character-driven story of the original and gives ample insight to the more neglected characters of the series. The tragic story might be too mopey for people who want a happy Madoka story for a change, and the action scenes are a little messy, but other than that it’s definitely worth checking out. At least for those whose Madoka-hunger is still unsatisfied after watching Rebellion.