Title: Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Complete Omnibus Edition
Author: Magica Quartet
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Publisher: Yen Press
Series such as Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura introduced millions of people to the magical girl genre, winning fans over through their mix of cute characters, wholesome storylines, and enjoyable action.
When Puella Magi Madoka Magica premiered back in 2011, many assumed it was just another generic, 12-episode magical girl series. Those that made it to episode three, however, realized that it was something much more profound and darker. It quickly became one of the more popular anime from that year and, naturally, received a whole slew of spin-offs and adaptations.
With Puella Magi Madoka Magica being such a popular series, it didn’t take long for it to get a manga adaptation. While the series was initially released in three volumes back in 2012, Yen Press has made reading it a little easier by collecting each volume into one massive omnibus. Though Madoka impressed me almost a decade ago, I’m left to wonder how it holds up on a written page.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica follows Madoka Kaname, a middle schooler who has a big heart but lacks in the talent department. When a new girl joins her class, Madoka is shot into a world of magical girls, witches, and violence. Given the opportunity to help others and fight evil, she is ready to jump in and act. That is until she begins to realize that being a magical girl might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
I envy anyone who can go into Puella Magi Madoka Magica completely blind. The manga adaptation by Magica Quartet and Hanokage does a masterful job of subverting readers’ expectations and delivering genuinely shocking moments. Even though we are only given 12 chapters to get to know this cast of characters, they each feel fully fleshed out and realized, making wish I could see more of their stories.
While the heart and soul of the original Puella Magi Madoka Magica is present in the manga adaptation, there are still some aspects that take a hit.
The majority of the Madoka Magica series is more of a psychological thriller than anything else; several action scenes are pivotal to the story and the Madoka experience. Sadly, these scenes do not translate well at all to print. Pretty much every panel where a fight is taking place comes off confusing and, at times, near unintelligible.
Artist Hanokage brings Madoka to the page with an art style that, while reminiscent of that present in the original anime, has its own feel. With Madoka’s original art really screaming “mid to late 2000s anime,” Hanokage’s vision of the cast helps them fit in with the more modern anime scene. While I tend to like this change in style, mileage will likely vary based on each reader.
The Puella Magi Madoka Magica omnibus is a good read, but it shouldn’t be anyone’s first exposure to the Madoka Magica series. As a companion piece to the anime, it works fine, but the loss of intensity needed in the action scenes really brings the whole adaptation down a few notches. Still, reading it gave me the same magical feeling I experienced with the original anime, but the omnibus made it clear that animation is the medium where Madoka belongs.
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