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REVIEW: Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story GN 1




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maximilianjenus



Joined: 29 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 4:06 pm Reply with quote
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Though taken aback at first, Mami decided to ignore the advice she was given to prioritize herself and instead team up with, train, and befriend Mami


minor error

[EDIT: Has been corrected. - Key]
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 5:49 pm Reply with quote
I think it should be worth mentioning for those who haven't been exposed to the other side-material not immediately available to common Western audiences, the events in the first volume of this manga (which is essentially a flashback) are an interpretation based on canon events. The idea of Mami and Kyouko having known each other was hinted at in only ONE line (when Kyouko first appears, she mentions Mami's name) in the original anime, and it wasn't until the 5th volume of the BD was released that we got an actual Drama CD depicting another version of the events present in this manga spin-off, proving the canon (witch Urobuchi later confirmed was simply not important enough to be included in the anime, even if it was interesting).

Neither the Drama CD nor this manga spin-off are direct canon from the mind of Urobuchi, but they are based off a general outline he had written on a side to the manuscript. Neither is also exclusive interpretations to the other, as both versions are very similar in the two biggest scenes (beginning and twist). The rest of the stuff can simply be thought of as "this happened one day and this happened another day".

Interestingly, I disagree on the art and composition of the pages in this manga. I found them to be extremely well-thought-out. ESPECIALLY in comparison to Hanokage's previous contribution to the series, the original manga adaption of the anime (which had pacing problems because it condensed an episode per chapter--something he was given a LOT more freedom with in The Different Story). The artwork is a direct and surprising improvement this time around, even if it feels like it could be better still. I saw so much potential in his way of composing that was unique, even beyond the anime. Of course, I own all the volumes of this manga, so I might also be comparing this reviewer's thoughts of the first volume with my thoughts of all three volumes, so take that with a grain of salt.
I was excited for his visual interpretation of Rebellion (he is the mangaka for the Rebellion adaption) and that made it clear--he's REALLY good at composing artwork in his manga. Moreso than even The Different Story, the Rebellion manga was very VERY satisfying to the eyes, and I'd even say that it is a worthy alternative to watching the film itself (it certainly allows Rebellion's unshackled artistic exploration to influence its own art, which is also extremely symbolic, yet still very Hanokage-like, rather than a copy of the film). So now I consider The Different Story to be a very positive show of improvement for him that led into what is now Rebellion. At this point, I'm looking forward to whatever else he illustrates in the future.

On a side note, he's made some short doujinshi-like spoof chapters for Kirara Magica (the Madoka-spinoff-focused manga serialization magazine) and the anthology tankouban books, of which I also can place in a neat timeline of improvement alongside these big works. I also became so concerned with Honokage, I ended up purchasing one of his doujinshi about Fire Emblem: Kakusei/Awakening. Seeing his artwork in full size is really nice, especially considering it involved a lot more male characters than we're used to seeing from him, thanks to Madoka being a cast of almost solely females.
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Anton Chigurh



Joined: 03 Dec 2007
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Location: San Diego, California

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 7:30 pm Reply with quote
I wonder whether this is some sort of make-up gift for fans of spoiler[Mami and Kyoko after their ultimate fate at the hand of Homura in THE REBELLION STORY.] *shudder* Not even spoiler[Sayaka] got such a raw deal.
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 7:43 pm Reply with quote
Anton Chigurh wrote:
I wonder whether this is some sort of make-up gift for fans of spoiler[Mami and Kyoko after their ultimate fate at the hand of Homura in THE REBELLION STORY.] *shudder* Not even spoiler[Sayaka] got such a raw deal.


Well, that would've been interesting, but this was actually made far before Rebellion was released. I had bought all three volumes in Japan late 2012, when the first two movies were being released in Japan. In a yet-to-be-translated-online interview with Hanokage (from Kirara Magica, I think?), he says that he was really interested in seeing what Rebellion was going to do, so he obviously hadn't been involved in its development, either.
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7jaws7
I Pause For PantsuI Pause For Pantsu


Joined: 17 Aug 2013
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Location: New York State

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 10:50 pm Reply with quote
This is still sort of meant for fans of the two cover magical girls. Let's face it: Madoka Magica was Madoka's and Homura's story, with Sayaka being the poor fool who showed us all the hope-to-despair progression of the Puella Magi. Mami and Kyouko were clearly nothing more than supporting characters.
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zeo1fan



Joined: 02 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 6:44 am Reply with quote
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fan-favorite character Mami never did get enough screen time for as neat a character as she was – not even in the movies. Making her into the lead allows us to see the magical girl scheme from a different perspective: that of someone who has become a seasoned veteran but cannot entirely abide the loneliness inherent in being a magical girl, in having no one you can confide in or trust with your secret.


Eh. She was in the story for as long as was necessary. We learned of her fear in order to understand what balanced her out, with Madoka ultimately taking her fear away, and throwing her tragically off-balance.

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Setting her up to connect with Kyoko is also an entirely sensible choice, as the Kyoko/Sayaka dynamic, which was arguably the weakest point of the original series, never convincingly gelled.


I'm not really sure what you mean by this. Did you mean it was unconvincing that Kyoko wanted to help Sayaka in episode 9? Because the very first thing Kyoko tries to do is help Sayaka. Actually, Kyoko tries to advise or help Sayaka every time she appears to her, having registered that they fundamentally had the same motivation, and therefore wanting to spare Sayaka the heartbreak she went through, by showing her how to stay balanced.
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Anton Chigurh



Joined: 03 Dec 2007
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Location: San Diego, California

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 9:40 am Reply with quote
Juno016 wrote:
Anton Chigurh wrote:
I wonder whether this is some sort of make-up gift for fans of spoiler[Mami and Kyoko after their ultimate fate at the hand of Homura in THE REBELLION STORY.] *shudder* Not even spoiler[Sayaka] got such a raw deal.


Well, that would've been interesting, but this was actually made far before Rebellion was released. I had bought all three volumes in Japan late 2012, when the first two movies were being released in Japan. In a yet-to-be-translated-online interview with Hanokage (from Kirara Magica, I think?), he says that he was really interested in seeing what Rebellion was going to do, so he obviously hadn't been involved in its development, either.


I guess it ended up being an unintentional make-up gift. Good, they deserved it.
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maximilianjenus



Joined: 29 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 12:18 pm Reply with quote
zeo1fan wrote:
Quote:
fan-favorite character Mami never did get enough screen time for as neat a character as she was – not even in the movies. Making her into the lead allows us to see the magical girl scheme from a different perspective: that of someone who has become a seasoned veteran but cannot entirely abide the loneliness inherent in being a magical girl, in having no one you can confide in or trust with your secret.


Eh. She was in the story for as long as was necessary. We learned of her fear in order to understand what balanced her out, with Madoka ultimately taking her fear away, and throwing her tragically off-balance.

Quote:
Setting her up to connect with Kyoko is also an entirely sensible choice, as the Kyoko/Sayaka dynamic, which was arguably the weakest point of the original series, never convincingly gelled.


I'm not really sure what you mean by this. Did you mean it was unconvincing that Kyoko wanted to help Sayaka in episode 9? Because the very first thing Kyoko tries to do is help Sayaka. Actually, Kyoko tries to advise or help Sayaka every time she appears to her, having registered that they fundamentally had the same motivation, and therefore wanting to spare Sayaka the heartbreak she went through, by showing her how to stay balanced.


to make this simple and fast, read respectable madoka reviews on teh net, like the one here or the one at sfdebris, most agree that the kyouko / sayaka part was teh weakest point of the series, especially because of kyouko's sacrifice.
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 1:16 pm Reply with quote
zeo1fan wrote:
Quote:
fan-favorite character Mami never did get enough screen time for as neat a character as she was – not even in the movies. Making her into the lead allows us to see the magical girl scheme from a different perspective: that of someone who has become a seasoned veteran but cannot entirely abide the loneliness inherent in being a magical girl, in having no one you can confide in or trust with your secret.


Eh. She was in the story for as long as was necessary. We learned of her fear in order to understand what balanced her out, with Madoka ultimately taking her fear away, and throwing her tragically off-balance.

Quote:
Setting her up to connect with Kyoko is also an entirely sensible choice, as the Kyoko/Sayaka dynamic, which was arguably the weakest point of the original series, never convincingly gelled.


I'm not really sure what you mean by this. Did you mean it was unconvincing that Kyoko wanted to help Sayaka in episode 9? Because the very first thing Kyoko tries to do is help Sayaka. Actually, Kyoko tries to advise or help Sayaka every time she appears to her, having registered that they fundamentally had the same motivation, and therefore wanting to spare Sayaka the heartbreak she went through, by showing her how to stay balanced.


It might seem weird for me to defend the review on a point like this because I truly DO understand what Kyouko was doing and how she was doing it. However, even if it started and ended up like that, the way they showed the audience was not very convincing to anyone who didn't study the show in such detail. I mean, she had been trying to use brutal force to teach Sayaka a lesson the hard way, yes. But at some point during their first fight, Kyouko stopped caring and decided it wasn't worth it, so she let herself go and almost took Sayaka out for good. Sayaka saw this as well and took that as "She's definitely not here to talk." Kyouko never stopped her advances after that, either, and even if her objective was the same, her cruelty and methods were COMPLETELY contrasting with how she controlled herself after the soul gem reveal. In one way, it's believable because it makes logical sense, and for me, that's actually enough to believe and care for the dynamic between the two characters. But I do not blame anyone for having not sympathized with her or her efforts to help Sayaka when the presentation the show gave was so... off. The Different Story is the perfect way to explore her character so that one can make more sense of her actions in the anime, but for the anime by itself, those scenes most definitely could have been better-directed to carry the message along much more clear.
The same goes for Mami. We got all that was necessary to understand who she was, and for some, that was all we needed to care about her as a character. But for many others, they were left wanting more. And even if I'm one of the former, I most certainly wouldn't have objected to giving her more screentime, as long as it didn't interfere with the story itself. Necessary sacrifice or not, it still sits at odds with many people and I cannot blame them for feeling that way.

And that's particularly why I like The Different Story so much. Especially that first volume, which has the most direct relevance to the anime. The anime didn't need to give us Mami and Kyouko's relationship, nor did it need to explore the characters more than it did. But there's a great portion of the audience that wants that kind of thing in their stories for them to care, and The Different Story is a really well-written piece that gives those people the very thing they thought was missing in the anime. Even if both the anime and this manga spin-off are meant to stand out on their own, they're almost perfect when you consider both of them as complimentary to the other.
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 3:32 pm Reply with quote
zeo1fan wrote:
And let's keep in mind, that Sayaka attacked and challenged Kyoko first, each time. To Kyoko, if Sayaka just killed familiars before they became witches, then she'd be pointlessly disrupting the balance.


Kyouko's first appearance at the end of episode 4 had her already preparing to knock some sense into Sayaka for her territory. No matter what the circumstances as it goes on later, this is the first indication of Kyouko's potential motivation. Not exactly a smart move by Urobuchi (it's directly in his manuscript, so it was definitely not added by someone else) if he wanted to gain viewer understanding for her character before setting her up as the "antagonistic rival-turned-sympathetic friend" to Sayaka.
It's somewhat revealed later that she DID intend to take Sayaka's territory at first, so it's not like her previous line was inconsistent with her character--it just unsettles the viewer and creates assumptions. Upon hearing Sayaka spew out lines of justice, it looked like those words triggered some emotional response within her that made her focus her attention on criticizing Sayaka's way of fighting and living over simply taking her territory. Not necessarily to help her, but because she was sick of hearing it herself, or something like that. It wasn't until the Soul Gem incident that she probably realized it wasn't worth continuing their fight, and decided to talk it out. Everything to understand and sympathize with her character change is there. It's just not very explicit and requires the viewer's undivided attention and dedication to understand. When put simply, "The bad red-haired girl fought to the death with the blue-haired girl until a crazy incident happened and they finally talked it out. Even though they didn't agree on everything, they didn't fight anymore. Then the blue-haired girl spoiler[turned into a monster] and the red-haired girl spoiler[sacrificed her own life to be with her.]" No matter how you look at it, if this is what you were witnessing, then it would've felt far more out of left-field than it was ever intended. And a lot of people witnessed it this way, so I wouldn't exactly say it was just a fluke of judgment.

Madoka takes a crapload of care and dedication to understand and appreciate it at its best. That is both its greatest asset and its own worst enemy. No one's dumb for not getting it the same way some of us do. It's simply a different kind of story that just doesn't hit their sensibilities like it did to some of us. That's why I tend to recommend The Different Story to anyone who criticizes this particular part of the show. The show itself may not be able to hold its own for everyone, but I think the signs they put in the anime are far more obvious once you read The Different Story.

Again, though, The Different Story isn't NECESSARILY direct canon (it's an interpretation of past events that were only vaguely represented in the anime or hinted at in side material). Still, it makes good use of what was in the anime to give us a general idea of what happened and why we should pay more attention to her and Mami's characters in the anime. And upon having even the most general of context from this spin-off manga, I've noticed that the people I've recommended the manga to tend to appreciate those parts of the anime a bit more after they're done and go back to watch it.
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kotomikun



Joined: 06 May 2013
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PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 5:02 pm Reply with quote
Sayaka and Kyouko's belligerent relationship seemed perfectly easy to understand to me; the latter practically spells it out for you in episode 9.

Different Story mainly helped me appreciate Mami as a character, since it adds a lot of background to the anime's minimal development and tiny glimpses of things that you couldn't possibly figure out without more information. She seems distant and almost incomprehensible without the backstory... I wish there had been an episode exploring that, maybe between 9 and 10.
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Issac Sarrowtail



Joined: 16 May 2011
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 8:10 am Reply with quote
zeo1fan wrote:


I'm not really sure what you mean by this. Did you mean it was unconvincing that Kyoko wanted to help Sayaka in episode 9? Because the very first thing Kyoko tries to do is help Sayaka. Actually, Kyoko tries to advise or help Sayaka every time she appears to her, having registered that they fundamentally had the same motivation, and therefore wanting to spare Sayaka the heartbreak she went through, by showing her how to stay balanced.


I think that the reason that this dynamic gets labelled as the weakest elements of PM3 is that is never really fully explored. This has mostly to do with the fact that this is a dynamic that we are simply observers to... the main story mostly takes Madoka's (And Horuma's) perspective of what was happening, so you are forced to guess at some of the conflicts with both Sayaka and Kyouko when the story shows them.
Aside from that, I still contend that Kyouko remains one of the weakest characters in the story due to have little time to be fleshed out and having so little focus in the story proper. Which explains itself in Episode 10, Kyouko is ultimately a small note in Homura's journey... and has little importance to Homura aside from being a casualty of the setting and situation.

The Different Story manga changes this through the perspective of it's main characters. spoiler[Mostly by having us observe Sayaka's downfall through Kyouko's perspective.] It also gives Kyouko a complete back-story to work from as a basis of her actions to Mami. spoiler[And Sayaka.]
If you haven't watched the show itself, this Manga will still hit the same notes as the show has. And will still entertain.
If you have... The Different Story changes a lot with how Mami and Kyouko act towards things. I find that it adds flavour to my appreciation of the characters, namely Mami, Kyouko, and Sayaka (whom is my favourite). spoiler[And QB... you have a idea of how nasty his deal is in the show. The Different Story, make it really horrible.]
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zeo1fan



Joined: 02 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 10:46 am Reply with quote
Issac Sarrowtail wrote:
zeo1fan wrote:


I'm not really sure what you mean by this. Did you mean it was unconvincing that Kyoko wanted to help Sayaka in episode 9? Because the very first thing Kyoko tries to do is help Sayaka. Actually, Kyoko tries to advise or help Sayaka every time she appears to her, having registered that they fundamentally had the same motivation, and therefore wanting to spare Sayaka the heartbreak she went through, by showing her how to stay balanced.


I think that the reason that this dynamic gets labelled as the weakest elements of PM3 is that is never really fully explored. This has mostly to do with the fact that this is a dynamic that we are simply observers to... the main story mostly takes Madoka's (And Horuma's) perspective of what was happening, so you are forced to guess at some of the conflicts with both Sayaka and Kyouko when the story shows them.
Aside from that, I still contend that Kyouko remains one of the weakest characters in the story due to have little time to be fleshed out and having so little focus in the story proper. Which explains itself in Episode 10, Kyouko is ultimately a small note in Homura's journey... and has little importance to Homura aside from being a casualty of the setting and situation.

The Different Story manga changes this through the perspective of it's main characters. spoiler[Mostly by having us observe Sayaka's downfall through Kyouko's perspective.] It also gives Kyouko a complete back-story to work from as a basis of her actions to Mami. spoiler[And Sayaka.]
If you haven't watched the show itself, this Manga will still hit the same notes as the show has. And will still entertain.
If you have... The Different Story changes a lot with how Mami and Kyouko act towards things. I find that it adds flavour to my appreciation of the characters, namely Mami, Kyouko, and Sayaka (whom is my favourite). spoiler[And QB... you have a idea of how nasty his deal is in the show. The Different Story, make it really horrible.]


That Kyoko and Sayaka could be friends, but their friendship never really coming to fruition, is sort of the point. It's a tragedy. I'd contend that Kyoko is a strongly written character. She deepens the story thematically, furthers the religious allegory, elucidates why magical girls don't reveal their identities, etc. Every character in Madoka is necessary.
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Issac Sarrowtail



Joined: 16 May 2011
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 8:17 pm Reply with quote
zeo1fan wrote:

That Kyoko and Sayaka could be friends, but their friendship never really coming to fruition, is sort of the point.

True, but that is neither here nor there.
Their interaction in the space of the show is rather limited, and establishes rather early how hostile Sayaka can be. It also highlight her view of the world, which be comes more important to the plot (or her arc within the plot) latter as the story continues.

Kyouko changes, but there is little to really establish why the transformation happened. Aside from alluding to the fact that Kyouko and Sayaka are more alike then they let on. But based on the show itself, there is little to really go on outside of some choice comments on Kyouko's end which continue to leave things rather ambiguous.

Quote:
I'd contend that Kyoko is a strongly written character. She deepens the story thematically, furthers the religious allegory, elucidates why magical girls don't reveal their identities, etc. Every character in Madoka is necessary.

I would have to disagree with that, if only because time makes Kyouko's characterization suffer.

The show proper, the best that they give you is a short synopsis of Kyouko background and a very loose idea of what happened to her family. Which for the time, fills in some blanks to her a character and motivations. It is something that is quickly supplanted when you get deeper into the story, which forces you to ask more questions about her as Sayaka keeps getting worse. Since there isn't time to dwell on the changes to Kyouko nor her background, it something that is simply over looked until the show's perspective solidifies.

Once that happens, you have a bit of a tragedy here. Kyouko is one of those characters that is clearly more defined than the plot-device that she is rendered to becoming. But because of both time constraints and lack of importance to the overall plot, she is just overlooked outside of her effect to the Sayaka arc of PM3. This is something that The Different Story liberally corrects.

Is she "strongly written character?" Yes but only when you remove the main plot as a factor. The Different Story is working off of Gen's writing of the character, to which it uses to fill into those missing details. Details that remain to the side of the main story
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