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Puella Magi Madoka Magica #2 PDF Print E-mail
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Blu-ray Reviews
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 10:13
So, when we last left Kyuubei, Madoka and the gang, it was becoming fairly clear that making a contract with Kyubey was a Very Bad Thing. A Very, Very Bad Thing. Well, Sayaka in particular is about to find that things can get a lot worse...

Having seen the effect of her wish on Kyousuke, Sakura's so far quite pleased with her decision contract with Kyubey. Madoka's less than convinced that it's the right decision, though, while Homura's advice to Madoka now is to write Sakura off - the mistake she's just made can't be rectified, and there's no way of saving a magical girl. Madoka's not about to give up on her friend so easily, though, and decides to join Sakura on her nightly witch-hunt, to help as best she can - which is when Sakura first encounters Kyouko, a magical girl who likes things her own way...

Mami and Kyouko are two sides of the same coin, if you like. Mami wanted to help those around her - a magical girl of the old school, she was using her powers for unselfish reasons, and that was a lot of the reason that Madoka and Sayaka found her pitch on making a contract with Kyubey appealing. Appealing enough that Sayaka takes the plunge and makes the contract, in the name of true love. Kyouko, on the other hand, made the contract and eventually discovered that the Law of Unintended Consequences most definitely applied - and having lost everything around her, she's now living very much for herself, using her powers for purely selfish reasons. Take those two attitudes (with Sayaka now representing Mami's ideals, at least to start with), and sparks will fly. The battles between Sayaka and Kyouko are some of the best in the series, with added impact because they don't drop into the stylised forms of presentation that the battles against the Witches do. Chalk up the highlight of the disc - magical girl against magical girl isn't a postive thing, it's true, but there's excitement from seeing them fight, and

But on the other side, the efforts of Madoka in particular to try and keep Sayaka out of trouble inadvertently reveals things about the nature of the contract with Kyubey that none of the other girls, even Mami, had ever realised - and that revelation begins Sayaka's death spiral, as realisation of what she now is gives her psyche a knock from which it never gets a chance to recover. The first volume of Madoka Magica was dark, but this volume takes things darker still. And watching all this, intervening only when she needs to, is Homura - the girl that Kyubey calls an anomaly, and the one person who seems to fully understand what's going on.

On the one hand, I really do wish that Aniplex had released the series as a single set. On the other hand, my budget wouldn't have streched to buying it in that format, so I'm having to grin and bear it. The nature of the story, and the way in which the truth behind it is being revealed, really does lend itself to being marathoned - this volume in particular ends on a major cliffhanger that, frankly, I wouldn't want to wait two months to see to resolution of if I hadn't already seen it. The pacing of the episodes is slow and deliberate, but it feels faster than that, thanks to the way that the series draws you in to the lives of the characters and the experiences they're having. You get so immersed that you don't notice the passage of time - start the disc, and the 100 minutes of runtime pass in no time at all.

I'm a little bit spoiled here, as I know that Madoka Magica's high point is just around the corner - but this volume, which is essentially Sayaka's story, is no slouch either. Most magical girl shows have dark passages of story, but I can't think of any that have made that aspect of the idea the cornerstone of the show, or that have taken such pleasure in making the lives of their characters hell. But that, along with the distinctive visual style, is what makes the series so very appealing. This volume doesn't quite have the shock & surprise value that the first volume did and so isn't quite up there with it in the entertainment stakes, but for my money it's still well worth picking up.

Rating - ****