Well, it’s certainly better than the other spin-off!
Story: Magica Quartet
Art: Mura Kuroe
Translation: William Flanagan
What They Say
Oriko, a magical girl with the gift of foresight, knows the fate that awaits all who accept Kyubey’s offer of supernatural powers. But when she is struck with a terrible vision of the future – of the devastation caused by a single, powerful witch – she decides to prevent the girl from becoming a magical girl in the first place. To draw Kyubey away from the girl’s potential, Oriko directs him instead to Yuma, an orphan who is all too eager to gain powers that will enable her to protect herself – powers that will ultimately lead to her own destruction…
The cover here is an image of Kyouko, Mami, and Yuma over a plain white background. The composition is decent, though it’s worth noting that the art style seems a good bit different from what’s contained within the book. There’s also some distracting orange circles superimposed over a large around of the image, but it’s nothing too terrible. The back cover contains a small synopsis and an illustration of Kyubey. The paper feels solid, text reads smoothly, honorifics are maintained, and sound effects are left in their original form and translated. Concept art illustrations are included as extras.
The artwork here actually has a rather interesting style, with hair in particular looking almost over-detailed. It’s a bit distracting at times and looks causes Yuma to look a bit creepy, but seeing as creepy is kind of an important element of this book it strangely works out, whether it was intended or not. The art also does a good job of displaying emotion, particularly horror. The designs for the Witches and new characters look nice and fit in well with the rest of the cast. Backgrounds appear frequently and are drawn well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In a rather creepy sequence, a new magical girl known as Oriko sees the future, and seemingly dreading what will happen when Madoka becomes a witch, decides to lead Kyubey towards another magical girl candidate. Meanwhile, Kyouko ends up caring for a young girl named Yuma who ends up orphaned during one of her escapades. Yuma has clearly had a messed up childhood, and clings to Kyouko, even declaring that she also wants to become a magical girl. After the two bond, Kyouko learns during a witch attack that Yuma had been abused by her parents. Kyubey than appears to tempt Yuma, but Kyouko shoves him away and tells Yuma to never become a magical girl.
Later on, Kyouko ends up in a particularly tough fight, and Kyubey takes advantage of the chance to once more appear before Yuma. Just when it looks like Kyouko is about to be slain, she suddenly and surprisingly manages to take down the monster. However, it turns out this victory was due to Yuma becoming a magical girl with healing abilities. Disappointed, Kyouko scolds the young girl, but stays by her side as she wonders just who the mysterious Oriko manipulating events really is.
As the volume wraps up, Oriko herself steps properly into view alongside her partner, the rather demented magical girl Kirika, and a few more characters from the anime manage to make an appearance.
Having previously reviewed another spin-off of the Madoka anime that turned out sub-par to say the least, I was a little hesitant when reading this entry. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a book that matched well to dark, rather creepy tone of the show. The new characters make for a great fit with the already established cast, and the story feels like it could even potentially fit in with the main continuity rather well. By shifting focus towards Kyouko, and then taking things a step further by making newcomer Oriko such a central character, we’re left with a fresh and intriguingly wound tale. Hopefully all the buildup presented here will pay off, but for now this seems like a great read for fans of the series, while still being separate enough to be approachable for newcomers as well.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013