Original Story: Magica Quartet
Translation: William Flanagan
What They Say
The life of a magical girl isn’t all fighting witches and collecting grief seeds. When they aren’t kicking butt, Homura Akemi and her friends face the same trials as normal high school girls! In this four-panel comedy, glimpse a sillier side of the girls from the Puella Magi Madoka Magica series!
The front cover here is a decent enough image, showing a sitting Homura over a plain background, surrounded by a horde of chibi characters. It’s a good cover that shows off the feel of the story pretty well, though it would be nice if the side characters stood out just a bit more, as Homura kind of draws the eye just a tad too much. The back cover works a bit better, showing Madoka nonchalantly juggling Soul Gems as the others frantically chase after her, alongside the normal synopsis of course. As for extras, color pages appear at the start, and we also get some bonus short comics on the reverse of the covers, which is a nice touch. Sound effects are left in their original form and translated, honorifics are used, and paper quality feels solid. The text reads smoothly enough, though it certainly would have been nice to see some translator notes included.
The art here is decent enough and for the most part does its job, taking the normal look of the series and going for something a little simpler/cuter. The biggest issue is that the art isn’t always the best at creating a solid flow, which is especially noticeable during the times the book tries to display action a bit more, and it does make a few jokes feel just a tad flat. Still, it’s nothing too bad, and thanks to the nature of the book the art suffices plenty for the most part.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
After a few odd gags on the colored pages, we get into the first quirky “world”. As it turns out, this series takes the normal Madoka characters and uses Homura as a plot device to jump around to various “timelines” where things have gotten strange. In the starting chapter, we get a Madoka who can’t focus. In fact, it seems in this world all the characters are straight up stupid! Alongside this we also get the super simplified character gags that the author exaggerated from the originals, such as Mami always being pathetic and dying and Kyouko being a massive glutton. Following this, Homura gets sent to a world in which she has a ton of Soul Gems. Though this sounds like a fun setup not too much happens with it, and instead we just get another character gag, with the characters noting that Homura should totally be older thanks to the time travel.
Next up comes a rather bland world focused entirely on how much Kyouko eats, though we at least get a slightly humorous visual gag with Sayaka this time around. This is followed by a similarly mediocre world where Homura tries to learn to fight with her fists instead, though once more we at least get a decent visual gag or two, this time about Kyubey. We actually do get a decent chapter finally when Homura reaches a world controlled by Mami. It ties together well with some other jokes while also using Homura’s abilities for a nice gag as well, making it probably the high spot of the volume. After this is another wasted decent idea, in which a ton of Homuras meet up in a bar to take a break. It sounds like a fun concept, but unfortunately the gags don’t really make great use of it and feel a little bland.
We then get an odd chapter that’s kind of hodgepodge even though it claims a sheep focus (though it once more has one small bit of humor in a scene between Kyubey and Sayaka). After this comes what’s probably the low point of the volume, a “tech support” chapter that’s pretty much stitched together out of lame gags that feel more than a little forced. Finally, we get some more wasted opportunity in a TV focused world that just goes with some short, mediocre gags, and a chapter based around Homura getting a dog that’s borderline devoid of anything that could be called a joke.
Thanks to some rather flat humor as well as questionable design choices, this book ultimately falls more than a little flat. Obviously humor is subjective, but I found almost all of the jokes in this book don’t really manage to muster up a chuckle, which is a serious issue in a series focused on comedy. Perhaps to a significant degree the issue is the 4-panel format, which the book absolutely fails to capitalize on, and maybe even just understand. As the gags rarely use it well (or at all) and everything’s grouped into larger overarching chapters anyway, it really does feel like the series would’ve benefited from a more open panel setup. It’s also worth noting that this book absolutely isn’t for newcomers, as it assumes that you’ve seen the series and would be a rough read without that knowledge.
The series also does have a tendency towards character gags, created by exaggerating elements taken from the series. Though this could’ve been fine and created some decent recurring jokes, they aren’t particularly funny and more often tend to just devolve the characters they’re applied to, making them into more simplistic caricatures that simply aren’t as fun to watch. Kyouko in particular is devolved into a pure one-note entity, making her into something incredibly bland that just drags down the book whenever she pops up. Again, humor is ultimately something subjective, so if you’re a huge fan of the series that wants something “lighter”, then there’s still a chance you may find some enjoyment here. However, based on my experiences with the book, I most certainly wouldn’t recommend it, as the humor just plain fails to hit the mark.
Content Grade: C
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: Older Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: August 18th, 2015