For most, Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica is a spin-off of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. For some, Kazumi is a whole new experience. And for the select few, it is both. I happen to fall into the select few who can take this manga away from its predecessor and find some genuine enjoyment in it. Yet I'm also constantly reminded of its predecessor, and questioning what secrets there are to be revealed.
Story: 9. The release of Madoka before Kazumi works to the series' benefit. Where Madoka is dark and foreboding from the very beginning, Kazumi is sort of lighthearted and playful at the beginning. This instantly
changes the entire look and feel of the ball court: it puts you in a position where you're forced to discern for yourself where Madoka's influence ends and where the new elements begin. Elements of human sanity and dark psychological trauma almost seems foreign to Kazumi at the beginning, which makes the rest of the story that much more intriguing.
Art: 10. With each character having a meticulously hand-crafted look and feel supported by their background and personality, the artwork is fantastic. This is one case where style over substance need not apply; the backgrounds are also incredibly well done, doing more than just mirroring their predecessor's futuristic approach, and actually creating a style that, in and of itself, redefines the feeling you get when you read the manga. It's a completely different feel, but it's far from a bad thing here.
Character: 10. I honestly thought that Kazumi did one thing right that Madoka did not: it gave a much more in-depth look at both the main protagonists, and a much, much deeper look at their antagonists. The intricate web laid out by the characters' interactions creates a much more profound effect on the manga than one would first expect. It begins like any other mahou shoujo series, which makes the characters even more believable and relate-able than those of Madoka. What Kazumi lacks in the psychological horror element its predecessor meticulously hand-crafted from scratch, it more than makes up for in its character drama, pointing out a closer connection to Nanoha than Madoka - an ironic interaction indeed.
Enjoyment: 9. Kazumi is much closer to the mahou shoujo genre in its direction and character development, and this creates a very different feel from that of Madoka. As such, the enjoyment will ultimately be affected by the readers' ability to separate one from the other. I, for one, appreciated the change, as it made it easier for me to view the manga in a different setting. While both series are extremely dark, Kazumi's scenario just feels so much more lighthearted and justifiable, with main characters who focus more on the possibility than the inevitability of their lives. This ultimately results in a much more intricate storyline, and allows the manga to step away from its predecessor and stand up on its own.
Overall: 9. I highly recommend reading this manga for a variety of different readers. This is one of the darker manga series out there, but it's extremely rewarding and ultimately very engrossing. As the plot thickens, I find myself anticipating the next chapters in the series just as much as the next episodes of any anime out there.
Okay so this is the first time i've done this but I really enjoy this manga so I thought I'd give it a go.
Overal 9 - I think Kazumi gets a lot of stick for having to deal with being a spin off of madoka but personally its different although the same idea, they take it down a different route and its fresh, people seem to think it'll be similar but i'd say its different it helps with the mysterious ways of the magical girls and witches and adds more.
Story 9 - Personally I think that this could be an even darker story to
madoka magica, there are lots of different twists and turns and I seem to find myself even more amazed every time I read more, the plot ever thickening and getting darker and more twisted.
Art 8 - The arts nice it's different to madoka magica, I kinda feel like its maybe a bit more mature, although this could just be a personal thing.
Character 9 - First of there are more characters in this, meaning more routes to take it but it's really interesting to see how the group interact, also see them interacting more as a group where as in madoka I've never really felt the group as a whole. It's interesting to see where they take the characters, their wishes and how they develop every chapter.
Enjoyment 10 - Obviously because of the story and characters Kazumi Magica is just a treat to read, interesting and a different spin from madoka and oriko magica.
Kazumi Magica is incredibly convoluted. There's a lot of things that take place in the narrative that, at first glance, seem to work. However, looking back at the big picture, there's a lot of stuff that isn't used, used improperly, or used without purpose.
To be brief, all of these issues protrude due to the failure of Kazumi Magica trying to separate itself from the parent work, Madoka Magica.
In detail, these issues arise when the work starts off rather strong, leading towards an interesting and untold development within the unforgiving world of Madoka Magica. However, the further the reader travels into the dark annals of Kazumi
Magica, the more one realizes that it's the same game using different pieces.
Perhaps the best parts of the story are where it differs from the original work. It's not that it's better than the original work, but that very idea of it standing alone made it an interesting read and was exactly why I picked it up in the first place. I absolutely love the world created with Madoka Magica. What I wanted with Kazumi was more of that world, but a different story. I get a bit of that, but it turns very swiftly into Madoka Magica tropes during the final 2 volumes (last 10 or so chapters).
Comparisons aside, there are some events that take place that seem rather sudden. Perhaps due to the short length, but even so, the fault is in having so many events in the first place. With a few more chapters to expand on some of the little arcs that take place, I'm sure Kazumi would have a stronger pacing. Some things are jarring, and will cause the reader to re-read the event to make sure they've read it properly. It's conflict of pre-established canon, which is okay, it adds mystery, but it will still screw the pacing.
Conversational sections, or parts within the narrative where motion isn't taking the panels primary, were quite excellent. Facial expressions are, well, expressive, and there's definitely a 'moe' aspect within the first few chapters.
Action sequences are a mess. There were many panels where I had to press the page/screen to my face so I could follow the motion properly. Some I gave up and skipped altogether. I had to rely on dialogue exclusively to understand what took place.
Backgrounds are virtually barren, and the settings are rather basic, even in the labyrinths. That said, I did a hint of SHAFT animation influence present. Characters are seen in real world locations that seem unnatural, but it adds an artistic flair to the events taking place. I enjoyed this over the vacant stages our characters inhabited.
Proportions are tame, but occasionally a mess.
Witches look very cool in this.
With an ensemble cast and a namesake character, it's easy to imagine where the attention is and isn't. Kazumi gets a lot of the attention and has excellent development. Watching her progression from an amnesiac to acquiring resolve is perhaps the most interesting part of the whole piece. It's a shame that the rest of the cast is hung out to dry and virtually forgotten. It's only at the most necessary of times are they remembered and therefore used for plot progression. There's a lot of shoe-horned exposition as well, and as mentioned in the story section, not nearly enough time to expand.
I would have rated this higher had the narrative not become the same old song-and-dance. I was pretty disappointed, because, like mentioned above, I wanted something different. I understand that this isn't an appropriate term to use when reviewing, as a work shouldn't be reviewed upon pre-conceived notions, but the issue has to do with virtual plagiarism. Other than that, an interesting read none-the-less.
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