Yuma Chitose is a young and carefree child, until her parents are abruptly killed by a witch right before her eyes. Left distraught and traumatized at the scene, she is shielded from the same fatal fate by a magical girl named Kyouko Sakura. Having always felt weak, Yuma believes that becoming a magical girl is the only way for her to become stronger. But Kyouko dismisses the daunting idea, encouraging the young girl to live a normal life.
Yuma's curiosity, however, only flourishes when Kyuubey appears before her and tells her that Oriko Mikuni thinks she would make a good magical girl. But who is Oriko? And why has she taken an interest in Yuma? Meanwhile, magical girls are being targeted and killed. Rumor has it that the one hunting them is not a witch, but another magical girl.
Like any fan of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica would be, I was excited when I looked on ANN and found out about the creation of this spin off, and although Oriko's story isn't on the same level as Madoka's, I wasn't disapointed.
Warning: As this is a spin off series, there will be spoilers of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, also refered to as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, in here.
Unfortunetly, the plot is easily the weakest point. Taking place in one of the different time zones. There, instead of witches, Kyouko and Mami are having to fight against a Black Magical Girl, a magical girl who
has more or less switched sides.
Although this is an interesting premise, it isn't properly developed until several chapters into this seven chapter story resulting in it not being as developed as it could have been. Even so, once we learn of this, it does add a nice unexpected element to the mix and adds some new intigue to the story.
The ending as well is good and surprising while fitting the concept quite nicely, but seems a bit sudden and forced and the little epilogue it has seems out of place and unneeded.
The main problem I have with this story though is that at the beginning it didn't seem to know what it wanted to do and winds up switching focus characters and throwing in characters from the original series last second as well as ones who aren't needed for more than one or two scenes, or even LINES, which could have been proformed by other characters or just avoided without it making much difference.
As for the art work, it's very different from what was in Madoka Magica. It has a much rougher, creepier look to it. Although this seemed out of place during the more light hearted beginning, once it got more into the darker elements it really fit nicely.
While the style does result in some odder looking panels, it's effective and was a good choice for the series. All the magical girls the we knew from the original series are back and it gives a nice spin of their character designs. All are distuinguishable and unique with the new characters leaving a strong impresion.
Character wise, all the characters from Madoka Magica who are used here remain in character and are therefore what we expect. The few character who are unique to this, such as Oriko herself, are interesting and unique, but aside from Oriko they seem a bit underdeveloped. We do receive backstory for all these new characters though so I don't really have much room to complain.
This is a fun little escapade that I think anyone who enjoyed Madoka Magica should take a look at at some point. Although it doesn't add anything to the original story, with the exeption of the borrowed character it creates a story all it's own that remains enjoyable throughout and I therefore can't reward this with anything less than an overall score of 8, though it does lean towards a 7 oncein a while.
Oriko magica is a manga that you should only read if your a fan of Madoka Magica, and even then it's barely worth the read. The manga will only explain who the 3 new characters are, and relies on the readers knowledge of the events in the anime. This is all well and good, however whats below is not.
The first thing you'll probably notice when you read this is the bad art style the characters look often awkwardly drawn in. While it could be a lot worse, it could also be a lot better. While the style isn't as bad as the Meguca scenes
from the anime, it comes a bit close in several instances, like where Sayaka has to duck. The new characters don't look very bad in this style except the small one, but the old characters didn't transition very well.
The story itself itself is alright, and it might keep you reading until the end, but its kind of weak. Oriko's motivations and grand scheme are a tad muddy, and for someone who supposedly has the power of understanding, she kind of sucks at it. Summed up, she's not a very good antagonist. In the end what made me bring the score down to 5 was the ending. No, I don't mean what happened to SPOILER , I mean the cliche afterlife bullshit that came right after it. I would settled for SPOILER, but combined with that? NO. There are almost quite a few things that could have been explained further, like if the antagonists wanted to save the world, why did they brutally involve Madoka's SPOILER in all of it? What took them so long to make their big move? What did Oriko think of her father after SPOILER?
As an extension to what I said below, the characters aren't the best. The old ones act similar enough to how they acted in the anime except maybe Kyouko, but the new characters aren't very good. You got Yuma, a traumatized and slightly sociopathic child who doesn't always have much of a personality.Then you have Kirika, the batshit crazy bipolar girl (or at least she became that way after her became a magical girl) who hated everything but for some half explained reason developed an attachment to the antagonist Oriko, and will do anything for Oriko to stay her friend. Honestly, if it weren't for those things and maybe her wish, she'd be another run of the mill crazy character, and almost is. Then you got the antagonist who often acts like a know-it-all who has a bit of a god complex who I mostly already explained. I'll admit Kirika was sort of likable, and Oriko had a few things going for her. But Yuma? No.
All in all. If you really REALLY like Madoka, I guess give this a read. But you'll probably be disappointed by the time your through reading this.
Let me give every reader a brief and detailed warning before you start reading this manga, watch(or read) the parent story first before anything else if you want to know what the fuss is about.
With that said, onwards to the review.
Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magica is a pseudo-prequel/alternative version of the manga Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica which is an adaptation of an anime of the same name (confusing, right?). Before we talk about anything else about the story, let us make a brief and detailed reason why alternative versions tend to be off-putting than our parent story counterparts.
Alternative versions of a story tend to be that
added installment for a series that has already stopped. Sometimes it’s just better off to leave the parent story alone to avoid misconceptious fuck-ups in the story that leads to a nonsensical add-on rather than to uplift the already good base, which is the parent story. I mean, let’s face it, some stories are better of not having sequels, unless they ended with an obvious cliffhanger or the events in the story is just to complex for the simple minds to understand, if the latter was the case, they should just release a summary story rather than a alternate story.
No matter how good a story might get and no matter how big the fans might demand for a sequel (or a prequel, or whatever fans will ask for), a good story that stands out on its own doesn’t need another story branching out from it’s already perfect body. I mean, yes there are certain elements that lead to good alternative versions of the parent story, but the good ones are usually using only the core aspects of the original story as a back bone for new settings, characters and scenarios, and that is where alternate versions of a story usually shines best. Attempting to connect the story of the alternate version to the main story that stands alone on its own is like giving a prosthetic leg to a healthy normal person, unnecessary.
Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magica dodged the bullet in this one by using a convenient system called the ‘multiverse theory’ where in the same characters (with the exception of the new ones), same setting and seemingly same events with small ideations all happened in a different universe of the seemingly endless universes in the Madoka Series. To summarize what the multiverse theory is, the same things in the story happened, but it happened in a different manner, and it always has something to do with time travel. Steins;Gate and Mirai Nikki were notorious for using this example and they were successful in their efforts with it.
Anyway, I wouldn’t rant long about everything in MSOM because this manga was mostly meant to feed the fans of the series. Speaking as a generalist reader, I’m not a big fan of the Madoka series, but I did like how everything is always well written when it comes to the works of Gen Urubochi. I mean, the story is derived from the Madoka staple and it never changed from there, which is pre adolescent girls all succumbing to despair and deciding to become magical girls to get their wish fulfilled(?), and the Madoka staple story has always been a good, if not one of the best, writings and plot twists that I, and most of the people that has watched/read the series still aspires and rants about.
Anyway, I’m not going to talk much about the story of MSOM because; 1. It is hard to explain the story to readers if they do not have any idea how the Madoka universe functions (which is why I highly recommend that you at least know the parent story before you plan on reading this); and 2. To avoid potential spoilers, which is a big impact reducer to people that are planning to read the story.
With that said, the quality of writing given to the story is good, but it turns sub-par in comparison to the original story. The phrase ‘nothing new, nothing worth mentioning’ weights heavily in this story because, although new characters and a few new scenarios did popped up (such as a whole new protagonist sharing his/her story), its basically the same when it comes to terms with the Madoka universe, which is ‘Kill Witches, Get Bitches’ or ‘Endless Suffering’ or ‘Yuri Fantasm everywhere’ or ‘Kyuubey is a asshole’ and many more similarities. It’s comparable to, let’s say, eating in your favorite restaurant for the umpteen times since you first went there. I mean, yes the food is still good and it’s always refreshing to go there, but the experience since you first went there is something you cannot redo. If there were anything new that is worth mentioning, and I can assure you that there is a few, it would just spoil the story if I tell it here, so yeah, sucks.
Let’s move on to the art style, which is a HUGE change for people that have already seen the art style of the Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica anime and its manga counterpart. I can’t really say that it’s not bad, since it was well drawn and everything is still a kawaii in a world of despair and congruency, but the difference in the degree of art style that was used for this manga was very huge in comparison to the two mentioned above. If you look at the cover itself and the cover of the other two, the other two made it look more like it was a innocent girl material, while this one looked like it can be a pseudo-fighting/yuri loving manga, and let me tell you that I am not wrong with those assumptions. Overall, it wasn’t the best, but it was pretty good. It blends with how the story is supposed to be told and how the characters different emotions are portrayed, other than that, it was just a bit surprising if you consider differentiating the art style in this manga from the entire series.
Well, if there is another thing where the Madoka series shines, I’m going to have to say that it’s in the characters and how they portray their role. I won’t say character development here because, for such a short manga, there is barely any room for character development (I’d be surprised if they managed to fit even that in such a short span of two volumes). The three new characters in this story did appeared to be in quite a troubling state of affairs by getting themselves involved with the series of cameo appearances of the old characters from the original series. The focus of the story should have been about our main character Oriko, but in reality, the focus is more on the old characters and their quest to unravel Oriko’s motives. By the way, the manga portrays the main character as the primary antagonist of the story, from that point we can already see the ‘what the hell, man’ reactions from everyone as they put the main character in the retrospective shoes of the evil doer, but do not fret, she has her motives of doing what she does, I just cannot say it here because it’s too big of a spoiler, but in my opinion, it’s either it was very shallow of a reason or it was too deep for me to handle, and I’m still leaning on the first. The second character worth mentioning is the main character’s love interest(???). Childish by nature and a huge love interest with the main character, yet a Yandere war-freak to the people that are against Oriko (there is not a lot to say about their love anyway, it would make no difference describing a SFW Yuri relationship). And with that, I guess that’s all worth mentioning. I mean, let’s face it, the third character, the loli, was pretty much there for the box art only. She wasn’t much of a big significance as the story progressed to its ending. She did portray a lot of the suffering that Madoka fans loved from the characters, but other than that, she’s pretty much fan-bait.
If you were wondering if this manga was enjoyable, then I wouldn’t want to disappoint everybody, but this manga targets the fans of the series, not the general readers. I mean, it’s still a good read in my opinion, but the factors that make it a good read is too much for a single alternative version. You would have had to, literally, watched or read Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica in order to even appreciate taking this as a viable reading material and even then, it’s up for you to decide whether or not it was worth your time. I know that the fans wouldn’t complain about it, especially the die hards, but even a fan with a brain will understand that this is different and sub-par in comparison. But if you have to ask if I did enjoyed reading it, from the scale of ‘comparable to toilet paper’ to ‘the best thing I have ever read since the dawn of literature’, I would give it a ‘situational okay’.
And that wraps-up the review, I had to admit, so much suffering for only two books. I need a beer.
If there's one thing I must give the Madoka franchise credit for, it's creating a world that allows spin-offs like Oriko Magica to take advantage of. However, just because a spin-off uses the same world doesn't mean that it should abandon any aspirations to be unique. In fact, it should aspire to contribute to the overall franchise in a meaningful way. So a question must be asked: Does Oriko's series contribute anything? Well, let's find out.
Oriko Magica isn't so much of a spin off as it is a cling on, as it never truly leaves to the parent story's setting. Old characters from the
original return as the "stars" of the manga, while the protagonist takes the role of "villain". The story's existence can easily be explained if one were to watch/read the original work, so its not like this story is a completely new take on what has already been written. In fact, it relies too heavily on Madoka's world to the point that it barely has an identity of its own. Obviously, spin offs are meant for those who know the original work, but the pacing of the story is so fast that the reader has no time to properly explore this interpretation's own version of the Madoka timeline.
The art style of this work seems to be somewhat polarizing. On the one hand, its almost deformed look is a okay fit for characters like Sayaka, Madoka and the newcomer Yuma, while on the other hand, it doesn't do any favors for the more aggressive characters of Kyoko and Homura, as it doesn't capture their overall character as efficiently as another art style would have.
The character designs of the original cast are the same, which of course isn't anything bad, since the costumes themselves are quite well-designed. Oriko and Kirika's outfits are pretty good as well, as they shows a nice contrast between the characters. Yuma's CD matches her personality, but it doesn't seem to stay in theme with the rest of the outfits. It's as if Yuma's from a different series when you see the costumes side-by-side.
Once again, due to the short length of the series, the characters don't get a lot of time to develop. The main cast changes little if at all, making them more like action dispensers rather than characters. Yuma's tragic upbringing and interactions with Kyoko make her somewhat interesting in the beginning, but she's delegated to fan-treat status shortly after her debut. Oriko, the protagonist, has motivations that somewhat justify her actions, but she almost seems like a combination of other characters. She has Mami's elegance, Homura's drive to change the world and a past that echoes Kyoko's. Kurika is the typical "I follow my BFF because she noticed me" kind of character, but while she has a somewhat interesting ability and character design, she doesn't really contribute much beyond looks. Overall, the old characters don't get any benefits from their time in this series and the new character either didn't have enough time to develop or were so unoriginal that they were flawed from the beginning.
To be honest, I read this series because it was short. Its short length makes it easy to read, but the story has simply be done better elsewhere (Kazumi Magica, anyone?), so I was simply reading out of obligation. The art, in my opinion, was a bad fit for the story that tried to be about Magical girl infighting, although the character designs as a whole weren't terrible. The characters, on the other hand, were lifeless, as there wasn't anything new or compelling that came from any of them.
This work is a rushed tale that does not challenge what you know about the Madoka franchise, nor does it even effectively reinforce what you already believe. A score of 5/10, "average", would be the appropriate number for it. Only read this if you cannot sleep at night knowing that you missed on of the Madoka spin offs. However, know that you could be using time more productively.