Suzune Amano lives an extraordinarily normal life as a middle school student by day and…magical-girl assassin by night?! When a group of four magical girls begins investigating the serial murders rampant in their city, they soon find themselves the next targets of Suzune! But what is the truth behind Suzune’s motivations to hunt both witches and magical girls alike?
(Some spoilers ahead, be warned.)
Some people say the worst thing to happen to Madoka Magica was Rebellion, or the Battle Pentagram, or perhaps the fanservice in it's promo artwork- I disagree. If there was ever something truly damning in the Madoka franchise, it's Suzune Magica. It's shows that maybe, if you want good sales on your novel, maybe you should put some effort into making interesting characters.
Suzune Magica is an exercise in exploring the Magical girl assassins of the pre-law of Cycles world. Those who're aware of what becomes of Magical girls after their Soul gems corrupt fully and hunt their subordinates in an attempt
to keep the world of Witches from increasing and saving the others from what they deem the worst fate possible. The main problem with Suzune Magica is how the story fits into this concept. If this was an intro into a new world where a majority of the audience isn't familiar with it's source material, Madoka magica, this could be done well enough.
But since we know what the consequences of being a magical girl are (See: Sudden and Tragic Death), we know what Suzune's motivations are. However, the story pretends that we couldn't possibly have this knowledge, and continues to dance around these consequences as though they're a huge, incredible mystery. Since this is included in Suzune's character, as being the magical girl 'in-the-know' of everything, while everyone else is ignorant, it serves to make her seem really pretentious when interacting with anyone other than Matsuri. Even though we can see her more emotionally driven side, it doesn't make her any more likeable in the way Homura becomes more sympathetic as Madoka progresses. The only likable characters in Suzune magica are Matsuri, Arisa and Chisato. That's out of six/seven main cast members, a majority of whom aren't even antagonists- They're just not enjoyable as characters.
Similarly, the story here is absolutely terrible. If they'd stuck with the straight forward idea "Suzune is a magical girl that kills other magical girls" and attempted to make everyone likable, it'd have worked. But no, they added in a completely random antagonist magical girl because...angst? Exposition? It's never made clear what exactly Kagari was added for. She tries bringing unbelievable elements to the story, and her revenge plot is far more complex than it needs to be. She does provide good foil for Matsuri and Suzune, so I suppose she can be forgiven for existing. It doesn't make her convictions any more believable, though.
The art in Suzune is nice, though the character designs are mainly kind of dumb- mainly in Suzune and Arisa's case, the former having a heavy scent of shamelessly 'borrowing' from Black Rock Shooter. None of them are terrible, but only Matsuri and Kagari's seemed particularly interesting and magical girl-esque. In general, Suzune magica wasn't awful, but I don't think it's all the great. The story falters, either telling us what we already know or giving us what we don't need (See: Kagari). Where this could have been a simple story about the harsh reality for magical girls pre-law of cycles, Suzune tried adding in a plot that simply didn't need to be there, while also not giving it's characters the attention they needed to hold up said plot. Because of this, the manga suffers in everyway, and while it might not be an awful manga, it's definitely not nearly as compelling as any of it's Franchise's other spin-off stories.
(Note: As of now, it can be very difficult to find the whole series in English, so if you're struggling to do so, feel free to message me and I'll help you out!)
For a casual Madoka Magica fan, there really isn't a lot Suzune Magica brings to the table. It's story doesn't really add much to what Madoka Magica already covers. However for anyone who is a big fan of Madoka Magica, this is certainly a very good read, and adds a fairly unique perspective to the story Madoka Magica set up. (Spoiler free!)
The story follows a magical girl named Suzune, who instead of killing
witches as most magical girls do, she prioritizes the killing of other magical girls. This alone mixes up the perspective of the original story a great deal. While Madoka Magica certainly has some elements of conflict between the magical girls, this focuses almost entirely on that aspect. It gives us a darker, grittier outlook on the realities of being a magical girl in this universe. At times it may come across as a bit "edgy", but none of it is by any means unrealistic to what would believably happen in a scenario such as this. There are also quite a few moments that mirror story beats that we see in Madoka Magica as well, but it's still interesting to see the reactions through the eyes of a whole different cast of characters.
Speaking of which, the characters of Suzune Magica are an interesting bunch. Some feel much stronger than others, but even the ones that feel a bit more generic and less developed are still enjoyable in their own right. The ones that DO stand out however definitely make up for the weakness of the others, being much easier to care about and grow attached to. And for existing fans of Madoka Magica, it's pretty cool to see some new unique character designs, powers, and combat styles for magical girls that we don't get to see from the main series.
Probably one of my biggest complaints is that it can sometimes be hard to tell exactly what is going on during some of the action scenes. The vast majority of the time it's all good, and the artwork makes it very clear what is happening during a fight, but it can break the immersion considerably to come across a few frames where you really have to struggle to grasp what it's actually trying to show. While it can be easy enough to figure out from the context of the following frames, that's not really a valid excuse for having had the confusion to begin with. Otherwise the artwork of Suzune Magica is absolutely fine, and very enjoyable to look at and admire as you read along the story. The fault of the occasional messy action scene is not nearly enough to stop me from recommending this to anyone.
Overall Suzune Magica was a great read, albeit a quick one. If you're looking for a nice little supplement to the story of Madoka Magica, then you've absolutely come to the right place! It feels like a story that could've easily existed alongside the main story without every truly crossing over with it. No it doesn't add anything substantial to lore or world Madoka Magica has built, but by no means does that means it's a waste of time to read. Suzune Magica does a wonderful job curing the itch for more Madoka Magica without just rewatching/rereading the original story.