Puella Magi Oriko Magica Review

Well, it’s time to take a look at a short Madoka Magica What If story. Since Homura went back and forth in time to save Madoka so often, it makes sense that sometimes things would turn out very differently. This manga plays out like that as this universe has a new magical girl who can see the future and she decides to do something about it. Unfortunately, while the plot/concept are fairly good, the manga really fumbles the ball with the poor dialogue and really bad art. What should have been a home run knockout instead turns into a manga that just barely breaks even.

The plot involves three new characters who were made up for the series. Yuma is a girl whose parents were destroyed by a witch. Kyoko was able to vanquish it, but not in time to stop Yuma from being an orphan. As a result, Yuma tags along with Kyoko for a while and eventually becomes a magical girl with healing abilities. She makes for a good support fighter to have on the battlefield. Unfortunately, Kyoko then hears that someone is going around destroying magical girls so she sets off to stop this.

Meanwhile, Mami is actually the one who gets in on the action as she does a lot of sleuthing so Oriko deems her as a threat and sends Kirika to dispose of her. This will be a tough fight for Mami, but luckily Homura is also around and Kyoko manages to enter the fray as well. Can the classic Magical Girls defeat this pair of evil fighters or are they doomed in this timeline!?

Everything about this manga is a little off. Let’s go back to the art first since that’s probably the biggest issue here. It’s incredibly hard to see what’s happening during the fights. The art is all over the place and the character proportions don’t have any consistency. The facial expressions are downright crazy like one that I attached to the bottom. Homura’s face just makes no sense considering that she just blocked Kirika and is poised to win the fight. This is an issue that affects all of the characters throughout this two volume series. It’s so chaotic that it’s actually a lot clearer to read the series online since it is just one page at a time on a white canvass so everything is a lot easier to read through. Of course, this should never be necessary for a manga and still doesn’t make the actual quality any better. This is certainly a contender for worst artwork in a manga.

The pacing is also very odd. The first volume focuses almost completely on Kyoko and Yuma as they bond and fight witches together. It’s even mentioned by Kyoko that there are no other magical girls around since they’ve all been destroyed by the Magical Girl hunter. Then we cut away to Madoka’s town where there are Magical Girls everywhere. Mami just shows up out of nowhere and instantly becomes the main character for the second volume. Timeline-wise, this basically gets us to the start of the TV series except that Kyoko and Mami already know each other and Homura is a lot meaner than usual. In this timeline, Homura decided to be Madoka’s friend right from the get go and threatens anyone who even gets near them.

The tragic backstory for Yuma was also pretty unnecessary. She had bad parents which traumatized her as a kid so now she feels like everyone is going to abandon her. Yuma does a good job of coping with her powers and becoming a dependable ally at least. She ends up giving the heroes the pep talk that they needed to continue the fight. That being said, only having healing abilities is definitely a pretty big liability in a fight and I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of her design. Nonetheless, she’s not a bad filler character I suppose.

On the other hand, Kirika is a fairly underwhelming villain who isn’t really likable. She really wants to please Oriko and doesn’t really care to think about anything else. She forgets all other details because they apparently take up too much space in her mind. As a result, she’s the perfect killing machine for Oriko to use. Her abilities aren’t bad as she can slow down an opponent and has a lot of magical knives to use against her opponents. She nearly defeated Mami so that’s definitely a pretty impressive feat. It’s not enough to make her a good character though.

We’ve also got Oriko, who is the main villain here, but she’s no better either. She saw the future and immediately pulled a Bruce Wayne from Batman V Superman, but takes it to the next extreme. “Everyone has to die!!” is basically her view as all magical girls are far too dangerous since they can turn into Witches. I’m assuming that after she destroyed them all, she would end up destroying herself and Kirika as well. She’s very unhinged as the manga shows. Her power is basically precog and she has some exploding energy balls as well. She’s certainly not that great in a fight. I also don’t get why she encouraged Yuma to jump into the fray as that just adds another target for her to destroy, but maybe she just has fun this way.

As for the real characters, Madoka and Sayaka don’t really get to do anything in this version. Neither one of them has powers after all as Homura has gone to great lengths to ensure that they never get them. At least Madoka realizes that Homura isn’t helping the other heroes out and is only protecting Madoka so the heroine calls her out on it. This doesn’t work all that well though and then Madoka just walks into the battlefield to help out. This wasn’t her greatest plan, but she was a solid character as always. It’s certainly in character for her to try and help out.

Kyoko gets a rather large role as you would expect. She looks pretty good. Unfortunately, Kyoko never really gets to test her mettle against the villains, but I’d say that she would have held her own quite well. It’s definitely hinted that Mami and Homura are stronger, but being the third best isn’t all that bad. Getting depressed for a few pages after learning about the Witch revelation felt rather out of character though. It was pretty forced in there. While Kyoko isn’t good at being a nice person, at least she tried with Yuma.

I didn’t care for Mami in the TV show because she cracked under pressure and tried to murder the whole cast, but she did a good job here. As always, she also got depressed towards the end, but at least she was just willing to let her friends die and didn’t actively expedite the process. I know that strength shouldn’t really affect how much you like a character, but it really did help her case a lot when she was able to defeat Kirika. If she had lost that fight, I definitely would have been a little upset. As it stands, she did a good job of using strategy to claim victory and proved to be the second best character in the manga. The franchise really loves to hype her up as one of the strongest fighters, but I’d definitely say that Homura deserves the number 1 spot.

Naturally, Homura was my favorite character in the manga. She got a lot of hype from the villains since she already knows the truth about the Witches and has seen the end of the world multiple times. To Homura, this predicament is nothing new as she’s been through a lot over the years. Homura’s time stop ability is still super useful as well and I dare say that she probably would have been able to beat both villains on her own. I was hoping for more of a direct win without any help, but the end result was fine. This version of Homura definitely doesn’t mess around as she goes for the kill shot the instant that she sees the two villains and even tries to trick them by pretending to negotiate. Homura was really handled well although she was a little too drastic when Mami just tried to talk to her. Seriously, Homura spends about 90% of her time threatening or trying to destroy someone in this manga.

Unfortunately, the ending is quite bad. It’s not horrendous in part due to the fact that Homura is here so the ending has no real stakes. Had the series been longer or Homura was not in the equation, then I think the ending would have hurt the manga more. As it stands, it just doesn’t make much sense and I don’t like how it allowed Oriko to get one last laugh. There’s no way that this plan should have worked to even the slightest degree. Even Kyubei wasn’t too thrilled with how things played out and usually he’s grinning from ear to ear.

On the bright side, since this manga is only two volumes long it has to move at a very rapid pace. Volume 2 in particular feels like an abridged series as all of the characters just quickly meet up and get ready to rumble. It’s a lot better than the first volume if you ask me and if the series had kept going on for a while maybe it could have redeemed itself. Of course, the pacing may have been slower so the whole thing could have backfired instead.

Overall, This manga spinoff wasn’t very good. There have been several titles that have come out for Madoka Magica and this one technically has one of the cooler sounding plots. Hopefully the others are better at the actual execution of it. Some of the other manga out there definitely sound promising and it wouldn’t be hard to top this one. The art is just so bad for this manga and the writing was sub par as well. Throw in the aspects that are Yuma’s random tragic past and the only thing that really keeps this manga together are the characters from the TV show. They’re still a lot of fun to follow and the action scenes were fun/hype even if they were hard to read at times. If you’re a big Madoka fan then I recommend this title since it’s great to see the cast in anything since the show was so short. It makes titles like this a lot easier to swallow since you’ll jump at anything. It’s why I want a big Madoka fighting game to help fill in this void. Ah well, just don’t go in expecting anything too good or you’ll be gravely disappointed. Keep your expectations tempered and you will have some fun with this manga.

Overall 5/10

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rebellion Review

All right, it’s time to look at the movie that followed the TV show for Madoka Magica. I’m assuming that you have already seen the TV show so I will be mentioning the ending since we have to connect how it leads into the film and what happened. While the movie isn’t quite as amazing as the TV show, it’s still great and gives us some epic fight scenes while still dealing with deep themes. The ending is not as satisfying as the TV show’s end, but it is fairly original.

As you remember from the TV show, Madoka used her unlimited magical powers to recreate reality and add another rule to the books. The Law of Cycles was created and when magical girls are filled with despair, Madoka takes them to the afterlife so that no witches are born. Sayaka was taken so the rest of the magical girls were on their own and Homura was the only one who was allowed to keep her memories of Madoka. The witches were gone, but in their place came a new evil, the Wraiths.

That should have been the end of everything, but Homura wakes up one day in a world that seems to have forgotten this. Witches are still gone, but so are Wraiths. Nightmares have taken up their place and Sayaka, as well as Madoka are both alive once again. Kyubey acts like he cannot talk anymore and Mami is friends with the witch who ate her in the show. This world seems messed up and Homura has to find a way to make everything turn back to how it was. This labyrinth cannot hold her forever!

There’s a lot to say here so where to start right? Let’s go into the technical parts of the film first. The soundtrack is not quite as good as the TV show’s since we’re missing the incredible end theme that was present over there. Nonetheless, it’s still quite good and the songs definitely give the film the feeling that the heroes are always in danger. You can tell that the very city is sinister the entire time and it helps to create a good atmosphere for the viewers.

Animation wise, the movie likes to be very abstract so it doesn’t show off the animation very often. For the most part, you won’t notice much of a difference between the show and the movie. That being said, there is one scene where the film uses its animation seriously when Mami fights with Homura. That was certainly the highlight of the film and the action scene is quite good and we get to see why you have to fight very carefully when time control is being used. The two heroines shoot hundreds of bullets at each other so when time moves again, it gets very chaotic. These two are also likely the strongest of the magical girls so seeing them fight was epic.

The fight wasn’t very short either so we really got to see what they could do. Obviously, Homura could win in an instant with time control so Mami intelligently placed a thread on Homura so that Mami wouldn’t be stuck in time. That move’s what makes the fight so even. Homura was confident that she could win the fight, but she was also trying not to destroy her friend in the process. Both of them were holding back and due to the circumstances, I’m fine with Homura not winning. With her time mastery, she is virtually invincible, but take that away and Mami should in fact have the edge thanks to her incredible offensive capabilities.

I liked her as a character much more here than in the show. Of course, Mami didn’t crack here like she did in the other version and even tried to stop Homura from shooting herself. I’m actually glad that Mami defended Bebe since they were friends for quite a while so she shouldn’t betray the creature just for a transfer student. Protecting one’s friends is what a magical girl does after all so while I was rooting for Homura to win, Mami made the right decision in fighting at that point.

Kyoko’s still ahead of the other Magical Girls for me (Aside from Homura) and she gets a decently good role here. She’s the first to be told that the world isn’t real and she backs Homura up the whole time. By the end of the film, her role quickly begins to grow smaller, but she is a little outmatched against the heavy hitters. She has been surpassed by all of the other magical girls, but she still tries hard and is a nice friend to have.

Madoka is an interesting case here because some twists make her look a little bad and possibly weak considering that she’s all powerful. All right gang, spoilers for the film are coming up now so skip the rest of the paragraphs to avoid them until the final one. I do recommend just checking out the film before reading the review so you can have your own thoughts on what just happened and your views on Homura’s decisions. Before going into the characters, I should really talk about the timeline here so that it all makes sense. As you remember, Homura was still fighting Wraiths in the after credits scene of the show. She was not fighting to save the world, but she did it because that’s what Madoka would have wanted.

Well, at some point, the Incubators found her. It’s hinted that it may have been willingly, but even if it wasn’t, the Incubators trapped her soul in a prism so that nothing could interfere with it. This allowed Homura’s despair to turn her soul into a witch since the Law of Cycles cannot breach the barrier that the Incubators had put around her soul. If you think about it for a minute, this means that the Incubators were able to defy one of the fundamental laws of the universe. It’s been hinted that these cosmic beings can do just about anything, but their limits are very vague so it’s still hard to quantify. They cannot end entropy on their own after all and offensively, they don’t seem to have a lot of power, but maybe it’s all just an act. They have no emotions so they may not even care what happens to their physical selves.
Back to the timeline though, as a witch, Homura recreated the city where she used to fight with the other heroines. Her soul lured in Mami, Kyoko, Sayaka’s friend, and the violin player among others. It was impossible for anyone to free Homura from the outside and once the heroes were tricked into entering her labyrinth, they could not get out again and they also forgot their memories rather quickly. It was like the old days of entering a witch’s labyrinth, but Homura is much stronger than an ordinary opponent. Homura even erased her own memories so that she could have fun with her friends. It was created to be a perfect world after all so she would have infinite happiness here.

In the end, her illusion was too good and Homura sought out the truth. There were 3 people in her labyrnth who didn’t belong. Madoka realized that her friend was in trouble so she assumed a physical form once more and entered the labyrnth. Realizing that there was a lot of danger here, she gave her powers to a creature known as Bebe and gave Sayaka her memories. They are essentially Madoka’s bodyguards and have ascended with her to the next plane of existence. Naturally, this means that they both got a big power boost, which explains why Sayaka was so quick in her brief scuffle with Homura. Madoka forgot her memories, but the two bodyguards didn’t lose theirs.

The heroes were able to defeat Homura’s witch form and made it back to the real world. Homura’s despair had still covered her soul so Madoka reached out to take her to the afterlife, but Homura had actually been tainted more than the heroes had realized and literally ripped out the human Madoka from her godself and altered the laws of reality once more. Homura essentially became evil to counter Madoka being good. If Madoka became a god then Homura was essentially a devil. (The word demon is used in the film) She decided to recreate the universe and now Homura is the ruler of it all. Madoka still has her limitless power and could overthrow Homura in time, but she has lost her memories again.

The film ends with Homura stating that the heroes will remember at some point and they will try to fight her. With Homura’s abilities are great as they are now, it’s hard to see how they can pose a challenge. Only Madoka can hope to defeat Homura and she will need to get her memories back first to do that. Sayaka seems to recall some parts of what happened even after Homura erased her memories so she will likely be the key if the film ever gets a sequel.

A sequel really isn’t needed, but I would like one. We know that Homura will either keep them under her power for eternity or they will eventually defeat her, but what will the heroes do then? Madoka can recreate the universe a third time or bring things back to the way they were. If Madoka does the latter, the Earth is not in a good state. From what we saw of the present, there aren’t many inhabitants anymore and the whole world is like a large desert. It’s easy to see how the heroes succumb to despair so quickly and it’s what ended up breaking Homura. If Madoka ends up just recreating things from scratch, it will be like Terminator where the cycle will never end, but at least then the heroes get to have more adventures.

By the end, I thought that the film did a pretty great job of explaining everything. Now, the whole film works well into a linear timeline and the show also made a good amount of sense and it’ll probably feel even more grim when you watch it since you know that Homura ultimately ends up turning evil and wasted Madoka’s wish. The one really iffy part here is how Homura was able to grab infinite Madoka and pull her down from the heavens. She is now a demon who is evil incarnate, but that should not be enough power to grab Madoka even if the heroine was surprised.

As I mentioned earlier, the ending is very original because evil actually won in the end. There was no happy ending to be found and the powers of love and friendship lost to a twisted version of those that Homura used. Whether you decide that good wins in the end or not, the film ends with evil having the clear upper hand and it’s really 50/50 as to what side will ultimately claim victory this time. Madoka can’t count on any of the other characters to help her aside from Sayaka so it will be tough.
So, I still like Madoka a lot like in the show, but the one thing that makes her look a little bad is that she lost her memories when she went into the labyrnth. It’s okay for the mortals to lose theirs, but Madoka is literally a concept who is above everything in the universe. She should have had enough power to have stopped Homura without putting in any effort. I’m glad that she stepped in unlike most cosmic deities, but it did make her look a little weak. It’s a good thing that she has two bodyguards by her side. This will likely give One Above All fans from Marvel some breathing room for debates since Madoka clearly has some weaknesses now. Personality wise, she’s definitely still a lot of fun though. Even without infinite power, she’s a good fighter.

Sayaka is no longer mortal and she can now use her witch form to fight, which makes for a pretty good power up. She’s a solid character as you would expect and still backs Madoka up whenever they get into a tough situation. She has moved on from the violin player, which is great character development if you ask me. That guy certainly wasn’t adding to the story so I’m cool with him being gone from the main focus. The power up was also very good for Sayaka and I’m glad that she was able to keep her memories and personality since she had been dead.

Kyubey is still as sly and crafty as ever and his plan here is really ambitious as he wants to control Madoka and her unlimited power. I don’t think that the plan should be very plausible, but I suppose that if Madoka had destroyed Homura while inside of the gem, then they would be able to steal her power, but it’s all assuming that Madoka couldn’t break out of the barrier and with unlimited power, I feel like she should be able to easily bust free. Those cosmic beings definitely have some good tech to be able to stop her. His chase scene with Homura was a lot of fun and it was like a high budget version of what happened in the first episode of the show. It’s impressive that he was able to last so long when Homura was really out to get him.

Homura’s story is the most tragic like usual and she totally went off the deep end. At the start of the film, she was the Homura that we all remembered as she tried to escape this fake world. She was willing to fight her friends and get into a lot of trouble to restore Madoka’s vision because she’s always done everything to save her friend. That being said, the revelation of being a witch and the temptation of being able to keep Madoka in the world was too much for her and she ended up being a total villain by the end. Homura’s sharp change in personality was definitely drastic and she is now a complete demon and definitely not a magical girl. Her abilities have risen tremendously and she can now erase memories and do what she wants with the world. While her abilities aren’t unlimited like Madoka’s, she seems to have gained a fraction of them. She mentions that she took the Madoka part of the Law of Cycles while the other two are still around with their powers intact, but all three have lost their memories now. (Sayaka may have some though)

It’s too bad that Homura is a total villain now. I also don’t fully understand why Homura made her final decision. If she had gone with Madoka to the afterlife, they would have been together forever like with Sayaka, who is always by Madoka’s side now. That would surely be better than trapping her in the new Earth while repressing her memories. I don’t fully understand Homura’s rationale for doing this, but since she has become a demon, she may just prefer it this way.

If you ignore the moral implications for a second, Homura’s world is actually a lot better than Madoka’s. Everyone is essentially back to life and the world is how it was before everything was destroyed. The Kyubey race can no longer hurt them and while villains are still around, the heroes can defeat them with ease. Everyone gets to live and Madoka doesn’t have to be a cosmic entity who can’t hang out with her friends anymore. On the surface, it’s a perfect world. The problem is that Homura had to alter everyone’s memories so they wouldn’t object to it. Madoka simply erased her existence from everyone’s minds, which is different from Homura deliberately altering her friends so they wouldn’t try to stop her.

If she had willingly gotten everyone to agree to her plan, then it would be completely okay. She just went about it the wrong way. For her, it’s likely a deal that is worth it since she gets to hang out with Madoka again. (I don’t get why Madoka had to be the transfer student this time though. Wouldn’t that change so many things that Homura should be a little concerned?) As always, Homura is just doing things for Madoka. Now, the heroine won’t have to be a cosmic deity who is forever alone. That being said, Homura is also looking out for herself this time and now she gets to have the life that she always wanted. I feel like I would sympathize with her wish a little more if she didn’t act so creepy/evil in the final scenes. For some characters, their bond is stronger than their desire for justice so protecting Madoka at any costs is something that I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with especially with how well the world turned out to be. Seriously, if Homura hadn’t been so over the top at the end, I wouldn’t have minded the ending nearly as much. Homura’s still a villain, but she’s a very likable villain at this point. Who knew that one character would end up being the best hero and the best villain in this franchise!

When you think about it, friendship is still the main theme here. The main difference with this compared to other shows is that the powers of friendship actually hurt the main characters. Madoka sees that Homura is in trouble and decided to enter the labyrinth in a human form, but it was her undoing. Homura’s friendship for Madoka turned into something sinister and led her into the road of evil. Everyone believed in the power of friendship, it just turned out badly for the characters.

Naturally, the series got even higher in the tier lists here thanks to Homura’s big power boost. Not to mention that Sayaka was also a lot stronger as well. This series really does blow the rest of the magical girl series away with how strong the heroes are. Mami could likely take down the group of sailor scouts on her own if you ask me. The Wraiths and Nightmares weren’t particularly impressive, but they have a lot of minions, which will help to distract the opponents. In a possible sequel, I’m sure that the characters would get even stronger!

As with the show, we get a lot of random abstract scenes during the show, which are always intriguing. The cotton balls with mustaches are still around and we get to see them fight the new villains at one point. The magical girls also have a weird transformation scene for each of them, which are all odd and likely have deeper meanings, but it’s good to just take them at face value sometimes. One really entertaining scene was the cake song where the heroes took on the nightmare. It was fairly creepy, funny, and entertaining at the same time. Talk about high stakes!

With the battle between good and evil, the film reminds you that it can be very easy to cross that bridge. Madoka allowed her friend to pull her back from her ascension and Homura turned evil. One must be strong and know when to hold steady so that you do not end up being led astray. Saving someone else is always a top priority and you must make every endeavor to complete that mission, but you must also not allow yourself to become weak enough that you are dragged to the dark side yourself. It’s something that Madoka probably wishes that she had known earlier.

It should be quickly noted that the original ending was actually Homura ascending with Madoka, but it was altered before the film came out due to the company pulling rank. That’s too bad because that ending would have been perfect. It even felt like the film could have ended there so there was definitely some behind the scenes action going. The extra content isn’t bad per say, but this ending would have been superior!
Overall, Rebellion was a fun movie and it was still really great. I wasn’t crazy about the ending, but it was a very thought provoking film like I expected and the characters were still all likable like in the show. The soundtrack and animation are strong and the film was around 2 hours so it had quite a lot of time to develop. The Mami vs Homura scene is the one to look out for and the film nearly ends at one point, which was a great fake out. It’s also slightly regrettable though since that ending would have been vastly superior to the true one that we got. If you enjoyed the TV show, then you should definitely enjoy this film and it’s cool to see the main characters finally get to fight as a team for a change since they all got to be alive in the fake world. I do hope that the film gets a sequel at some point so that we can have a more positive ending for the heroes. Particularly for Homura since she’s still my favorite character in the series so I’m hoping that she’ll see the light and realize how far she has come from being the noble hero that she used to be. I’m confident that she would become a hero again in the next film. While her new personality is still pretty epic as the villain, it’s just not the ending that I had envisioned for her. Madoka has always been a layered show and Homura’s final actions are much deeper than your average villain’s. I don’t believe for a second that she should not be considered as a villain by the end because her wish was selfish and altering someone’s memories is always immoral, but at least it’s a decision that I can understand. The whole concept of helping someone through whatever means possible is always an intriguing one and something that I can sometimes agree with. It’s a concept that I’ll probably try to discuss more in a future review that deals with the subject. It shouldn’t be too long until something has this theme again since it can be quite prevalent at times. Almost forgot, make sure that you stick around for the after credits scene. It is fairly vague, but you get to decide what just happened. I like to think that someone is protecting the world from Kyubey and doing it in a way that Madoka would object to, which will raise some tension for the next film.

Overall 9/10