Saturday, August 13, 2016

Manga Review: Madoka Magica The Different story volume 3: Part 2: Fate is not a teabag.

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Mami Tomoe in a nutshell, a mix of Kamen Rider Raia and a very slight dash of Scissors
 Where we last left off Kyoko survived; turns out she managed to regain a bit of her illusion magic and used it to avoid Mami's attack. Unfortunately Kyoko says that she doesn't have any spare Grief seeds with her. However Mami says that she has something new to confess before the end, that all she wanted from Kyoko was be friends with her. Yet Mami thought that all Kyoko considered her was a Sempai and nothing else, that she didn't have the courage to say anything about it so all the two shared were battles. At the end of their conversation Mami just asks one thing of Kyoko, to crush her Soul Gem then deal with Sayaka. Kyoko refuses since she knows that nothing will change with her dead but Mami just begs to be put down before she becomes a witch. She can't however because Mami is the only family that Kyoko has left. 

Honestly tell me why is Kyosaya a thing when this makes far more sense?
 Now that Mami is safe for now Kyoko decides to deal with Sayaka. Mami offers to help but Kyoko says that she's too exhausted, so Mami tells her to promise her to not disappear again. She gives Mami her ribbon and crest of her father's church to hold onto till she gets back. As she walks into the barrier and Mami loses consciousness it's revealed that the Grief Seed Kyoko had was one of her illusions. Kyoko then manages to kill Octavia and get her Grief Seed. The chapter ends with Mami waking up in her apartment with Madoka and Homura waiting for her to wake up. However when she asks about Sayaka and Kyoko Homura tells her that Sayaka was killed by a Witch and Kyoko has disappeared. Homura asks Madoka to leave and when the two are alone Homura asks for Mami's cooperation.
In the chapter intermission we learn that the two Magical Girls from the first chapter turned into the two witches Mami and Sayaka fought, guess we know who Karma favored in the end then.
 The final Chapter of this story begins with Mami questioning how Homura knew about what happened with Sayaka and how events with her would play out. Homura admits that she didn't expect Mami to last as long as she has; she then gets straight to the point, the only reason she worked with Kyoko was to take down Walpurgisnacht. Mami of course asks if that was her only goal then why didn't she tell them in the first place, to which Homura replies that she wouldn't believe her. To be fair she does have a point; when she showed up Mami wasn't exactly in a listening mood, anything Homura would have said would most likely been dismissed by Mami trying to impress Sayaka and Madoka, and whenever Kyoko attempted reconciliation she would more often then not be repelled by the way Kyoko often phrased herself and would end up fighting.

 After hearing her proposal Mami finally figured out why Kyoko came back to Mitakihara after so long, she remembered the promise the two made and came to prepare. However Mami said that she has a new promise with her, Homura tells her that she honestly doesn't know of Kyoko's whereabouts and that she can't find Sayaka's Labyrinth. Homura then asks Mami if her soul gem really was purified. She says that considering that there were at least three magical girls in the city Grief Seeds are a sparse commodity. So Mami figured out what happened but doesn't believe that Kyoko would do something like that, but Homura does find it hard to believe that both would survive, then the unholy fuzzball shows up and explains what happened, both Sayaka and Kyoko are dead. A flashback reveals that Kyoko managed to kill Oktavia and used her Grief Seed to purify Mami's soul gem. Kyoko admits that this wasn't about Walpurgisnacht but she really wanted a chance to make up with Mami and fully admits that she should have just apologized in the first place. Kyubey says that she found another Witch but was killed during the fight.

 He figured that if she'd stuck to her usual strategy and stocked up on extra Grief Seeds then she would have survived. He also makes an addendum to what he said earlier regarding Sayaka becoming a witch, he noticed that Homura and Mami weren't doing their share of the hunts hoping that others; namely Sayaka would get the seeds. However since she only went for the familiars that plan didn't go as intended. But either way Kyubey would benefit since the longer they go without hunting Witches the more polluted their gem would become and then bam two new witches and more despair to collect. Homura's had enough but just as she pulls a gun out of her hammer space Mami beats her to the punch, creates a gun and points it at Kyubey. 

 She's finally had enough and is disgusted with how little Kyubey seems to value lives but he then points out how hypocritical she is since by wishing to extend her life she in turn killed hundreds of former magical girls, so by his logic what's two more corpses on the mountain she's already made? Mami backslides into her depression again when Homura literally slaps some sense into her by telling her that for every witch she put down she saved hundreds of lives that would have most likely ended if those Witches were to continue their mindless rampage. She also points out that once Walpurgisnacht shows up; thousands of people will die and all her work would be flushed down the toilet. Homura basically tells her to accept that she's not Superman, accept her weakness, move on and survive. She then gives an abridged version of when Madoka saved her from being killed by Mami in a previous timeline and not to let Sayaka and Kyoko's sacrifices be for nothing.

 Later on the two calm down after their outbursts and Homura asks Mami to keep all of what they talked about a secret from Madoka and to consider teaming up with her to take down Walpurgisnacht. After she leaves Mami tells Kyubey to piss off and does so but not before telling her that Madoka is back and wants to talk with her. She came by to tell her that she secretly made friends with Kyoko. In a flashback conversation between the two Kyoko cuts to the chase and deduces that Madoka doesn't really want to be a magical girl. She explains how she and Sayaka were friends since they were little and how she would always protect her where as Madoka would have problems liking herself and only wanted to be of help in a vague way. That is until Mami entered their lives and Madoka learned of her potential as a Magical Girl and how she could be as cool as Sayaka, however she became one first, thus Madoka felt the distance between them become even greater. 

 Kyoko then tells her story and how she didn't like how Mami and Sayaka were acting especially since it seemed that Mami didn't really learn from what happened between the two. Now she's annoyed with herself because she wound up pushing Mami's buttons instead of trying to convince her. Madoka smiles and says that she thought that Kyoko was the bullying type but it turned out to be the opposite and is realized that she is concerned for Mami and Sayaka. After words the two would often meet up to talk about various things. Madoka asks if the two could make up but Kyoko refuses saying that she refuses to stick her neck out for someone else's sake. 

 She says that heroism and saving everybody's lives is something that only a few people could do and she's not one of them. She says that once her business is concluded she'll go back to Kazamino and will never be a nuisance to Mami again. Madoka however tells her that that's not the case an if the two just talk it out they can have a healthy relationship again. But Kyoko refutes that and says that if Mami and Sayaka were to get into a jam then she'd be there to get them out of it. Madoka never saw Kyoko again after that, she apologizes to Mami for keeping her friendship with Kyoko secret and for being a hypocrite; for all she went on about how she wanted everyone to be friends she lacked the courage to really be friends. 

So she came to a decision and become a magical girl to protect those who are dear to her. Mami of course tells her that making a wish for the benefit of others is a horrible idea. She definitely sympathizes with her wanting to save Sayaka but making a wish for others will eventually come to bite her and will be driven into the same despair that Sayaka succumbed too and she refuses to lose Madoka was well. However she changes her tune when Madoka says that she's not only making the wish for Sayaka, she wants for Mami to have her normal life back. Madoka figures that all the fighting, hardship, loneliness and having no one to share the pain must have been horrible, while she can't make Mami normal again she can at least take her place in the fight. 

Mami has only one reaction.

I honestly can't blame Mami's reaction here, I mean if your parents died, sold your soul to a demon to survive and in exchange you have to toss your life away to fight demons that you'll eventually become? Yeah anyone would have this reaction to someone who can honestly help you get some of that back and offers to do so.
 The day of Walpurgisnacht's attack comes and we find out that not only did Madoka make the contract to bring Sayaka back to life but after leaving her last request Mami personally destroyed her Soul Gem, so with this timeline a bust Homura used her time reversal to reset the month. We end this story with Mami giving her last words as she has a tea party with Kyoko, Mami's mom and dad coming back home and how if she could have any wish in the world it would be to meet everyone in a world without Witches.

 So that was Madoka Magica The Different Story so what are my thoughts on it? First the artwork was pretty good, everyone looked like who they were supposed too and there wasn't really much to critique. The first volume really gave us a good look at Mami and Kyoko's relationship before the events of the show, explained why Mami was so adamant on Madoka and Sayaka becoming Magical Girls and how Kyoko's life fell apart due to her dad being a crazy asshole and how his actions upon discovering the truth lead to the Kyoko we first saw. While I do fully understand that this is gong to be an unpopular opinion amongst some members of the fanbase this also showcased why Mami needed to die in the main show. 

 With Mami still alive Sayaka's actions make less sense. In the show her reasons for becoming a Magical Girl full time made sense since with Mami gone, Kyoko and Homura running around and she's the only other known Magical Girl in Mitakihara she would be the only person she would trust with the task of protecting the city and not allow people to be killed by familiars. But with Mami still alive she could theoretically leave the city to her and only hunt witches every so often to get a Grief Seed and focus on her relationship with Kyosuke. But then again with her personality she wouldn't just leave almost all the work to Mami and call it quits. 

 Speaking of Mami we get to see a much darker side to her in this story. While her loneliness was showcased in he show proper we get to see much more and the effects it has on her psyche. She wants her new friends to become her Magical Girl juniors so she wouldn't have to take all the fighting alone anymore. She was betrayed by Kyoko who is in direct opposition to her recruiting new Magical Girls whose wishes would lead them down the same path she was forced to take, the benefactors betraying them, their lives falling apart around them and their world view becoming much more jaded and cynical. But when she tries to dissuade Mami she comes on too strong and antagonistic, this approach coupled with Mami's animosity means that she wouldn't hear one word of it.

 When Sayaka became a witch Mami at least took it better then she did in the timeline showcased in the show. She felt that it was her fault that Sayaka became a witch and she was the only magical girl friend that she had so she felt the only way to atone would be to take her out and then herself so they both wouldn't be lonely in the next life. But this leads me to my biggest problem with this story, this is a general complaint I have with some stories especially ones written by Toshiki Inoue, most of the problems would have been solved or at least resolved better if everyone just stopped and talked to each other! If Kyoko just cut the bull and told Mami, "I don't want you to recruit Magical Girls who don't know what they're getting into or are making a wish for the benefit of others because I can tell them why those are bad ideas." Or Mami telling Sayaka the truth about herself when she confessed to letting Hitomi nearly being killed by a witch "I'm not the person you think I am and I just don't want to be alone anymore so tell me what you did wrong, I'll punish you accordingly, we forgive each other and move on, just please don't leave me all alone again."

 Though in Kyoko and Homura's cases that approach was shown to be the wrong decision, Kyoko forced to confess to her dad leading to him going crazy and Homura telling everyone the truth in previous timelines resulted in either disbelief or madness. Though she didn't need to explain everything she could have just told Mami "I don't want Madoka to become a Magical Girl because she's important to me and I don't want her being exposed to this danger." Or if she didn't want to go that far just say; "Kyoko wants to make sure that you guys are all right but she's too stubborn to tell you to your face." As Mami said before in volume 2 she wouldn't trust anyone who didn't give their motivation so just give enough of a logical explanation to placate her and BAM trust earned and animosity eased.

 Though sometimes I can cut writers like Inoue or Geoff Johns slack if in exchange for the lack of proper communication as long as the emotions that are trying to be conveyed are and resonate with me I can accept the lack of logic. Though again if the logical dissonance is too much it just annoys me, but the Different story is one of the former cases. I can accept the lack of communication due to how it was showcased and the reasoning behind the characters for why they act the way they do. So while I would have probably handled these situations differently I'm not them. Besides as Richard Pryor once said; "There only 3 types of people tell the truth, kids, drunk people & anyone who's pissed the fuck off!"

 So for anyone who want's to see more of Mami and Kyoko definitely check this out. Though we can only dwell in the safe zone for long enough so for next time we'll take a look at a Madoka Spin off that has no Madoka whatsoever, but is one of my favorite pieces of material for the EU. Till next time Open Sesame Seed oil!

Kamen Rider is owned by Ishinomori Productions, Toei Productions, and Bandai.
Madoka Magica The Different Story is owned by Magica Quartet, Masaki Hiramatsu, Hanokage and Yen Press.
Cool Hand Luke is owned by Warner Bros-Seven Arts based on Cool Hand Luke by Donn Pearce.