Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: Aniplex of America
MSRP: $94.98 US
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rating: 13 UP
Release Date: April 10, 2012
A new Magical Girl is born but the truth about Magical Girls could change everything.
Whether you were a fan of Sailor Moon or cheered on a Magical Girl named Nanoha, the Magical Girl genre has had its great moments for fans off all ages and even genders. Having been a fan of a number of them, I thought I had seen it all but then comes a series like Puella Magi Madoka Magica and totally blows away all me expectations in the most refreshing way possible. So you can imagine my delight when Volume 2 came along in its Limited Edition Box Set glory to offer another dose of its intoxicating magic.
Oh yeah, the first volume of the series had no shortage of surprises – among them the fact that the title character wasn’t transformed into a wand-waving Magical Girl by the end of the first episode. In fact, we find Madoka Kaname still hesitant about becoming one despite the mounting pressures that have befallen her and her best friend, Sayaka Miki. Then there’s the fact that the Magical Girl they had befriended named Mami Tomoe met her fate while out hunting for witches.
Despite now knowing the dangers a Magical Girl must face, Sayaka is drawn in by the fact that they are granted a single wish that is extravagant enough to be called a miracle. As was saw in Volume 1, Sayaka is obviously in love with a childhood friend named Kyosuke Kamijo who is stuck to a hospital bed thanks to a terrible accident. Seeing his frustration in no longer able to play the violin, Sayaka makes a contract with the cat-like Kyubey for Kyosuke.
Madoka, of course, is worried about Sayaka whose act was noble to be sure but – seeing what witches are capable of doing – the risks outweigh the reward. However, Sayaka doesn’t see it that way. In fact, she plans to be a different kind of Magical Girl … a protector for Mitakihara City against witches that try to do harm to the innocent. She’s also happy that her wish for Kyosuke to get better has come true. Miraculously, the boy could feel the strength return to his hands to the point that he could play the violin again.
Meanwhile, Kyoko Sakura – another Magical Girl introduced to us in the last volume – finds herself intrigued by this new Magical Girl that arrived on the scene all of the sudden. Kyoko has been looking to take over Mami’s territory but with a new girl taking over it doesn’t sit well with the girl. So, during a routine witch hunt that has Madoka joining her friend, Kyoko takes it upon herself to not only introduce herself to Sayaka but also test her abilities.
Unfortunately, things get ugly very quickly as Kyoko’s little test becomes a fight to the death against Sayaka who finds out that not only is the redheaded Magical Girl more experienced but she’s also colder than Homura Akemi. However, Sayaka reveals her own true power given to her as a result of her wish that has her back up for a second round in this explosive battle. If Homura hadn’t shown up, this fight would have been fatal for one of them.
Not only did Homura save the two Magical Girls from killing each another she also stopped Madoka from actually giving in to Kyubey and accept a contract to stop the fight herself. As it was in the first volume, Homura will stop at nothing to keep that from happening and because she is growing tired of trying to convince Madoka that she will suffer greatly is she decided to accept said contract she plans on taking even more drastic measures from stopping Madoka from ever becoming a Magical Girl. It is in this volume that we truly understand why Homura wanted to kill the seemingly innocent Kyubey.
Meanwhile, Sayaka begins to change and not in a good way as she now battles against Kyoko’s way of doing things but also another major bombshell that concerns Kyosuke, the boy she loves, and Hitomi, one of her best friends. Oh but that’s not what sends the poor girl off the deep end as all the Magical Girls discover a startling and unexpected truth about what it means to be a Magical Girl and their connection to their Soul Gems. Kyubey’s revelation changes everything for Sayaka and Kyoko to the point that both girls stop their bickering. Kyoko even shares her tragic reasons for having accepted the contract.
As another shocking revelation about Homura and Kyubey is made when Homura protects Madoka from the cat-like creature, Sayaka becomes an uncontrollable ball of rage. She not only turns into a savage slayer during a witch hunt but she also turns her back on Madoka who is appalled by Sayaka’s actions. Then something else takes a hold of the girl that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Oh yeah, this volume might only have four episodes but in the span of those 100 minutes you will be blown away by the surprising developments that arise and the cliffhanger ending that will change everything. This is certainly turning into one of those anime series you cannot take your eyes off.
Volume 2 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica will not fail to blow you away and make you realize you are watching a series that sets the bar high for all future Magical Girl anime series. While the set only includes four episodes, the story is compelling enough that you will find yourself caught up in its absorbing tale of magic, deception and sacrifice. Trust me when I say that you will definitely not be disappointed by this series and this second volume is proof of that.
BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Having made a contract with Kyubey in order to help the boy she loves, Sayaka finds that life as a Magical Girl is frightening and now even more complicated when she encounters Magical Girl Kyoko who has harsher ideas of what their duties are as Magical Girls. However, after a dark secret about Magical Girls comes to light, the pressure begins to change Sayaka in a most dangerous way.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
This series doesn’t fail to delight when it comes to the animation and its interesting visual style when it comes to battles against witches or Familiars is still downright gorgeous. The series looks amazing on DVD but will blow you away on Blu-ray, which is still the best way to watch this series.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting in the series is stellar no matter which language track you prefer since both the original Japanese voice actors and the English dub cast both pull off some brilliant performances with Eri Kitamura and Sarah Williams (both play Sayaka) really shining in this volume. The opening theme song from ClariS and the closing by Kalafina will quickly become your favorites. As far as the music is concerned, it is just as amazing as the visuals.
The Limited Edition Box Set version is on the pricey side but well worth every single dollar thanks to all the collectible items included such as the original soundtrack CD (this second one including the amazing score) and the Blu-ray plus DVD versions. On top of that, there is a 24-page booklet with character design art, some interviews with the staff and voice cast and more of the cute four-panel comics included in the last booklet.
For those who love the artwork in the series, there are also two 2-sided mini-posters and each of the slipcases have two sides to them as well. My favorites are the collection of postcards also included that make wonderful little collectibles.
Without a doubt one of those anime series that just keeps getting better and better with each episode, Volume 2 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica has become one of those rare gems you simply must not miss. Things not only get even more interesting in this volume but the story takes a turn into even darker territory that will have you wanting more half way to the end of this volume. This still gets my highest recommendation.
Review copy provided by Aniplex of America