REVIEW: ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story’ Complete Omnibus Edition

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story Complete Omnibus Edition is a spin-off story set in the Madoka Magica universe. It was written by Magica Quartet, which consists of some of the creative minds behind the original series. Art for the series is by Hanokage. Additionally, PMMM Different Story was translated by William Flanagan. The lettering was handled by Lys Blakeslee, who I personally, am a big fan of. 

Here’s your magical plot summary! Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story Complete Omnibus Edition is an alternate tale set in the Madoka Magica universe. The story follows Tomoe Mami, a skilled fighter with a kindhearted personality who struggles to survive and remain kind. As she encounters other magical girls like herself, she makes friends and finds enemies as she fends off the witches that threaten her city. Yet will Mami’s powers be enough to prevent tragedy, or is her fate already written in stone?

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story is just that: a different take on the main Madoka Magica story, this time, through the focus of Tomoe Mami, a new magical girl with a very big heart and a whole lot of power. Initially, Mami is quite friendly, defeating both witches and familiars alike. She really strives to help out her fellow magical girls to her full extent. When she gets Grief Seeds -a tool that reduces the strain of magic on a magical girl’s Soul Gem- she openly shares it.  That is until she’s told to stop being so nice because magical girls are rivals and barely even frenemies.

In the main series, Mami always had the air of a Cool Big Sis. She was constantly watching out for junior magical girls, even until her untimely end. I think that’s why she was such a fun character. However, in Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story, we get to see the growth of Mami into a powerful, veteran magical girl. Even initially, Mami is incredibly strong. The wish she made fuels her ability, helping her protect the city of Mitakihara from the jump. Once she grows into a more senior fighter, Mami’s strength really shines, powering her through the entire story.

We also get to see her share a friendship with Sakura Kyoko, one of the original quartet from the main series. In Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story, she hails from Kazamino, the town next door. Still, Mitakihara City serves as her stomping ground as she, too, tries to defeat as many witches as possible. She’s just as dedicated to being a magical girl as Mami…that is, until tragedy strikes and her heart hardens.

PMMM Different Story really gives Mami and Kyoko a dynamic and well-rounded story. While there are definitely similarities to the original series, there’s a lot of differences, which makes this omnibus collection feel like a brand new story. Readers get to dive into a lovely and bittersweet friendship as the girls protect their home, become stronger, and even prepare to face the rumored Walspurgis Natch. I found their dynamic quite engaging, right up to the very end.

In terms of style, Hanokage’s art for Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story is really beautiful. It’s different from the “puni plush” art style used in the main, animated series. Additionally, the way they draw witches is really neat: they reminded me a lot of how the Heartless from Kingdom Hearts look. Where Hanokage’s art really shines is in the color inserts that come with the omnibus. They’re beautifully illustrated and gorgeously covered. While I imagine fans will leave theirs intact, I think if carefully removed, they’d make beautiful framed pieces.

In regards to the translation, I found myself really enjoying William Flanagan’s work. All of the characters sound like middle school girls without too much slang or “teen speak” to be found. Additionally, I particularly liked Kyoko’s voice in this manga. She had just enough surliness to come off as a much more nuanced character, instead of flat-out mean or even just stoic. That’s a tricky line to walk, but I think William Flanagan did it quite well.

Additionally, the lettering was solid enough, though there were definitely noticeable mistakes like un-centered text in the bubbles. It was surprising, but I know that there’s a variety of reasons why these errors might have made it all the way to print. Still, the lettering hiccups happened frequently enough that I couldn’t help but notice each instance, but that might be because I also do work as a manga QA. Still, I do think readers will probably notice what I did, though it shouldn’t be enough to break immersion completely.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story is a solid entry into the wide, sprawling world of Madoka Magica. It has its highs and lows, but ultimately, is a pretty good story. There are lots of twists, a lot of character development for Mami and Kyoko, and a whole lot of world-building that adds to the complex world of the magical girls of Puella Magi Madoka Magica

The omnibus is a definitive edition, and the best way to read this three-volume series. If you’re a Madoka Magica fan, I definitely think this is worth picking up, especially for best girl Tomoe Mami. I think you’ll find a solid story about two girls trying to be heroes, though there are definitely some tough themes in the back half of PMMM Different Story. Still, I think this omnibus is worth a read, or at the very least, borrow from a friend.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story Complete Omnibus Edition is available now wherever books are sold.

'Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story Complete Omnibus Edition
3.5

TL;DR

The omnibus is a definitive edition, and the best way to read this three-volume series. If you’re a Madoka Magica fan, I definitely think this is worth picking up, especially for best girl Tomoe Mami. I think you’ll find a solid story about two girls trying to be heroes, though there are definitely some tough themes in the back half of PMMM Different Story. Still, I think this omnibus is worth a read, or at the very least, borrow from a friend.