Magical girls normally protect the population by hunting down deadly monsters called witches. Oriko and Kirika are different. Oriko has one purpose in life: to assassinate another magical girl who is destined to transform into a world-destroying witch. Kirika wants only to help Oriko. They’ll do anything to accomplish their mission—even murder other magical girls who get in the way.

Sasa is a magical girl who has broken the rules by using witches to fight for her. When a group of magical girls came after her, Sasa fled to the city where Orika and Kirika live, her pursuers close behind. Now she wants to protect herself by forming an alliance. This might help Oriko get a step closer to her target, but Sasa is manipulative and dangerous. Will teaming up with her be worth the risk?

This story has strong continuity connections to the previous volume, the first of the series. In volume one, Oriko and Kirika joined forces, and Kirika killed for the first time. The two magical girls she cut down are not forgotten now: the ordinary citizens of their city, unaware of the existence of magical girls and witches, are on edge after the bizarre deaths of two teen girls. When Sasa’s pursuers reach the city, they hear about the murders and suspect magical girl involvement, especially after one of their own is killed by Kirika in the same manner. Meanwhile, Oriko and Kirika’s bond grows even stronger than it was in the previous volume as they try to learn more about the girl Oriko intends to assassinate.

This story is loaded with combat action, resulting in a body count more than double that of the first volume. Each girl has her own magical weapon or superpower, though some of them are killed off before we can even learn what that is. The fights are fast-paced and dramatic and, while a few panels are visually hard to read, the overall flow of the battles and their outcomes are clear. The violence is deadly, but not gory.

Volumes one and two have the same artist, so it’s unsurprising that they have many stylistic similarities. The characters are pretty, with much attention paid to their outfits and expressions, while the backgrounds are minimal. Despite the grim tone of the story, characters often appear in cute, simplified chibi forms during lighter moments.

When using their powers, magical girls manifest outlandish outfits that range wildly in style. In the previous volume, we saw lots of full-coverage getups, like Oriko’s poofy tiered dress. This volume’s outfits are still far less revealing than the ones in, say, Suzune Magica, but we do see more skin and there are several mid-battle panty shots, which is a bit odd in a series with such a serious tone overall.

This is a prequel series to Puella Magi: Oriko Magica, which takes place in one of multiple timelines in the Puella Magi universe. Readers of that series will be interested to learn the backstory for Oriko and Kirika, while fans of the larger Puella Magi canon will enjoy cameos by at least two characters who feature prominently in other series. Newcomers, however, might want to start with Madoka Magica and save this series for when they already have a pretty good sense of the Puella Magi universe.

Puella Magi Oriko Magica: Sadness Prayer, vol. 2
by Magica Quartet
Art by Kuroe Mura
ISBN: 9780316433662
Yen Press, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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