Oriko Mikuni was the most admired girl in school until tragedy struck. Now as a magical girl, she’s found her purpose in life. Her new power has set her on a path that will require her to weigh the value of one life against many. Are the people who destroyed her father even worth saving? Are her gossiping classmates? Does their salvation justify the spilling of innocent blood?
The Madoka*Magica franchise is filled with tragedy, despair, and dubious ethics, and Sadness Prayer begins with all three in plain view. In the follow-up manga to Puella Magi Oriko*Magica, a magical girl with the power to see the future struggles to achieve the same end that Madoka*Magica‘s Homura Akemi seeks: to prevent Madoka Kaname from becoming a magical girl in order to save the world.
But Oriko’s methods are nothing like Homura’s, and she’s going through a moral crisis: is it right to kill an innocent girl if it means saving the world? And does the world really deserve to be saved, anyway?
I had been pretty excited to check out Sadness Prayer despite not having read the original Oriko*Magica. After all, more or less the entire point of reading a Madoka*Magica series is the moral quandary and the despair, and something titled Sadness Prayer sounds like it’ll fit in perfectly with both of those things.
Yes, my wish was certainly granted when I was given the “gift” of foresight. But that future held nothing but despair.
The plot did end up surprising me: Oriko’s foresight means she knows that if Madoka becomes a magical girl, the world will end on Walpurgisnacht. Her solution, then, is to kill Madoka before she can choose to become a magical girl, which is pretty opposite of Homura’s mission to save Madoka’s life at all costs.
With that in mind, as a Madoka*Magica franchise fan, most of the mystery of the series evaporated. While that’s true of other spinoff series as well, the direct intersection of Oriko’s path with the plot of the main series is a major detraction from my engagement with the story. While other spinoffs like Suzune*Magica and Tart*Magica do have slight plot spoilers because of the rules of the universe, Sadness Prayer‘s endgame is more or less completely spoiled for anyone who knows how Madoka*Magica ends.
The art style is actually kind of weird for a manga that’s part of the Madoka franchise. As a franchise fan and reader of many manga in the franchise, I took one look at Kyuubey on page 6 with the reaction of what the hell is that. In general, the art of Sadness Prayer is a little out of whack and somewhat distorted, which was pretty distracting when I started reading the manga. In some areas, it was so disproportionate and inconsistent that I had difficulty telling some of the characters apart.
While I was really excited for Sadness Prayer, I’m finding myself a little disappointed by the volume as a whole, mainly because of the art — it reaches a point where it’s just a distraction from the story in some ways. While the story is compelling enough that I want to go on, even despite knowing Oriko won’t succeed in killing Madoka, I feel this manga is best recommended for the more hardcore fans of the franchise: you know how this is going to end, and unless you love this world, it’s probably not a manga to add to your shelf.
Story: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Art: 2 out of 5 stars
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars
Feliza Casano founded Girls in Capes and currently edits and writes for all sections of the site. In her approximate 2.3 hours of free time each month, she loves watching anime, reading science fiction, and working on her novels-in-progress. Keep up with her antics at felizacasano.com and follow her on Twitter @FelizaCasano.
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