From the publisher:
Oriko sees her use of Kiriko as an attack dog against other magical girls as a justifiable means to achieving a greater purpose–protecting the world from the destructive force of Walpurgisnacht. However, their arrangement has piqued the interest of another magical girl, who has her own reasons for wanting a magical killer like Kiriko at her beck and call… Will her savory offer sway Kiriko’s allegiance and leave Oriko herself open to attack?
Volume 2 introduces Kiriko and Oriko to Sasa Yuuki, a magical girl who uses witches in battle. Oriko is concerned that her visions of Walpurgisnacht is destroying her sanity while recognizing that Kiriko’s has already shattered. But most importantly, Oriko has finally been able to see the girl protecting Madoka Kaname…
Despite my reservations about the first volume, I continued on to Volume 2, which I thought was much more interesting. While there’s still no real mystery to this manga series, there’s much more exploration of interesting themes that bring readers to this franchise in the first place.
This volume points out one aspect of magical girl or superhero stories that’s often missing: while attacking another group of magical girls, Oriko points out that they’re only girls, not a trained military force, which is the greatest weakness of any magical girl. This is explored in other magical girl series, like Yuki Yuuna is a Hero, but the main Madoka Magica anime doesn’t really explore this idea, as it’s more focused on the mystery and horror of what’s happening to the girls.
I also appreciated that this volume addressed the moral quandaries the magical girls of the Madoka Magica universe must face: the Faustian bargain that can only bring suffering and despair.
If you’re gonna make a wish that leads you to despair, then don’t have it granted in the first place.
Oriko’s individual journey is an to manipulate her way out of the inevitable, and Volume 2 gives the distinct sense that there’s no way to do so. The final chapter of the volume is titled “She is Fated to a Tragic End,” and while it means one particular character, the same could be said for nearly every magical girl in the series.
My biggest reservation about the Sadness Prayer arc is the art. While I mentioned the weirdness of it in my review of Volume 1, there’s no real improvement or change in this volume, and the art style makes this manga more difficult to read. It’s extremely difficult to distinguish several characters — especially the group of magical girls who travel from another city to hunt Sasa — but one of the most bizarre things about this volume is the impossible distinction between the Madoka Magica series’ surrealism and badly-done art. In particular, Sasa’s expressions are incredibly warped, but it’s difficult as a reader to determine whether this is on purpose to show her instability or just the art style, which is a distinction that should be much more straightforward.
Sadness Prayer, Vol. 2 brings Oriko’s story into direct contact with several other arcs explored in different manga volumes, and Madoka herself makes her first real appearance. While the story is getting better, this is one I would probably recommend interested readers to get from the library unless they’re really devoted to collecting the entire franchise based on the bizarre art style of this arc.
Story: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Art: 2 out of 5 stars
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars
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