English: Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part I: Beginnings
Synonyms: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika Movie 1, Magical Girl Madoka Magica Movie 1
Japanese: 劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ 始まりの物語
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 6, 2012
2 hr. 10 min.
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.651 (scored by 1934 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisThe first movie in the Madoka trilogy; a recap of the first eight episodes of the series.
Related AnimeAlternative version: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica
Sequel: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 2: Eien no Monogatari
Characters & Voice Actors
The Puella Magi Madoka Magica franchise is a juggernaut. When it first aired in 2011, the series quickly became popular, appealing to fans around the world with its amazing visuals and suspenseful story. Riding on the success of the original series, Shaft decides to expand on the franchise with a movie trilogy.
Yet, was it needed?
Let's set the record straight: the first two movies cover the same story of the original series. However this is not a simple rehash of the original. It's a bit unfair to use the term "recap" simply because most fans know the story; the movie contains the same events, but everything in the film has been revamped. Newcomers will be treated with an amazing experience, and fans will be delighted by the subtle changes. Mostly.
After the first few seconds, it becomes quite clear that Shaft had no intention on simply recycling Blu-ray footage: it's even better. The visuals are absolutely stunning -- these changes extend beyond fixing the infamous "meduka meguca" quality drops; the art is much more polished, the animation is more fluid, and backgrounds are incredibly elaborate. The use of the paper-cut-out style returns, bringing an dynamic contrast between the two worlds. Fortunately, these changes are more than simply cosmetic. I have always praised Shaft for having amazing cinematography and this movie is no exception. Familiar scenes have subtle changes: pans, close ups, dynamic angles, head-tilts. When combined with the directing of Shinbo Akiyuki, all these tweaks enhance the tension and suspense.
Shaft also spent much time reworking the sound design. Compared to the original series, audio plays a more prominent role is establishing the atmosphere. Whispers and footsteps add to the eerie nature of the witch-hunts, while the crashes and explosions add power to the action. Of course, the biggest highlight would have to be the amazing soundtrack. Kajiura Yuki created an amazing score that reflects the magical yet horrific world. And just like the visuals, the movie boasts a few new tracks to please the returning fans.
The most controversial change is the pacing. By switching from a television format (12-episodes, 25 minutes each) to a movie format (120 minutes), the story is definitely accelerated giving a great sense of development and plot progression. The movie covers the first eight episodes of the original. The faster pace works to improve the drama (especially with Sayaka's arc later on) and help give more personality to the characters. However, this change is the Achilles' heel of the movie.
The original series excelled in "shock and awe" tactics. Before airing, there was mysterious nature to the show. The eerie aesthetics and haunting foreshadowing toyed with the audience's expectations in the early episodes, only to dramatically reveal its true nature in a stunning plot twist. By deconstructing the genre and using parallels to Goethe's Faust, it was a roller coaster of madness as the world witnessed the tragedy and downfall of our protagonists. Every week, we were treated with stunning revelations and jaw-dropping cliff-hangers. The pacing was slow yet methodical, only to enhance the suspense and drama. The movie does not have this. The story continuously progresses from scene to scene, granting no time to let it all settle. The audience has no chance to reflect. This isn't to say the movie is incompetent. The experience is all in the story and the directing, but it's clear sacrifices were made. This ultimately boils down to one question: What is the purpose of these movies?
Essentially, these movies are a love-letter to the fans. The enhanced audio and visuals definitely deliver a new experience, though the added benefit is quite minimal. Shaft could have simply reused old footage, but it's clear they chose to make something more. The movie is fantastic as a stand-alone product, but it's hard to critique it without comparing it to the original. Fundamentally, the story is faithful, yet it lacks the same emotional impact of the original. I'm confident that both die-hard fans and newcomers will enjoy this movie. However, for new fans I recommend the anime original instead. read more
I take it that those who are reading this have watched the television series already, but I will write this review of Beginnings towards all audiences, and comment on movie as a whole.
Just a few things I wish to disclose:
-Please do not be quick to judge solely by the artstyle, this is not by any means a shoujo series (by this I mean it is not written for teenage girls), because I know all too well that on first impression that it may seem like such.
-You do NOT have to have watched the tv series to enjoy the film(s), though those familiar with the series may enjoy it more.
-I watched this at the Los Angeles premiere, which is obviously a different experience than if you were to watch it at home or on a smaller screen.
-As this is a review, I will obviously be at least somewhat opinionated in my words. Please direct any questions to my profile.
Onwards to the review.
Plot - 9/10: The first Madoka movie, "Beginnings", covers the first eight episodes of the television series. After doing a bit of math, we can note that 8 x 24 = 192 minutes, whereas the movie runs for 130 minutes, approximately two-thirds length of the aforementioned amount. This is important to note, as many will agree that movie adaptations in the past have a tendency of being "watered down" versions of their original series', missing out on crucial plot elements. If anything, the Madoka movies are set at a faster, more engaging pace, at which very few elements of the original plot are sacrificed.
As for the story itself, its truly a good one. If you're a fan of plot twists and shocking twists, this is the series for you. Something quite lacking in recent series is character development. And Madoka Magica delivers in full force. Throughout the 2 hours of the film, you will laugh, cry, and experience an array of different emotions as you follow the lives of these five girls, and watch how each of them change over the series.
Characters - 10/10: From the mysterious and cool Homura to the fiery redhead Kyouko, Puella Magi Madoka Magica presents us with a broad range of unique individuals, each defined by their brilliant design and personal conflicts. From this pool of characters, I can assure you that you will have at least that you'll be cheering for the entire way. Very rarely do I find characters that I can get really attached to.
I must admit though, the titular character, who is a complete ditz for most of the series, can get a bit annoying at times with her self-pitying. But I've generally disliked that type of character, so for other viewers it may for a different character.
On top of that, the series features an excellent cast of seiyuu, including Eri Kitamura (Sayaka Miki), Emiri Kato (Kyuubey), and Chiwa Saito (Homura Akemi). Together they make their respective characters come to life.
Art - 10/10: The art is simply mesmerizing. For those familiar with SHAFT works, this is where many say they excel. With series such as Bakemonogatari and ef - a tale of memories, SHAFT is very well known for implementing sharp graphics along with atypical art styles within their productions. In doing this, the studio yet again steps it up for the movie. Featuring vivid colors and an unmatched style of highlighting certain emotions within each frame, the Madoka movie invokes many thoughts to its viewers through its artsytle, all the while being very easy on the eyes.
If there is any studio that teaches you that not all things are what they seem like, SHAFT is the one to do it.
Sound - 10/10: To those who watched the series, you know to what extent "Connect" and its accompanying video were representative of the whole series. Coming into the movie, I read that ClariS was yet again set to perform the opening theme song for the movies. The new song is titled "Luminous". With a fresh new set of visuals, the OP provided for an unimaginably nostalgic way to set the tone for the movie. Never before did an opening sequence leave me in tears until that point (it was at the yuri-esque moment within the opening; if you've seen it, you know what I'm referring to).
The OST blends in quite well with the movie, complimenting every event without taking too much attention away from any scene. Additional songs featuring Kalafina are effective in setting a serious tone, in contrast to ClariS' more lighthearted sound.
Enjoyment - 10/10: As an overall production, this was undoubtedly the most enjoyable thing I have ever watched. It was so heartwarming yet had its dark tones at the same time. Puella Magi Madoka Magica was one of the few movies I have seen that will have such a lasting effect on me, and additionally the opening theme is one that I can now turn to whenever I'm in need of a little boost in my day.
Overall - 10/10: In conclusion, the Madoka movie is an excellent retelling of one what is in my opinion of the best original stories ever written, and I recommend it to both fans and newcomers alike. Be sure to check out the second movie as well if you do, and the television series on top of that if you haven't already.
Enjoy! read more
Opening Theme"Luminous (ルミナス)" by ClariS
Ending Theme"Magia [quattro]" by Kalafina
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