English: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Synonyms: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika, Magical Girl Madoka Magica
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jan 7, 2011 to Apr 22, 2011
Premiered: Winter 2011
Producers: Aniplex, Shaft, Mainichi Broadcasting, Movic, Nitroplus, Aniplex of AmericaL, Madoka Partners, Houbunsha
Duration: 24 min. per ep.
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)L represents licensing company
Score: 8.571 (scored by 218,283 users)
1 indicates a weighted score. Please note that 'Not yet aired' titles are excluded.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.
I'll start this review by pointing out that I was not expecting much from this show. I didn't really want to watch it, either. The Mahou Shoujo genre has never interested me, so when a friend of mine, who in the past suggested things like Mirai Nikki, Deadman Wonderland, Death Note and Psycho-Pass to me, told me to watch Madoka Magica, I thought he was kidding and I ignored the series for a while. Once a month had passed, my friend insisted, and I ended up watching the first episode with my sister.
Throwing all my prejucide aside, I sat quietly and watched the first episode. I found it oddly entertaining, so I proceeded to watch the 2nd episode, and then the 3rd. After the 3rd episode ended, I was completely hooked. And by the end of the 12th episode (or the last episode, if you prefer), I was blown away. Gen Urobuchi had done it again.
– “Make a contract with me, and become a magical girl!”
The main character, Kaname Madoka, is a normal 8th grader. Albeit very shy, she is happy, and her family and friends love her exactly the way she is. However, her life takes a dramatic turn when, on a trip to the mall, she rescues Kyuubei, a cat-like being that was being chased by a mysterious black-haired girl. Kyuubei, as a reward, offers Madoka and Sayaka (one of Madoka's friends) a unique deal: he'd make any of their wishes come true, and in exchange, they would become Magical Girls. And that is how Madoka, and the viewers, are introduced to a world of magic and witches.
Not much else can be said about the story without spoiling anything. However, I have to point that this is NOT your typical Mahou Shoujo, and it's target audience is NOT little girls. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is a very dark anime, please keep that in mind.
The way the plot begins to unveil is simply magnificent. The build-up of tension, the plot twists, the drama, the (really heavy) psychological atmosphere-- all contribute to create a story that will keep you on your toes at all times.
– “If someone says it’s wrong to hope, I will tell them that they’re wrong every time. I could tell them that countless times!”
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica has a pretty small cast of characters. Because of this, each relevant character grows and changes throughout the series in ways you wouldn't expect. We get to know a lot about the past of some characters, the reasons behind their actions, their feelings, amongst other things, and that makes each character feel unique-- they don't follow any usual patterns.
[Art & Sound]
– "Is she some kind of anime character or something?"
As usual with Shaft (Bakemonogatari, Maria Holic, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei), Madoka Magica has a very original/weird style of animation. The design of the characters is rather simple and features very light colors. However, the animations are good and fluid, specially during action scenes (more on that in a bit). Buildings, on the other hand, are very futuristic and look pretty cool. The use of glass and fluid decorations makes me think of a very peaceful futuristic world. Nature, on the other hand, doesn't stick out of the norm, but the mixture of green + the futuristic monochromatic buildings is a very neat contrast.
However, this wouldn't be one of Shaft's best works if they didn't add their “touch”. When Kaname Madoka and her friends enter the realm of the witches, one of the coolest styles of animation I have seen in anime to this day steals the spotlight. It's very hard to explain, since it varies from witch to witch, but it's definitly intriguing. And of course, Shaft's signature: weird cam angles during dramatic scenes. Both of these add to the overall chaotic feel of the series, so I have to applaud their use.
Madoka Magica's opening is “Connect”, by ClariS. Although it's nothing out of this world, I feel that it fits the “Mahou Shoujo” theme perfectly. The show has 4 different ending songs, but “Magia”, by Kalafina, is regarded as the “real” ending, since it plays in the most episodes, and denotes the dark nature of the anime. As for the background music, everything fits right into the scenes; whether it's to add intensity to fights or dramatic moments, the music helps and doesn't feel out of place.
– “With kindness comes naïveté. Courage becomes foolhardiness. And dedication has no reward. If you can't accept any of that, you are not fit to be a magical girl.”
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica has got to be the best anime I have ever watched. The way the producers trick the viewers into thinking that this anime is just another Mahou Shoujo is simply brilliant. The characters are interesting, the art managed to catch my attention, and the music is good, but this series' biggest selling point is definitly the plot. Plot twists, drama, heartbreaking AND heartwarming moments... all of these converge into a brilliant plot with a really good ending.
PS: Do not judge a book by its cover!
[Final score: 10/10] read more
The biggest problem is again they're just so wholly derivative, this is kind of better than going off in another direction entirely that leads nowhere, but it's just super clear what we're dealing with here from the beginning.
The thing I'm referring to is naturally Sailor Moon which has still really been the gold standard as far as magical girls go because.. well... it is THE magical girl.
Like, take the concept of PMMM, it's about 5 girls who fight for justice and transform into different outfits that give them superpowers. So... it's almost identical at this point to Sailor Moon in many respects, although to be brutally honest that's being very fair since PMMM lacks really any substantial interactions or outside characters like Tuxedo Mask or of course Luna which is just the based cat ever.
So it's a thin kind of magical girl concept without much of the spaces in between and stripped down to fight monsters with special powers, ok well that did happen in SM but there's a lot more to it, you know what I mean?
As PMMM goes along that really doesn't change, actually the best way the situation can be described is things start falling apart, which, is probably the safest thing I can say without spoilering anything. I've read PMMM described as a deconstruction of the magical girl genre but it's more like a collapse or a mess in the magical girl genre, it's not really clear who is fighting what, when, why, or how long, and the other magical girls aren't even necessarily justice oriented, possibly even antagonistic.
It starts to feel more like a crime show or something, the reality is that while the other Sailor guardians such as Sailor Jupiter could be tempestuous or aggressive, hot-tempered, but that's not really the same thing as Kyoko Sakura who is just wholly antagonistic and consequently becomes much more difficult to get behind emotionally.
Overall rather than fight for justice these girls seem content to wallow and stew in their problems, blame-shift or otherwise add to the problems they are supposedly fighting against.
It's not all not fun though, they have their moments, Homura in particular seems designed to kind of say, yes it's tough being a magical girl, but she sort of finds a way to make it happen anyway.
And yet even then something like Princess Tutu does all that much better (another SM clone thing) by blending magical girl idealism into a struggle of a group and it's members (duck, Mytho, Fakir, and Rue) all kind of combine to create a sort of magical girl effect, when it feels like no individual member could accomplish that goal. I think I gave that one an 8 or something, maybe a 7 not sure exactly but it was along those lines.
Anyway, all things considered, a 6 seemed somewhat appropriate for Madoka.
First I found the setting very intriguing with the dark and edgy magical girl premise. But it is not as fleshed out as it should be. The tone of the show starts off sweet and cute. Then 3 eps in. It become very dark and edgy. It's pacing is to fast for the type of story it was going for. As the story goes along you start to see how poor the writing is. with the steady stream of asspulls and Deus ex machinas. It expects you to care about all the bad things that is happening to the characters. But as the viewer we are not given enough time to know the characters or to care about them. so making the whole ordeal very forced and with tons of mallow drama. The ending is a copout.
They are so bland and lifeless With no time to give them depth and fleshing out.
Only one character got fleshing out. With the other characters only existing for you to feel bad for them.
The animation is decent. But It can be triply as all hell. The back ground animation is poor
The ost is decent. Has a good op.
Now to madoka magica credit I can see some good ideas but it never put it to full use.
For the the type of anime it is. It needed to be at lest 24 eps. It could fix quite a lot of problems in the show. Like knowing the characters and giveing you a Reason to care. I also hated the mellow drama.
If you want something dark and edgy then you like this show. But if you what something with a bit more depth than just dark and edgy for the sake of it. then this anime will do nothing for you
Story – 7. **SEMI SPOILER ALERT. Basic premise? Kinda like Scientology. Aliens need energy. Aliens harness energy from women, due to their massive mood swings and emotional instability (offended yet, women?). Harness consummated by tricking them into becoming “magical girls.” To aliens, emotions are considered mental disorders. So the “Magical girls” fight evil emotions/witches to gain energy. In return for becoming a “Magical girl”, the alien grants the woman one wish. As far as story goes, it adds just enough intrigue for me to sit through it. Sprinkle a little time travel into the mix and you’ve got MSMM. It’s no Stephen King storyline. But thankfully, it’s not Stephanie Meyer either…
Characters – 7. MSMM carefully avoids (to its credit) the well-trodden conventions of the Sailor-moon transforming magical powers. Gone are the insanely long and obnoxious sequences of “normal girls” transforming into strong, sexy, and scantily-clad battle babes. Instead, the sequences are more compressed, more modest, and more toned down. This intentional move allows the audience to really focus in on what really matters: the fight sequences and the ambient setting. However, other typical conventions (targeting the teenage girl market) unfortunately appear. We still see your standard cutesy girl get entangled in melodrama, cheesy dialogue, and your requisite deliberation over stupid decisions. Bah. I guess it’s a Japanese culture thing.
Not much in the character development department. Aside from Madoka’s decision as to whether or not to become a magical girl, most of the girls simply respond to situations as they arise. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that we wish we’d gotten to know some of the girls a bit more. Perhaps the movies will tell us!
Animation – 9. The strongest point of the series is the animation. Although the art in the “real world” is standard-fare, the fight scenes are where the animation really shines. The art is exceptional. True to SHAFT form, the use of composite, mixed-media, and sketchbook-styled characterization makes an appearance. Over-the-top fight scenes with larger-than-life weaponry are utilized. AWESOME! What’s more, the fight scenes are set in refreshingly creepy environments that linger in my mind still. And the “witches” are nightmare-worthy. In summation, great art direction.
Music -7. Watched the OP and the ending once through. Fast-forwarded after that. Nothing to write home about. The ending sequences are particularly atrocious as the WHOLE ending is 1 static picture that slowly pans out.
Enjoyment – 8. While MSMM isn’t going to be an intellectually stimulating emotional rollercoaster, it doesn’t have to be. Nor should it be. MSMM is a fun, lighthearted, and, at times, an artistic take on the endless simulacra of Sailor-Moon-typed anime on the market. Sometimes after a long day of school/work, MSMM is just what the doctor ordered.
Then there are the anomalous titles that deviate from the tried and tested approach as they attempt to broaden the horizons of the genre, the most successful example being Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. The franchise gave audiences a chance to see Takamichi Nanoha grow from a very young and naive magical girl into the Ace of Aces for the Time-Space Administration Bureau, and combat instructor to the next generation of heroes. The surprising thing though, is that somewhere along the way the series managed to successfully bridge the shoujo-shounen divide, which is a difficult thing to do in a genre that's generally aimed at girls who still think bright (sometimes almost fluorescent), pink is a good colour to wear.
Unfortunately there are only a few good titles on offer that have broken with the traditional mahou shoujo mould, which isn't surprising if one considers the difficulty of the task in question - take something for young girls and make it appeal to as broad a fan base as possible. Then again, Shaft seem to relish that sort of challenge, and while their take on magical girl anime retains a certain "fluffiness" that is prevalent in the more stereotypical shows, Puella Magi Madoka★Magica is an altogether different beast.
The story begins with a young girl looking for and exit with which she can escape a strange black and white checkered area, but instead of finding the outside world she finds that surreal destruction has come to Mitakihara City as a dark haired girl fights a very odd creature in the sky. A small white animal named Kyuubey advises her that she has the power to help the dark haired girl, to change this fate of grief and destruction, to be granted her heart's desire. All she has to do is make a contract and become a Puella Magi ...
And then she wakes up.
After the rather dramatic first few minutes the storyline takes on a fairly staid measure as the main plot is laid out and the characters are introduced, but while the narrative is relatively well constructed, it's not without its flaws. The series has a tendency towards melodrama that can sometimes slow the pace of events, and this brings into focus certain aspects of the plot which are very clearly designed to evoke a sympathetic reaction from the audience. In addition to this, while the rather obvious influence from Buddhism (the whole deal with maintaining balance, karma, etc), is prevalent for much of the show, the decision to broadcast the final episode on a specific date only serves to highlight the reference to Christian beliefs that forms the grand finale. That said, it's easy to overlook these as the main thrust of the storyline is entertaining , and much darker than one might initially expect, especially when one considers the character design and everyday scenery.
One thing that is interesting is the manner in which the writing team have tied in the importance of the third wish to the whole concept of resurrection (ask me if you want an explanation), which may sounds a bit strange at first but it actually works rather well, especially as the traditional "deal with the devil" scenario generally doesn't have any kind of achievable escape clause.
Unfortunately there are two problems with the storyline, both of which aren't immediately obvious. The first is the assumption that only girls of a certain age are ideal for becoming Puella Magi, with all that entails. The justification for this is debatable, and brings up the whole idea that "boys don't cry". The storyline is built upon the concept that adolescent girls are more emotionally unstable than boys of that age, yet this is an untrue statement for two reasons, the first one being that boys are also undergoing physical and emotional changes. The second reason is that boys are taught from a very young age that they shouldn't cry or show certain emotions, and the continuous bottling up of all those feelings more often than not manifests itself during the adolescent years.
The simple fact is that a race as advanced and intelligent as the one in Madoka★Magica would have known this, and would have experimented with male Puella Magi as well, yet the story makes no reference to this. Quite the opposite in fact, and the explanation given states very clearly that all Puella Magi throughout history have been female.
And before you ask, there are such things as male witches in the realm of the occult. They're called Warlocks.
The second flaw is the explanation given as to why Kaname Madoka has more potential than anyone else, which again makes a major, yet highly debatable assumption. The simple fact is that if one follows the idea to its rather logical conclusion, the most powerful Puella Magi should actually be Akemi Homura. It's a far more conceptual plot hole, but given the usage of the many worlds theory, especially at the end, it quickly becomes a major issue that could destroy the foundation of the story.
So it's a good thing the series is as entertaining as it is.
Now given that this is an anime by Shaft one might well expect a degree of experimentation with the visuals, and the opening sequence gives viewers some very clear signs of things to come. The character design is very similar to that of Hidamari Sketch, and while this adds a degree of cuteness to the show, it also emphasises the stark difference between the Puella Magi and the witches, especially in terms of their humanity.
The experimental nature of the series is prevalent during the combat sequences, and Shaft really have gone to town in creating surreal, mind bending environments that serve as a home for the witches, and the arena in which the Puella Magi must fight. The mixture of animation techniques on display during these scenes is surprising, not only in terms of application but also in quality, which is why it's somewhat disappointing that there are occasions where entire frames have been left out of the animation during everyday events.
That said, Madoka★Magica is a good looking anime for the most part, even though much of the effort has been expended on crafting imaginatively unusual other world settings and surreal enemies for the girls to fight. Strangely, this may actually be purposeful as while the everyday environments are colourful yet mundane, like the character design these emphasise the difference between the real world and the one in which the Puella Magi must combat the witches.
The opening theme, Connect by ClariS, is a fairly uplifting J-pop song that's set against a surprisingly routine (for mahou shoujo anime), sequence, all of which belies the darkness of the story proper. Thankfully the ending theme, Magia by Kalafina, is more in keeping with the atmosphere of the anime, especially with the ephemeral approach to visuals. The series is also littered with a variety of background tracks that are generally appropriate in their usage, and one of the high points of Madoka★Magica is the quality of the audio choreography.
As for the acting, the cast is made up of experienced seiyuu who add depth and nuance to proceedings, for example Kato Emiri's role as the amorally enigmatic Kyuubey really is something to see, especially with her off hand explanations and her ability to make the character sound devoid of emotion. The rest of the cast also perform very well, except for one, but the issue isn't actually with her skills. Yuuki Aoi (Kaname Madoka), generally works well with the other seiyuu and delivers her lines with a decent amount of passion, but she's unable to express the true depth of emotion that the character feels because the script simply does not allow for it, which is a shame as it's a minor blemish on a very good performance.
Scripting issues aside, it's interesting to note that the series seems a bit lacking in core characterisation, especially as Madoka, Sayaka, and Mami have personalities that verge on the mundane. It's this averageness that makes the story that little bit more accessible to audiences, even though some rather fantastic back stories have been used to justify the actions of one character or another. Which brings up an interesting issue with the developmental process as rather than try for an intuitive approach, Shaft and Aniplex have applied the "growth by numbers" method. Each character is given the opportunity to adversely affect Madoka in some way, and the order in which this occurs is dependent on the relationship between the two. The problem is that this methodical approach is in clear conflict with the experimental nature of the series, and while it can easily be overlooked or forgiven due to the entertaining nature of the story, it's still not what one would expect from a studio like Shaft.
Now I will admit that at first I was expecting nothing more than another cutesy mahou shoujo anime, so finding something that was more to my tastes was a bonus. That said, the series isn't without its flaws, but these can either be ignored outright or forgiven as the story is a very interesting and unusual take on what it means to be a magical girl.
It's just not as groundbreaking as some might believe.
While Madoka★Magica may at first seem like a totally unique concept, it should be remembered that the Nanoha franchise possessed some dark themes, Black Rock Shooter featured a young girl's alter ego fighting strange creatures in a surreal other world, and Uta Kata tried to show the breakdown of a person who becomes controlled by their power. There are other shows that explore some of the themes of the series, sometimes in more detail, but in truth these are only minor niggles as Shaft have managed to create a mahou shoujo anime that, like those that came before, successfully displays the true potential of the genre.
Which leaves only two questions. If Shaft wanted to experiment with the genre, then why not go the whole hog and have a mahou shounen? Why leave that sort of thing to comedy anime like Kore wa Zombie Desu-ka? read more
It’s a magical girl series by definition that for quite some time I’ve been avoiding because frilly clothes and magic wands is not something a young adult should be watching or so I believe. But after completing it, I felt fortunate and privileged that I tried it, rarely is a series that can be considered a game-changer, at least in my viewing experience as it convinced me that the magical girl genre can still be enjoyed by young adults like me. The end result is that I’m willing to watch more of this kind of animated works from the past and future.
It all begun with a strange dream followed by the introduction of the main character and the world she lives in. Then it was the usual setup in most anime, a new transfer student in the class that will call the attention of the main heroine, followed by a setup that will lead her to a world that she never dreamt existing – the world of magical girls and witches. The subsequent episodes will document the heroine’s journey meeting people, experiencing different events, journeying bizarre worlds, discovering the truth of the magical girl system and its purpose – all that will cultivate the one wish she will want granted.
The story is introduced into the audience in a well planned and carefully executed series of events that will reveal important elements of the plot to move the story forward. Every time it is done, it leads the viewers in the edge of their sit as they ponder what exactly is going on. New characters are eventually introduced along the way, each has an important role; their back story examined and will have their very own moments in the series. The pacing is excellent, never a dull moment in here as each episode is packed with excitement and the right amount of details to keep the viewers looking forward the next episode. It doesn’t help that some episodes ended in a cliffhanger, which lead the viewers particularly me dying from wanting to watch the next episode immediately and hope that it is already the next week. The series ended with a satisfying conclusion; it feels complete but still leaves the viewers wanting for more.
Knowing SHAFT’s notorious past regarding their animation works, in Madoka Magica there is a welcome change, no longer is the “NO-ANIMATION” as very evident in Bakemonogatari episode 10 will be seen in here, or the character only animation and simple colored background as seen in Hidamari Sketch. For this particular series, SHAFT has produced a world that is engaging with a futuristic approach in their architectural designs from the very spacious, technologically sophisticated, modern design of the main character’s house and the school where she study completely devoid of tight physical space. The background animation is superb, very detailed and probably rivals their other previous best background works in Bakemonogatari (provided there is an actual animation, not the random flashing wallpaper text thing). The color tones are dark and sometimes movie quality indicating how SHAFT probably gave everything they got to animate this one.
The modern architectural structures some of which are based on real life building designs used to create the cityscape of Mitakihara are very imaginative. The witch’s realm showcases a different kind of creativity in background designs, each realms are carefully designed to evoke emotions from the viewers. “Bizarre and surreal” are the proper terms in describing those otherworldly places which offers a hint of the witch’s past before being consumed by despair.
As for the characters, I like Aoki Ume’s “wide face” designs which gave the characters these “nice and cute” facial features, at the same time able to evoke such powerful expressions e.g. when the characters are sad, happy, annoyed, or worried, the wide face design allows the viewers to clearly see those expressions making it possible for them to relate and feel attached to the characters. The character designs used for the witches is a different matter, some look cute and very stylish (e.g. Witch Charlotte), some looked terrible and will give this unsettling feeling of being too real compare to its surroundings (e.g. Witch Gertrud), while some simply look too ugly and has a design that probably only a mother can love (e.g. Witch Oktavia von Seckendorff).
The transformation sequence are something to look forward also, Tomoe Mami’s transformation sequences are probably the most impressive transformation sequences I have seen to date, thanks mostly to the beautiful soundtrack that accompanies it. The transformation sequence from the other magical girls is all unique looking but not as equally impressive as the one above. The fight animation is also something worth mentioning about since the animators doesn’t cut corners on this one; the fighting scenes are very good and pleasing to the eyes.
Lastly, while I say a lot of very good things about the animation, it comes with minor flaws, one is about the character faces specifically the animation of the eyes appearing a bit off or distorted in distant camera shots and the animation in general is not very smooth for motion. There are also some production errors that are worth noting. Overall, despite the noticeable changes in the animation of Madoka Magica, the series still retains many characteristics that define the unique visual style done by SHAFT like the head tilts, close facial shots, and creative camera angles among others.
Music is one of the highlights of Madoka Magica. The OP theme “Connect” by ClariS is very catchy and pleasant to the ears, makes you want to become a magical girl and currently one of my favorite OPs. The ED theme “Magia” by Kalafina, meanwhile has this very eerie feel on it which is very good in expressing the dark undertones of the story.
The soundtracks created by the much famed “Kaijura Yuki” (which is also the behind the awesome soundtracks of Kara no Kyoukai, Gundam SEED/SEED Destiny, and Tsubasa Chronicle) confirmed that feelings I have, that when you listened to it, the music simply gets into you and all you can think about are magical girls, frilly costumes, and awesome transformation sequences. All the soundtracks are so memorable that I can immediately associate those to the events in the series where it is used as the background theme. My personal favorites in vol.1 and vol.2 are the “Sis Puella Magica!” (You Should Be a Magical Girl!) from the scene where Madoka finally said her wish, “Decretum” (Decision) Sayaka’s main theme, and “Credens Justitiam” (Believing in Justice) which is played during Mami’s transformation sequences. Equally impressive though are the soundtracks in vol.3 that are present in the final two episode of the series, the “Surgam Identidem” (I Shall Always Rise) during the battle of the hour, and the “Sagitta Luminis” (Arrow of Light) which can also be called the Goddess soundtrack, it is a very heartwarming theme created specifically for the events in the final episode.
Featuring the voices of Yuuki Aoi as the heroine Kaname Madoka, with Saitou Chiwa, Mizuhashi Kaori, Kitamura Eri, and Katou Emiri as support characters, the voices behind the characters in Madoka Magica is an all-star cast that made the overall viewing experience much fun just listening to everyone speaking.
Madoka Magica has a small amount of characters, mostly girls that are very cute in my opinion. Kaname Madoka, the heroine of the series is very convincing as a female lead, her struggles that results from the events leading up to her finally saying her wish as well as the measures that she used to counter it are very well portrayed. The other main character that is really well portrayed is Akemi Homura, just like Madoka, her descent to what she have become up to the very end is very well told, her actions justified. Tomoe Mami’s appearance is short but has a very lasting appeal, I always remember her as the “What a Magical Girl should be”, her performance, confidence, and graceful movements especially in her fights are very elegant to watch. Then, there is Miki Sayaka, whose story is just sad to watch. The other main character that is introduce late in the series is Sakura Kyouko, initially I hate her character only seeing her as a jerk and a warmonger, but as the episode progress and her past eventually revealed, I believe her actions are justified and I eventually liked her character. Lastly amongst the main characters, I’ll talk about Kyuubey, as a familiar, he is like no other, his performance as the acting villain is really a very wild ride, his words are very evil at the same time not really evil, and his trickery into convincing the girls to make a contract with him makes you want to curse him and shot him with weapons till his body broke into smithereens deserves a high praise and probably an award for doing so. In the end, when all is said and done, especially when he explain the purpose of his existence, I eventually seen him in a good light.
The minor characters which represents the rest of the cast like Madoka’s parents, brother, teacher, as well as Sayaka’s love interest and rival also added very important contributions that leads to the development of the main characters. Worth noting is Madoka’s mother Kaname Junko, her conversations and closeness to Madoka as mother-and-daughter is very touching and very refreshing to watch. Also is Shizuki Hitomi, as she did an important role in the middle part of the story. The Witches, while having no real character, with the only hints given about them concerning their past is the design of their realm also added a different form of storytelling.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of the most outstanding series I have seen in recent times. Rarely is a series that has its contents in the form of story, visuals, music, and characterization that are all equally impressive that results in me enjoying the series so much. Even more impressive is the fact that Madoka Magica is a “magical girl genre,” something I already avoided years ago thinking that there is nothing about the genre that will interest me anymore. After all, the notion about the genre is that it’s “too girly” and a “kid’s show”, this series proves that it is not, that it can touch audiences outside its main target audience. It also assures that the genre is something I will be looking forward with enthusiasm and eagerness. Appropriate also to say is that Madoka Magica is the kind of series that appears once every few years that really hit the right marks, the things that makes an anime very great.
As for my final note, I would recommend this series for viewers who like anime in general. Most recommended to individuals who like a magical girl theme anime that is geared towards the more mature young audiences as the series contains drama and dark themes that is not really very unusual to the genre, it’s just that the series used it correctly, and intricacies that could either make the viewers like or dislike the series.
Note: Updated, added additional impressions after completing BD release read more
What really baffles me is how Madoka Magica is a moe drama along the lines of Elfen Lied and yet people praise Madoka ad nauseum whilst talking shit about Elfen Lied at every available opportunity. Even people like JesuOtaku who generally have no patience for moe dramas ended up giving this programme a glowing review despite the fact that Madoka Magica and Elfen Lied end up trying to accomplish similar goals. It's amazing as to how much the power of emotions can override one's better judgement but then again, maybe that's why I couldn't get into it in the first place.
Let's just get this out of the way first: moe drama by and large is an extremely manipulative genre at its core that's rather poorly written in general. Why is this the case? Well, the writers know all too well that most viewers will gladly put up with all this shit so long as they get their cute girls in anguish that they can fantasise about consoling and/or fucking. Obviously, Madoka Magica has quite a way's worth of better writing put into it than Elfen Lied does but it still falls prey to the same traps that plague moe drama when it comes down to the writing.
The first biggest problem that Madoka Magica has is the fact that the pacing is horrendously rushed. I don't care what you have to say about the pacing, because quite frankly... it's shit. The 12 episodes we were given did not allow for the events taking place in the story to flow naturally and instead make this programme come off as a rather forced melodrama. Something is horrendously wrong with your programme if I cannot bring myself to feel even the slightest modicum of emotion for what transpires despite the characters making a big deal of it all.
Aside from the rushed pacing, another glaring flaw that Madoka Magica suffers from is the fact that it's heavily reliant on shock value, which is probably another big reason as to why this anime is so lauded in the first place. Shock is a powerful emotion indeed and it can definitely work to great effect to further strengthen the writing whenever necessary. The problem is that Madoka Magica goes out of its way to shock the viewer and then ultimately relies on manipulating your emotions to keep you invested and distract you from the flaws in the writing. People are definitely going to disagree with me on this one but please hear me out.
The way Madoka Magica's been marketed in the past by Aniplex is a dead giveaway that shock value is a major cornerstone of Madoka Magica as a whole. The trailers, the OP, and even the blurb on the back of the Aniplex DVD release basically paint this show out to be your typical magic girl show despite the fact that it couldn't be further from the truth. Granted, a lot of the punch has been taken out of that sort of marketing tactic given that Madoka has become so popular to the point where it's essentially common knowledge that this is a dark, angst-ridden magic girl melodrama but the point still stands.
It seems like Madoka Magica was fundamentally designed to be a smash hit. The very combination of shock and moe drama has been a proven formula for success (look at Elfen Lied if you want an example). However, Madoka Magica takes this a step further by being a magic girl show. Magic girl programmes (and battle shonens to a similar extent) suffer from this "image" that exists in the minds of most people as nothing more than childish drivel about friendship and idealism that can't grow the fuck up. Given the fact that Madoka Magica is a shocking moe drama as well as a magic girl show, the end result is basically having thousands of fans saying that Madoka isn't like other magic girl shows and is a definite must-watch.
Yes, Madoka isn't like most other magic girl programmes but then again, neither is Kill la Kill or Princess Tutu. A series doesn't automatically become a masterpiece just because it "breaks the mould" as the saying goes. If that were the case, films like "The Room" would have to be considered masterpieces of drama despite evidence to the contrary. Don't get me wrong: individuality in anime is a good thing, especially given all the repetition going on in the industry. What isn't good is relying on being different to be your main selling point. This isn't to say that Madoka doesn't have any other merits to stand on, rather the very merits it does have are flawed to high heaven.
Madoka Magica is often praised to no end as a deconstruction of magic girl anime. Yeah... I don't buy it. You mean to tell me that all it takes to be a deconstruction is psychologically torturing your characters whilst going out of your way to be as dark and edgy as possible? I thought there was more subtlety involved with the writing when it comes down to deconstructions. Say what you will about Evangelion, but one thing that Gainax has that SHAFT lacks in its entirety is tact. Don't get me wrong, subtlety isn't exactly Evangelion's strong suit either but it certainly has more than Madoka does, that's for sure.
We got to spend a good deal of time in our typical mech setting before shit got morbid and we realised that being a mecha pilot in the world of Eva isn't a walking sex fantasy. Sure, Evangelion sends us flying head-first into the plot like Madoka does, but once again: we're given time to actually connect with the characters which is something that Madoka's 12-episode runtime simply doesn't allow for. I understand that the length of a show isn't necessarily indicative of whether or not the characters are good because there definitely are 1-cour programmes that deliver quite a bit on the character front (i.e. White Album 2, OreGairu, Usagi Drop, etc). At the same time, this story contains far too much content for it to actually work with the 1-cour length.
I know that some people like to tout this 12-episode length as a strength, saying that it's free from all the unnecessary bullshit that plagues other magic girl shows and goes straight into the good stuff. While I can certainly reciprocate that praise to a certain degree (especially given that Madoka Magica is far more engaging than Sailor Moon is), people fail to understand that without the boring parts of a show, the good bits wouldn't be nearly as good and would instead become mediocre. Princess Tutu understood this concept quite well as it was able to balance out the otherwise boring bits about ballet with the deliciously macabre moments involving Drosselmeyer. Madoka has no such balance.
Another problem that the 1-cour length brings up is an over-reliance on plot twists. Now, plot twists aren't inherently bad and can definitely work to the show's advantage if it was given proper foreshadowing. Unfortunately, the short length doesn't allow for foreshadowing of any kind to really happen so they just take you by surprise (oh look, more shock value!). I don't know about you, but these plot twists don't do much of anything for me. In fact, it made me question the logic behind this show even more. I'd question why shit had to constantly get worse for the characters in every episode, but then I remember that this is moe drama and that it doesn't matter how nihilistic the world actually gets so long as we still have our cute girls writhing in anguish.
What really surprises me about Madoka is the fact that despite being a sadistic viewer who loves seeing cute things being crushed by nihilism, this show was enough to make *me* do a double take on what's being shown. Make no mistake: I couldn't find myself feeling any modicum of emotion (not even pity) for Madoka, Homura, Sayaka, Kyoko, and Mami but at the same time... there was just something rather unnerving about how their circumstances just kept getting worse by the minute. It doesn't help that the short length also brings up stuff that may very well qualify as fridge horror or unfortunate implications (I don't know which trope it is, so bear with me).
For example, the fact that magic girls have to be adolescents because apparently, they're emotionally volatile at that age range brings up so many questions that just don't get answered. For one thing, does this mean that boys that are of the same age don't go through emotional turmoil like teenage girls do? What of teenage girls who happen to suffer from psychological disorders/trauma? Why does Kyubi opt to only focus on teenage girls when there are many other people of both genders across all age ranges that are just as emotionally volatile if not moreso? There's also the concept of power with a price.
The whole "power with a price" concept is not uncommon in TV, film, manga, comics, literature, etc and there have been many twists on the same formula. Madoka tries to do this concept but it doesn't go all the way with it because of the lack of world-building. Because of that, it would seem that the price the girls have to pay is unending psychological torture which is all somehow the girls' faults by the end of it all. Basically, Madoka's flat-out telling you that you're fucked if you decide to remain a Muggle because you're going to die regardless and yet you're fucked if you become a magic girl because it means you'll go through continuous psychological torment. At the same time, it's also telling you that you'd be much better off as a Muggle because of the fact that you're going to die a lonely, merciless death where nobody's going to remember you if you choose to be a magic girl.
Now I could bring up the whole wish fallacy argument that plagues other shows that involve wishing, but then you have to remember that all the wishes that the girls made in Madoka horribly backfired because apparently, the wishes that the girls made were really selfish even though they seemed selfless at first. Even if Madoka herself was to make a wish like being able to grant her own wishes exactly as she intends for them to come out, there's no telling how horribly it can backfire because the world this show takes place in is an extremely cruel and nihilistic one. This actually brings me over to another problem I have with the show: how sexist it actually is.
I don't consider myself a feminist of any flavour, nor can I say whether or not a specific programme is female-positive media because I'm a guy. At the same time, I don't understand how people can just let all this bullshit slide. Have people forgotten that women have been pressured for millennia to be as selfless as possible and to put their own desires to the side? What's so wrong about wanting to be with the person you love? What's so wrong about not wanting to die or to actually eat something for dinner? Madoka's logic in and of itself is something that really just doesn't sit right with me one way or the other.
Am I reading too much into Madoka? I don't even know at this point, but there's no denying that there are many fundamental flaws that exist within Madoka Magica as a whole. However, there's this one aspect of Madoka that never ceases to piss me off more than anything else and that's how it ends. For a show that spends 11 episodes psychologically torturing its characters, I'd expect for the show to at least end on a downright depressing note but that's not the case at all. In fact, Madoka Magica's ending couldn't be happier. Fans like to say that the ending wasn't completely happy, but we all know that the circumstances the ending presents to us are infinitely better than what Homura et al had to put up with for the bulk of this show's run.
I don't understand how a show can simply spend 11 episodes saying that ideals will only result in permanent suffering only to do a complete 180 at the final episode and say that hope, happiness, and whatnot will always prevail. Then again, Madoka Magica IS a moe drama and we all know that moe dramas wouldn't be as successful if they don't end on *some* semblance of a happy note (I'm looking at YOU, Clannad: After Story!). One thing's for certain though, this ending is something that I take umbrage with on so many levels because it just forces a happy ending out of nowhere, which is the kind of ending that I really just can't stand.
All things considered, Madoka Magica is certainly an interesting beast to tackle indeed. I wouldn't call it average in the slightest because it managed to evoke this much of a reaction out of me and it's definitely a cut above the more typical entries of the magic girl genre. At the same time, this show gets far too much praise than it actually deserves. I'm not saying it's terrible, because it really isn't and I suppose you'll have a good time watching it if you don't read too much into the story. Regardless, I don't think Madoka Magica is a "good" show. Feedback is always welcome, so with that... I'm gonna start barricading my house so that you rabid Madoka fans don't come at me with the intentions to kill me. Peace. read more
Story: The story largely revolves around Madoka, a middle school student, who one day, comes into contact with Kyuubey, a weird cat-like thing, who offers her the chance to have one wish granted in exchange for becoming a magical girl and fighting witches, creatures who bring despair to the world. However, Homura, a transfer student in Madoka's class, doesn't want Madoka to accept Kyuubey's contract and tries to stop her. It initially plays out like it's going to be a cute show, and then it throws several very messed up curveballs largely involving what it actually means to be a magical girl that make it more like a tragedy than fluff. I did love the ending, which brought the story to a nice, bittersweet conclusion that was perfect for the show. Overall, the story did a good job with the transition between the cutesy beginning to the tragic ending that I really don't have any complaints about.
Art: The highlight of the art was the witch labyrinths, which were very creative and wonderfully trippy at times, and I always got excited when I saw new ones. The other backgrounds were interesting, if a bit weird at times, and the characters all looked fine. Overall, the art was very good.
Sound: The soundtrack was beautiful and quite memorable, and fit the series quite well. The opening and ending themes were also good; I like to think of the cute bubbly opening as "what you think this show will be like", and the dark, intense ending as "what the show is actually like". I wasn't a huge fan of the English dub - the voices sounded too high for my liking - but the Japanese version is good, so I'd recommend the sub over the dub this time around.
Characters: The characters all have rather tragic stories, either in their backstories or in the series itself, that are well developed and well fleshed out. From Madoka's desire to see her friends happy and her grief at seeing them succumb to despair to Homura's determination to protect Madoka at all costs to Sayaka's descent into despair because of the consequences of her wish, all of them play out excellently and create a lot of sympathy for the characters involved. Kyuubey is a pretty interesting character too, at least in it's belief that it's doing the right thing even though it's actually ruining the lives of the girls it contracts (your mileage may vary on how justified you think Kyuubey is). To say anything about Mami or Kyoko, the other two girls introduced, would spoil, but their development plays out in an appropriately tragic way too. Overall, the characters are excellent tragic heroines that make the series as good as it is.
Enjoyment: Here's where my praise goes down a little bit. While overall I enjoyed the series, at times I found that it was too bleak to really be all that entertaining, and there was very little relief from the series overall bleakness past episode three. I do understand that adding too much humor or lightness would have likely cause some serious mood whiplash that probably would have cheapened the tragic nature of the story, but things seemed almost hopeless past a certain point that made things too depressing (at least until the last episode). Even with that being said though, I do recommend this series to anyone looking for a good tragedy, as the tragic elements were some of the best I've seen. read more
Let us break this down.
The story feels like your generic Magical Girl series at the onset. Cute cat-like creature wants to make a contract with one (or more) 'everygirls' in order to have them fight against a grand evil. There is your token main character, her friends that do know about this world of magical girls and those who do not, your typical dark magical girl, pretty gems that the females use to channel their abilities, the girls occasionally butting heads over how to go after the evil enemy, and this side-lifestyle beginning to show its' negative effect on the main character's normal daily life.
The similarities slowly drop away from there. Death, which is occasionally addressed in other Mahou Shoujo series, is more then just a kick in the teeth to make the viewer pay attention and give the show a 'raised stakes' feel. Here, Death is treated as the traumatic situation it truly is, especially to a cast of 14-16 year olds. The effects of seeing a fellow companion die weighs heavily on the main cast, and rather then the characters just 'moving on' with their lives, they never do recover. The series analyzes how such an evil can come about, rather then just presenting it as a long-present force that wishes to wipe out the world from behind it's giant chair beneath the earth. It looks at the effects that power gained by strange means has, such as the effect on relationships with others. And these are just some of the topics, all of them weaved cleanly into the story, flowing marvelously. As one situation comes up and is dealt with, another one rises up from the ashes of that, each piece bringing the 'answer' of the previous problem to it's logical conclusion.
In short, it is a complex plot and story line, but it never gets too deep.
(Note: Despite all of this, I hesitate to call this a deconstruction, as in nature PMMM fits the definition of a Darker and Edgier take on the Magical Girl franchise. Most of those elements which are deconstructed in here have already been done in many other Magical Girl shows, such as Lyrical Nanoha.)
While the original TV airing was a bit on the bland and empty side, you'll typically just end up watching the DVD/Blu-Ray releases of the series, where the animation teams went back and added to the scenes, along with spicing everything up. It shows. The Art is scary when needed, and beautiful when need also. It pulls this off by actually showcasing two different art styles, both being vividly different from the other. Yet on either side of this contrast, everything is literal eye candy. Your eyes will never bore. The foreground is just as pumped as the background with things, but neither is so obtuse that it breaks immersion.
Personally, I don't worry to much about the artwork and artstyle in a series, as my only real request is that the art reflects the mindset of the main character(s). PMMM does this with flying colors, using two alternate styles of presentation, the first being 'cute' but never feeling quite right, representing the start of the series and the character(s)' mindset, while the later is plain 'wrong' and does a great job showcasing everything that is wrong with the situations it is used in.
Furthermore, the more observant viewer (or the viewer re-watching the series) will notice many things hidden within both styles of artwork. The foreshadowing is cleverly placed in every episode, but it is never so extreme as to give away the entire plot.
Every piece of music does the job it is set out to do. If the situation is somber, the music either shuts off completely or sets off to mimic the somber nature. In the middle of the fight scene, the beats are well timed to compliment the flow of the battle, rather it be swift and quick, or harsh and violent. The background noises never clash or take away, only add. The voice acting in both the Japanese and English dubs are marvelous. Many other series have issues with one or the other, but upon rewatching both several times, I will say that both were an example of voice actresses and actors putting their best feet forwards each time they came to the mic.
A good story goes nowhere with a bland cast. A bad story can be salvaged by a good cast. This, however, is a case of a smooth, flowing story being complimented by a well written group of characters, both primary and supporting.
Above, I made mention as to the flow of the story. This flow is aided by the characters. While the titular character is Madoka Kaname, the focus of the story shifts along with the situation at hand, often using Madoka herself as the tool for the perspective shift, but never neglecting her even when another Magical Girl is the topic.
All of the cast are also quite active for the majority of the show. The very few times that character(s) do not jump to advance the plot, they have reasons, and the reasons they state are actually reasons that anyone with a more mature mindset wold be able to resonate with. Each magical girl has her own trove of troubled pasts and dark secrets, and even toward the end of the series the cast expands the lore behind them and alongside the world around them.
This is a really subjective section. Those who love tragedy or bittersweetness will likely be roped in quickly. On the other hand, the intense darkness of the series, which overshadows nearly everything else in the final four episodes does clash with the lighter sections of the first few episodes. The transition is smooth and never terribly over dramatic, but the end result of the overall atmosphere could very easily turn off viewers that are more familiar with lighter and softer series such as the Classic Sailor Moon or Pretty Cure. Personally, I would say that due to the smooth transition and emotional investment, the enjoyment and satisfaction of watching and completing this never abates.
Watching a collection of characters interact also adds to the enjoyment. Along the likes of Lyrical Nanoha or Sailor Moon, the primary characters interact with each other in a variety of situations, and they all bounce off of eachother in a natural way. Even if the story itself is a turn off due to the extreme darkness in the closing stages, the characters themselves make it worth watching.
'Outstanding' is the term used by this site for 10/10 ratings, and I have to fully agree. PMMM does what many other series do, and runs with it without stumbling over any hurdles, major or minor. On the emotional level, intellectual level, and the 'pure-entertainment' level, you will always be interacted with and treated to a wonderful and terrifying work.
Personally, I can not stop recommending this series to anyone, regardless of their stance on the Magical Girl genre or on Deconstruction/Dark series. And without exception, everyone I have recommend this series to was quickly pulled in, and found the same investment and love for it that I did. read more
SHAFT is my body, and drugs are my blood.
I have created over a thousand seizures.
Unknown to DVD sales.
Nor known to stream on time.
Have withstood food to create many anime.
Yet, those hands will never hold money.
So as I pray, “UNLIMITED SHAFT WORKS”
-a rewrite inspired by those thousand freaking awesome muskets shooting at moustachioed dandelions during the end sequence of the first episode.
You have just stumbled upon the ultimate Mahou Shoujo, one that doesn't care if it's morally ambiguous or not, one with no stock footage, and one where the magic used substitutes candy for bloodbaths.
Story: Magical Girl overtones combined with the trance-like aesthetics of SHAFT and the glorious character designs by a small green man who lives on top of an all-girls Japanese high schools dormitory (see Hidamari Sketch). The script is written by Urobuchi Gen, known for his work on Fate/Zero (hence the poem) and the highly-acclaimed (and crazy good) visual novel Saya no Uta. He's also noted for making me rub out to a pile of sludge. I really like Mr. Urobuchi.
The story is a dark Mahou Shoujo. Not like Nanoha at all. Nanoha had some seinen elements in it, but Madoka is a seinen. It takes all the elements of Mahou Shoujo, chucks them in the trash, and completely rewrites the genre. I should note that I have watched a fair amount of anime tagged Horror here on MAL, and not a single one has actually instilled fear in me like Madoka has. This is the only Mahou Shoujo I have come across that actually covers events like suicide, murder, and death in a serious manner and keeps them believable. There is a heavy amount of psychological elements in this anime, too, I should warn. In congruence, I want to laud how the characters mental states and characterization pushes the plot forward unlike many productions. The psychological aspect is so crucial to the story, that without it, the story would be nonexistent.
A slight digression on becoming a magical girl: (minimal spoilers)
Even after a couple of episodes Madoka does not become a Mahou Shoujo. I've heard a lot of complaints that "she isn't even a magical girl yet, this is stupid" etc. If you're part of this group, please enlighten yourself with this knowledge; Madoka takes a spin on many magical girl aspects. Thus, gaining magical powers, which usually occurs in the first or second episodes of most magical girl series is an event that is pushed farther off in Madoka. Don't get me wrong, the anime doesn't just do this to be nonconformist. Madoka utilizes the obtainment of power as a driving part of the story and character development. What Madoka factors into it's execution that other magical girl anime don't is the risk of death, and how gaining powers makes you even more susceptible to it. That is why I believe the anime didn't just give the girls powers very early in the series, and I hope this short blurb clears up this little misunderstanding.
Art: SHAFT WAS HERE (insert every other company name here) IS A LOSER
The dreamscapes in this anime are stupendous and the frightening nightmarish worlds that appear are undeniably scary. The expansive frontier that the cast is thrown into really delivers the sense of isolation that I believe the staff wanted to present. As for the normal world, SHAFT works it's magic on the buildings and rooms - applying an almost futuristic setting while still within the boundaries of reason. The skyline shots and the pans over wide areas are notably beautiful and quite reminiscent of Ef - a tale of memories (another SHAFT work). There has been some complaint about the character designs, but I would say that they're used in this anime the same way Higurashi used theirs. With the lure of a peaceful and happy scenario, fleshed out with a goofy looking set of characters, the anime seems so innocent. That is until you watch a little of it. Don't create a predisposition on this anime by it's naive appearance, this is one scary anime.
I would also like to praise the transformation scenes. They are never extensively erotic, as that aspect tends to be abused in anime such as Moetan or Nurse Witch Komugi, and they are always different. The second time a transformation scene happened I double took the scene and watched it again to make sure that my eyes weren't deceiving me (so I guess I ended up watching the animation twice anyways, but regardless). That's right, a magical girl transformation sequence that is different every time and isn't overused to consume air time.
Sound: The opening is like this fabulously intense orchestration that just makes you feel LARGE. The opening animation accompanying the sound definitely contributes to the song and I find it very fitting. One thing to note about the OP is that there's a larger portion of crying than there is of laughter, which should be hint enough to prepare you for an experience that doesn't want to make friends. The ending preformed by Kalafina (Kara no Kyoukai, Sora no Woto) is eargasmic. It has a brutal and rough distorted sound, and isn't full shown until the ending of the third episode. It's stark contrast with the opening really works. The animation set to the ending is a bit spooky if anything, and the hard angry vocals of Kalafina make it all the more intense. The sound track throws in some "acid music" (there's not a word for what SHAFT has done here) so just watch out for that music. Word on the street is that side effects include chronic arousal and aviator application. I can personally vouch though, that the soundtrack is varied and creative, and that it's hard to remove your sick shades for more than a few seconds while watching.
Character: Madoka Kaname is the average personality-less protagonist who is best described (by herself) as "kinda dumb" and "has no special skills." She leads an average life with a loving family. Her friends are a tomboy and aradere that at first prospect have no impressive qualities. Then Madoka learns about Mahou Shoujo who fight in secret to defend society. They fight entities called "Witches" that spread distress and anxiety. If you're expecting a happy-bubbly slice-of-life, you couldn't be anywhere further away from the mark. Mahou Shoujo Magica Madoka is a very dark anime. It quickly shifts from drinking tea to suicide's with unsettling skill. The characters are a whole lot more complex than the average Mahou Shoujo - where the characters often don't develop at all, within the first few episodes so much development occurs that you might be wondering if you're watching the same anime (and the development is presented incredibly believable). With Urobuchi Gen on staff mind shattering moments are abundant. Gen has even come out straight and said this is an anime that can be understood even better re-watched. The characters are a lot more in depth than you would expect from a Mahou Shoujo, and are surprisingly realistic. If you want moe~moe~ magical girls, then please refrain from watching Mahou Shoujo Magika Madoka, because Madoka deals a lot more with relationships and human issues than it does try to be cute and funny. Yoshinoya-Sensei also plays a cameo (but she's wearing a wig so watch carefully).
Enjoyment: This is your brain on drugs. Cue Freezepop's song Brainpower.
Overall: Madoka has an uncanny knack for going from quaint to disturbing incredibly fast. It also has the ability to BLOW YOUR MIND. So go watch it, okay?
After the final episodes have aired, I can say with confidence, if you're willing to brave through the first three episodes that totter between "cliche Magic Girl anime" and "mysteriously dark" then you'll be pleasantly surprised that the latter is what you'll receive throughout. Madoka ranks with very few anime. It is one that start with a whimper and ends with a whimper, but is packed with bangs throughout.
The following are notes I added after each episode aired between January 7th, 2011 and April 22nd, 2011:
PS: I WISH MY MOM GAVE HI FIVES LIKE MADOKAS DOES
WHAT AN EXECUTIVE
PS2: GIGA MUSKETTT BUREEAKKKKERRRRRRRR... and imma sip some tea now.
PS3: Needs a hardware update.
PS4: I cry out of fear watching this.
PS5: fat chicks yum
PS6: DON'T PLAY WITH MY EMOTIONS LIKE THAT HOMG
PS7: I can see Kyouko being all like "GIMME ALL YO FOOD, OR I WILL EAT YOU"
PS8: Fried Kyubey on a Stick - A southern American delicacy
PS9: I think I'm watching a Darren Aronofsky production
PS10: I liked this episode because they explained Homura's hair.
PS11: Battler would approve of this end read more
In a vague futuristic city in Japan, lives a girl named Madoka Kaname. She's entirely ordinary, and not very talented, but she treasures her life nonetheless and loves her family and friends entirely. But one day a mysterious transfer student named Homura Akemi gives her a warning, that if she truly loves her life and the people around her, that she shouldn't do anything that would change it. Her warning quickly becomes prevalent as she meets a mysterious being in the shape of a cute fuzzy entity named Kyubey that offers to turn her and her friends into magical girls. They will be granted one wish to gain these powers and in return they will be obligated to fight the witches that hide in the shadows of their city. Then..... well i can't really say. Basically everything that follows that basic description could be labeled as a spoiler, so if you want to know more, i suggest you watch the series for yourself. Hint though, if you're familiar with the works of Faust and Hans Christian Andersen, you might get some kind of clue as to what goes on. After 3 years since its premiere, it's common knowledge now that Madoka is not the moe fluff that it appears to be. There are many fans out there that will describe the show as a dark subversion that deconstructs the magical girl genre, and to this claim, i say that it's true. In the first two minutes of the anime, Madoka shows that it's not the happy-go-lucky magical girl anime from our childhoods, but a dark story that, along the way, points at some of the flaws and inconsistencies of the magical girl genre. But the thing is, Madoka is not good because it's a dark subversion. Madoka is good because it's terrifically written and has ended up being one of the few good modern tragedie. Nothing the show presents to us feels arbitrary or manipulative, but it feels inevitable, as though there was no way around it, even though our own ideals hoped that reality would stop crashing down on these girls. Of course this only works because the writing in the show is airtight, filled with foreshadowing, both subtle and obvious, and not wasting a single moment on scenes that could be considered meaningless filler, there is purpose to every interaction and every conversation. In fact there's so much detail in these short 12 episodes, that it doesn't just give it rewatch value, but it practically demands to be watched more than once, and from personal experience, it just gets better with each viewing.
The art and animation in Madoka was done by Studio Shaft, a studio known for it's high animation quality and obtuse visuals, and who i personally dislike for their vanity. Yet, i acknowledge good work when i see it, and to say their work on Madoka is just good is an understatement. Madoka's design has one thing that most moe shows lack, distinction. Their color palate, their ordinary pastels made extraordinary by crayon tones, and a certain flexibility that makes you really appreciate the work put into it. Not to say anything about the ever present city itself, large in scale, and containing areas both lavish and hollow. As the series progresses, the city continually gets more bleak and ill-boding to fit the tone, yet never losing the presence that it's had since the first episode. Still the highlight of the shows visuals is easily the witches labyrinths. Each of them is abnormal, outlandish, and unique with different themes and designs for each one, like one is designed after a hospital, another looks like a scrap book, and my personal favorite is where everyone in the labyrinth is depicted as a silhouette. It's unorthodox to it's core, and like the city, only gets more grim and uncomfortable as the series progresses. Not to say anything about the animation which meets the usual Shaft standards of high quality, with fluid and fast paced action scenes, and the notorious “sideways glance” that we see in every single Shaft anime. Madoka is art from anyway you look at it, and it's visuals to good to match it.
The score for the show was done by, Yuki Kajiura. Yuki Kajiura's soundtracks are well known for shedding a tear or two, and Madoka is no different. With a glorious blend of synths and electric orchestra's, weeping strings and piano, and, of course, a towering choir, the soundtrack to Madoka is attention getting to say the least. Haunting, mysterious, and at times sad, needless to say, the OST is good, almost too good in fact. It's actually kind of hard to talk about the soundtrack because it's, honestly, just something you have to listen to for yourself. As for voice acting, i'll have to go sub over dub. It's kind of hard for me to judge Japanese voice acting since, I myself, do not speak Japanese, but still, it's not hard to notice a great performance when you hear one. In Madoka, it just so happens, that all of the actors are equally great, both subtle and overwrought for whichever situation. As for the dub, well, it's listenable. To be fair, it's not a bad dub, but it's not very natural sounding and very wooden on places. I will give special props to Cassandra Lee Morris for her performance as Kyubey. She obviously got what kind of character it was and captured its essence enough to rival its Japanese counterpart. If you prefer dubs then go ahead, the dub doesn't really do anything to hurt it, but i recommend the Japanese track.
As a tragedy, Madoka only works to it's fullest with the stellar cast of characters they provide, although it may not seem that way from an limited standpoint. By limited standpoint, i mean those who follow a formula to judge what makes a character, one such as "background A + situation B = reaction C" characterization", rather them what's in front of you. The characters are humanized beyond their archtypes and over time, things like motivations change and the characters are corrupted by a situation that, despite being ideal candidates for, none of them were mentally, physically, or emotionally prepared for. Of course, in classic tragic fashion, the situation was a near impossible one that could've been avoided, if not for their own personal flaws. Their naivete, their desperation, their love, their desire, even things that seem like good attributes like kindness and courage prove to be more harmful than they seem. This is brought out through the contrast of the rookie magical girls and the veterans, those who went in with hope and the best of intentions, and those who have learned the hard way about the price of being a magical girl. Of course this applies to all the main cast, except for two. The first being out ordinary protagonist, Madoka, who consistently goes through the series with a justified indecisiveness towards becoming a magical girl, feeling the guilt of not doing her part, but fearing for what will come when she makes her wish. Her natural sense of what's right and what isn't, her own insecurities, and being witness to the consequences that unfold is what ultimately drives her character throughout the series, slowly building her up until the climax, and while she isn't the best of the characters, she is the one most suited for being the main protagonist. Then there's Kyubey, who i sadly can't go into much detail over, so i'll just give you the gist of it. Kyubey is the representation of logic versus emotion, and the needs of the many versus the needs of the one. It's indifferent towards the ideas of good and evil and acts however it feels is necessary to get what's needed. The mere fact that i've been using it for Kyubey, over him or her, should be indication that Kyubey is more than it originally seems. There's not much to talk about outside of the main cast, as there's only 6 other characters that aren't just nameless background fodder, but they still contribute their fair share to the story. The conversations between Madoka and her mother Junko often reveal a lot, how close they are, how much Madoka admires her, and often works as vessels for foreshadowing, and were always interesting to watch. Madoka and Sayaka's friend Hitomi is another story. She's not a bad character, but her switch from comic relief to super serious seemed a bit sudden, but even that's just a nitpick. The characters is Madoka are surprisingly complex and give off more than enough humanity to make this series exceed expectations.
Gen Urobuchi has stated in interviews that his intention with Madoka was to make an interesting, thought-provoking, fantasy set in an established genre. Did he succeed? More than i could've ever expected. Madoka is a masterfully written modern tragedy that works on par with classic european literature. Some may claim that Madoka is nothing more than shock factor with cute girls designed to be an instant hit, to which i recommend you rewatch it since you missed the point of what the series is about in the first place. As for others, while i can't guarantee that you'll like the series as much as i do, as with any other work, but i recommend you watch it, sooner than later. Few series seems to hit every target, from characters, to story, to themes, and work every way, inside and out, to make a series as, for lack of a better word, perfect. Anyways, that's all for now, til next time. read more
Of all the divisive figures in anime, very few can start flame wars like Gen Urobuchi. Most "elite" critics here on MAL and over on the bastion of sophisticated intellectuals that is 4chan, hate him and call him the Anti-Christ of anime. I personally find him extremely hit-or-miss. One thing Urobuchi has going for him is that like George RR Martin, he is a crusty old bastard that won't cave to fan demands and make a happy ending, sparing all of the fan favorite characters. When the viewer doesn't know who will live and who will die each week, it adds suspense and keeps things from getting boring and predictable. He also IS actually a competent writer that can create beloved characters and keep a steady tone with occasional bouts of witty and sophisticated dialogue. "I have long since learned, as a measure of elementary hygiene, to be on guard when anyone quotes Pascal." The Achilles heel of Urobuchi is that the man doesn't have a creative bone in his body. ALL he does is rip off other authors, and he barely even tries to disguise it. Sometimes he doesn't even disguise it and explicitly mentions it, like Psycho Pass with the works of Philip K. Dick, notably Minority Report, a copy of which appears prominently in the background of one episode on a bookshelf! This generally means that the quality of the Urobuchi anime is directly dependent on what he is ripping off and if that work lends itself to easy adaptation.
So if Aldnoah Zero is a shitty Gundam ripoff and Psycho Pass is a surprisingly great adaptation of Philip K Dick's Minority Report, what is Madoka Magica ripping off? Mostly NGE actually. "WHAT!? Those 2 series are nothing alike! This reviewer must be on crack!" Allow me to explain what I mean. In the second half of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Anno decided to make it more of a psychoanalysis project, but during the first half, EVA was supposed to serve as a complete deconstruction of the "teens pilot giant robots" Mecha genre. A "deconstruction" , at least the way the term is used in conversation online, is when you break down a genre by identifying all the cheesy tropes and cliches, and turn them all around into something new. More often than not, this creates a dark new twist on the genre that basically shows what would happen if that genre happened in real life. For example, during the Gold and Silver Ages of American comics, costumed heroes received immense powers and never let that power corrupt them or isolate them from the rest of humanity. They fought crime without wanting anything in return, delivered cheesy one liners, and helped citizens basically all day out of the goodness of their hearts. This of course sounds completely bullshit and totally opposite of the dark reality that we all know and live in. In response, Alan Moore decided to create Watchmen to absolutely demolish American costume hero comics and show what would actually happen. The government uses super heroes to win wars by slaughtering millions of people, heroes develop God complexes, or are greedy, or are violent sociopaths. All of the cliches are turned upside down and all the bullshit assumptions of the genre were shattered. Neon Genesis Evangelion initially wished to do the same thing to the mecha genre and show why emotionally fragile teenagers suffering the angst that all teenagers naturally feel, would actually be HORRIBLE candidates to pilot giant robots and save the world from monsters. Madoka tries to be complete deconstruction of the "magical girl" genre of anime, which if that sounds like a stupid idea, it's because it honestly kind of is.
WARNING: Some Spoilers!
So what does a genre deconstruction of "magical girl" anime look like? Exactly what you think it would look like. Little moe girls receive magical powers, but this time those powers always come at a tragic cost and everything is extremely grim and depressing. I won't spoil too much of the plot, but basically magical girls have to give up their souls in order to get their powers and spend their days fighting monsters that they will eventually turn into once they become too tainted. “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”-Nietzsche in his book "Beyond Good and Evil".
Honestly, this WOULD have been a decent idea, if EVERYONE hadn't already done it before! Claymore did this back in the early 2000s! Berserk has dealt with this topic. Hellsing has dealt with this topic. Not only has everyone done it, but a LOT have done it better than Madoka did! As for the whole "brilliant deconstruction" of the magical girl genre, the freaking magical girl genre has ALWAYS been firmly tongue in cheek, so making a Sailor Moon version of Watchmen wasn't really warranted, it wasn't clever, it doesn't deserve heaps of praise! This anime is quite decent on a technical level with animation, voice acting, music, but I feel it is an insanely overrated series that didn't really even need to exist! EVERYTHING that this anime does and receives praise for, has already been done FAR better by loads of other series. Madoka isn't actually a bad anime, but it is NOT a freaking masterpiece that needs an 8.6 out of 10. If Watchmen in terms of quality as a groundbreaking deconstruction is on the 100th floor and Eva is on the 80th floor, Madoka Magica is somewhere around sub-basement 3. Madoka is basically a mediocre anime that receives absurd amounts of praise from noobs, who have no idea what a genre deconstruction is and think Madoka is groundbreaking and brilliant, when it actually isn't. In summary, FUCK this series! Although I DO love the pun that people keep shouting online: Rusev Madoka, Rusev Magica! It is rather rare to see Bulgarian/Japanese language puns. I guess if I had to pick the most positive thing Madoka contributed, it would be that. read more
This series instead establishes pretty much from the start that nothing good can come from having one's wish granted by magic, and rolls with it in a downward spiral of bad choices and even worse consequences.
Now, that taken into account, I do think the first episode is quite bad, as it establishes a "suppa-kavvaii" atmosphere that really, will never come into play again nor work with the subversion of the genre. Sure, it's introducing us to the characters before the bad things start to happen... but actually it is not, as the personalities we are presented with in the first episode seem to not have much relation with how the characters are shown in later episodes (where they are naive but also very thoughtful and relatively mature)
The story is, as mentioned, a nice subversion of the magical girl genre, equiparing the "magic will solve all your problem" trope with faustians deals. Which, yeah, is a very interesting way to go about it, especially when delivered through characters who speak in flat theatrical monotone sentences while fighting dada-inspired monster which seems to have jumped straight off some Grant Morrison comic. Sadly though after some episodes of cool mystery answers have to be given (well, no they don't, but the author obviously wanted to give them to us) and that ends up soiling a bit the mystique of the whole affair.
Don't get me wrong, some reveals are actually very good, like the actual identity of the transferred student, but I would have honestly preferred that things like the identity of Kyube or the reason for Madoka's "potential" would have been left ambiguous and implied through visuals. In general I do feel that this series does do WAY too much overexplaining, ruining again, a bit of the fantastic mood it manages to set through visuals.
Overall it's quite a good series, although I feel that it could have been so much better if it didn't tried to have a "pop" appeal. read more
Madoka Shoujo Madoka Magica is a supposed, "deconstruction," of the magic girl genre. I use the term deconstruction loosely. It gained popularity, or rather notoriety, due its "deep," themes, "symbolism,", "complex" characters, and of course Urobuchi's trademark cruelty. All of these factors combined should be the recipe for success, correct? Not in this case. Madoka isn't a bad show by any standard. It is a show that reaches for the stars and falls drastically short.
Story(6/10)- Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica starts off misleading the viewer into thinking it is just a regular magical girl show. You have a pink haired protagonist with low self-esteem, a blue haired tomboy-esque chick who serves a foil character, and a magical creature that basically grants wishes. This has been the formula for any magical girl anime released in the past decade. However, this is all a facade to mask the fact that Madoka is a relatively dark show. The titular character, Madoka, comes into contact with a strange creature called, QB, who makes her an offer that is hard to refuse. You will be granted one wish, and in return you will become a Magic Girl who has to fight these monstrosities called, "witches," to save the world. Sounds like any young girl from Japan's dream right? However, little does poor Madoka know that their are huge consequences that come with this contract. Very early on in the show, we witness the hardships of being a Mahou Shoujo. Death, loneliness, despair. These are all that await these young girls. Sounds enticing right? Well, the show's execution is flawed and I will explain why.
Firstly, the show's pacing is off. The viewer is quick introduced to events without sufficient foreshadow or buildup, thus all the plot twists come off as contrived. Madoka would have benefited from being a 24 episode show as opposed to a 12 episode series. Everything comes off as rushed. There is not sufficient world building or anything that makes the show come off as organic in terms of the narrative.
Secondly, there is an over reliance on plot twists but most of these plot twists are simply just shock value. You thought what happened to Character A was awful in every way? No, that was just the beginning, THIS is much worse. And what lessons do we learn from all this suffering and cruelty? Nothing. There is no greater insight in seeing horrible things happen to these girls aside that Urobuchi's sadistic tendencies manifest themselves in interesting ways. The central theme in Madoka is to, "be careful what you wish for," and it is made obvious the first couple times bad things happen to the characters. But constantly adding new twists every couple of episodes to make the main characters lives increasingly harder becomes borderline ridiculousness. It doesn't help that most of these twists seem to come from thin air aside from a few that were alluded to.
Third, it is advertised as a deconstruction but it is anything but. Madoka may be a dark show but dark does not automatically mean deconstruction. At its core, Madoka is the same as every other Magical girl show out there only more edgier. It does nothing to point out the flaws of the magical girl genre and give us deeper insight into what it truly means to put your life on the line for an empty cause. Side point, the show also has underlying misogynistic themes. If you look closely, QB says that many of the great women in history were magical girls but all failed or messed up in some way or form. Is this to say that women are incapable of handling any sort of real power? Who knows, but that is my take on it.
Art (8/10)- Mahou Shoujo Madoka was animated by Studio SHAFT, a studio best known for their eccentric animation style. Madoka is a beautiful show. The backgrounds are very detailed and are laden with symbolism. The lighting gives Madoka this dark and ominous feel which adds a lot to the immersion. It makes it very hard to take your eyes off of the show. The character designs are a bit off putting to me though. The faces of the characters are square and a bit pudgy. Pretty weird in my opinion.
Sound(8/10)- The soundtrack was composed by Yuki Kaijura, famous for her works on The Garden of Sinners and .Hack series. This is probably one of her greatest efforts to date. The soundtrack is composed of melancholic soundscapes with occasional orchestrated high energy tracks that suit the more tense fight scenes. The sound direction for this show is truly impeccable as each track captures every moment appropriately.
Character(4/10)- The character aspect is arguably the show's Achilles Heel. The title character, Madoka, has to be the worst character in the show. She starts off with low self-esteem, leading me to believe there is going to be some interesting character development but surprisingly she never changes. The entire show literally revolves around her and yet she does nothing of interest for most of the show. Madoka is a character defined by her environment, a reactionary character if you will. She cries and moans over the bad things that happens to her and her friends, but we rarely ever get a deeper look into her character.
Her best friend, Miki Sayaka is hardly any better. She starts off as brash and bold, but we slowly get to learn more about her character. However, her backstory isn't fleshed out sufficiently to the point where I feel like she is an actual person. Her wish, although understandable, lacks any substance behind it. What I mean is, there wasn't a sufficient explanation as to why she made this wish aside from, I like this guy. As far as we know, there is no deep history between the characters so the wish comes off as stupid to me. Although she does, develop throughout the show, it hardly makes her likable or a better character. Her character developments seem inorganic because once again, they rely on shock value via plot twists.
The other characters such as Akemi and Kyoko are only slightly better but their motivations and reasons behind most of the things they do, don't make sense within the time frame it occurs. Kyoko goes from hating Sayaka in one episode, so much so that she wants to kill her, and in the very next she is revealing to her a sad sob story about her origins. There was no build up. What made her change her mind so quickly? Yes, she did say Sayaka reminded her of herself, but that isn't an adequate reason to change your mind about someone you were going to kill the episode before. Their "friendship," was rushed to the point of disbelief, and didn't make sense. Akemi is the same way, although her situation is slightly more understandable. But the extent to which Akemi would sacrifice herself for Madoka didn't make sense because they haven't even known each for a year and barely even a month. It does not make sense. Nobody would go through so much turmoil for someone they just met. And Akemi also has a power that was poorly explained and comes off as a plothole but due to spoilers I will not say what it is.
My favorite character is QB. I felt as though he was the easiest person to empathize with and his reason for making girls sign the contract was understandable aside from a few gripes I have with his reasoning behind it. But I don't think the show wanted me to empathize with someone they painted as a villain, but I felt he was more realistic than the aforementioned characters.
Conclusion (6/10)- So in conclusion, is Madoka the masterpiece it was hyped up to be? Not at all. It did not do to the Magical Girl genre what Evangelion did to mecha, and at it is core it is the same as all the other anime in its genre. The comparisons made with it being similar to Faust and European literature are superficial and borderline offensive to the authors. Madoka does not match the quality of most literature so I thought I should just put an end to that notion. The reason I am so harsh towards Madoka is because I look at what it could've been and what it is, and I am deeply saddened it turned out this way. However, Madoka is not completely without merit. It is an interesting take on the magical girl genre, and has some phenomenal production values. I would definitely recommend a watch but don't go in with high expectations because they are bound to be crushed. read more
The genre of magical shoujo does not always give us nothing new, it is not surprising. And yet, we turn to the story, it is rather dull and rather banal, and by the middle of the anime you know what's what, in spite of this, the recent series may surprise. At the expense of graphics and music, I have always been neutral, there is probably nothing to stick, on the contrary, this anime original style depiction. Opening theme is not lousy, but it is not cool to name the most common opening theme, as the ending theme. The characters do not have a strong pattern, which is a plus, but you'll guess the question, "So who is the villain?". Despite the boredom of this anime, the theme with the time always seemed interesting to me, which helped watch this creation. Many are at odds, which is actually the ending? Good or bad? It depends on perception, for me personally, it's something in between. So if you want to see something exciting, then forward, but take it seriously anime it will be difficult. read more
I had no expectations really when I chose it from a list on Netflix, and had no idea of its popularity or anything. I simply thought the characters looked cute and the description sounded fun. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
✿~ Story ~✿
Simply fantastic! The story is much darker and deeper than I could have ever imagined, with twists and surprises thrown in throughout. And it consistently grabbed my attention and left me wanting more at the end of each episode, dying to find out what happens next. Who knew that a story about magical girls and witches could be so complex and emotional? 10/10
✿~ Art ~✿
This category is probably my only real issue with Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica, and it's not even that bad. There's just a certain art/animation style when it comes to the witches and their strange labyrinths that I didn't entirely care for. It was too weird and trippy for me, and would have rather had those scenes match the artwork and animation of the rest of the anime, which was very beautiful and nicely done! Still, I have to admit that the weirdness of the witch and labyrinth scenes did fit with the mood of the story. 8/10
✿~ Sound ~✿
To tell the truth, I didn't notice the music very often during the episodes, but when I did, it was some amazing stuff! But that's one magical quality about music: there comes a point where you no longer hear the music... you feel it. And when the story gets so powerful and emotional, and the music is equally powerful and emotional, it's a beautiful thing. The intro song "Connect" and main credits theme "Magia" are especially good as well, and I'd often listen to them through instead of skipping past them. 9/10
✿~ Characters ~✿
I can't speak for anyone else, but my "favorite character" switched between each and every main character at some point throughout the anime! They all have something special about them and have so much to give to the story, and I became deeply attached to them all in turn, which made for quite the emotional rollercoaster! Any book or movie or show that can make me so emotionally invested in its characters definitely did it's job right! 10/10
✿~ Enjoyment ~✿
My knee-jerk answer is that I most certainly enjoyed this anime! But giving it some thought and thinking more critically, I have to admit that sometimes I did feel that it was progressing a little slow, or had some issues with certain aspects of the plot and character choices that I felt were unrealistic or just plain didn't make much sense to me, not to mention the wonky artstyle, etc. So was it 100% perfect? No, it wasn't, but far more often than not I was on the edge of my seat with my eyes glued to the screen! And I will highly recommend this series to anyone who asks. 9/10
✿~ Overall: 9/10 ~✿ read more
That’s how the show starts, and as the show was suggested to me by a friend whose first recommendation was Another, I was surprised. The show starts off all cute and nice, which was a great surprise, and I found it really strange and quite boring, but I told myself I have to at least try to make it through a few episodes. The atmosphere in the show slowly began to change from this blissful school life it started getting darker and darker. It changed from a cutesy lighthearted anime into a psychological thriller.
The story was great, I found it original and it was never really dragging, but it never got me to feel like I had to watch another episode so it actually took me quite a while to finish it (I watched three other anime in between). The characters were all great, everyone had flashed out backstory. Everyone had believable motivation behind their actions and practically nothing went unexplained in the end. Speaking of the ending like pretty much all 12 episode anime I found it to be a bit rushed but there is are three movies made afterwards that might fix this just like the OVA saved Mirai Nikki's ending.
The one thing I found truly exceptional was the art, it was just beautiful especially the sequences with the witches, which looked like they had just escaped from a surrealist painting. Also the characters all looked amazing and the action sequences looked just perfectly executed. Throughout the episodes it actually managed to keep the whimsical esthetics from the start and managed to make them work in a completely different setting. There is not much to talk about the sound, nothing felt out of place and nothing that great. The opening and ending are good enough to find their way into my iTunes but I won't try to hunt down the whole soundtrack like I did with Noir and Yosuga no Sora.
Even though I found nothing wrong with the Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica I just can't give it more than a low 8 because it never really pulled me in like even the adaptation disaster that is Gokukoku no Brynhildr managed to do. I can fully understand anyone who thinks this is a masterpiece and it is possible I would find it to be one also, had I watched it at a different time. No matter what I still have recommend it to everyone who wants to watch a quality anime. read more
"I did not want to show cruel scenes; I wanted to show the feeling of those people who had to face those situations."
~ Akiyuki Shinbo, Director
This show changed the landscape of anime forever by raising standards for action and drama. It is a show made to push--to push people just past their limitations (whether they be physiological, psychological, or social) and their help just out of reach. Madoka Magica is a story of triumph by failure, a story of sacrifice and renewal. Narrative economy is mastered with the sharpest screenplay of all time and the most engaging action sequences of all time--this is the most perfect anime. read more
One reason is that they have an infinite reset button.And that they never have an ultimate consequence of any bad choices they make.Death is not final here.
I can't sympathise with the girls as sometimes their problems are impersonal,like some kind of random accident.Or that they a too dumb to want to stay alive.
One of the girls just stands still for no reason when in danger.Another girls gives up her love interest for no reason.I don't even care for the boy cause he was obviously just a tool,With barely any development.Hech,one of them just has an issue for just being a magical girl.
And the yuri overtones,I mean the main girl and the cool girl who obsessed over her.She wants to fix stuff,but she kept beating around the Bush just to artificially extend the plot.
Time travel is a dues ex machina here.All that happened was a reset button being pressed over and over again to solve the problem.So nothing but that reset button mattered.
This is overrated .Just cause it had cute girls doing cute things,and Shaft animation.It got away for flaws that make even Sword Art Online look good.
Simply because of its Politically Correct Genre. read more
Even though the story starts like any typical magical girl anime, you can clearly see it is going to be different from the very beginning - it is the girls' choice, not fate, to go on the path of magic. Being a magical girl is rather a cold business deal rather than a divine blessing. And magic is not a perfect cure for everything - using it can cause a strong and hard-to-predict backlash. All that is there as early as in the first two episodes. And then episode 3 happens, and while trying not to spoil the story, I must say that all hope of this series being a normal magical girl show is lost since then. Beginning with episode 3, Madoka★Magica follows the Hitchcockian principles of storytelling - with every following episode there is some unpleasant surprise, we can't wait to see what happens next - oh, how convenient it will be for all those watching Madoka after the whole series' original airing...
I can't really decide if I should call the story predictable or not. As you may know, the show has spawned an enormous amount of speculation and discussion on 2ch, 4chan and throughout the anime fandom in general. As the story went on, many of these speculations turned out to be true. When following the discussions on the Web, it's hard to tell if the story would be predictable to a lone viewer or not. But one thing is certain - Urobuchi and Shinbou managed to tell the story in such a way that even when you know what's going to happen, everything is still exciting and makes a huge emotional impact.
All of us fans were anticipating the finale, with much speculation about the ending going on. Since the actual last episode aired, opinion about the ending varies greatly between the fans - but my personal opinion is that the ending is as great as the whole show. Of course I won't go as far as to explain the ending, but what actually makes the ending good is its... well, I'd say ambiguity, but it's on a meta-level. There are ongoing discussions even whether the ending is ambiguous or not! It makes you think, interpret it your own way, and no thought is better than any other - but at the same time, it is not an open ending, the story is completely concluded. It is truly a sign of very good writing by Urobuchi Gen. It's often said that Madoka is the same to the magical girls genre what Evangelion was to the mecha genre years ago. And I won't be surprised if it'll end up becoming a cult classic of comparable caliber.
The story is heavily character-driven, with many events happening because of the characters revealing their feelings to each other. Even though many characters are quite clear from the beginning, nothing is certain, as the world - and other characters - constantly turn out to be different than we all thought. There is no white and black, characters are deep and believable, which is certainly one of the key factors of this show's enjoyability.
This show is quite unusual for Shaft, because it is very serious in atmosphere. There is not much comedy, and when there is, it's very subtle and natural in tone. This also means we won't be seeing Shaft's signature walls of flashing text and pushy creative typography (it's still there, though, in much less obtrusive form of runes). The art still manages to be very "Shafty" in tone, however. Slightly futuristic backgrounds, heavily inspired by recent architecture of the real world, look quite similar to what we've seen in Bakemonogatari - but are usually less symbolic and significantly more polished. The characters were designed by Aoki Ume of Hidamari Sketch fame, and bear significant resemblance to that series. Such bright and happy character designs may feel out of place for a series so dark in tone, but it's aiming for an effect much similar to what Higurashi did few years ago - and it actually works here, too. Unusual proportions of Aoki's drawings feel a bit strange at the beginning, but it's easy to get used to it after an episode or two, and then both background and foreground art blend well together.
The closed worlds where witches reside, deserve a separate paragraph. Shaft employed Gekidan Inu Curry for this part, and their creative potential truly shines there. The art is very abstract, animated with stop-motion and similar techniques, feeling considerably out of place, while still working out well. These visuals are often compared to opening animations of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei seasons by fans, and Shaft's fans should recall this kind of art in other works of this studio, too.
Talking about voice acting is not really much necessary - there are many well-known and popular names in the cast, which alone gives some degree of warranty for the quality. The voices match respective characters' personalities well, too. There's nothing much more I can say about that. The music, on the other hand - it really adds up to the overall feel. The opening theme by ClariS (known for OreImo OP) builds up a nice innocent atmosphere... soon to be brutally broken by the plot and BGM, composed by Kajiura Yuki, best known as the founder of Kalafina - who also performs the outstanding ending theme - and for Kara no Kyoukai's soundtrack. Her instantly recognizable style fits astonishingly well with Madoka's atmosphere, and builds both a considerable tension and atmosphere of mystery.
The BGMs, though well-fitting, didn't stand out much for me at first. But with the progress of the story, with the mood getting darker and story more absorbing, the music also started to make more impact and I can even say that it has become catchy. The style of the soudtrack also shifts significantly during the finale, which makes it feel even more epic. Overall, I don't know if the whole OST will be worth owning, but there are few tunes which I'd really like to have is my music collection.
To sum up, Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica has got everything a good visual entertainment should have. I can only deplore that anime is somewhat looked down on outside the otaku community, because I truly believe that anime non-fans would also enjoy it. And the title sounds somewhat embarassing, too - but it's a perfect proof for that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
March 12th - updated after episode 10.
March 14th - reworded some fragments according to a reader's notes.
April 23rd - updated after the final episodes. read more