I don't quite remember why I decided to watch Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica, but I do know for sure that it was one of my finest decisions anime wise. It's a show that I always highly recommend to anime watchers.
It's easy to be fooled by Madoka Magica. As you start watching you feel the familiar mahou shoujo theme: a group of young girls who are approached by a cute talking animal who wants to partner up and help them fight evil, whilst in frilly and girly outfits. But under this illusion Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica reveals itself as a memorable masterpiece.
To become a Magical Girl you
are granted one wish. What will you choose?
Starting out smoothly, this anime truly begins on the third episode. This is the point at which the viewer realises that behind the guise of a cutesy show lies the cruel and hard story of the reality behind being a Magical Girl. The turning point of the episode happens so unexpectedly that it left me dumbfounded for quite some time. However, this was but the beginning.
As the story progresses you are faced with the many perils of the the five girls, Kaname Madoka, Miki Sayaka, Akemi Homura, Tomoe Mami and Kyoko Sakura. Despite its short length Madoka Magica manages to flesh out all of its female leads, and given that character progression and development are central points in this anime it presents us with the girls' fears and expectations, their past and the motive for which they chose to make a contract, and while there was an undeniable favourite for me, Akemi Homura, I found myself empathising for all of the girls, their distinct personalities and stories with all of them having traits I adored and related to.
The most powerful moments of this show are key situations for the character's development and the story progress, and while I will not spoil them I can simply say that they were cruel, heart wrenching and utterly powerful, completely shattering the illusion created by its first episodes
By the twelfth episode I was fully aware of the show's emotional power and its ability to make me feel for its characters, having felt an almost full spectrum of emotions. However the ending managed to once again surprise me, succeeding to wrap up this tale in the most perfect of ways, twisting and turning the show's own world. Finale wise I am yet to find a better anime.
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica has two very distinct art styles. The normal one is the one present in the character designs being bright, colourful and somewhat simple and childish. However, as the girls find themselves in the witch realms the artwork changes completely, switching to something entirely unique, featuring a magazine collage like theme in dark, vivid colours, combining real and drawn elements in a delightful manner that still maintains its cutesy way.
As I see it this contrast contributes to further cement Madoka's genre, the twisted magical girl anime. It helps disguise the nature of this show's world, shrouding it in an aura of cuteness making you not expect all it throws at you. It's hard to see harm come to cutely-drawn girls in a fantasy-like witch world, and that is exactly why it is so good when it does happen. It plays with your expectations as a viewer.
There are not many anime shows that have me listen to the entirety of their soundtrack after watching. But then again, there are not many shows like this one. The music is superbly executed, either blending eerie vocals into multi instrumental backgrounds or being purely instrumental, helping establish show's emotional tone. As a part of the series' soundtrack each magical girl was given her own theme song that subtly reflects her personality and dives into her views of the world, complementing both the character and her very own story.
Being absolutely outstanding Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica is an anime you should not let yourself be fooled by, and one you should definitely set as a priority, with its compelling characters playing into a rich, superbly written story guaranteed to make you feel even if you try not to.