Waring this review may contain spoilers
First impressions, so today we are going to be reviewing the critical acclaimed magical girl deconstruction(TM) known as madoka magica which are clearly not an overrated and blotted piece of crap that not even a good art/ animation or soundtrack could save.
So our story begins with main character Madoka Kaname and side character Sayaka Miki are regular middle school girls with regular mundane lives, but all that changes when they encounter Kyuubey, magical creature, and Homura Akemi, the new transfer student. Kyuubey offers them a proposition for the girls to get into his van so he can grant any one of their wishes and in exchange, they will each become magical girls in order to fight beings known as witchs , However, Homura Akemi, a magical girl herself, urges them to reconsider has things are not so stright forward as they seem and to top it all off you have a another magical girl named Mami Tomoe an veteran magical girl who wishes for are duo to get into kyuubey van and desides to also mentor them to give them an idea of what there in for if they make a contract with kyuubey.
So madoka magica is a series that starts out like any other magical girl show.you got main character and her friends enjoying life until one day they encounter supernatural monsters and during this encounter, they meet a magical being that will grant them wishes or turn them into magical girls to combat the monsters and they have happy go lucky adventures and friendship power-ups a plenty. But what if I were to tell you that Madoka Magica is not just your tiple happy go lucky magical girl show because it is the fabled deconstration of magical girl genre, tropes, cliches by being dark, depressing and being edgy as fuck.
because on the famous ep three one of the magical girls dies and from there onwards more death and despair will follow are cast of characters who maybe regret getting into kyuubey van without understanding the ramifications of there choices.
So the question I pose to you all is having these elements adequate to decent storytelling, well to answer your question I would say fuck no.
Because Madoka magicla takes the heart and soul of the magical girl genre and then preseeds to completely stomp on it with a heel until whats left is a soulless series that the faceless masses hype it up because its a deconstruction apparently and the premise sounds cool.
But being pedantic aside let us get into the real meat of this,
So on paper, Madoka Magica has some decent ideas and if the series wanted to go for a more darker, moodier magical girl story then they have hit the nail on the head perfectly with a few elements. Like for examples I will mention,
as a magical girl you are basically immortal and your life is tied to your magic use and capacity, if you fall into despair and don't clean your soul gem you turn into a witch and my favourite element is magical girls fighting one another for hunting grounds.
If the series was just about that and focused on those elements alone then I would have totally been fine with this series and would have marked it up as a nice one-timer experience that I would want to visit again and appreciate for being different.
But the problem big underline problem with this series is that any good idea and concept it has, it completely drops it or forgets about it.
Becuase who give a fuck about consistency and decent storytelling, as Madoka magicla devolves into an unnecessary dark, moody edgy magical girl show for the sake of being a dark, moody, edgy magical girl show.
Like example killing off 90% of the characters by episode 8 in a 12 episode series or the whole reveal of how kyuubey is this alien who has no emotions and is using the magical girls and witches to gather energy to prevent the whole universe from going boom. Which the series uses as an excuse for over bloated drama about the characters complaining about how life is unfair even though they got there wishes grated that gave them some sort of happiness and their sacrifices are saving the lives of not just humanity as a whole but every race in the entire universe and it gets worse when kyuubey introduces pseudoscience in a supposed magical setting about entropy and emotions = magic wishes, how the fuck that works?
another pet peeve that really bothers me is how people count it as this amazing deconstruction of the magical girl genre and I feel that these people don't really know what a deconstruction is or even watched anything from the magical girl genre.
To be counted as a deconstruction you have to either be a subversion of popular tropes and cliches or be a critic of it and point out the trappings and pitfalls of that genre. madoka magicia doesn't really subvert or critic the genre in any meaningful way, it uses the whole magical girl element as an excuse for tragedy porn and shock factor. Which isn't really saying much because of it kiddle pool level of themes and theme exploration cause for a series that claims to be about hope and despair and how you should never give up regardless. Its so one sided to the point of silliness as life is never that linear and makes it lose any credibility.
Which is encapsulated with the ending of the show being a fucking time resect and Madoka becoming Deus ex Madoka because that's something you can wish for is to become a god? And use that power to fix the universe.
When it comes to the main character Madoka, she is so bland and her personality can be boiled down to is that she a nice girl and what to help people.
She is such marry sue who I find so fucking boring and there isn't really a reason or Introspection of why she is like this. Like usually people who are like this are either people with a strong sense of justice or their people who have gone through such a hard time in life that they don't want others to suffer the same fate.
Yet there nothing to really imply she has a strong scene of justice or she had a hard time at life so she basically a bland soulless main character who only saving grace is the fact she the only one who wished for something useful which is to become a god.
When it comes to the side charters and the magical girl characters themselves.
They are as about as soulless and bland as you can get with the one exception being Sayaka who was the only character who had actually any character instead of bland and vague outlines of personality and motives which helps me slightly care about her.
But in the grand scheme of things you cant care about charters you only know for a few episodes, which brings out my biggest problem is how this series handles its characters. Becuase this series kills off most of its cast before you even get to know them or most importantly get any character development which was very much needed as their characters are shallow.
When a character dies in this show I view it as oh no another lifeless Puppet died big woop and I don't want to be that uncaring asshole but this show makes it so hard to give a fuck about its characters which also destroys the hook of the story as it's about trying to subvert the usual magical girl conventions.
Now when to Kyuubi, he Is probably one of the worse characterisations of a creature that has no emotions and is supposed to be Neutral that I have ever seen in anime to date. Because he basically manipulates these girls and prays on there naivety to make a contact with him, and you argue that he gave them the choice, but that's bullshit because throughout the entire series he hangs around Madoka and Sayaka dropping these passive comments of how it would be great if they became magical girls and doesn't even inform them what they're signing up for with the excuse being that you have to ask, which is also bullshit again because the info dumps whenever the plot tells him to he clearly acting like Jafar here.
To add insult to injury he has the gall to criticize humanity for having emotions and reacting in a certain way when he himself has no emotions and wouldn't even understand the concept of emotions so is criticism is just blowing hot air and I would compare it to the idea of describing colours to a blind person.
Art and animation are pretty decent and still hold up today and There are also decent backgrounds and fight scenes are well choreographed.
Another plus I would like to say about the backgrounds is that they do a good job at portraying this feeling of loneliness and isolation because a lot of the streets and buildings are barren and it encapsulates this feeling of backing yourself into a corner that you can't escape from it.
But one problem I have is that the witch realm is weirdly symbolic. But there isn't really any context behind it or reason why other than arthouse and pretty colours.
Because if witches where magical girls then why aren't their realm or forms-based more on there personality or psychology instead of being based on the areas they took residence in. It would have been cool if they did something similar to persona 4 or 5 wherein the tv world or the metaverse realms are based on a more twisted version of someone's personality and psyche, instead of its in a school or hospital and though out the entire thing we are going to bombard you with school and hospital symbolism.
When it comes to character designs I quite like them, like the magical girl forms look pretty cool and the witches look very cool as well in there own arthouse way.
Opening and ending song are both pretty decent and I would recommend people go and listen to them. Because I feel that fit the series very well like the opening song has this vibe of joy and regret to it and the ending song as this feeling of despair and the hope that there will be a better tomorrow.
Considering what happens in the series it fits the series like a glass slipper.
Now when it comes to ost wise.
I feel that the ost, in general, is lacking a lot of punch and is mainly used for the feels.
Which isn't a bad thing per say but I think its a waste to focus on the one emotional style. But that nitpick aside I still feel its worth a listen even if I am not the biggest fan of it. The ost was done and worked on by Yuki Kajiura the godless of ost of music and I feel that this soundtrack is probably the weaker of her works.
Sub and dub are pretty decent as voice acting was ok, but I did find the main character voice in dub painful to sit through, but other than that thumbs-ups all around.
Now I know that I have been rough on this show throughout this entire review, but the only reason I am tough on series like this is that I expect more.
When it comes to enjoyment I love as just a one-time experience and nothing else because Madoka magica is like roller coaster to me and once I got off the ride and thought about it my enjoyment went kinda downhill from there and what saddens me is it has some great ideas and there were parts that which truly entertained me
but once I got off the ride and seen the series for what it is that was the final nail in the coffin for me enjoyment wise.
In conclusion when you strip away the critical acclaim or the massive hype that this series has gathered. What Your pretty much left with a one-timer experience that mostly relies way too much on shock factor which in retrospect kills any rewatch value as the twists only work once. If you like really superficiality dark and edgy shows for pretentious overthinkers and edgelords in training Madoka will be the series for you. But if you're looking for a dark magical girl show with actual plot and charters your better of watching sailor moon or princess tutu