Nov 7, 2012
snowwolfs (All reviews)
The TV anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica took the anime world by storm when it came out last year. What was supposed to be a vapid, plotless “healing magical girl anime” turned out to be a storytelling masterpiece. Much to the delight of fans like me, this year, Shaft adapted the TV series into two new movies. But being film adaptations, are the movies actually of any value?

First, let’s be clear, the two Madoka movies do not tell any new stories different from the original TV anime. However, that doesn’t mean the two movies have no value, for they are by no means mere recaps of the original series. Except for the plot, everything – visuals, music, voice acting, directing, etc. – everything you can name has been extensively revamped.

Take the visuals for example. Most, if not all, of the scenes have been redrawn and reanimated – the backgrounds grander and more dynamic, the movements smoother, and all the drawing imperfections and animation mistakes fixed. The results are breathtaking. Time and time again, I found myself inadvertently silenced by the beauty and vividness on the screen.

The movies also boast a good number of new tracks by Kajiura Yuki, some of which are remixes/rearrangements of tracks from the original anime, and a few are new compositions entirely. If you know anything about Kajiura Yuki, I probably don’t have to tell you how amazing the new soundtrack is. At the same time, the new tracks also set a different feel for the anime.

Even the lines have been re-recorded. I cannot compare how the voice acting is done in the movie to how it is done in the original series, but I can tell you that in every scene of the movie, the voice acting is always real and compelling. I myself was definitely pulled deeper into the story thanks to the voice actors’/actresses’ part.

Of course, not every change made for a stronger story presentation. Transitions are not always the best, and some important scenes from the TV anime had to be cut out. The added grandeur and drama in the cinematography also sometimes end up working against the story instead. Still there are some changes that neither strengthen nor detract from the story presentation. Nevertheless, the stunning visuals, the soul-hauntingly beautiful music, the emotional grit of the voice acting, and clever editing all come together nicely, sustaining the flow and impact of the story.

When all’s said and done, the differences between the movies and the original series really aren’t that great. But for returning fans, hardcore or not, even these tiny, subtle changes make the movies worth watching. Through such changes in pacing, in cinematography, in animation and music, and in a small number of tiny additional scenes, Shaft has masterfully presented us with a slightly but meaningfully different perspective and feel of the Madoka story. So while it is not essential to watch the two movies to enjoy Madoka Magica – the original anime is still the core production – do try watching the movies if you ever want to revisit that fantastical and cruel world which came to your doorsteps over a year ago, in the form of a cute, white, cuddly animal.