PUELLA MAGI: MADOKA MAGICA. a review.
The magical girl show. We all know the routine - boring, uninspired high school girl finds herself in a most unconventional situation and, through a suually provocative transformation sequence, ends up fighting the forces of evil with skimpy outfits and questionable powers. The idea of a magical, crime-busting, demon-slaying girl is almost romanticized and glamourized thanks to series like Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Tokyo Mew Mew.
But to Akiyuki Shinbo, director of 2011's breakout Puella Magi Madoka Magica
, the magical girl is not all it's cracked up to be.
In fact, it's f*cking depressing.
Spanning over the course of twelve episodes, Madoka Magica will change the way anime fans view series like the ones mentioned, for MM
shows it in a far different light. However, it starts off innocent enough - Teenybopping schoolgirl Kaname Madoka [the pink one] is leading the average life, and ontrack towards all kinds of fan serving potential. After seeing a girl from her dream and a brief discussion, Madoka decides that this is definitely more than fate. And then she meets Kyubey.
VVV This thing. VVV
Looks can be deceiving. Very, VERY deceiving. The creature offers her and her friend Sayaka a bargain - it will grant them both one wish in exchange to become Magical Girls in order to fight the many Witches that roam the Earth, unassuming to the normal human eye.
And now you roll your eyes. "That's great! And this show will forever be a knockoff of everything else I've seen." Try saying that after episode three ends.
As a very unlikely turn of events occurs, we start to see the ugly side of the magical girl coin that is often overlooked. A sacrifice must be made for the sake of others - sure, that one wish can only go so far, but what happens when you're destined to fight and nothing else? The cruel, vicious cycle of this path is revealed through this most unlikely concept. And of course, the execution of it is absolutely brilliant. The main character - and this is by no means a spoiler - does not become a magical girl in the first episode. She is warned to take heed and caution in her decision, and is even warned to flat out refuse the contract. This alone is a wonderful foreshadowing of the clustercuss of what follows.
As far as characters go, I was fairly disappointed. While some spent more time in the spotlight, those that were ignored seemed like they had potential to enrich the story - Madoka's mother is alluded to and even conversed with a few times by her daughter, but is not often seen other than that. Seeing more of her perspective would have made the concept that much more powerful. However, that is not to say that the characters that hog screen time aren't important. The moral transformations - and, for one, deformation - that are portrayed are definitely tragic to see and make up for an unbalanced cast.
Moving onto the animation, I must absolutely applaud the work of Ume Aoki and animation department 'Shaft', for their respective work on character designs and animation are seamless and their macabre, almost surrealist Witch designs. Absolutely splendid fight scenes, too. I have almost no qualms.TL'DR; Leave your notions about magical girls at the door, and grab some ice cream instead. The draw to Madoka Magica isn't in its flashy fights, skimpy moe outfits, or its cute girls, but in how these things can ruin a perfectly innocent life. Watch it.[score: 8/10]