An epic, not without it's flaws, but an epic nonetheless
Final review of the Winter 2011 season! After an extended period of delay following the recent tragedy in Japan, Madoka has finally come to its dramatic conclusion. The community here has already done a great job of covering the basis of this series, so I'm gonna try something new with this review. What I’ll do is provide a somewhat in depth plot summary and cut in from time to time with what I feel it to be relevant. As such, know that there will be SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS in this review. The short story is that this is possibly the greatest 12 ep anime of all time, a must watch as a true anime fan no matter your genre preferences. I'll refer you to the first few reviews which were uploaded on the site if you have yet to watch this series. Now then, the first 3-4 eps of the series are incredibly slow-paced which I know turned off some people. But as it turns out, this was meant to lull the viewer into a false sense of security as in quite a surprising turn of events, Mami (Madoka's mentor in no small terms) is killed by a witch. Honestly, me personally, I never felt a very strong connection to Mami as I know a lot of people did. But of course, I did see her significance as the story developed, and her early exit from the series was a shock. This moment set the hook for the series, and you knew this wasn't just some cliché Mahou Shoujo anime. But against what the title might imply, it's Madoka's best friend Sayaka who is first to make her wish and become a Mahou Shoujo. Sayaka struggles to adjust to her new role, in part due to the introduction of a rival Mahou Shoujo, Kyoko. Their final confrontation yields the climax of the series, as you find out the dark secret of becoming a Mahou Shoujo. This moment sets the dark tone of the remainder of the series, and exposes Kyubei to be one of the greatest villains in recent anime lore. This was a great scene and once again unexpected. Also, for me, quite possibly the greatest fault in this series is that they never manage to kill off Kyubei. Moving along, Sayaka is utterly distraught by what she has become and goes into an incredibly rapid tailspin. This starts with a light-hearted scene between her and Madoka which is rather touching in that way. However, Sayaka then completely loses her sanity which eventually leads to her tragic demise (and simultaneously that of Kyoko). This moment is so powerful and eerie that it might be considered a sort of "anti-climax." Once again, I did not find myself particularly attached to Kyoko; however, Sayaka’s character provides an interesting table for contemplation. While her participation and significance in the series does not equal that of Madoka or Homura (still to be mentioned), Sayaka may well experience the most depth of traditional character development. Madoka is rather one note throughout the series and then explodes in the ending as we’ll see and Homura’s entire character progression takes place in a flashback ep which certainly doesn’t provide adequate depth (I’ll revisit this topic). Anyway, this leaves among the cast of protagonists only Madoka (who has still yet to become a Mahou Shoujo) and the mysterious Mahou Shoujo Homura. In ep 10, you learn of Homura's tragic story and her connection to Madoka. I was torn with this ep. The tale of Homura’s origins is compelling to be sure, but there are two flaws I would point out. The first is that I think they went overboard with the shy, sickly girl thing. It’s one thing to portray the most intense character in the series as a once shy, sickly young girl. But it’s quite another thing to portray her as the most cripplingly shy character in the history of the universe. This was seriously over-the-top and lacked any believability even in this context. The second flaw I found was that they did not portray Homura and Madoka’s relationship nearly strongly enough. I couldn’t come to an understanding as to why Homura was so dedicated to Madoka in particular. Why not try and save Mami or Sayaka? So Madoka was the first person to introduce herself to Homura at school, so what? But these would come to be minor details. The overall depiction of Homura’s transformation from a shy, innocent girl into a brutal, mechanistic being with only one purpose in life inspired some amount of awe. Now we come to the long awaited eps 11 and 12. I originally considered focusing my entire review on these last two eps, but as you can see I thought better of it. Of course, I’ve left out a lot of the plot development in what I've described so far (to retain some ambiguity), but here this will be less so the case. So to those of you impatient people who haven't watched the series yet and continued reading this review, STOP NOW, this will absolutely ruin the ending... Ep 11 begins with a scene between Homura and Kyubei, not unlike many they had through the course of the series. However, Kyubei reveals that Homura's endless journey to save Madoka may have just doomed her even further and causing her even greater suffering. This was a rather sad moment right off the bat which I applauded after such a long delay because it gave instant impact. While Kyubei continues to try and convince Madoka to become a Mahou Shoujo, Homura strives to defeat the strongest witch of all, alone. She fights valiantly, it's a brutal battle scene (which makes you understand the extended delay), but in the end she is no match for the Walpurgisnacht. Worse yet, as Homura is about to resume her endless journey, she recalls Kyubei's words and decides to give in. All hope is lost, and Homura's soul gem begins to be corrupted. At this point I was freaking out pretty bad, I had a feeling there was going to be a tragic end to this series, but this was too much. However, Madoka steps in. She has finally decided to contract with Kyubei and become a Mahou Shoujo. It's a bittersweet moment, as it would seem that Madoka's intervention would only temporarily halt Earth's now inevitable destruction. But Madoka's seemingly inconceivable wish leads to her ascension into godhood. This is a very interesting topic which I will not go into detail here, but what I will say is that this was quite a twist. The laws of nature are rewritten, the witches are destroyed, but Madoka no longer exists on the physical plane. As such, Homura's endless journey seems to have gone without resolution, but Madoka is able to provide her with some solace. Some people have dubbed this as the yuri scene which really isn’t fair. This seems to me more akin to a parody of the classic baby Jesus in the arms of the Virgin Mary. Regardless, after receiving Madoka’s blessing, Homura continues to fight the good fight as a new enemy presents itself. But my favorite scene from the last ep is probably the farewell scene between Madoka and Sayaka as it provides the feeling of a full-circle ending. Overall, the conclusion of the series is bittersweet, but while Madoka’s wish may not have worked out perfectly, you still get the feeling that the new threats to the mahou shoujos is lesser than that posed by the witches. And you’ve reached to the conclusion of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. It is perhaps not yet the thing of legends, but nonetheless a 10 out of 10.
I've read many people praising this show for its adult perspective on the magical girls genre. But I just couldn't get into it. Didn't like the pacing of the episodes, too much talking (and walking) - not enough showing, and while the characters asked adult-like questions (although, never asked for Kuybey to explain the contract in full) they were cute magical girls so I couldn't suspend my disbelief that they would ask such questions. It was like the concepts were 3D, but the characters were still 2D (no pun intended). I also never really cared for any of the characters, which I think is necessary to enjoy this show. How they show Madoka's family life in the first episode, to make her relate-able, was necessary but felt kind of forced. It adds to her story, but doesn't really make me care what happens to her.
Maybe it's because it's a magical girl show, and I didn't think Tweeny Witches was that great either. Both series have similar animation, so maybe I'm biased. My partner immediately compared it to Sailor Moon, but I've never seen Sailor Moon so I can only take her word on it. I wanted to like Madoka, but I found shows like Xxxholic and Shakugan no Shana more entertaining from the first episode.
A big problem for me was the lack of humor. For a show that was based on the concept of balance, I found it overly dramatic, and took itself way too seriously. Just a little bit of humor here and there would have made it SO much more watchable, but serious introspection and consequences can only take a show so far for me, and it became depressing in episodes 7 and 8 (just as I was starting to care for Sayaka). I did find their idea for the greatest source of energy in the universe pretty funny, although I probably wasn't meant to.
Episode 10 (showing the adventures of Homura) was good. More-show-less-tell. But having seen Serial Experiments Lain, I found the final episode predictable. In some ways Madoka may be this generation's Lain, except Lain kept its concepts mysterious and open to interpretation, while it felt like Madoka spoon-fed them to me. I'll concede Madoka looked fantastic, and it's only 12 episodes so I don't feel too bad about watching all of it, but I feel I wasn't its intended audience so I can't recommend it.
This is not a child’s magical girl show like Sailor Moon. It is extremely dark and asked questions that may just make you feel very small in the world. Seriously, this show depressed me slightly with its sort of morbid idea of what a magical girl does. We follow a young girl who is given a rather rare chance to make one wish come true but in doing so, she must become a magical girl and fight evil known as witches. A no brainier right? Who wouldn’t want to be a hero and get their wish granted at the same time? But like all good things in real life, there is a price that has to be paid. Sadly, to tell you would ruin the whole mystery behind the show and so it leaves me at a loss, how do you review a show that you can say very little about without spoiling anything?
I will try to do as best I can without losing the mystery. We will start out speaking about the characters. Madoka Kaname is well… she was boring to me at first. A girl who was the typical cute and moe anime girl who had nothing bad going for her. Hell, at times I even thought this show was going to just be about how even more perfect she could become but I was soon mistaken as not only the story went down a dark path but also the imagery. She and her friend soon find themselves following magical girl after magical girl and their own takes on what it means to be a hero as well as what they wished for. Her friend had already picked her wish, so what would a girl who is so happy want? That was what kept me going, wanting to know more and more about what was going on. After a bit, it felt like they were just pulling me around.
The imagery is slightly troubling, sometimes rather clean and perfect and then other times it looks like puppetry. I’m not saying it’s bad, far from it in fact. The artwork is stunning but there are times like for the witches where the characters feel like they are paper puppets moving. Anything in the witch’s world is also this sort of puppet style with odd squiggles and designs drawn on them. The colors normally look like they are dark and settle. When you are outside the witch’s world, the show actually feels very minimalist and clean lined. It’s very futuristic with bright, almost blinding, lights and pastel colors. Surprisingly for Shinbo’s work, there is not all that much of the little girl naked images that we know from him so that was a bit of a plus for me. There was some but not much.
The dub voices are another matter though. Many of the voices just feel they don’t work. Madoka’s was just annoying at times because of her sweet and innocent voice that was so high pitched. Some of the other voices seemed a little to childish but then again, they are middle school so I guess it’s alright. In the end, the sounds were what brought everything all together.
This is my first time being moved by what essentially is a mahou shoujo anime which shows that anything can happen in life. Anyway being concious of the massive amount of review before me given in tribute to what I consider to be the best of the spring season I will write this review as unique as I can.
First off I will start with the animtion which I fiund unique and refreshing. It is a I admit not the best but rather one I enjoyed. The shading and colour having a special place which I will put in my brain to remeber. This is actually what made me keep watching after the the slow paced start and the seemingly endless unexplained mysterys, up till the next ep I thought it would have continued like this as a very average and cliche mahou shoujo anime but soon my false accussition was shattered without mercy and a hook thrown from the screen of my laptop to my eyes. I was instantly compelled to continue this series down its continuous winding path. If this was a path then Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica whould have started off as a main road which then goes into a side road gradually getting narrower and more dark until suddenly you diverge into another main road with a taste of a good stretch with you car suffering many minor scratches. thos scrathes represent the bittersweet feelings that you are left with as the series enters it's final moments. However you are led to believe the world became better even if the sacrifice did not completly erase sufferinf/despair, you know it was for a good cause. I would consider this to be a candidate for a legend but it will be the majority's sa which will count I hope that many of you will try this and not be put off by the start.
Since lately I have lost my anime spirit, I decided to check anime planet to see the anime I've been wanting to watch. Thus, Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica (or just Madoka Magica) was one of the choices. Now, needless to say, the Magical Girl genre is in fact ovverated and can get cliche with it's basic story. Girl meets weird thing, weird thing turns girl into either a superhero with either the most kinky or Halloween-costume-like costume and must fight bad guys alongside other Magical girls. Well, I had heard that Madoka Magica was exactly all that, except it had twists and turns like no other Magical Girl anime. Do I agree? Let's find out in this review of Madoka Magica!
Madoka Magica is originally a 12 episode long anime produced by Shaft and Aniplex back in January 2011 and later spawning multiple mangas, a novel, a game, and three movies (I haven't watched them yet but it's basically a redone version of the series as a movie except for the third which is all-original).
This anime is rated TV-14 for it's use of bad language and gore and even some scary imagery.
At first you would think Madoka Magica is your basic Magical Girl story like I said. Even the first few seconds of the first episode says, "Oh hell no, you've been lied to!" because it is nearly NOTHING like any other Magical Girl series. It starts off with a young girl named Madoka Kaname who has a nightmare about another girl named Homura Akemi fighting a weird creature as Madoka watches her suffer. The next morning along wth her friend Saiyaka Miki meet Homura Akemi who is a transfer student at their school and she is a Magical Girl assigned to find witches for a weird creature named Kyubey. Kyubey meets the two girls and wants them to make contracts with him to become Magical Girls and make one wish. Slowly they succumb to this fate and make the contract, but this Magical Girl "dream job" is a lot more darker and twisted than anyone would think...
The most surprising is how slow it takes for the two main characters to actually become Magical Girls and how slow yet fast paced the show itself is for being only 12 episodes. Like MCA, Madoka Magica has to rush for the 12 ep budget but the story is a lot more explained than MCA.
Overall, I would say the story is full of amazing and captivating twists and turn leading you to a bitter end.
The character in Madoka Magica are just downright awesome. Madoka, Saiyaka, Mami, Kyoko, and Homura all make for Magical Girls with different but stunning personalities tied together for many situatuions. Kyubey is a very hard character to decipher. In the beginning, Kyubey is an alien creature just wanting help to defeat these witches and evil forces. But then, you realize his real plan and suddenly Kyubey is not a villain or even good guy (but I can't spoil too much for you like I've already have) so it makes everything confusing.
The side characters don't have too much of an importance except for Madoka's mom, Kyosuke, and Hitomi but they still have decent development.
I love the characters, just that there's not many side characters with importance.
Madoka Magica's soundtrack consist of rock and orchestra, but there's not much too choose from. In all 12 episodes, I've only heard like 4 recognizeable songs. The opening, one choir song, a bell-like song, and the ending. That was pretty much it, you can't really make too much of a sountrack out of four songs. But those four songs were pure perfection, helping enlighten the suspense, joy, action and just maybe a little fun.
Even if there were less than 4 songs recognizeable in the anime, the music is too beautiful to be overlooked. Just wish they made more
Ok, like MCA, this is Shaft but more artisitc. You still see those weird neck turns, far away animation where you can't barely see the character talking or even in general and the akward standing positions. But as for everything else, it doubled compared to my opinion on MCA's animation. The character designs were very unique, the backgrounds were awesome, the witches were ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR AND MUCH MORE UNIQUE and the fightning sequences carried out vibrantly and it was just kickass!
I think Shaft used up most of their budget on this show because the animation for Madoka Magica was plain KICKASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Two words. Must Watch. Seriously, this new take on the Magical Girl genre is plain awesome and unforgettable. It may be short but in the future you'll look at it again and say, "Anime was awesome back then, especially you Madoka Magica, wish they had more anime like that.
*Kyubey appears* Would you like to make a contract with me on that? I can make that wish come true. Would you give up your soul for that and become a Magical Girl?
*punches Kyubey in the guts* Heck no!
Anyway, just go and watch, you absolutely won'tt regret it!
(If there any questions or corrections about this review or Mekaku City Actors, contact me! ;D)