Before anything else I'd like to point out that this is my first review so I do appologize if it isn't that spectacular or funny. I'm also not that fluent in English. While I was writing this review I found it quite challenging to explain what I thought about it without spoiling any real details. There's so much things I wish I could have mentioned or talked about but that is for you to discover throughout the series. Please do comment on how I can do better next time. Constructive criticism is apprieciated.
You came to the wrong neighborhood
Story: The "Magical Girl" genre. Usually the first few things that come to mind are an average adolescent school girl, dramatic transformation scenes, and a very frilly costume, not to mention the weekly monster wreaking havoc to the city each in their own weird way. Of course there's the very consistent plot that happens in almost every episode. It starts off with some average day problem, problem somehow relates to a monster, monster terrorizes the city, main character does the super moe transformation scene, finishes off the monster with a long named attack, and finally temporarily saves the town from certain destruction until the next bad guy comes along the next episode. This cycle continues again and again with a few minor changes here and there until finally the series ends with a super boss monster which she ultimately beats for the happy ending. There's the key word I was looking for - "Happy Ending". I have watched a handful of these animes such as card captor sakura and shugo chara but Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica definitely isn't your average magical girl anime.
So as I pray, unlimited gun works.
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica takes the magical girl genre into a different turn. We've always been seen magical girls living perfect lives but this anime simply changes that. It brings up the questions like: "How the hell does the power of love and friendship stop the monsters and saves the day?", "What if she makes one slip and fails to stop the moster?", and "Is it always gonna go that way and have a happy ending?". All of these questions boil down and form this anime. I'll say it clearly now that this isn't meant to be watched by ten year old kids hoping for the repetitive result they always want to see. The first few episodes seem nothing out of the ordinary but as you go along the series, you'll see how twisted it can get.
You will learn to fear her.
From the title itself, we can clearly see that Madoka's the main character. The whole story practically revolves around her more than it usually should. Despite this, the story shifts its attention to the rest of the main cast as the story moves on. By the end of the series I found myself believing that the story isn't mainly about just Madoka but on the painful endless struggle her friend has to go through just to help her. Sort of like how in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Haruhi's clearly the main character but we're all seeing it through Kyon's eyes. The show also shows no mercy on how brutal scenes can get. They first give you an illusion of victory and hope but slaps your face with a truck full of horrific disappointment (I'm referring to the scenes not to the whole story itself). Scenes can instantly turn that smile into a jaw dropping frown and make you tell yourself over and over again "That was not supposed to happen!". You'll get used to it and move on. By then it would seem impossible to look for the happy ending beneath all the list of things going wrong.
Definitely not your average kid in a costume
Animation: What first really caught my eye was how flat their chests faces were. Their overall character designs were very simple and plain. There wasn't anything spectacular about them. Then we see the Witches (the antagonists). At first I thought they were gonna be other adolescent girls in some dark colored witch costume but instead, turned out to be giant monster bosses that come in different forms. Their realms and minions were very unique from each other. Witch fights looked more like a clash between art styles ranging from cut-out magazine collages to Gothic clockwork dolls. It was simply a sight for sore eyes.
Music is good for the soul
Sound: The opening theme song "Connect" was beautiful. Not only does it sound great but the meaning of the lyrics seemed deep. One can't help but think that the song was the feelings of one the characters. Along with the tone of story, the music echoes off with a sense of despair and longing. Battle scenes were simply amazing with all the dramatic music pumping in the background. Overall the music blended in very well with the scenes. As for the voice acting, they were all pretty good.
"If someone tells me that it's wrong to hope, I'll tell them they're wrong every time."
Characters: As I've mentioned before, the story mainly revolves around Madoka Kaname. During most of the episodes, she is shown as powerless to do anything to help her friends. She's a kind and sweet girl and she cries at the sight of her friends in danger. All these descriptions actually categorize her as a supporting character. It really is an enigma how she's the main focus at all. This is all answered as the episodes go on.
Akemi Homura: Badass in the making
With a dark outfit, tragic past, quiet personality, multiple weapons such guns and bombs, and the work behind the scenes style of fighting, Batman Horuma is actually the real hero of the story. Most of the time in the show, she was seen as someone silent and mysterious but deep down, there's actually so much more. All of her actions, every single one of them, was all for Madoka. We notice at some point that she only cares about Madoka from the puella magi and question why. To some fans this reaches to a yuri context but we'll not cover that.
Kyubei aka The Devil
Then there's Kyubei, the cute iconic mascot of the series. He has been hated and loved by many fans of the series for many reasons. At first glance, Kyubei seems completely harmless and that is very much true. The thing is that one can't help but think that he's more than what meets the eye, that he's plotting something sinister. The very existance of puella magi are all because of him and his race. He is the main cause of all of the things, good and bad, happening to the characters. Many people accuse him of tricking the girls into these lose-lose situations. I believe that isn't completely true. Though he does seem persistent on it, his job is just to sign contracts with adolescent girls. The girl gets any wish she wants and Kyubei gets a fighter against witches. It seems like a fair trade, especially in Kyubei's eyes. It's also because of the fact that his race can't understand the concept human values and sins. Kyubei has been doing all of this for the common good. He has actually been honest the whole series but just fails to tell the exact details of what the contract does. Kyubei's intentions and personality is just really based on who's point of view you're using.
Once again Pocky has managed to slip itself inside a series
The rest of the characters each have their own backstory that they each dwell on in an episode but we won't be covering that here. Overall, I can say that characters are okay but could have been better. Some of them were irrational and careless at a few scenes but then again, the show rose in interest to the public because of it.
Cake is a lie
Overall: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica isn't for everyone. It's an aquired taste to get into animes such as this. If you've been watching too many magical girl animes and have been looking for something different, then have a try of this cake. I personally enjoyed the series and am hopeful to see a second season in the future (Yes, I know there are 3 movies).
Thanks for reading :3