Because of word restriction, I was only able to post half the review here. In case you are interested to read more about it, head over to the link bellow.
So why is this show so famous anyway?
- It was directed by Shinbou, the guy who practically “is” SHAFT and whose earlier Bakemonogatary anime was a great success for fan catering the watchers from tip to toes. It was also written by Uroboshi, a guy famous for his really bloody endings.
- These two prepared the field for tens of thousands to love the show even before it airs and thus an easy way to drag along ten times more newbies to the hype machine. It doesn’t take much to be fooled into loving something just because many love it as well. If it’s popular, you want a piece of the action by being part of the hype. Ain’t popularity something?
- It also helped how most watchers have no idea of what good series are out there as they refuse to watch anything older than 5 years and thus are blind to the retro goodies. They will just say “It is better than Pokemon” because that is what most casual fans consider to be an average anime. For the same reason, people who grew up with anive OVAs from the 80’s or good cartoon series from the 90’s will simply look at this show and scratch their heads wondering where the hell are all those awesome stuff they say about it.
- With no prior knowledge of how the same formula was used before, the newbs were easily made to think it is an original and perfectly excecuted show. For example, most will start by saying that mahou shojo are boring and thus Madoka is great for deconstructing the genre in a way that makes it interesting. Well, guess what, it is not the first show that did that. But being blind to the older titles has that effect to the masses.
- Furthermore it is using a formula to appeal to an audience entirely outside the normal demographic; thus it is not even a show made for little girls to begin with. It tried to do something akin to what Watchmen are to super heroic comic books; made for those who are fed up with the clichés and want something darker. The result was sloppy at best as it was practiacally darker for the sake of being darker without anything solid to head somewhere.
- The show is very accessible to all those who care more about cheap shock effect as well as mostly telling and not showing many key events. Meaning, it is extreme for the sake of being extreme as means to appeal to those who are fed up with simple stories. Even showing and telling are deliberately done rushed, vague and cryptic as means to confuse the viewers and make them form their own theories of what the show is trying to tell. A thing that looks cool at first, until you figure out it is full of nonsense that simply have no logical explaination.
- Add to all that how most anime made in the last years before Madoka were very disappointing, superficial and mediocre. Having a show that tries to shock you and make you think, superficially as it may be still is enough to be more interesting and worthy to all those hundreds of uniteresting and forgettable shows before it. If Madoka was made in 2006, it would have half the appeal it got today.
- I loved the initial feeling of the setting, as the world of this anime is made to look high-tech, with schools having glass walls, digital chalkboards and hologram computer screens. Plus the mazes of the monsters are made of psychedelic paperwork which makes them look special. And that is practically why I gave artwork a score of 9.
- Unfortunately, in the second episode it is proven that the setting and the battles play no part in the plot or the characters in general. I mean, was Mami fighting or drinking tea with the witch? And did she just lift her skirt and a dozen riffles fell from there? What kind of poser attitude is this for someone who saves lives? The setting could be the Stone Age and the battles could be more typical looking and it would still have no effect on the story, which is a shame. Other shows make use of the era or the tools of their setting but here it is all kept as nothing but aesthetics, which kinda feels like plot and setting are disjoined from action. Princess Tutu for example was following a theme around ballet, which was relevant to the story, and Sailor Moon was about elemental attacks based on the powers attributed on corresponding planets. Here it is completely random. It is of course a minor issue to focus on the action in a series which uses magic and stuff appear out of thin air. It is plain style over substense and it wokrs for most just fine. But on the other hand they DO SHOW HOW THEY BEAT WITCHES IN ORDER TO SAVE LIVES. It is not REALLY an unimportant part either.
- The third episode is hit or miss if it is good or not. I mean, sure, someone really important gets killed which is a huge shock and enough to glue you on watching further. But on the other hand, this way the character is taken out before you hardly get to know him/her. Why care about someone who dies in three episodes? It is not the same as in other shows where someone you know for several hundreds of episodes and see a multitude of traits in his/her personality suddenly dies. The anime went for shock effect and not for character appeal; meaning the characters are not about getting to like them as they are about being shocked with what happens to them. Meaning that the events are more important than the characters who experience them and although it works, it still makes you feel like they are too obvious mechanic plot devises and not organic people to sympathise. You don’t sympathise; you are just shocked with the event.
- Episodes four to seven are fine. They take their time to flesh out one of the girls. They are also the best part of the whole show exactly for investing time on the character and not on crock theories or shocking deaths.
- The eighth episode reveals to us that all witches were once magical girls. Aestheticall that is very shocking but we know nothing about any of the witches. They are faceless mooks, existing to be killed. Hell, the very Big Bad of the show has zero personality and character. That is just terrble. Again, the show heads for shock and not character appeal. This is exactly what happens in most of the show; they throw at your face a revelation with nothing to back it up.
- The ninth episode is where the downfall of the show begins for me. QB’s origin and plan were again nothing but a lame attempt at shock effect that otherwise has nothing to do with the story. Entropy and salvation of the universe??? They obviously went for something that would seem wowing. If he was a typical demon gathering energy to resurrect a huge monster, like the villains usually do in such shows, the story would make more sense and it wouldn’t be so facepalming. But no, they had to try to shock us with this ridiculous revelation just because it sounds uncommon. Well thank you very much; that energy would be fine to free the Walpurgis witch in the finale instead of just having her appearing out of nowhere and making us think some energy produced by a little girl can somehow save the entire universe. Do you even know how much energy it takes to do that? And why only little girls are so emotionally unstable and thus only they are worthy to become magical girls? Does that mean that boys are far less crazy in their teens or is this some sexist fan catering fetish around imoutos? So ok, it is magic and it can go anyway the (phallocratic male) author feels like it, but a few specks of realism wouldn’t harm anyone. Some say that QB raises very interesting topics with this revelation (how he is not evil and that sacrifices just need to be made for the sake of many) but all that don’t matter in the finale (see the section of Controversial Themes for more info).
- The tenth ain’t any better. We witnessed 4 different time loops in just 20 minutes. It looks cool and shocking but it is also rushed as hell to get to like it. And once again, the characters are treated as impersonal plot devises, which leaves me completely indifferent to their drama. So ok, they die and alive again every 5 minutes; how dramatic can that be? Also, the whole thing was as fatalistic as hell, since there is no way to change the outcome or even have control over your own actions. This is what I mean by plot devices. I also perceive this episode as some sort of wishful thinking fan catering doujin where we get variations of the same story. Like, what if this had happened or that had been prevented. Or what if Homura was passive and had pinktails and glasses while Madoka was bold and kicking ass? And what if QB looked entirely different? Here is another thought; what if I was a 60 year old rich black woman from Mars who actually cared about all this COMPLETE BS? What is so special about it if anything looks slightly different yet the ending is exactly the same? Once again everything is random since there is no solid ground to enjoy the story. Plus, it packs a plot worthy of at least three episodes in just one; the pacing is ridiculously fast to the point it doesn’t matter.
- The eleventh is just brain dead action as Homura is fighting the witch alone and stuff blow up. Pretty pointless. And another crock theory is thrown in with a thing called karmic bonding that empowers Madoka with each loop. Oh how nice to be told that for thirty seconds and then never mentioned again. Let the endless speculations begin.
- The twelfth is where Madoka decides to make a wish and we get a bittersweet ending with a Deus Ex Machina way. Thank you for the most cop-out solution out of the fatalistic story. Just reset everything! Boy, this wishing thing is such an easy way to win impressions. I bet SHAFT took pointers from Key Visual games and Kyoto Animation adaptations thus further proving it is NOT original. Wishes and alternative routes and bad endings and good endings... Clannad AS you found your successor. Why do modern anime treat their viewers as addicted eroge players? Some of us haven’t even played a single game.
- Anyway, the ending was just a restart as I suspected all along to be. Every anime with wishes always is about restarting the story or resurrecting the dead and Madoka Magica didn’t even try to be original. And guess what; everybody was shocked again with how typical it was and even more shocked to find out Uroboshi was telling them it would be a happy one for a change… and they didn’t believe him. The catch is that the world was remade and now instead of witches there are monsters created from negative emotions and Homura is there fighting them. A rather open ending for a sequel to appear. Did I like it? Well it wasn’t bad but was expected. And they did bring the dead back to life, restarted everything, and made all the events that happened earlier to have no impact, thus ruining the point of them dying earlier… again. The entire story is like nothing ever happened. It even trashed the unorthodox setting of how magical girls work and act and turned it all into a typical show, just another typical mahou shojo, which again counts as nothing but shock effect .
- And of course they didn’t miss the chance to throw in even more crock theories, such as all important people in history were magical girls or how QB is responsible for mankind’s progress and Madoka becoming God/Mesiah/Witch/Non-existent/Naked loli in space to further confuse us with things that are nothing but vague and rushed theories. Let the speculations keep firing away. Since they never elaborated on this, no matter what you say will be right.
Another point I want to address to further prove the shallowness of the show and its solid purpose on simply shocking you, is its themes. Many find in the anime several elements which would normally never be found in mahou shojo. Yet those very same themes are never exploited beyond a few rushed mentions.
- On episode three for example, we are shown how in this show you can die even if you are a main hero. WOW that was so unexpected and exciting to make you watch further, right? Well guess what, it is just pointless shock effect as soon afterwards everyone can simply be resurrected. And die again. And be resurrected again. So much for the angst of dying early on, if it is nullified as easy as it happens. This is worse than Dragonball. At least there you could only return to life once and only within a year of your death. It had some limitations to make it not-that-uber. Here, it is Chuck Norris as Madoka resurrects everybody since the Stone Age.
- On episode nine we are told that QB does all this fuss with harvesting energy from girls because he wants to save the universe. Thus he is not evil; he just sacrifices a few so the rest can be saved. That may seem heartless but it is another topic of interest that the show eventually never exploits further than that. Furthermore, the finale leaves us with his method being destroyed and thus leaving the universe in grave danger. Now what exactly Madoka achieved with her wish this way? She saved some girls but ended up killing everyone. The finale didn’t result to anything; it was just shock effect where we see a different version of our world. Not better, just different.
- Many went as far as comparing Madoka to Jesus on episode twelve. Well that is just silly as she didn’t really save anyone. The only thing she achieved was to recreate the world like nothing we watched so far mattered and everything is like it never happened. How pointless!
- On episode twelve again, we see how many famous women in human history were also mahou shojo who made a wish and eventually were destroyed by it. Well that is another topic of interest… too bad it only lasts 30 seconds and we get no further episodes to see it being exploited. Nothing but last moment shock effect .
Madoka Magika is 90% shock effect . Take that out and you are left with a messy story full of conveniences. It means nothing next to Sailor Moon for me; the very same show most think it’s boring and too long. Heck, it is the exact same story. It has magic conveniences there too but the end result comes after a long duration of fleshing out its characters. After 200 episodes of mostly silly battles and slice-of-life moments, I loved the cast and the story and the whole messages it offers to the viewer. Heck, I even loved the villains. Do we know anything about who the Witches were in Madoka? They are faceless mooks. Are we supposed to care about some historical women we glimpsed for a few seconds? Are we supposed to consider QB a mastermind villain when he doesn’t even have free will to just say NO to a wish? Or are we supposed to care about Mami, a girl we barely know of just because she got killed in a few episodes?
In Sailor Moon the power of love overwhelms everything. Madoka Magika on the other hand is like playing DOTA with a few friends. You select this character, he kills stuff, gets killed every five minutes and respawns back in base to start anew. You don’t care over who defeats whom; it’s all just for shallow entertainment. And when the match is over, heck you just change stages and characters and start again like nothing matters. The show is like that too; it lasts too little, treats the viewer like an emotional rug, renders everything pointless, and ends with the power of… wishing. Frakk the power of wishing; it is impersonal and devoid of emotion. I could wish for this show to never have existed; how good of a feeling does that leave you with? The power of love requires for you to LOVE and BE LOVED and not to randomly ask for anything you like without any sort of limitations. How about actually trying to find a solution with hard work and intellect that doesn’t have to do with improbable physics that render the entire human history as nothing but a shallow pool of randomness that can be erased in an instant like it never mattered? And an opening for a sequel on top of all this mess that will lead to a show that will be nothing but a typical mahou shojo??? Well thanks for nothing; it will suck.
It is also a show without characters. I am not joking; there are no characters in this anime. There are only dolls without free will. They have no control over their actions and everything moves fatalistically and without them being able to change it. Until we get a cop-out ending that trashes everything of course. How do people even liked these robots of characters? Sayaka is the only one who is delved upon and only because they offered a quarter of the show on her. The others are just stereotypes with vague traits and unsupported claims.
But I do give this show some credit. Anyone who hasn’t been exposed too much in mahou shojo shows or simply gave up on them because they felt childish, now may have his faith in the genre rekindled. He can find the will to watch such shows once again. Which is a very good thing because this way many more will get to watch Princess Tutu, the real empress in the genre. So thank you Madoka; thanks to you many people will have a reason to pay attention to Tutu and Sailor Moon, shows far more well handled than you and your superficial scare tactics. Thank you VERY much.
And man, the makers of this series are such trolls. If the author is famous for his tragic endings and for months he is claiming the finale will be a happy one and nobody believes him, he will never be taken seriously. To heck with The Boy Who Cried Wolf. How about The Man Who Cried Troll?
And as for all of you who were trolled to believe Madoka is to mahou shojo what Neon Genesis is to mecha… wake up. Madoka is not the new thing after Haruhism and Lelouch is not the driver of the horse wagon. *flushes toilet*