One day, a girl named Homura arrives at Mitakihara Middle School as a transfer student, mysteriously warning her classmate Madoka to stay just the way she is. But when Madoka and her best friend Miki are pulled into a twisted illusion world and meet a magical creature named Kyubey, the pair discovers that magical girls are real, and what's more, they can choose to become one. All they must do is sign a contract with Kyubey and agree to fight witches that spread despair to the human world, and in return they will be granted a single wish. However, as Homura's omen suggests, there's far more to becoming a magical girl than Madoka and Miki realize...
Covers episodes 1-8 of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica.
Beginnings is just the condensed, movie version, of the first eight episodes of the Madoka Magica TV series. Because I have already reviewed the series here, I will only be addressing the differences in this review. Also, there are a couple of spoilers, but I have warnings for all and put them all at the end of the paragraph, so if you want to avoid them, just go to the next paragraph as soon as you see the warning. It has been said many times that you can either watch the series, or the two recap movies, and you will pretty much get the same experience, with a similar overall running time. I must disagree, for the following reasons: Animation: 9.5 OMG this is beautiful. The level of detail is so much higher than even the Blu-ray release of the series that it’s definitely worth a watch just for the upgraded visuals. Not so much the characters, but the environment has been made so much richer. There are some scenes that are just incredible, such as when Homura and Madoka are walking together in the “I won’t forget you” scene, where the background is so incredible that it almost steals the scene. The down side to all of this is that in a couple of scenes, from a distance, the characters almost get lost in the clutter of all the new details. Really this is a small complaint since I absolutely loved the look of this upgraded version. If I was to have one real complaint it would be Kyosuke Kamijo’s hospital room. It was so luxuriously furnished with high backed chairs, intricately decorated rugs and drapes, etc. that I started to wonder if he was supposed to be in bed at home in a mansion rather than in a hospital. It took me a minute or two to get used to it and realize that he was in fact in a hospital room. I doubt even Bill Gates gets a room like this when he goes to the doctor! Also, skipping ahead so that I can generalize about both Beginnings and Eternal, they have made a solid effort to de-sexualize the girls, removing all nudity, even in scenes such as the final meeting between Homura and Madoka after the latter makes her wish. Where it couldn’t be helped (they had to keep the scene because it was essential to the story), the characters have been clothed. Where the transformation sequences either featured brief nudity, or had the camera focused in on chest/butt/etc., that has been changed too. The new transformation sequences are more tasteful and feature some pretty cool effects which are a definite improvement. Sound: 10 I gave the original series a ten, because Yuki Kajiura is incredible, and the Madoka Magica soundtrack is probably her masterpiece. Maybe I should have left a little room for improvement because the sound in the movie is slightly better. The music is obviously the same, as are the voices, but there is a slight improvement in the sound effects. An example would be (SPOILER) the scene where Mami is killed by Charlotte.(end SPOLIER) In the series, the above mentioned scene is basically silent, with only the reactions of the characters, obviously done for effect, but in the movie you can hear the crunch of bones. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but I knew the scene had some element making it seem a bit darker, or just a bit harder hitting, and when I watched the original I figured it out. It was the sound. Story: 7.0 This is the part which I really have a complaint. Many scenes were cut, probably due to running time limitations. For instance, Madoka’s mom no longer stumbles home drunk. For the most part, these omissions don’t really detract from the movie, but there is one glaring exception. The scene where Kyubey explains grief seeds to Sayaka has been cut. (SPOILER for the series) This is also the scene where Kyubey consumes the used up grief seed. This isn’t simple exposition. This scene establishes Kyubey as a monster. He creates magical girls, who eventually devolve into grief seeds, which he then consumes. He is a true predator.(end SPOILER) Without the deleted Kyubey scene, the movie is nowhere near as dark as the series. This explains why some people argue that Kyubey isn’t actually evil, just incapable of comprehending the misery he is causing. It is easy to come to that conclusion if you have only seen the movie version. Characters: 7.0 I’m rating this a bit lower than the series because we don’t get as much of Mami, or of Madoka’s family as we do in the series. Also, for the reasons about Kyubey, which I have stated above. Other than that, it’s the same as the series. Overall: 8.5 I wouldn’t give this a two way recommendation. If you have seen the series, you should definitely watch the movie, if for no other reason than it is spectacularly gorgeous, has subtle differences which are fun to catch, and presents the story in a slightly different arrangement. Visually, this is a feast for the eyes. However, if you haven’t seen the series, start there. If you are new to Madoka Magica, don't let the flashy visuals of the movies lure you into starting with them. Story wise, the series is superior.
This Review Covers both the First and Second Movies... Story (8/10) Alright so here's the deal, the story of the movie is basically a retelling of the first half of the show, but with added scenes, and a somewhat faster pace. To those of you who are haters and/or talking shit about the idea, here's a word of warning: Prepare to be Disappointed because THEY DO make this work!!! While it was recap, it felt like a completely new experience. The atmosphere was way darker and eerier than the show, and the scenes transitioned very smoothly. The anime-ish feel of the show was replaced with a genuine cinematic experience. Animation (9/10)Easily the highpoint of the movie was the animation. They improved it so much from the TV show it was unbelievable. Well.. considering how big of a money whore the show was, I guess it isn't that unbelievable... Anyways back to the point: The characters look great, the movements were fluid, and the portrayal of all the little details around them were great as well. Sound (8/10)Another step-up from the show would be the sound. Obviously the movie had the same voice actors as the show so it sounded good. The soundtrack was also great and it fit in perfectly with the atmosphere of the movie. All in all, pretty solid sound rating, nothing ground-breaking though. Characters: (7/10)Same characters as the show, you all know how they are so I'm not gonna go over them in detail. I will say this though, the way they are portrayed in the movie feels noticeably different and gives them an increased amount of depth. Overall: (8/10)They really did do a great job with this movie. And to all of you Madoka Magica haters out there, let me say one thing, if you didn't like the show then that's your deal, but don't judge the movie without seeing it first, because trust me, it is different. Note: I was lucky enough to see this in theaters. To all of you who haven't, but want to see it, you have my condolences. The earliest you'll be able to watch it will be in a couple months. But at least you have the hype built up from this review to keep you going right? Right?!
I don't have too much to say about this movie, since it's essentially a high quality recap of the first half of the show, but I'll write down my few thoughts. First off, the animation is beautiful! I loved the animation of the show, but this movie really kicks it up in that department. I also like how this movie doesn't have the nudity issues of the show. I love Magical Girl, but I hate how they always have to sexualize the characters. Not that the show had a ton of this, but the movie is even cleaner. Now, for pacing. This movie ended at just the right spot, with a major change that causes you to want to watch the next. Also, all of the scenes and whatnot flow nicely into each other. It felt almost like this had always been a movie, instead of taking half a show and turning it into a movie. Which, obviously there had to be some cutting of scenes and whatnot, but nothing felt disjointed and I can't recall anything of importance that may have been left out (granted, I have only seen the show once, so I easily could be missing something). While this movie and the next covers the entire anime, I wouldn't say it replaces it. They're very similar, but the anime does have a little more time to flesh out the characters. Overall, though, I greatly enjoyed this movie.
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