Puella Magi Madoka Magica
My first anime review, and honestly, I don’t even know if I’m allowed to do this but in light of the movies coming out as well as a lack of much to review I have chosen to review the anime Magoka Magica as a side note this anime is in my personal top of favorites but I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible. This Japanese animated show was produced by Shaft (Not the black guy the company) and Aniplex inc. and directed Akiyuki Shinbo (Same guy who did Metal fighter Miku in 1994 is anyone remembers that). Gen Urobuchi did the story (The writer who did the Fate/Zero light novel and was the main writer for the Kamen rider series); Takahiro Kishida did the character designs while Yuki Kajiura did the music, Yuki was responsible for the Fate/Zero, Sword art online and other amazing works. So it’s safe to assume we have a pretty amazing staff working on this anime taking the strengths of the producer Shaft (who seem to have a talent for producing good animes where the characters talk a lot i.e Monogatari) and Aniplex.
Plot: The story of this anime centers around the city of Mitakihara more specifically two 14- year old girls named Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki, who just so happen to be best friends who go to the same school. One day a new transfer student named Homura Akemi joins their class while escorting the new girl to the nurse’s office Homura starts a very cryptic conversation about her family and not changing who she is to be something she isn’t. At first Madoka does not understand what exactly she meant, but it all soon comes to light when she visits the mall and stumbles upon a white cat named Kyubey known as the incubator who offers Madoka a wish if she will become a magical girl and fight the evil of the witches. To avoid spoilers, I’m going to end the plot summary here and say on a very generalized not the anime is basically Homura trying to stop Madoka from turning into a magical girl for her own reasons.
Genre and History: Madoka magica is in fact a magical girl, but it has a special mix that sets it apart from all the other magical girl animes but before I get into that let me talk about what is a magical girl anime. First off magical girl anime first appeared in 1966 when Sally the witch first aired in black and white (Yes Salor moon was not the first magical girl anime noob) it was a light hearted anime where Sally was the princess of witch world who teleported to mid world (earth) and used her magic to stop some robber or whatever from harassing two school girls who befriend her, because of this Sally decided to stay forever while assuming the role of an average child to keep her powers a secret Sally gets into all kinds of magical trouble with her sidekicks. Sally the witch initially started the tropes of magicals girls which are as follows, a magical girl must keep her powers a secret, when she uses her magic she needs a phrase or a special object mostly a baton, a magical servant follows the girl around on earth (ranges from person to a cat or anything mythical), and finally Henshin style transformation scenes where the character transforms from one form to another finally for the most part the magical girl animes were very light hearted. Sally the witch may have started the tropes but animes like Sailor moon and Card Captors really made it blossom and so this became the formula for every mahou shoujo to come after except Madoka Magica.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Or magical girl Madoka) is the first to deviate from the norm of what you would consider a magical girl this anime is all around dark and extremely gory and it’s all within a good reason in this re imaging of the term magical girl. The longer you watch the show, the less and less the idea of having a non-rule constricting wish becomes, every character has trauma that they have gone through to push them into making these wishes. None of these girls are light hearted and peppy infact they are just the opposite broken spirited and mostly chronically depressed. Kyubey’s offered, which seems more like a deal with the devil and he pulls the act off so well the walking example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, motionless and cold, he almost never explains things in full detail unless asked in exact words meaning he won’t lie to you but he isn’t exactly willing to elaborate on things. Transformations are in this anime, but there aren’t any over budget scenes like in Sailor moon nor do they yell out the name of their attacks before doing them no ‘I will write wrongs and triumph over evil, and that means you!” and definitely no super power ranger poses. While there are quite a few magical girls within this anime none of them really work together or even get along for that matter with the exception of three (and one of them isn’t even a magical girl)
Character: So I mentioned earlier that the character all go through something traumatic before making a wish and that is because Kyubey searches them out, sense the power of the magical girl was dependent on how powerful the wish was as well as the Karma of that specific character.
Madoka Kaname: The protagonist of the show or at least what you are lead to believe because this anime is told from her point of view, it seems she is the main character (Also the anime is named after her). Kyubey wants her to become a magical girl because he knows she will be the most powerful magical girl he’s ever created for a reason not even he knows (There is a good reason). Madoka is a kind gentle girl who sometimes comes off as naive and has low self-confidence, she believes she doent have much to offer the world unless she helps people. Ironically enough this show is named after her which translates to magical girl Madoka, but throughout the entirety of the show with the exception of the last episode she is not a magical girl or anything relevant.
Sakaya Miki: A main character who is a throwback to the old magical girl animes as she embodies the tropes in her own being. Miki is tomboyish, idealistic and has that long “I shall smite evil” thing going for her, but deep down she’s just a lonely girl who wants to be loved which is where her wish stems from.
Homura Akemi: The mysterious transfer student, sadly I cannot reveal much about this character because it would spoil most if not the whole show. Hokura prior to attending the school was a hospital patient who had just been released after an extended period of time. Her family status is unknown for the whole show and they completely unmentioned, which is very different from the rest of the girls.
Mami Tomoe: The magical girl who patrolled the main town, a powerful veteran that summons single shot muskets, Tomoe is an elegant older sister type character who loves to sip tea. Out of the cast she’s the only character who shows enthusiasm for being a magical girl because it makes her feel alive (this is due to her wish saving her from death itself)
Kyoko Sakura: A selfish, self-centered girl who will only fight for her own cause and will attack any other magical girl who gets in her way. She loves to eat mostly because she was from a poor family and had little to no food in her life so she has a strict never waste food policy. Out of all the girls in this story she had it the worst (poor with an abusive father to boot then got kicked out of her house and made homeless)
Music: For a pseudo dark anime very few compositions featured the horror or dark themed instruments such as the Waterphone or the Theremin, mostly you hear a lot of piano, string and wind instruments usually fitting for emotional scenes very few times are drums used the exception being Mami’s theme which is composed of mostly drums. What little singing there is in the songs is mainly just there and often times get undermined by the instruments but that isn’t bad in this case because you will hear a voice but there is no need to strain to try and head the voice to put sense to words because the vocals are just another sound that blends in with the music itself.
Art: This anime’s art style betrays it because it’s shojo style a type of art style that is marketed to a female audience features soft lines and colors giving it a very cute and innocent feel to the anime. I believe this was intended to be a joke as the art style conflicts with the story, tone and setting all around the art isn’t a good mix for the anime itself however this style is very appropriate for animes such as sailor moon because it’s made for magical girls.