Obligatory Madoka Magica post

Considering the uproar that is the Puella Magi Madoka Magica franchise and the fact that it just ended last week, it’s no surprise that this past weekend was dominated by conversation about the finale and what it meant both as a show and to anime in general. Pre-orders are astonishing not just for the Blu-Rays, but for the DVDs as well. Even HMV, a giant retailer in Japan, has doubted whether or not they have enough copies to meet demand for the first volume. There is no doubt that demand for Madoka is at an incredible level, both domestically in Japan and internationally.

We’ve entered another world. This is SHAFTLAND!

Over my vacation, my good friend skorpigeist and I marathoned the series as it finished. I’m not a fan of magical girl shows and after seeing the designs for the characters in Madoka I had no interest in starting the series. Since skorp is a fan of Shaft’s animation style and I had heard many positive things about the series, we decided to marathon it when neither of us had seen it before to give a fresh viewing for both of us. Honestly, my faith in the show was so low that I still say that marathon was the only way I’d be able to watch it. So that’s the gist of my disclaimer: I went into the series not expecting to like it at all.

I wish I was animated by a studio that was able to put works out on time!

To begin, I’ll say that Madoka is a rare show that I like more and more as time passes. Initially, I was ready to give it a 6 or worse on my scale as the first two episodes were very weak and the show dips after episode 3 as well, but episode 10 single-handedly saved the show for me. While skorp and I made several jokes at Shaft’s expense (or lack of), this was the only episode at which we kept quiet for the entire way through. I was nearly afraid to finish the series as 10 left me with such a great feeling.

If I had to choose for her, I’d choose to move to K-On! At least that’s safe and full of tea.

Madoka lacks in characters that I personally could become attached to. There’s not a single character in the show that I can say with 100% certainty that I like. The closest one was Mami and we all know what happened to her. Even still, the plot is well developed enough that it didn’t even matter about attachments.  Madoka walks a tight line between realistic portrayals of what a normal girl would do as well as what a magical girl show would do in that same situation and makes it work. Even the twist about bodies and souls is well done to be believable yet unordinary.

Homera really needs to take better care of her hair; those split ends are awful!

So with so much against it, and only episode 10 that really impressed me, why did the show appeal to me so much? It’s the rare show that is incredibly well done from beginning to end. While my opinion of the first couple of episodes is rather negative, they are needed for the show to positively progress. They lead you to believe everything’ll be alright in the end and then take away the happy ending early. The ending is logical and is both well-hinted at and somewhat surprising about Madoka becoming immensely powerful. The immense anticipation that is built to finally see Madoka make her contract is masterfully done. We see many many chances for her to become a magical girl as well as her outfit in the opening and promotional images, but it’s only in episode 10 that we finally are rewarded by her presence in the official show. With how much we had to wait, it’s believable that her power is on an immense level.

I can’t even joke about how much time it must’ve taken to set all of this up due to her power!

Visually, I like everything but the actual characters. The contrast between the ordinary world and the witches’ lairs is absolutely great in its wildness. Being modeled after the respective girls is a great visual delight and makes it personal for each time. The rest of the city is well shaded and is near the top of Shaft’s works in quality. This is better than anything I’ve seen from them so far.

May the power of Shaft propel you!

So, I can’t say that I’d import this show from Japan right now, but I may end up getting a used copy one day. It’s a show that will be marked as one of the “must-see” series if you are an anime fan and deservedly so. I can’t say it’s just one thing that makes it all worthwhile, but the entire series visually, musically, and writing-wise combine to have a great hit. At the end of the day I feel glad that I watched it and that’s the best thing anyone can say about a show.

8 thoughts on “Obligatory Madoka Magica post

  1. Good insight. A lot of people don’t understand the use of the slow episodes (1,2,4,5) and just complain about them.

    I find the characters more true to real life. I always find that people have more than one side to them after spending sufficient time with them. Whether or not you can handle the other sides of the person (other than the one that attracted you) determines the length of the relationship

    • They are quite the “normal” reaction to what I believe any young girl would do when tempted with these powers. Your point about life is spot on about relationships in general, not just romantic. A person is a person and we all have things that we like/dislike about people. It’s being able to see positives, like Madoka could, that gets us through.

  2. Funny you should choose that screenshot of Mami serving Madoka and Sayaka tea. When I watched that episode, the first thing that crossed my mind was – I love what she’s done with her place…I want her furniture! On a slightly more serious note, I do think SHAFT had a brainwave making Madoka the precursor of all the other magical girls in anime. It’s nice to see a studio think in larger terms of a whole genre rather than a small segment of it.

    • I needed a tea image to represent the K-On! joke, but her apartment looks fantastic. Have you seen the images from the BD version? It actually looks like someone lives there now. Mami reminds me of Mugi a lot with her “rich girl” atmosphere around her. I wish we got to know more about her.

      I know Shaft had to enjoy working on this, especially since they were creating this as the season went along and could see the reactions they were getting from fans. I’d say that the ending was planned to be that way to have both a stereotypical “give up everything for the betterment of everyone else” ending with a novel twist of setting the stage for future stories. I don’t think many other studios could’ve pulled this show off.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I’m glad you enjoyed Madoka despite your initial hesitance XD I agree that the first two episodes aren’t that interesting, but if one can hang on until the conclusion of episode 3, the show keeps getting better from there.

    Episode 10 was obviously one of the most important episodes, but I enjoyed episode 6 very much too, mostly because the suspense at the end was more than I’d felt in any anime for a while.

    • It’s true even when you’ve finished the series that it gets better over time. I haven’t seen a second of the show outside of these screencaptures and I’m still thinking very positively about it everyday. It’s something everyone should at least finish due to the significance in anime history.

      Episode 6 was also well scripted near the end to show the horrible truth about the souls/bodies of a magical girl. It’s an overall great show from episode 3 onward.

  4. “I wish I was animated by a studio that was able to put works out on time!”

    From what I have heard, it was actually the TV station(which had exlusive first airing rights) that delayed the airing of the last two episodes.

    • I remember Urobuchi mentioning on his twitter account somewhere about how Shaft was finishing the episodes just a day before they were to air and have had a history of having to improve the home releases of shows due to low quality for the TV series. They also had to delay the Bakemonogatari web episodes due to Shaft taking so long to finish (as well as the BD/DVDs for months). That’s what prompted that joke, but I have no doubt that it’s likely due to TBS/MBS wanting to air it for the ratings it would get.

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