Monday, May 16, 2011

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica review

Episodes: 12
Aired: January 7, 2011 - April 22, 2011
MAL score: 8.91
MAL rank: 12

Synopsis (provided by me): Madoka is an exceptionally normal young girl; she has a loving family and lively friends. One day, however, her life is forever altered when she comes in contact with a "witch," a paranormal entity that feeds upon humans. Before the witch has a chance to devour her, a puella magi (magical girl) comes to Madoka's aid and introduces her to the perils that puella magi face. At first, the puella magi seem to be all frills and glamor, but their life isn't as amazing as one may assume; their fate is much darker than you think, and in Madoka Magica, anything can happen.

I will admit that when I first started this series, I doubted it would be a masterpiece, that it would live up to all the great comments I've been hearing, that it would become one of my favorites.

While it didn't necessarily become one of my all time faves or reach the ranks of masterpieces such as Cowboy Bebop and Brotherhood, it still proves to be an incredible show that lives up to its name as a deconstruction of the mahou shoujo genre. I was definitely impressed.

The plot was crafted skillfully for the most part. With only twelve episodes to work with, Magica definitely knew what it wanted to do and how it was going to get there. They did a great job of utilizing the time they had. However, there were some characters who should have gotten more character developement; some characters just didn't get enough time to grow on me. I wanted to love them, but they were gone before I had reason to.

Riyoga made an interesting comment on my post about Mami. I'm slapping myself for not thinking of that while I was watching episode 3. Summarizing, he said that some particular deaths in the series were used to show the audience early on that this wasn't your average sugar-coated mahou shoujo; it was actually a lot more darker than people assumed. I understand the reasoning behind that, and looking at it from that standpoint, the writers were very successful. However, I found the character development to suffer here. Their reasoning doesn't really justify the lack of development for some characters.

Also, I felt that later in the show, characters were dying too quickly and closely together. It never became too overwhelming, but it was enough to be ever so slightly annoying.

Speaking of annoying, Madoka could be just that at times. She was always crying and trying to break up fights even though she couldn't do shit. Plus- and I can't really figure out why this happened- but as the series progressed, her voice actor progressively pissed me off more and more. It was that softness, I suppose, that annoyed me so much. It didn't seem to bother anyone else, so I guess I'm the only one.

Sayaka was also a bit unreasonable at points. I found some of her decisions to be a bit illogical. I couldn't exactly understand why she was doing what she was doing later on, though this is really only a minor complaint.

*minor spoiler below*
More than anything, though, Hitomi pissed me off to no end. She just had to fall in love with Kamijo, didn't she? During the scene in the cafe where Hitomi said, "I have to tell you something, Sayaka," I literally said aloud, "Gee, I bet you're in love with Kamijo, aren't cha?" AND WHAT THE HELL? I WAS RIGHT. It was obvious that Sayaka was in love with him, and yet, Hitomi still went after him. SLUT. She already went out with 50 other guys since the series started (I'm exaggerating here), and she knows that if she went for Kamijo, she would get him (and probably give him herpes or something). She has absolutely no idea what shit Sayaka is going through for Kamijo and yet, she can still put all this pressure on her. "I'm going to confess to him a 3 tomorrow, so do whatever you want before then." Over confident much? You may be thinking, but Nadja, she was just being a good friend, giving Sayaka a chance. Yeah sure, except NO. Did you see the way Hitomi was sitting all uppity in the cafe, like she was the shit or something? She's seriously not even that attractive. Anyway, Hitomi only added to Sayaka's ultimate demise.

God, this far into the review and I already sound like a fucking Debbie Downer! It seems like everything I've mentioned so far is negative. Don't be fooled, though. Madoka Magica's pros definitely outweigh the cons. Please allow me to delve deeper into all the positive, awesome things that I loved about this series.

One of the first things that pulled me into this series was the art. All of the normal animation and art was clean and captivating, but the witch fights really set this anime apart artistically. It reminded me of a a moving 3D scrapbook page. The scenes were dark, spooky, and grim. I loved every bit of them. Not only the art during the witch fights, but the action during those scenes were always exciting. They did a good job of making the magical girls look like badass warriors.

Although some characters weren't developed to their full potential, many other characters received a satisfactory amount of screentime. I found Akemi Homura to be particularly inspiring. At first, I believed she was a cold, heartless mahou shojo, one who put work over people, taking little to no interest in protecting those around her. I thought she was selfish.

In episode 10, I discovered that all of my assumptions and opinions about her were dead wrong. She had so much more to her character, such a captivating story, that you would never have known about just by looking at her.

They took her character, someone I thought to be self-centered, and revealed her back story, her true intentions. They drastically changed my opinion of her.

By the end, I also came to respect Madoka a lot more. She had grown a lot since the first episodes where crying was her #1 past time. (Shout out to Madoka's mom who is one of the best mom's evar! Also, to Madoka's dad who had a total of like four lines, but still came off as incredibly chill! And who could forget little Tatsuya?)

I'd also like to speak about the ending a little bit more as well. I'll try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but it's not likely I'll be able to. Here's the watered-down, non-spoiler-ific version: THE ENDING IS AMAZING. IT'S AMAZING. AMAZING. HOLY SHIT.

Here's the longer version which will have spoilers:

I've never been able to relate to God. How can someone simply live off love? How can someone love unconditionally? How can one be omnipotent? How?

Madoka Magica made me sympathize with God. It brought God into more relative terms that I could understand. This is extremely hard to put into words, but I'll try my best... Knowing that Madoka (kind of like God) had feelings like myself, I felt more connected to her. I found the whole concept of an all powerful God to be much more relatable. I never really understood the story of Jesus, but this anime brought the story more close to home. I still don't believe in God; I'm too much of a skeptic, and Christianity doesn't exactly fit my morals or my personality. Even as I grow older and mature, I may still not adhere to Christian or any other religion's beliefs, but with this anime, I can understand the root of their religion a little bit better.
(Somehow, I feel as if my word choice here was inadequate. Let me know if you understand my point.)

When people all over the internet said "Madoka died for our sins," I thought they were joking.

Though they were probably half-joking, the statement holds true. Madoka's sacrifice enveloped everyone's sins and made it so not another witch could be born. She erased everything. She became a goddess. It's almost hard to put into words, but the ending pulled at all the right heart strings and put perfect closure to the series. It was satisfying.

Oh and who could forget this little motherfucker?
Plot: 9/10
Music: 8/10 (I didn't really talk about it, but it was good)
Ending: 10/10
Art: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Total: 44/50
Mean: 8.8 (rounded to 9 on MAL)

Other random shit

  • I forget what episode it was in, but KYOKO WAS PLAYING DDR. (I forgot to mention it, but Kyoko was fucking awesome). You don't know how long I've been waiting to see DDR in anime. It was like a triple mat with a HUGE flat panel. It was flashing so much that I thought it was a time machine.
  • The opening is stuck in my head.
  • I'm wondering how many Madoka cosplays I'm going to see at ACen.... Probably a lot of Kyuube crap too.
  • *spoiler* Could someone please explain to me in the comments why Sayaka was dead in the end still? I remember there being a reason, but I forgot.
  • Truthfully, I was expecting Kyuubee to be a lot more creepy. 
  • Somehow, Blogger posted this without my discretion, and I don't know how to delete posts, so this post actually went up long before I was done writing it. 

My current desktop wallpaper (yes, all of the pics on this post are wallpaper sized and can be used as such)...(you're welcome)