[Anime Review] Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Madoka Magica puella magi anime

Director: Akiyuki Shinbo

Writer: Gen Urobuchi

Animation Studios: Shaft

Version Watched: Subbed

The Magical Girl genre isn’t one that has ever appealed to me. I guess it’s always seemed a little childish because my first exposure to it, Cardcaptor Sakura, seemed like just another cartoon. Madoka Magica, however, was not at all what I was expecting when I decided to watch it. With innovative and colorful animation, a story that is more than it seems and a focus on character development, this is an anime you probably won’t want to miss.

Magical Girls exist to kill witches, concentrated balls of despair that leave death and destruction in their wake. In exchange for a lifetime spent searching for and destroying witches, protecting the world around them, each girl is granted one wish. Kaname Madoka and her friend Miki Sayaka are approached by Kyubey, a mysterious cat-like being capable of creating Magical Girls, who tells them that Madoka would be the most powerful of all time if she were to accept the contract. Swayed by the mere prospect of becoming Magical Girls, the two need only decide on their wish. There’s an emptiness behind Kyubey’s eyes, though, as he uses every tactic available to convince Madoka to make her wish. Perhaps there’s more to this contract than meets the eye.

Madoka Magica puella magi anime

Madoka Magica is actually a rather dark anime, following the exploits of five girls that have all been exposed to Kyubey’s contract. Whereas normally character development is just another component of the overall plot, in Madoka Magica it seemed to me that the plot itself was only there to facilitate character development, which was the series’ real focus. There are almost definitely holes in the overarching plot that would become apparent if you looked closely but you probably won’t care because it’s the experiences and actions of the main characters that make the series entertaining. Madoka Magica is definitely a character-centric anime and it’s done well; though there weren’t many cases where I was burning to find out what happened next, it wasn’t long before I was interested in the characters.

The story is a great deal more morbid than you would expect, especially after having seen the opening sequence. This is a great asset, allowing both more interesting concepts to be explored and the inclusion of twists that will probably shock you. Your heart will cry out for the girls as events progress, with the writer seemingly toying with their emotions and even their minds. There’s one major issue that lessened my enjoyment of the series, though. [MINOR SPOILERS]: Relatively early in the story one of the girls’ friends passes away, prompting a great deal of grief and the shedding of numerous tears over the next few episodes. Unfortunately I was unable to sympathise because at that point neither of the main girls had used their wishes. They missed their friend, and the loss had scarred them permanently, but she apparently wasn’t worth saving or even thinking about saving. I’m serious, the thought never crosses their minds. [/MINOR SPOILERS] 

Madoka Magica puella magi anime

While the quality of Madoka Magica’s art isn’t consistent all the way through, and probably won’t wow you in any case, this is one of the categories it scores major points in. The scenes with witches in them are amazingly well done; you couldn’t ask for a more jarring, freakish representation of the despair in people’s hearts. I can’t even begin to explain what it looks like, but you need to know that it is excellent. As usual, the voice acting and accompanying background music are both up to par, though some of the tracks do a really good job of conveying the intended feel of particular scenes.

Summary – I don’t know what most Magical Girl Anime are like, but if they’re anything like Madoka Magica I wouldn’t hesitate to give them a go. The background story isn’t really explored and there are a fair amount of plot holes but that doesn’t matter too much because the characters are the reason you will watch this series. While the base art style is nothing special the portrayal of scenes containing witches is innovative and fresh, and probably a reason you should watch Madoka Magica in and of itself.

Score – 8/10 – Good

P.S – Kyubey is terrifying.

 Madoka Magica puella magi anime kyubey

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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10 Responses to [Anime Review] Puella Magi Madoka Magica

  1. Lazarinth says:

    I would probably describe those weirder scenes as a ‘cavalcade world of doily and confetti based marionettes’ like a kind of well made ‘puppet show’ (a good metaphor really), though the witches themselves were a bit more varied in their appearances from very cartoony to full CG if my memory served me right. When I finished watching this I was like this ‘yeah that was pretty good, odd ending though’ but when my mind had a chance to work I was like ‘oh, I see what they did there, I’m surprised they managed keep the viewers watching for three whole episodes of cute chibi magic girl slice of life cutsey stuff before lifting the charade to show what it really was underneath’.

    • Silvachief says:

      Every episode I was like “but when does she finally become a magical girl?!” XD I guess i’m too used to trusting shows’ opening sequences. I liked Madoka Magica (not as much as others, admittedly) and it was also one of the few series that have done something interesting with their visuals. It’s also probably a more believable take on the usual magical girl formula, though i’m sure if they had taken any longer to reveal the series’ true nature I would have been put off.

  2. Lambda says:

    Contract? /人◕‿‿◕人\ (If you’re familiar with Ace Attorney as well, I found this comic amusing: http://asksomelawyers.tumblr.com/post/78240333744 )

    (Um… minor spoilers?) I also really enjoyed the technical aspects of this show, like the witches’ lairs, which I think of as like scrapbooks or crafts? Yeah. And the bgm has random chanting in the background so I loved the hell outta that (and the ending song, too). But I was spoiled on everything. It’s a lot less fun when you go into it knowing everything, including the true mood of the series. You start distancing yourself from the characters you know are gonna die… still majorly respected Homura by the end though, especially since I went back and rewatched the first episode knowing all the details of what she went through… I heard that part of the fun for those watching when it was airing was predicting what would happen in a large community. That’d be pretty interesting, I think.

    P.S. Cardcaptor Sakura is awesome and the best magical girl anime.

    • Silvachief says:

      I don’t think you need to know much about Ace Attorney to enjoy that comic 😉

      [Minor Spoilers] Spoilers are like…the worst thing ever (first world problems, right?). I think I had a very vague idea of what was going to happen, or at least that it wasn’t your average cutesy anime. I was incredibly surprised by Mami’s scene in any case, and that was what really got me interested. Strangely enough, I didn’t feel much of a connection to Homura. Mami’s story got to me and Sayaka’s story got to me but not Homura’s.Madoka didn’t really have a story despite being the main character >.>

      When you say predicting what would happen in a large community, do you mean a large community predicting what would happen next in the anime, or predicting what would happen in a large community if Madoka Magica’s world was real?

      P.S. I’m in a bit of a tough position when it comes to Cardcaptor Sakura. To me it was a cartoon I watched when I was younger and it’s difficult for me to see past that. It doesn’t help that there are many other anime i’m much more interested in watching.

      • Lambda says:

        Nope, you don’t, I’m not after all~ Put the disclaimer in case people completely unfamiliar with the lawyers start going “?????”

        [Minor-ish Spoilers for further into the series than episode 3] Yeah, I hate spoilers. I hate how you have to devote yourself to not getting spoiled if something’s popular enough, too. Or when you read things years before because you didn’t think you were ever gonna read them/they were only in Japanese at that point (Little Busters!, actually). I knew about Mami so I subconsciously created distance, I think. Madoka not having a story but the solution to everything was probably the point, but incredibly sad. Her character arc was her deciding whether to become a magical girl, I guess. Homura had a really fun arc for me because I love stories that have hints in them in extra re-watches and put you in pain during them (Durarara!! was an interesting experience the second time). Sayaka’s arc was good, but instead of liking her with the guy she liked, I liked her with Kyoko. Oops? That arc had a pretty heart-wrenching end such that I was totally feeling that ship… [/spoilers]

        Ah, predicting like the next plot twist and stuff in the anime. Sorry about that confusion. I read that a while ago, and I think after episode 3, it’d be really interesting to talk to others every week as you don’t know what’s gonna happen next.

        P.S. I see what you mean, although CCS as childhood for me made it nostalgic for me to watch. Although… watching it as an adult is an interesting experience. “Sakura’s brother and his best friend are like… what?”; “Tomoyo liked Sakura like THAT?”; “Why are they talking about that girl and her cousin as if they like each other?”; “An elementary schooler and… her teacher?”. CLAMP really believes in all types of love. It’s still an incredibly soothing or inspiring or fun experience, I think. “Everything will be alright.”

  3. Kai says:

    Indeed, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a great deconstruction of the magical girl genre, turning a cute, cartoonish, and girly genre like magical girl into something so dark and disturbing. I guess I should say it’s as expected, since the Saya no Uta author – Gen Urobuchi, is doing the script for the anime, lol :\ As expected of Gen the Butcher. Speaking of Gen the Butcher, I found this interesting pic:

  4. I also wondered why neither of the girls didn’t wish for their friend to come back alive, seeing as Kyuubei could grant “any” wish. I wasn’t able to sympathise with the characters on a deep level, but it’s still a fantastic show, technically. Madoka is probably my favourite character, and I just love how she handles everything at the end. There’s no closure in the ending, just a very epic finale.

    • Silvachief says:

      You know, you’ve brought up two very interesting points. Although I talk a lot about the characters being a strong point of the show i’m not sure I really like any of them XD
      Also, you’re absolutely right that there isn’t any real closure to the series. I’m not sure whether the movies get more of that….have you seen them?

      • I think the characters are good but there’s simply not enough time to get attached to or grow feelings for them. The show is after all only 12 episodes.
        I haven’t seen the movies but I heard the first 2 are a re-telling of the episodes and the 3rd one a sequel. I should get around to watch that, because I am really interested in getting that closure 😛

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