Published on November 27th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
How do I even begin with this animé? It’s a magical girl series, that dead genre popularised in the 90’s by Sailor Moon, the show that has recently become socially acceptable for young men to admit they watched and liked it in the vie for more animé in the west. Well, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is an attempt to revive the genre now that moé is a thing, because we really need more of that, don’t we?
Right, so it might not have been made abundantly clear before, but I am into psychological animé and Seinen stuff, particularly from the late 80’s and am not a huge fan of either modern animé or romance or anything aimed at women really. I started watching this as it was made by the same guy who did Fate Zero, which was one of the best animé to come out in years, great things have been said about Madoka Magica, so thought I would sit in for the first episode.
Madoka is a young teenage girl who has a chance encounter with an injured magic creature that gives her the choice of having her greatest wish come true and then become a secret magical girl that must battle evil witches that plague humankind.
Well it all sounds a little too cutesy, I think I’ll give it a miss, I thought after watching the first episode, which was rather generic and girly. Well I might as well watch the next episode to see her turn into the magical girl then stop watching. I think the greatest thing about the show is how misleading it all is, from the opening right until the credits, the show at first looks like a fairly standard animé aimed at young girls and possibly the same young men that watch moé, but it’s a giant misdirection, selling seinen drama and shonen action to the crowd least likely to be interested, and really killing it.
This is a show that shies away from the usual heart-wrenchingly awful exposition that cakes itself over the first few episodes of most animé and bearing in mind that this one is only 12 episodes long, you’re left either figuring that there isn’t much to tell, or that you’re going to be left confused throughout most of it. But that’s not how it is at all, think Deathnote’s ability to carefully leak out information mixed with the blasé careless attitudes of Sailor Moon.
This becomes really important in a world where Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones exist on one side of the globe and Fate Zero and Attack on Titan on the other, I have no room for terrible writing and embarrassing animé clichés, not when I am so spoilt with great stuff. Fortunately Madoka doesn’t make the mistake of sacrificing immersion for the sake of getting the show started, the entire pacing right from the go was steady and controlled, you know, apart from the bits where it drops you into utter despair and darkness that is, but you will revel in the tragedy as the colourful characters are stretched to the extreme.
The art style is very pink and soft, if someone walks in and you are watching this, bad looks from them are inevitable, somehow it feels as if the characters look less moé and chibi as it goes on, but that might be my denial manifesting onscreen. Clothing and fashion design is pretty, coordinated and suits the characters with them all having schemes and styles and none being too pervy, the focus throughout the show isn’t too sexual without looking into it too much, despite the male demographic that watch it. There are some interesting artistic designs when crafting the witches’ worlds, where everything looks like crafts and collages, some of the themes and symbolism during these segments are intriguing. Like the show, the music at first isn’t much to sniff at, but emotional themes and clever tinkering give the show it’s most finest moments aided by the powerful soundtrack, except the opening, that’s awful.
It’s not hard to recommend this animé, like Fate Zero it represents animé as a whole well, in that one has to take the good with the bad and must remain open-minded if they want to get anything out of the experience, this show tests that, it makes an example out of your own prejudices by making a seemingly horrendous genre into a watchable and enjoyable show while remaining artistically relevant. Give it a go, you’ll be surprised.