Friday, July 1, 2016

Anime Review: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

madoka magica

Rating: 7/10

Kaname Madoka and Miki Sayaka are normal school students but their lives suddenly change when a girl named Akemi Homura transfers to their school. Homura is a mysterious girl and is particularly interested in Madoka. Since the new student was not weird enough, they soon meet a creature called Kyuubey, who can grant any one wish but also turns that individual  into a magical girl in exchange, an existence important for fighting witches who bring sorrow and grief into the world. The contract seems simple enough and has multiple benefits.
What starts something as a friendly adventure turns into a life changing experience full of grief, as Kyuubey doesn’t mention the full terms of contract, thus leading the girls into an inescapable cycle of despair.

I finished the series yesterday and postponed all my other review projects for writing and publishing this one asap, as Madoka Magica is something that deserves to be given the priority, given how much it has surprised me in the past 2 days.

Madoka Magica is a Magical Girl anime, a genre I’m not particularly fond of. But it is rare to find an anime that has such a large number of people recommending it, so I wasn’t able to resist the temptation and gave it a try.

Madoka Magica has a very ...ummm strange story. Two friends meet a cat like creature called Kyuubey (“Thats not how it works u little shit” meme one) who makes contracts with teenage girls and grants any one wish they have and in turn transforms them into magical girls who fight witches that are invisible to the common eye. There is a lot more to the story than what I have summarized above, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. All I can say is that it is not a light hearted or a slice of life anime, don’t go for the innocent looking cover as it is indeed a very dark anime. There is a reversal of theme where you start as a magical girls plus slice of life but soon discover that it actually is a psychological  action thriller. The story is the strong point of Madoka Magica as it has a very high shock element and introduces one plot twist after another. Now if you are planning to skip the review, please read the summarized review section before watching the anime as it will contain some very important info on how you should watch Madoka Magica.

There are not many characters in Madoka Magica, so it was easy enough to keep track of each one. Although character development is not a very strong point of this anime, still there was a little development in case of some side characters. Our main character is Madoka, a high school student with a very sensitive personality. She cares a lot about her family and friends and is what you call an ideal child. She generally is portrayed as a weak character who needs to be protected. Frankly speaking, I didn’t like Madoka due to her not being an independent character but after watching 10th episode and the shit she pulled in 12th episode, I must say I am truly impressed. Now when I look back, I think I was a bit prejudiced that time. But now I can say confidently say that Madoka was indeed the one who was ready to sacrifice most, and was strong enough to fight for what she loved even if it brought death to her.
Other character of importance is Sayaka. On the surface she might seem like a happy go lucky airhead who goes with the flow of life. But deep within, she is getting eaten by her own wishes. The last sentence might make her look selfish, and even Sayaka refers to herself as a selfish person, the reality is completely different. She is a bit like Madoka as she loves the people around her but unlike Madoka, she musters enough courage to fight without giving a shit about anything. I specially mentioned her and left out other important characters like Homura, Kyuubey and Kyoko, okay I will write a line or two on Kyoko, so lets come back to Sakuya. She is the only character other than Kyoko who has some character development. I think out of all the magical girls, she and Kyoko have the most tragic stories.
I promised to write something about Kyoko, but considering that she is introduced in episode 4 it might result in some spoilers being leaked but still I will try to avoid doing so. Now Kyoko is a character you can’t judge on the basis of first impression. I was worried that she might be the main villain but thank god she turned out to be a good character. Kyoko has a simple approach towards life, do everything for yourself, be selfish and don’t depend on others, that way you will have no regrets. Sadly these are some of the most inspiring words I’ve ever heard. She has a really sad backstory that shaped her character but she soon softens up to Sayaka and acknowledges her as a friend, unfortunately it turns out to be a bit too late (me and my big mouth).

The art in the series tends to be towards the moe side, it looks like rough sketches in motion but I have to say it is really catchy.

Madoka Magica has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The ending song is badass enough to send shivers down the spine. I loved the background music played during witch hunts and important fights. I give the soundtrack a 10/10.

Madoka Magica was a mixed experience for me. If you read other reviews on internet, you will find that most of them say that one should watch at least 3 episodes because the real fun starts from there. I know the third episode had a shocking ending and from there I understood that Madoka Magica won’t be a light girly anime. But for me, real Madoka Magica began from episode 6. So I recommend that even if you reach the point where you can’t resist dropping, just bear with it as it will not disappoint you later. The final 3 episodes are the reward for going through some extremely boring and cringe inducing dialogue. Many people claim it to be a masterpiece but I strongly disagree. For Madoka Magica had almost zero character development, a lot of boring scenes and some plot related problems. So is it bad? Absolutely no, Is it a masterpiece? Not even close. But still it is a very good show and any anime viewer must watch it at one part of his life. It is not a regular Magical Girl anime and experiments with many genres, but does a good job while doing so. The ending was intended to be a good one but it made me sad, I warn you, it might even make you shed a tear or two.

Now Madoka Magica has 3 movies made after the anime. The first two movies are a recap similar to the Neon Genesis Evangelion Death and Rebirth but the third movie has a different story. They announced back in 2012 that the franchise will be continued and more seasons will be made. Do we need a season 2? Absolutely Yes. The last episode of Madoka Magica is certainly not its end as it created a huge scope for extending the series. I sill have to watch the movies so I can’t comment on the 3rd movie.

In the end, Madoka Magica is something that will betray your expectations, the best way to watch it is to not expect anything from it. No summary, No review can give you any idea about what Madoka Magica is (without giving spoilers that is), so watch it yourself to understand and enjoy its beauty.

Who would watch Madoka Magica?
I don’t know the answer myself but I will recommend it to both casual and hardcore anime fans.

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