Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica–Written & Video Review

Title: 魔法少女まどか★マギカ (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Genre: Magic, Psychological, Thriller, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Seinen
Rating: 10/10

Beloved family, good friends, laughter and tears - these things make up the ordinary life of Kaname Madoka, a second year student of Mitakihara City Middle School. One night, Madoka dreams of a mysterious dark haired girl struggling against a terrible evil; the next morning she discovers that the girl, Akemi Homura, has transferred into her class. This encounter will lead to an incident which will alter Madoka's fate forever.

***I know I tend to spoil things in my review but this time I tried to limit the spoilers but I won’t say it is free of spoilers so if you don’t want to spoil yourself stop right here and don’t read my review ‘cause it might ruin the experience of watching the series. If you don’t care about the spoilers then go right ahead and read my review***

If you were given a choice, are you ready to give up your soul and face despair for the rest of your life for the sake of a single wish?

Story: 10/10
Character: 9/10

Kaname Madoka is your typical second year student until one day she encountered an injured magical creature being pursued by the transfer student named Akemi Homura. That encounter has change her fate forever as she stumbles upon the world of Puella Magi (Mahou Shoujo) who endlessly battle witches.
You might think that this series is a rip-off of popular mahou shoujo like Nanoha…… then think again...
WOW just WOW this show is really breathtaking. I don't know if I want to live in Madoka's world but really, its impressive with all the detail and the rules the writer had set up…its really believable. This show has really re-defined the genre of mahou shoujo that after watching this you won't easily think about lolis in cute costumes whenever you see the word mahou shoujo. Get the usual magical creature meets girl formula and then add the unique setting that made the characters question what its like to be a Puella Magi and you'll get Madoka Magica. Like I said in my first impression, this show is a LOT ominous than you think it is because this show is dressed as a cute mahou shoujo on the outside but as you get deeper it gets a LOT darker. Unlike other mahou shoujo shows out there, it tackles the consequences of being a mahou shoujo, despair and death. This series never fails to surprise me week after week not just with the direction of the series is heading, but also with the revelations and awesome cliff hangers that eventually made you wonder what will happen in the next episode. I really like how unpredictable this series is and when I re-watched this, I honestly want to smack myself for not seeing the clues floating around so yes, I would say that the re-watch value of this series is really high.

You know what's really amazing with this series is how everything fits well to the story. The writer was able to cover almost all of the plot holes in the first part of this series and honestly, it was delivered in a very unpredictable and impressive manner. It might be short but it didn't waste any time in uncovering the overall story and the development of the characters. What really surprised me is the ending since as I was waiting for Madoka to utter her wish I really didn't expect her to wish something as selfless as that and she even manage to beat Kyuubey in his own game.

This series is really good in building up unsettling atmosphere with the use of dialogues coupled with the bgm and animation it really is impressive. Actually with the dialogues alone the atmosphere is already ominous, very clever of the writer.

One of the main driving force of this series is its different themes that made our characters question what they do. Instead of the story focusing on the battle between Puella Magi and witches it is actually focused on the internal struggles of the characters as they try to justify their motives and WOW, it sure does bring one rollercoaster of a character development.
What really impressed me the most are the character since all of them are flawed and with that, they are just like us so somehow you could relate to them. You'll eventually find yourself wanting to scream at Madoka, feel sorry and a bit pissed at Sayaka, feels sad for Mami, hug & sympathize with Homura and love Kyouko. The characters coupled with the themes presented in this series really makes you think. Why does one fight? Is it to help others or just to get their approval? But the main question that this series repeatedly asks, Are you ready to give up your soul, your comfortable life, even everything for the sake of a single wish that could be granted even if is not within the bounds of reason? (Right, definitely appealing) That question have kept pestering our protagonist Kaname Madoka as she started out as a wimpy and weak girl but as the story unfolds she become one of the strongest anime characters out there (yep stronger than Nanoha or Goku). I love how everything revolves around her, that she is the catalyst behind the story of this series. Because of her Homura had to go back in time again and again so that she could save her fate. From a very weak and sweet girl, Homura in the present timeline become cold and calculative and the cause of that is she have repeatedly saw Madoka die in different timeline. When this series started I really thought that she's the antagonist of this series but heck I am so wrong. What really fascinates me with Madoka's character is that unlike other mahou shoujo heroine out there, she really thought about the consequences of being a mahou shoujo before turning into one. She might have grown increasingly depressed as other mahou shoujo around her died but at last at the last few episode she found her resolve and because of her very selfless wish that I have grown to admire her. Ok, I just realized I wrote a lot of spoilers already so I'll just say that the character background of this series is really interestingly and because of that you'll grow to love them. Also not one character was wasted in this series since they were all fully utilized like Hitomi and Madoka's family and it was thanks to them that this series has a really huge impact. The only reason I deducted a score on the character is mainly because when I thought about it, the characters won't really be interesting if it weren't for the story and their background but that's just me being picky.

The best antagonist (IMO) that have graced the anime world is most probably Kyuubey. I might have hated him but I understand his point and the fact that he didn't understood the concept of emotions. Somehow when you think about it, Kyuubey isn't really evil, like he said they've compromised with us and given us a choice and that they are saving the universe from entropy. Its just that Madoka and company has little perspective of the universe loosing its heat in next billions of years. What really made him evil is the concept of morals, that he is willing to sacrifice a couple of girls for the sake of the universe and even comparing those girls into cattles but hey, you can't blame someone who doesn't know what moral is. There was even a concept of utilitarianism where you'll be sacrificing a couple of lives for the sake of the many. Argh! This is honestly frustrating since its like comparing ethics to science. All I could say is *hands down* to the one who made the character of Kyuubey and also to the one who designed that cute and never changing expression of his.

Overall, a very detailed world, impressive story telling coupled with unique story & themes that had re-defined the genre of mahou shoujo forever and of course memorable characters….honestly, what more can I ask for?

Animation 9/10
What I really like about SHAFT is that they are not afraid to try out something new. It might have turned off other anime fans not used with their style but look at them now, other studios out there are now getting ideas from this very creative studio. I just love how they used bizarre and out of this world abstract drawings to make one nightmarish world of witches that added a LOT of dark atmosphere to this already dark series. The way they also depicted Kyuubey with his shadow casting over are character or just popping out of nowhere to the character's window sill or him sitting on one of the character's shoulder and how they focus the camera on that frozen facial expression of his…it really made him look evil. I also love the character design since it really reflects the character. An example would be the childish behaviour of Madoka was reflected with the colour of her hair, the twin-tails, her short stature and her long white socks. Homura on the other hand exudes a mysterious, elegant and beautiful persona with that cold eyes, dark long hair and her dark coloured mahou shoujo outfit. The choreography during the fight scenes is really impressive specially with the last moments of Mami and let's not forget Homura's memorable mahou shoujo with guns in ep 10 and her nerve breaking battle between Walpurgis. Oh let's not forget Madoka's goddess scene…..wow just wow. I also love how they used the camera angles and then focus it on the face of the character which bring us more of their emotions. Shinbou's style really fits this series though I have to admit there are some scenes where the animation was a bit lazy. An example of that was when Homura got hit by the building in ep 11, if they have done that scene right by adding more details it would have made a lot of impact. Imagine seeing how Homura got beaten up, it will definitely add to the desperation that Homura feels as her soul gem gets darker and darker.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sounds: 10/10
With Yuki Kajiura in charge of the soundtrack of course I am not disappointed. With her style that combines orchestrated songs with modern beats, it definitely fits this series specially the part where Puella Magi battle against witches. The OP song Connect by ClariS is one of my favorite songs last winter season. It might be upbeat but when you read the lyrics its really a sad song. It was honestly stuck in my head for weeks and I kept on singing:

“kawashita yakusoku wasurenai yo
me wo toji tashikameru
oshiyoseta yami
furiharatte susumu yo…”

The ED song Magia by Kalafina on the other hand is really bleak and it really gives me goosebumps every time I hear it play. It definitely fits the atmosphere of this series. I have also grown to love it and currently its my ringtone. I will definitely get a copy of this series' OST.

With the cleverly written dialogues and couple it with the superb voice acting you will find yourself drawn to the characters and their emotions. Everything the character says plays a role in the story so I suggest to always keep your eyes and ears open since nothing in this show is a waste. I really have to commend Saito Chiwa's voice acting since she could shift from being cold and emotionless to the caring and grief stricken friend effectively. I honestly didn't recognize her voice until I saw in the cast that she's the voice behind Homura. Really, this seiyuu is really talented since she voiced a wide range of characters.

Enjoyment: 10/10
Week after week, this series managed to make its audience think from speculations to what the character symbolize. You could even make an analogy that Kyuubey represents science while Mahou Shoujo represents morality. Also there’s this concept of emotion that is powerful but could also cause destruction. This series have thought me a LOT of things like read or understand a contract first before agreeing to it, to choose the right decisions, to selflessly sacrifice oneself and a whole lot more. One of the good characteristics of a masterpiece show is how it evokes the emotions of the viewers, how the viewers react and interact with the show and make the viewers think not just waiting for the plot to come to you. Honestly, I found all of that here in this series so for the very first time, I'll award a perfect score to a anime series. It has been only the 3rd time I've given a perfect score and the first two are both movies.

Oh wow, this series will be remembered in a long time since it was really engaging and the way it was executed from beginning to end is really superb. Oh Madoka Magica you have dethrone Haruhi Suzumiya as my #1 favorite anime of all time.

What in the world are you waiting for? Go watch this series if you haven't watched it yet. Re-watch it again if you've already watched it and I will promise you it will be a different ride. If you really love watching anime I suggest grab a copy now and watch it….I don't care if you don't like mahou shoujo or you don't like the character design or whatever but there are some things that you just need to watch and this series is one of those things.

Oh I would also like to thank gg subs for including the morning lesque ad and other hilarious ads, it never fails to make me laugh every time I watch it….

I’ll leave you guys with some of the memorable quotes in this series…

“When you regret the wrong decision based on misunderstanding, humans tend to hate the other party for some reasons...” –Kyuubey

“The more everyone tries to do what they think is right, the less happiness there is..” –Junko Kaname (Madoka’s mom)

“If someone appears before you promising miracles…Don’t believe him” –Homura

“I’ll live through the same events again and again. Until I can find the only way out. The way to save you from despair. If its for your sake, I don’t mind being locked in this eternal maze!” –Homura

“If it weren’t for us you’d still be living in caves, I think” –Kyuubey

"Every wish that does not fit w/in the bounds of reason gives birth to some kind of distortion" –Kyuubey

“Its alright, my wish to erase every witch….If that’s fulfilled then I have no reason to despair!” –Madoka

“Don’t forget. Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember her, you are not alone”

(And here’s me bawling my eyes out…Oh Madoka *sobs*)

Overall: 10/10 (Must See)

until then…



Or watch it here...

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