Greetings everyone, and welcome to our review! Today we will be covering the infamous magical girl anime, Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica. However, due to the nature of this show, the review will be approached slightly differently, in regards to minor SPOILERS (this is your advance warning) and all. We highly advise you watch up to and including episode 4 before reading this review.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: After experiencing a bizarre dream, Madoka Kaname, a kind 14-year-old girl, encounters a magical creature named Kyube. Madoka and her friend Sayaka Miki are offered the opportunity of gaining magical powers if they agree to make a contract with the strange little being. He will also grant them one wish, but in exchange they shall risk their lives by accepting the responsibility of fighting witches. Invisible to human eyes, witches are catalysts of despair in the areas they inhabit. An ally of Kyube, a magical girl named Mami Tomoe, befriends and encourages the two girls to accept the contract. For an unknown reason, another magical girl named Homura Akemi is determined to prevent Madoka from accepting the deal. -Anime News Network
This anime definitely deviates from the typical magical girl anime formula. The show carries with it a much darker tone than most magical girl anime, and it does an excellent job of surprising people, since the initial presentation of the show is very lighthearted. Another, slightly under looked, way the series differentiates itself is the story focuses on the main character Madoka working up to becoming a magical girl, instead of the majority of the story taking after she becomes a magical girl. There are still plenty of classic magical girls to satisfy, but the approach of the focus is rather different. However, the show does rely heavily on rapid moments of exposition and surprise to further the plot, which leaves the pacing feeling uneven, and gets a little old by the end of the series. The show does a fantastic job of building tension and conflict throughout the run time, but the success of this leaves the show with too little time to tie everything together. This results in the solution being a “cure-all” type of ending, where all conflicts are solved by a single grand event. This leaves the ending feeling very convenient and can be a disappointment for some viewers.
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica benefits greatly from a smaller cast of characters, with each one receiving ample growth and influence on the plot that they do not feel unnecessary. The suffering the characters endure and especially Madoka’s growth throughout the story feel extremely realistic. This makes the characters easy to identify with, whether male or female (as the primary cast is female). Nonetheless, you will feel much pity for at least one character.
The show makes a lot of contrasts, both against the typical magical girl anime and within itself. The animation is the most clear example of this. Now, the initial animation is a little on the simpler side, and can be a turn off to some (it was for me initially). However, continuing with the show, the animation shifts dramatically between the normal world and the worlds the witches create, and the reason for the “simple” animation becomes obvious. Just note that the animation for this show is not typical for most anime today, and can seem a bit crude at first.
The soundtrack continues to show the contrasts, including between the witch and real worlds. I am a fan of ominous and heavy soundtracks, and Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica delivers with choir influenced pieces in the witch world. The clearest contrast is the endings. The first ending is very typical of a magical girl anime, being lighthearted and airy, but once the show takes on its darker hues, the closing changes quickly to a more ominous song with matching visuals.
Themes for this show are more than just friendship and responsibility, as would be, again, typical of a magical girl anime. The primary theme is sacrifice, and is expressed in a number of ways. An easy example is the girls sacrificing their freedom and safety in exchange for one wish, though this is not sacrifice in the truest sense. The stronger example is when some girls make a wish that does not necessarily benefit them, with Madoka being the obvious one to point to. The show also deals with desire, and how letting desire consume you can lead to despair. This happens with Sayaka, though in what manner I will not reveal.
Final Score: 9.2/10
Final Grade: A
Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica was an amazing anime. If you can make it through the first 3 episodes, you will see just awesome it is. If you don’t like dark anime than this is not for you. The characters in this anime are really good. The only character that I have a problem with is Sayaka. She was always fighting the other characters and is super cocky, but that does mean she is a bad character I just did not like her. This anime also put the characters in tough challenging situations that really make you think about what you would do. The only part of this anime that I can stand is the ending. I won’t say to much about it, but it was just not what I hoped for. Other than that and the beginning, it is a great anime. Out of 10 I would give it a 9. I would recommend this anime to anyone who likes dark shows and enjoys characters facing moral dilemmas. – B-Ro
I sincerely hope you minded that disclaimer. It’s definitely best to go into Madoka Magica with as little background knowledge as possible. Ahhhh Madoka Magica… What an experience. I wasn’t very impressed by this show at first, thinking it was kind of cheesy. Magical girls fighting witches, a cat thing that supplies wishes, that overly cutesy sugar coated first closer. Let me say that if they ended up having that cake Mami promised, this show would’ve ranked much lower on my scale. I did find the beginning of the show cute, but there wasn’t much else to it. The only real thing that had me interested from the start was the first witch realm. The design was unique, a bit unsettling, and gave me this feeling that there is more to the anime. I was also interested to learn more about Homura’s character. Then, of course, the famous twist happened. Poor Mami…. I was in extreme shock and disbelief at this scene. From then on, the show got more and more interesting, exploring darker and darker ideas, and I loved almost every second of it. A lot of its themes really make you think about what’s happening rather than just mindlessly watching. Sure, you could say that the show relies way too much on that twist, and I can see where you’re coming from. However, Madoka Magica has an amazing story beyond the twist. Also, by making the first few episodes so cutesy, you feel the emotions of the show that much more as it goes on. You realize that these girls, now seemingly trapped in this hopeless situation, were not long ago just ordinary school girls. I really felt for all of these characters. The aforementioned Homura’s story turns out to be very tragic, yet beautiful, and it again turns the plot on its head (and no, that wasn’t intentional… poor Mami…..). Kyoko’s backstory is also quite sad, but interesting. One minor character I ended up liking a lot was Madoka’s mother and her words of wisdom. Her presence further supported the idea that Madoka was just a normal schoolgirl before all of this happened, increasing the tragedy of it all. Of course, Madoka and Sayaka also develop quite well, and you really feel for both of them in their emotional struggles. I know I briefly talked about the first closer being too cutesy (though it definitely helped with the show’s rouse), but I have to give some serious props to the soundtrack as a whole. This is an amazing 10/10 soundtrack!!! It’s extremely unique, with choirs and medieval music influenced tracks. It does an amazing job at communicating the feelings of the show (it’s also a great listen on its own), and combined with the unique visuals in the witch domains, makes for a truly unforgettable experience. The whole show, in fact, has a unique and awesome visual aesthetic. Now for the ending, which to me was good and not so good. I’m torn about how Walpurgisnacht is presented (this isn’t really a spoiler). I kind of wish they went into its backstory more, yet the mystery of it helped me feel the hopelessness the characters were feeling. The ending gets pretty grand in scale. Perhaps a little too grand for my tastes though, and it sort of makes me question the emotions I should be feeling about certain things (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers). It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It is still extremely symbolic, beautiful, and makes one think. I just had trouble feeling the intended emotions when so many large scale things were happening at once. In conclusion, Madoka Magica may be known for that twist, but it is an incredible show beyond that. It tells a very interesting, thought provoking, and artistic story that demands a watch. Simply unforgettable.
Final Comments: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica thrives on the contrasts that it creates within itself and between other magical girl anime. However, an over reliance certain on plot elements takes away from the overall show experience.
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