Monday, February 20, 2012

The Feb 2012 Kolkata Anime Club Meet

Date: 19th Feb 2012.
Location; Reetam's House, Garia.

The 10th meet was special for me (Reetam) in many ways. It would be the first meet I would be attending (and hosting) since the 2nd meet just over a year back. In the duration of one year, a lot had changed in KAC, but I was looking forward to an awesome anime meet as usual, hyped up as I was at all the amazing meets that had been happening at KAC over the past few months....

I arrived in Kolkata at the crack of dawn that morning, and got around to cleaning my flat right after I reached home. By 10, I had managed to get it to a presentable condition, the posters put back up, the rooms cleaned and all preparations made for an otaku onslaught (yes, I am a one man army). The first person to arrive was the surprise package Aesha, who had not told anyone that she would be coming (... On hindsight, she probably came hoping to break in and steal all my anime, not knowing that I would be home by then). While she went about ransacking my anime collection, I ran out to buy more tape (some of my posters were falling off) and to receive ADG and Sayanee. They reached my place soon enough and went around making the questions for the Anime quiz that was to be held later on.

Before the Otaku onslaught proper 

The KAC commemorative poster

The official timing of afternoon getting close by, people started arriving one by one. There was Rhea san attending her first meet, the Mullick trio without whom every meet seems incomplete, Chayan (who was meeting me for the 2nd time) and Hindol (meeting me for the first time). There was also Bibhas and his friend Pooja. Last but definitely not the least, there was another surprise package, Promit aka Hizibizi who unexpectedly turned up (and thus 2 of the 3 people I had really wanted to meet were present at the meet).
The awesome dudes of KAC, (from left) Chayan, Bibhas, ADG, Hindol, Reetam and Pratyay

All the anime talk for the past hour or so had made us all very hungry (no surprises there... refer to previous meets to see a pattern emerging here), and we promptly ordered a ton of food, which luckily arrived before we turned into a bunch of famished cannibals. The girls did a brilliant job of taking over the kitchen and serving everybody, and for the next half hour, we ate and we talked more anime. And ate some more and talked some more anime.

Appetite sated, we then decided that we shall not indulge in much strenuous activity for quite sometime, and instead relaxed and found ourselves spots to enjoy the anime screening that I had meticulously planned out.

During the screening, Part I

First up was Kakurenbo, a suspense thriller that saw the audience totally silent for 30 minutes. Even on a hot afternoon with the sun shining brightly outside, the audience was spellbound and a bit creeped out too...
Kakurenbo was followed by Genius Party: Baby Blue, a 15 min slice of life that I had watched for the first time only the previous night and couldn't wait to share with the rest of the KAC members. Hizibizi left soon afterwards, and after a series of teary goodbyes to KACs resident perv, we returned to our screenings. The last anime to be screened was a classic comedy short movie, Memories: Stink Bomb, which had the audience in splits for the full hour that it ran for.

During the screening, Part II

Dusk was approaching by the time we were done with the screenings, and we felt it was time to hold the Anime Quiz. ADG and Sayanee were the quizmasters (aided by Aesha), and it consisted of well crafted rounds that everyone thoroughly enjoyed. The quiz was a loud and boisterous affair, but at the end Aditi and I came out jointly victorious, while Chayan, Rhea and Hindol were runners up. We were all given awesome posters as prizes (mine is up on my wall.... people attending meets in the future do check them out!).

Winners of the quiz

....and the runners up

The official activities over, we moved on to the compulsory coda of our meets, the photosession which was another mad and boisterous affair. It was already dark by then and we decided to end the meet then and there. It was definitely the best meet I had attended so far. Being able to organise it properly really made a difference. Good food, good anime, and of course, so many people turning up... all that made this meet really awesome!

Customary photo session in front of the Anime wall

Minutes from the meet:
  • List of attendees - Reetam, Nia, ADG, Sayanee, Aesha, Chayan, Hindol, Rhea, Aditi, Ayanti, Pratyay, Bibhas, Pooja and Promit.
  • Nia, along with the other admins, got me a commemorative KAC poster (which I proudly display on the wall, right beside the poster I won for the quiz.)
  • The guys were surprised at how much the girls were capable of eating.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica - Review

Title: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica/Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Episode Count: 12

"Don't judge a book by its cover.." - Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica profoundly stands up for this statement. At first glance it seems like a cute comedy with moe girls & a typical magical adventure, but one needs to watch the entire show to understand what this anime is actually about!
For those  who are confused or curious whether to watch it or not, this trailer might help a bit -


In the Madoka Magica universe, strange creatures exist who grant one particular wish to a chosen girl. In return the girl must make a contract of becoming a magical girl (mahou shoujo) & fight witches who cause suffering such as murders or suicides, in short - any kind of negativity.

In the city of Mitakihara, two schoolgirls, Madoka Kaname & Sayaka Miki are approached by such a creature named Kyubey. But a classmate of theirs' named Homura Akemi keeps preventing Madoka from communicating with Kyubey. On the other hand, Kyubey keeps trying to convince Madoka that she can become the most powerful mahou shoujo in history. Following various circumstances, Madoka & Sayaka meet Mami Tomoe who is already in a contract with Kyubey. She teaches them the aspects of being a mahou shoujo. Consequently, Sayaka becomes a mahou shoujo and faces competition from Kyoko. As the plot progresses the story of Homura unfolds. Meanwhile, the reason behind the creation of mahou shoujo, magical creatures and how the balance of the universe is related is revealed leading up to a dramatic climax which is sure to surprise you.

Though the series consists of only 12 episodes, the characters go through an enormous amount of change, especially the protagonists. Homura’s backstory is also brilliantly characterized.  Madoka – as the main protagonist, is lovable and altruistic. Kyoko, originally self-centered, is the enigma of the show. Viewers can sympathize with Mami when she explains the burdens that one has to bear when they become a mahou shoujo. Kyubey is another interesting aspect of the series. The supporting cast, such as Madoka’s mother Junko Kaname, Sayaka’s friend & love interest - Tatsuya Kaname & others are well portrayed.  The interaction between the characters & some of the dialogues are quite moving.

Some Quotes from the series:
"We're fighting for our own wishes. It's normal not to get noticed or remembered." -Homura
 "In our culture, the phenomenon called emotion is only a mental disorder" -Kyubey
"It sucks, but you can't reach a happy ending just by doing what's right all the time. Actually, the more people get stubborn and insist they're in the right, the further away happiness gets." -Kanami Junko
"Don't forget. Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember her, you are not alone." - Epilogue
Each anime production company usually has its own unique style of art. Madoka Magica is produced by SHAFT which previously made commendable series like ‘Bakemonogatari’, ‘Arakawa Under The Bridge’ etc. The factor which stands out the most among the unique art style of Madoka is the characters appearing as moe, cute; as if they are hand drawn & pencil-shaded while the background looks maturely animated. Another interesting phenomena is, when the mahou shoujos enter the inner world of the witches to fight them, the background completely changes & looks abstract! Also, when the characters are feeling a certain emotion i.e. fear or anger, the background particularly concentrates on one certain colour. Thus, the all-over animation is quite excellent.

Sound & Music:
When Yuki Kaijura (Kara no Kyoukai, Tsubasa Chronicles) is the music director of an anime it is evidently phenomenal! Background music is aptly present during almost every sequence & gives a unique feel to every situation. The OSTs are divided into 3 volumes & my personal favourite will be the theme of Kyubey.The OP theme is “Connect” by ClariS and ED is “Magia” by Kalafina. The OP and ED contrast sharply as the OP is pleasant and catchy whereas the ED has underlying dark tones.

This has to be one of the most intriguing short anime productions I’ve watched so far. Another interesting aspect of Madoka Magica is probably its antagonist(s) who keep you guessing their ulterior motives. The series contradicts the ‘blessed magical girl’ trope by deconstructing the concept and not shying away from the despair and anguish in the life of a mahou shoujo However, the unpredictable ending of Madoka Magica generously makes up for what seems to be a first a typical moe production. This dark masterpiece of Urobuchi Gen even with just 12 episodes, will keep you hooked to the plot, constantly reinventing itself. Overall, a captivating series which definitely deserves to be on the recommendation list.

Overall Rating: