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: