Sunday, May 26, 2013

Madoka Magica and Why it Rocks ~ by me :3

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen.

So last week I mentioned throwback posts about older shows that warrant a good watch, and since I didn't happen upon anything new this weekend, I figured this would be the first of those.


During the Gargantia portion of last week's post, I mentioned a show called Puella Magi Madoka Magica and said something along the lines that it was up there with Freddie Mercury's mustache as one of history's greatest artistic triumphs.  Obviously I didn't say that verbatim, but you get the idea.

Madoka Magica, in my opinion, is one of the most influential series I've seen in a long time, and as long as you haven't been living in a colony of hipsters for the past three years, you've probably heard something similar.  So if you were reading last week and was wondering "Should I be impressed by this writer person?"

The short answer is "yes".  The long answer is "yes, and let me tell you why".

So, Madoka Magica is what is known as a magical girl show, a term most readily associated with Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.  True to form, Madoka Magica has a cute animal helper, a couple transformation sequences, an entirely female cast (kind of?), and evil villains to fight.  However, somewhere along the way, somebody said "You know what I like is that Evangelion," (I'm gonna talk about this show a lot.  Do yourself a favor and watch it if you haven't).  And that's when all hell broke loose.  What I'm trying to say is that this show gets real dark, real quick.

But I digress.

The general gist of Madoka Magica is that there's a girl named - you guessed it - Madoka, who is hanging with her friends one day when she hears a voice in her head calling for her help.  So she and her friend Sayaka follow the voice and finds this hurt little...thing in what I can only describe as abandoned service tunnels.  It is here that they meet a mysterious girl who warns Madoka to stay away from the creature and disappears into the darkness.  Then they get attacked by some truly bizarre and disturbing creatures but are saved by another mysterious girl, this one with a sunnier personality, significantly more blunderbusses and a bitchin' hat.  Her name is Mami and she introduces Madoka and Sayaka to the world of magical girls.

The deal works thus: Kyubey, the creature Madoka discovered, will grant any one wish in exchange for a life pledged to fighting Witches, evil creatures born from dark thoughts that lurk in the dark places of the world, cursing any who wander into their realm to death (usually suicide).  And as it happens, Madoka and Sayaka have a great deal of potential, or so Kyubey reports.

The pair go with Mami on a few Witch-hunts as they weigh their decision.  However, things take a turn for the worst as one such hunt goes horribly wrong.  And let me just say, it gets worse from there.

Which is not to say that the show is bad, just soul-crushing, dark, and really not what you'd expect out of a magical-girl show, and the best part is that it has a pretty satisfying ending, as I am not the biggest fan of shows that end badly.  Where's the fun in that?

The show is masterfully written, has interesting and tragic characters, a unique and stylized art style (which I, personally, enjoyed as a sort of visual foil for how dark the tone is), and has a rewarding end.  The show came out in 2011 with a 12 episode run and is available in English on Blu-ray and DVD.  I would highly recommend this show as I think it is a truly great work, and a marvelous example of how anime can carry complex messages and themes in the same way other artistic media can.

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