Monday, June 24, 2013

Anime Review: Madoka Magica

MADOKA MAGICA: This is not your typical Mahou Shoujo anime

            For obvious reasons, Mahou Shoujo has not been one of my favourite anime sub-genres. I find it to be too girly for my taste. But I happen to discover and watch Madoka Magica, and my views towards this genre have turned abruptly.

            The series is about Madoka Kaname, a typical middle schooler. She has a typical family and a typical group of friends – that is until she meets a girl and a catlike creature in her dream. It turns out that they are not just dreams. The girl becomes a transfer student, and the catlike creature asks Madoka to be a magical girl. From there, Madoka’s life becomes a magical adventure, and along the way, she discovers that being a magical girl is not as fun as it seems to be. But it’s too late for her to back out.

            At first, the show appears to be a typical Mahou Shoujo anime. It establishes the typical feminine lifestyles of the characters, and little development is made in the main plot just to give focus on the exposition. But everything changes when the girls are asked to be magical girls, to fight evil in exchange of a wish -- a Faustian pact.

What makes this really interesting is how the girls question themselves about the wish that would be worth the sacrifice. It implores a question that is rather mature. This is an interesting question to tackle because it can be used to explore dark themes that portray the negative consequences of wishes and desires -- and, surely enough, the show does just this.

The show features depression, isolation, and loneliness, as subjects to reflect this theme. These elements have contradicted the cutesy drawing and animation style, which then adds to the unique flavour Madoka Magica offers.

The characters are also very interesting. All of the magical girls are worthy of character analysis. The fact that each of them has her own motivations and beliefs on transforming into a magical girl is enough proof of that. The girls also blend well together. Their personalities are often contradicting. And when you have contradicting personalities, it always results to interesting character interactions and conflicts.

As for the music, it is nothing but impressive. We’re talking about Yuki Kajiura after all. Her combinations of choir, violin, flute, guitar, and other instruments give Madoka Magica a magical, tragic, and mysterious impression. It is almost a miracle that a particular soundtrack could pull off such contradicting impressions.

Overall, Madoka Magica is an amazing anime. What makes it so is the deep messages that it’s trying to convey, and how these messages are translated into emotional scenarios that will surely make you feel cathartic and tragic at the same time.

Crossover fan art
If I would compare it to another anime, that is to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Madoka Magica is to Shoujo what Neon Genesis Evangelion is to Mecha -- a deconstruction of their specified genre; and it is one that is done well; it is one that has created a ripple in the anime scene. And if Neon Genesis Evangelion is considered a classic already, I assure you, Madoka Magica will gain its rightful place soon enough.


  1. Now that I am close to finishing Fate/Zero (I will comment with my thoughts after I finish it), I have been looking for another anime to start and I was considering watching Madoka Magica since you liked it a lot. Do you have any specific recommendations?


    1. Madoka Magica revolves around an idea that is somewhat similar to Fullmetal Alchemist -- in order to gain something, you have to lose something of equivalent value in return. The theme has been portrayed really well.

      But Madoka Magica is not perfect. It tends to be disengaging for some viewers, because of the slow start (it doesn't really take off until episode 3) and because the characters could be 'relatable' or 'unrelatable' depending on the viewer (for me they are very relatable, but I know some that felt disconnected to the characters).

      I recommend anything by Gen Urobuchi. Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica, Requiem for the Phantom, among others.

  2. Wow, that was an amazing show. I finished it yesterday and I have to say that the Madoka Magica completely lived up to the hype. *Spoilers* When Mami died, the show really took off and I invested in the story for the rest of the show. The time-travel aspect with Homura was an excellent twist, and since I like anything time-travel related, I really liked where the story went in that aspect.
    My only very minor problem with the show is that Homura's friendship with Madoka in the first timeline was not really shown as much as it should have been, but other than that, I can't say much negative about it.

    At first when Madoka made her final wish and basically rewrote time and space I was thinking it was going to turn into a incoherent mess like End of Evangelion, but I really liked how the series ended.

    Thanks for recommending it! I think it is in my Top 10 Anime now.


    1. Right. That ending is just amazing, just like how Code Geass ending is. There is something in them that is very tragic but very cathartic at the same time. Like I mentioned in a comment to you before, Madoka Magica is, for me, one of those stories that can actually change a person. It's one of my all-time favorites, and I'm glad you like it too!