Madoka Magica Mega Review

The Series
Madoka Magica is a magical girl series in the loosest sense of the term. Rather, it’s a deconstruction of the magical girl genre. It is a dark, adult-themed drama with despair, loss, and consequences. While most magical girl series are about goodness and purity which allow the girl to save the world, Madoka Magica eschews all of the usual trappings. It still has girls with powers and cute costumes, but nearly everything else is different.
Madoka Magica is Faustian in a sense. The girls must make a deal with Kyubey, essentially selling their souls, in order to gain their powers and make their wish come true. Unfortunately, Kyubey doesn’t give them all the necessary information: like their bodies are now robotic husks with their souls trapped inside gems, or the fact that they will all inevitably turn into witches at some point. Kyubey, despite being an emotionless, almost neutral third party, turns into a great villain for the series. The deeper the show goes, the more you realize he is holding back. And it’s not that he’s holding back for secondary gain, no, he just doesn’t give out the information if it isn’t asked directly. It’s kind of like dealing with an Autistic person or something.
Plenty of girls jump aboard the magical girl train like Sayaka, Mami, and Kyoko. They fight witches in thoroughly exciting action sequences. Fortunately, there is plenty of action in the series. Almost every single episode has something going on. And as the series progresses, the stakes of the action increases. A sense of doom, which was subtle in the beginning, grows ever larger as the series progresses. They manage to raise the stakes time and time again, and do it in a way that feels completely natural given the ground-rules the series has set.

I had to watch the series twice to really appreciate it. The first time through, like everyone, I thought Madoka was a spineless twerp, and Homura was a total bitch. Of course, after you watch episode 10, everything you thought you knew was turned on its head, and your entire perception of the series changes. You realize that the true hero of the series is actually Homura. She has tried countless times to rescue Madoka, always failing, but never giving up. You feel her pain, her struggle against futility. She becomes an incredibly sympathetic character. The viewer’s perception of her changes from villain to hero in the span of 20 minutes, in one of the most brilliantly written single episodes of anime ever created.
The second time you watch the series, you can see the foreshadowing. You understand why Homura is desperate to keep Madoka away from Kyubey. On the first watch, she seems to do it because she’s the villain, on the second watch you understand that its because she’s become a tragic hero. Madoka becomes far less annoying the second time around. She is no longer wishy-washy, you no longer just wait for her to become a magical girl already, no, you realize that she is grappling with a life threatening decision, and only makes her decision under the most dire circumstances.
Madoka Magica may feature pre-teen girls, but it has no moe, no fanservice, and no annoying, pointless conversations about how to eat certain types of food. In fact, the choice to utilize pre-teen girls, which normally is an annoyance in anime, makes perfect sense within the confines of the series. Kyubey states that magical powers stem from inherent emotional capacity, and pre-teen girls are the best choice to unleash magical powers because of rampant, erratic emotions caused by their raging hormones. It’s kind of a LOL explanation, but it makes sense given the rules of their universe. It’s absolutely brilliant how it is written.
This series is flawless. It is one of the very best anime I’ve ever seen. It certainly is in the running for one of the best of the decade. This is a series every anime fan should watch. It has complex characters, dark themes, and clever writing. It rarely has a dull moment. This show features everything great about anime.
Verdict: Awesome
Movie 1: Beginnings
Movie 1 is a compressed version of what occured in the first eight episodes of the series. It’s a good digest version, I suppose. Instead of watching all eight episodes, you see everything distilled into 2 and 1/2 hours. Surprisingly, the story remains fairly well intact. All of the major plot points are there, and everything is laid out so there are no WTF moments, and nothing comes completely out of left field. What is dropped, however, is a large portion of character development. The girls seem to race from fight to fight with little room to breathe in between. The only character who really gets any development in this movie is Sayaka. Madoka, Mami, Kyoko, and Homura are not explored. They seem more like generic, one-dimensional characters, which is a shame, because in the series, nearly everyone is pretty well developed with the exception of Mami. While I wouldn’t recommend this over the series, it is a good enough way to go through all the major plot points if you have a limited amount of time.
Verdict: Average
Movie 2: Eternal
Movie 2 fared better than Movie 1 did. Instead of squeezing eight episodes in, it explores the finale four episodes. This give it a lot more breathing room. This is great, because the final four episodes are the series’ best. Homura’s story is fully explored, allowing the viewers to feel all the anguish that she felt on her journey through time. She once again becomes the main character, tragically trying to save her best friend from a fate worse than death. The only complaint I really have is that this movie offers nothing new. It’s literally just the last four episodes strung together without the opening and closing animations, and a few extra pieces of animation thrown in here and there. The storytelling here is incredible, but I still can’t recommend it over the series.
Verdict: Good
Movie 3: Rebellion
Movie 3 is a classic example of going back to the well too many times. The creators of Madoka Magica had a bonafide hit on their hands, so they did what any studio does, make sequels. Movie 3 takes off where the series ended, continuing the story of the magical girls. The series had an intriguing ending. Although Madoka’s wish was to erase all witches, she didn’t undo the endless cycle of magic and betrayals between the girls and Kyubey. In fact, all that changed was they fight wraiths instead of witches. It posed a lot of fascinating questions, several of which I wanted answers to. Well, nope, fuck all that, they didn’t address any of those things.
The first half hour is completely wasted. All the magical girls work together in glorious harmony (which they could never do in the series due to conflicts in personality), have lengthy transformations, and play cutesy food-related games. It’s everything I fucking hate. They did this as a sort of wish-fulfillment, to see what the girls would look like in a traditional magical girl series. Well, nobody is interested in that shit. They could just watch every other traditional magical girl show. Madoka Magica is about the deconstruction of the genre, and when they are showing the tradition, it is nothing more than wasted time.
After that, the story starts chugging along. Homura realizes something is wrong, and after some investigation, she learned she’s in some kind of Matrix-like fantasy world. It turns out Kyubey and his fellow incubators have trapped her in suspended animation, blocking her off from the rules of the universe (YEAH LOL OK WHATEVER LOL DERP), which negated the new universe rules Madoka created, and put her back in the rules of the old universe, effectively transforming her into a witch and not allowing Madoka to rescue her. This directly contradicts what Kyubey says in the final episode of the series, that they have no idea why magical girls disappear, and these kinds of things surpass even their own powers. It’s moronic. Instead of giving us the new villains, the wraiths, we see the same old shit over again. They couldn’t come up with anything new.
There’s also a new magical girl character who barely has any screen time, and is completely pointless. I don’t even remember her name.
The ending, however, is probably the most infuriating part of the movie. In the end, Homura makes a decision that turns everything on its head once again. The decision is made out of selfishness. This completely contradicts who Homura is. The entire fucking series was about her selflessness, how she sacrificed herself to save her friend. In the movie, she says “fuck all that noise” and decides to do everything for herself. There’s absolutely no reason why this should change, except the fact that the writers wanted to be vindictive.
The third movie is an exercise is pointlessness. It ruins the good will created by the series, and should be avoided at all costs. It does not continue the story of Madoka Magica, it just fucks it up. Watch the series, please, but skip this horrible movie.
Verdict: Shitty

5 Responses to “Madoka Magica Mega Review”

  1. 1 The Otaku Judge
    May 4, 2015 at 12:45 am

    I agree with you opinion of movie 3. Watch the series and stop there. If you open the Pandora’s Box that is movie 3 it will ruin your opinion of the franchise. The writer has even admitted that the studio coerced him to go for that out of character twist. They just want to make more money so they left things open for more movies/shows.

  2. 3 lokifire
    May 10, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Based on your recommendation, I binged on this series this week. My daughter caught me watching something with magical girls, so she insisted on joining in. Starting in episode 10, we cried and cried and cried.
    And cried.
    This was one of the best anime I’ve ever seen, and I kind of hate you for making me aware of it.
    (I’m going to go cry some more now.)

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May 2015


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