Title: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica
Genre: Magic, Psychological, Thriller
Summary: After experiencing a bizarre dream, Madoka Kaname, a kind 14-year old girl, encounters a magical creature named Kyube. Madoka and her friend Sayaka Miki are offered the opportunity of gaining magical powers if they agree to make a contract with the strange little being. He will also grant them one wish, but in exchange they shall risk their lives by accepting the responsibility of fighting witches. Invisible to human eyes, witches are catalysts of despair in the areas they inhabit. An ally of Kyube, a magical girl named Mami Tomoe, befriends and encourages the two girls to accept the contract. For an unknown reason, another magical girl named Homura Akemi is determined to prevent Madoka from accepting the deal.
Review: Once in while there is a season that shines bright because of the work of a brilliant anime. A season that holds, despite all its trouble, a torch of victory, and that torch is called Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. This anime has easily reached my top five favorites list for his breathtaking visuals, hardcore storyline, and exciting characters. It also had one of the best soundtracks for an action anime. With a hopeful yet dark themed OP and ED the mood was captured perfectly. Before I drool over my keyboard in remembrance of the epicosity of this anime I should probably get on with the review.
SHAFT has done it again. It has taken me back, awed me with visual pleasure as I sat on my chair watching the most magnificent scenes and fights flashing on the screen. I could praise this artwork all day. After Bakemonogatari, I became a huge fan of constant angle changes. For some reason the effects of seeing the characters from different angles brought out more than I could have hoped. Many of the scenes had contrasting light and dark colors, almost as though the shadows were splitting the faces in half. Before things even go started I could feel that not everyone was who they seemed. The darkness of becoming a Magic Girl was very well expressed through the art. What made this anime so unique was the ability to bring multiple art style together and make it work. When the girls were thrown into a Witch’s dimension it was a whole new style. The paper cutout look made the entire world seem chaotic and crazy. Small balls of cotton wearing mustaches walking on their barbed legs, or mini guns disguised as candy creatures made the place seem like something out of a twisted child’s imagination. The dramatic change in art some how worked very well with the hand drawn anime style girls. I still cannot grasp how this anime took artwork to the next level after I thought I had seen the best of the best. I actually had to restrict myself from having the screencaps become an hour long slideshow of the final seven episodes of the series. There are absolutely no complaints on my end.
Thankfully Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica excelled in the most important subject of all: story. To me story is a big part of an anime. Visual beauties and solid sound just don’t cut it. I was very surprised after watching the preview and reading the original summary back when the anime was first released. After two episodes, I felt that I had the anime all planned out. I went back to the original belief that magic girl anime are light hearted and loving. The cliché endings of love conquers all, or just believing in yourself will bring you happiness was no where to be seen, however. I was blown away by the pure brilliance of Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica’s storyline. The plot was rich and had a strong impact. It was as though the creators wanted to put a new spin on Magic Girls. Anyone who has seen this anime can tell you that it is dark and depressing. It seems as though the protectors of good, the army against evil, the angels of battle, where nothing more than pawns. The lives of these girls were torn away from them in the most horrid way possible. The good intentions of these girls quickly backfires on them and their souls become twisted and corrupt. This dark tale of five young girls will take you on a rollercoaster of thrills and terror.
I’m astonished how much detail the anime went into in such a short period of time. I cannot tell you how much this anime brought me to the edge of all my senses. My heart was pounding constantly through every episode. The show takes you to the deepest depths of the human mind. I began to questions what I found most important in my life. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the essentials of food, water, and shelter that I should be thankful for, or the little things in life like seeing a rainbow after the storm. It made every little detail of our daily lives seem significant. The entire plot sets you in the ideology of balance.
“For every action, there must be an opposite and equal reaction”.
This screams the message trying to be portrayed in the anime. By taking you down the path of the various girls and their pasts, it was easy to get attached. I found myself feeling the pain of every girl who had to go through such devastation. I struggled to keep my composure as the battles grew more and more fierce. I want to believe that this anime was more than a few hours of entertainment. It seemed as though every episode was easily quotable, and I don’t mean in reference to the anime. Even the tricky little rat, Kyube, had some very good points (as much as I hate to admit it) about human psychology. The way Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica tied together reality and fantasy is a feat on its own. Attempts to find plot holes were foiled. The anime was solid the whole way through. With a great hook, story development, and jaw-dropping climax this is easily shaping up to be one of the greatest anime of all time.
The final area of question: the soundtrack. I probably don’t need to say this, but the soundtrack is another must listen. The opening and ending themes matched the anime perfectly. The opening’s hopeful upbeat sound mixed with dark lyrics tells you exactly what the anime is going to be like. After leaving you with heart shattering episodes, the anime finishes off with powerful drums and haunting sound. It wasn’t just the opening and ending that deserve credit wither. The celtic music mixed with the ambience of clock gears turning gave another chill down my spine. I don’t know if the sounds just came naturally to the producers, but it sure feels like they spent hours perfecting every little detail. I can easily see myself listening to the OST on repeat for at least a week.
Final statements: I know this review may seem short, or possibly incomplete, but I just didn’t want to spoil anything about this anime because it is easily a must see. I do feel bad that I didn’t basically make a ten page paper on why this is a #1 priority watch, but I am a complete loss for words. I could not find the words needed to express how I felt about this anime in the English dictionary. I can still see the scenes playing through my mind and thinking about the burning questions I have about the human thought process.