Now when it comes to Magical Girl Animes (Or Mahou Shoujo if you want to be precise), a typical Anime fandom would describe them as girls transform with their magical powers to stop the forces of evil from taking over the world. But when Puella Magi Madoka Magica enters the fray into the Magical Girl realm, don’t expect this Anime to be all unicorns, glitter and rainbows. Be prepared for a thrilling roller-coaster ride that no Magical Girl Animes will ever execute.
The story follows the titular character, Madoka Kaname, an eighth grader living a happy everyday life. (Sounds like typical slice of life to me.) Well, out of nowhere, Madoka encountered Homura Akemi, a new transfer student, who is quite mysterious in her personality and…she warned Madoka about a bad omen that could change her life, just like when Madoka encountered her in the very beginning of the Anime, in her nightmare. Then, Witches started to strike from another dimension with Grief Seeds starting to envelop darkness. When Madoka and her friend, Miki Sayaka, have no hope of defeating the Witches, all of sudden, a mysterious creature named Kyuubey appeared and asked them if they want their dreams or hopes to be fulfilled, they must sign a contract to become a Magical Girl. And so, Madoka’s life changed forever when she encountered the dark secrets beneath Homura, Kyuubey and the contract.
And let me tell you, if you expect the typical ordinary Magical Girl Anime plot that most Anime fans would recognize, you have to re-think twice. At least you won’t expect, as if you know what happens next, director Gen Urobuchi, famously known as ‘The Butcher’ for his acclaimed plot twists #OutOfNowhere, decided throw you with twists that you’ll never expect to happen. I recommend if you’re not into magical girls and this Anime felt like a bland formula other Mahou Shoujo Animes do, wait until the 3rd Episode and you’ll be blown away.
Not only that, what makes Madoka Magica so special is that despite only 12 episodes, the flow of the story felt smooth with the audiences introduce to a well-crafted and executed series of events that will reveal important points later on. The production team executed that so well, it has left audiences to the edge of their seats. Every character has their moment of shine. Plus, the usual cliffhangers of this Anime do not really cringe audiences out, instead, made audiences anticipating the next episode even more. There’s also the psychological aspect which in case, related to human beings and how dreams shape up humanity.
Art and Animation
When it comes to top-notch Animation, SHAFT delivered in all cylinders, especially in Madoka. SHAFT has done something daring, risky, unique and innovative that only selected Animes have seen. They use the futuristic approach in the architectural designs during normal world scenes. SHAFT’s dedicated Animation team has put their tremendous effort to draw beautiful top-notch Animation with how detailed the real world is in the Anime.
But that’s not the only spectacle to the audiences’ eyes when they see this Anime. Wait when it shifts to the Witches’ Dimension, that’s where the artistic quality stands out. This Anime in particular implements the most bizarre, out of this world, chaotic and grotesque kind of scenery of a dimension. From papier mache monsters to creepy animatronics to drawings which looks like something you see in horror movies, plus how the Animators created things from, well, real world objects to lift up the chaos in the Witches’ Dimension. These elements clearly treat their purpose well, which is to uncover the witches’ past before consumed by despair. Overall, the background art, the Animation, all were quite impressive and live up to the amazing reputation of the studio itself. The dark tone that is quite prevalent was executed with precision and thus This Anime proves that a studio can turn a dull and mundane Anime genre into a gem of a wonder!
As I mentioned, the characters of Madoka Magica have their moment to shine. Kaname Madoka, the main character, is considered a well-executed heroine as her struggles in coping with granting wishes as well as her measure to counter that was well portrayed. Madoka sure looks cute, even sounds cute too (Thanks to Aoi Yuuki,of course) but beneath it lies her conflict to handle her decision to become a Magical Girl to make her dream a reality and that made Madoka a great main heroine.
The other main character that gets all of the focus in this Anime is Homura Akemi. At first, she looks like a typical anti-hero with her angst and mysterious character, but just like Madoka, her descent to what she have become up to the very end is well told. Mami Tomoe is quite a graceful, confident Magical Girl who always cares towards her friends well. Miki Sayaka, meanwhile, had a really wretched and tragic past that made me care even more towards her. And then there’s Kyouko Sakura, which at first, she’s just a prick, eating a Pocky, being an arse. However, the further I saw this Anime, the more that I understand…how her past, just like Sayaka’s, justified her actions. And let’s not forget the cute but evil ‘son of a gun’, Kyuubey. It might look cute but don’t judge the book by its cover because the more you understand about Kyuubey’s connection with the witches, the Soul Gems and such, the more you understood that this familiar, might not be what you expected.
And even the minor characters play their parts in connecting with the situation that the main girls experienced throughout this Anime, making this Anime a well-developed and cohesive character-driven experience you satisfy with.
Another reason why this Anime is critically-aclaimed by Anime fans worldwide is how awesome the soundtracks are. With the hands of the prolific Yuki Kaijura, she has composed such beautiful tunes that match the medieval vibe that is connected to the chaos of the other dimension, most prevailently seen in this Anime. Kinda imagine like Fate/Stay Night or Fate/Zero combos with Magical Girl, which is odd at first glance but it worked. The opening and ending themes for this Anime also deliver quite exceptionally. While Claris’s ‘Connect’ gives a typical sweet vibe of a Magical Girl Anime, Kalafina’s ‘Magia’ as the ending, is quite extraordinary as if the dark wrenching tone of suffering and chaos from this Anime carried into this song.
When it comes to Animes that will be remembered for years in the eyes of Anime fans, Puella Magi Madoka Magica should be in their list 99% of the time. And I have to admit, this Anime is such a masterpiece and a work of beauty. Unique Animation, great flow of character development, tons of memorable moments, awesome soundtrack. How much will you expect from a Magical Girl Anime, which in this case, is such a unique kind of Magical Girl no other studios have ever done before. So, if you bored with the same old Magical Girl formula that has been done a lot of times, then Madoka Magica gives you a breath of fresh air you savour. And I can guarantee, once you finished Madoka Magica, you’ll be so thrilled and satisfied with one hell of a roller coaster ride!