In Watching Anime with my Girlfriend, Sam Weller guides his fiancee, Emily (video director of comedy mega-site COMEDIVA), into the world of anime with eye-opening, and often hilarious, results.
Wow, what a crazy show.
When I started this experiment with Emily, I never assumed I'd be as delighted by MADOKA MAGICA as I was. All I knew, going in, was that it was supposedly the ultimate magical girl show, and I was honestly skeptical over that prospect. Talking too much about the details of a genre can ultimately ruin its fun, in my opinion; and it was already going to be very hard for anything to ever unseat REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA in my mind as the best post-modern magical girl show.
Although I still have a deep love for UTENA, this show is truly its superior in many ways.
Now, bear in mind, Emily is a girl who never watched SAILOR MOON growing up, and therefore had nothing to expect from this one. As she put it, “I don’t watch this [censored.]”
Sam: Okay, so Emily. OMG...
Emily: This is a really intense show.
S: Now, this is one you explicitly told me you liked...
E: I did. I got caught up in this one. It’s really good.
S: I know we’ve watched a lot of disparate genres so far -- not including the ones you’ve seen me watch -- and what about this show made you go..."I could stand to watch more of this?"
E: I think 'cause it... it didn’t really do this “Oh, cutesy girls!” popcorn... underwear shots. “Oh, look at us running around all cute...!”
S: Did you wish there were more underwear shots?
E: No. [LAUGHS]
S: This is very surprising to me. *sarcasm*
E: And... they just twisted everything around, like what you were expecting. It pulled it off well, I thought.
S: Now, before we get started, I suppose it’s inevitable that we talk about spoilers somewhat...
E: Oh, I think we can talk about this without spoiling it.
S: You sure?
S: Okay, so we won't spoil anything in this show.
E: Yeah, don’t spoil it. Don’t be a dick.
S: Thanks. So this is definitely a magical girl show, and we learn very early on that these girls get their powers in exchange for granting a wish of theirs. In return, they are required to combat evil beings known as Witches - - the true nature of which becomes very important as the plot goes on. Now, I love the art direction of this show, especially in those Witch segments...
E: Yeah, it was liked [censored] up Monty Python.
S: When we watched END OF EVANGELION, I knew going in it was going to be pretty confusing and incongruous, but did you feel lost at all in the through-line with this show?
E: No, they made it like extremely clear. For having such complicated plots and like... strange world physics and weird... like for having rules that absolutely make no sense, it was actually pretty clear.
S: Yeah, they definitely had their own version of quantum physics. Well, you know how energy works? It’s because... emotions! Why? Duuuh... 'cause aliens. I don’t know.
So, switching gears a little bit, what did you think of the characters? Because I’m not going to lie, I got a little teary.
E: You got very teary. A little weepy. Jutting out your lower lip, eyes welling up... I had to scratch your head.
S: Yeah, thanks for that. [LAUGHS] But I did! I felt that got a lot of mileage out of the relationship between Madoka and her mother and another relationship I won’t mention cause it’s a spoiler.
E: Yeah. Like I liked Kyubey. Until he was a dick.
S: But we won’t go into that.
E: You like know almost immediately -- at least suspec t-- that he’s probably a dick. But he was pretty cute.
S: Was it the deadpan stare? Or the never-changing smile?
E: The fact that he never changes his emotions? Yeah, pretty creepy. [LAUGHS]
S: Anything about the show you didn’t care for?
E: The lead character seemed pretty whiny throughout. Unfortunately got a little one note. It got better near the end, though.
S: I feel like that’s because she’s the stand-in for us.
E: But it happens like 20 times. It’s like, c’mon, your life is crazy now. You should be used to it being all crazy.
S: Let it be known that Emily McGregor has no sympathy for anime protagonists. You’d better [censored] buck up in six episodes or --
E: I’d give it like 3 episodes of sympathy. And then you... at least switch up your emotions. There’s whole cycles of grief, at least vary it up. Vary that [censored] up! [LAUGHS]
S: Yeah, maybe that makes these characters hard to sympathize with?
E: I wouldn’t say that. I mean, these are dumb teenage girls. There is no better person to prey on than an emotional teenage girl. There is no dumber, more emotional, being in the universe than a teenage girl.
S: I have to say, before we finish - - the art in this anime is standout. The animation, the character designs, the fight scenes... honestly, everything in that category is at a 10 level for me.
E: Completely agree, very inventive.
S: Okay, so the recommends... last time when we watched END OF EVANGELION, you said you’d only recommend it for high schoolers. Can you say the same for this?
E: I think high school kids would enjoy this, but I feel this is broader entertainment. I think a lot of people could like this show, you don’t have to be in high school.
S: Okay, Emily, so if you were a magical girl what would you wish for?
E: I’m not going to become a magical girl! [censored]! After all that?!
So it turns out that Emily and I both were on the edge of our seat with this show. And honestly, I’m glad I watched it with her, 'cause I feel like this show has earned me enough good will to say, “Hey, you like that one show... there’s got to be another out there, right?”
So tune in next time, Anime Vicers, and recommend a new show for us to watch below!
Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recently BATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow@cravesam