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Well Hello again anime vice it is I, M, here again to bring to you a uncharacteristic surprise from the innards of my cold dead heart a review of the “Dark” magical girl series Puella Magi Madoka★Magica brought by the ever loving hands of Shaft of Maria-holic fame one of the most unique and well loved studios ever to cross into our world. Under advisement from a couple of good friends, mostly with the intention of hearing my opinion on it, so off to Crunchy roll I went. So before that best I explain to the unknowing what exactly Madoka Magic is.
Set in what seems to be an extremely prosperous and slightly futuristic Japan the series follows a dark recreation of the magical girl genre as a whole; where magical girls are given one wish in exchange for lifelong service (as in until death take you) hunting Witches the manifestation of human curses. The main character is non-magical girl Madoka who is very much in personification of every main character of every magical girl series ever made however this world is not every magical and hopeful in tone prefer harshness and grimness, here the threat of death is present and often, taking on a gruesome reality that is true to the concept. Madoka just stumbles upon a cat creature trying to convince her to sign a contract to become a magical girl, and a magical girl very much set on stopping her from agreeing to this contract. The Series whole thematic tone is suppose to be dark something that is fairly different from the happy bubbly magical girl genre whose target audience is for the most part little girls and people looking for happy feels. This tone change is a flip of the switch by episode 3 where even the ending theme is changed to match it.
The mere mention of shaft should make anyone with knowledge of their work know that the art at its worst is interesting and at its best is some of the best that we’ve ever seen; that continues to be very true with Madoka Magica, the stylistic choices in terms of art and the simple way to present it shows a fantastic sense of taste and beauty. Staying unworldly without being abstract and hitting that healthy medium of fantastical without shattering any sense of immersion, which is impressive to say the least. This artistic treatment enters the battles of which never failed to surpass my expectations, beautifully done and intense enough to excite, crazy in the way it needs to be, but not ever obnoxious, more importantly always fun to watch as it was often the high point in the visual art.
What I didn’t expect from shaft is one of the most subtle and fantastic OSTs I’ve heard since .hack Sign. Being able to craft a constantly powerful while subtle to the point that it sounds almost distant of a melody is enough to put a very real smile on my face. Simply knowing a subtle and unique orchestral score in the background will, if done well, will be a far more powerful a track then any high energy J-pop song blaring at you can simply due to the limitations of pop. Shaft has an artistic talent and willingness to push art and production as far as it can go. With that it’s not at all beyond imagining that Madoka Magica is one of the best things I’ve actually seen or heard in very long time.
Shaft however, in my limited experience with them, has had a weakness in storytelling and focus. While they’re not terrible at it, it is the weakest element of shafts over all fantastic performances. The story in terms of being masterfully dark and springing on you like trap in episode 3 is amazing, but from there the story beats are pretty predictable and while very enjoyable to watch play out are just subpar in comparison to how well shaft does everything else. Strip away the music and art and Madoka Magica is just what the synopsis says, a dark magical girl series, and while an interesting concept is not exactly preformed in any extremely ground breaking ways in terms of story, the series is predictably dark and the story beats while original in the genre are uninspired compared to the rest of the qualities of the series. The worst is probably the latter half of the final episode which is almost difficult to watch as it tries to make a tonal transition.
That does not however detach from the truth of the matter, Madoka Magica is excellent and in a unique way. Many anime series tend to try to be wonders and epic, something like the Grand Canyon something impossible to miss and massive, this a difficult and often faulty attempt for most things, yet there is strange enough almost subtle kind of beauty I believe that is far more unique to media, but not to the world, something to be excellent in the way I cool ocean breeze is, this kind of artistic and musical attitude allows it to share that kind of pleasantness that leaves me impressed and more so happy with the entire series in a way that I personally love. It’s not a series that leaves me in awe just very happy to have experienced it and that is fine enough for me. While the plot objectively in my eyes drop it down to a somewhat harsh 4 magic musketeers out of 5 Madoka Magica for me is one of my favorite series I’ve had the pleasure to watch simply because it left me personally feeling a sense of enjoyment I haven’t felt since .hack sign, Something while not the most intense or magnificent of things an anime can make someone feel, is a personal favorite.
Well that’s all; this is M ending this with the wonderful poetic stylings of magical girls, see you later and hope to give you a podcast soon.