An Awesome Tragedy ※ Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

EXCELLENTOh. This is the evidence of procrastination at its best. This post was supposedly published on the 20th of June, 2013. It’s been two years. LOL. I guess I’ll finish it.

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This is a blabber review about the anime “Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica” / “Magical Girl Madoka Magica”. It’s not written in a formal manner so spoilers are everywhere. If you haven’t watched it yet and is planning to, I suggest you close this page. I think stories are three times unappealing when you accidentally get spoiled by other people.

However, for a summary I’d say: this anime was something I underestimated. On the first episode, I frowned at it because I hate surrealism and it contains art close to that. The CGs aren’t very nice looking, grotesque and abstract. The character designs can easily be copied (if you’re familiar with drawing). It’s very simple.

Despite all that seemingly insulting sentences, I gave this anime a “10” in my list. Don’t judge a book by its cover has never been so relevant. The plot isn’t something incredibly unique that will blow your mind, but it made me cry at four in the morning. As a self-proclaimed lover of tragic stories, I’d say “Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica” made use of its genre “magical girls” + “tragedy” + “psychological” exceedingly well. The irony is that this anime gets more brilliant when you watch it the second time.

End of summary. Any more and you’ll be flooded with spoilers.

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So I told myself that if a Genie or whatever that grants wishes materialize in front of me, I will either wish for “ten wishes a day forever”, or simply “unlimited wishes”. I mean, most people will probably wish stuffs along the lines of “World Peace” or well, “billion dollars” but with unlimited wishes, you can wish for both. You can also wish to stop price hike, for more tomatoes on burgers, for sales ladies to get that you won’t be buying anything so they need to stop tailing you, for more space on your external hard drive, for pimples to stop appearing on your face, for—

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica - EP02

—oh. So a kawaii stuffed toy appeared in front of you and told you it’ll grant you one wish. What will you do? Probably scream and run away. lol.

Worse case scenario, you’ll get petrified, ultimately heart attack. I really hope not. If you’re fond enough with such creatures though, you’ll probably be happy and even shake hands with it, or shake paws.

After sorting your mind, a question will register:

“If you have one wish, what will it be? And will you be willing to risk your life for it?”

That’s the serious version. My version will be:

“If you will have to wear fluffy dresses, possess magic powers and fight witches everyday in exchange for one miracle, will you do it?”

Apparently, this ‘genie’ is a feminist and a lolicon, thus it only offers to grant wishes of girls.

Ah…Magical Girls. So nostalgic. I remember I used to watch Sailor Moon back in elementary. Local channels used to air cartoons and Japanese animes on TV primetime. My older sister was a fan of animes, it’s inevitable that I also knew a few. The usual themes of those animes were “fantasy”, “saving the world” and “friendship”. In 1990’s you just couldn’t help but get awed with such shows, even if almost everything are pretty much under the stereotype. However in 2012, the time I actually paid attention to animes, there’s only one word I initially say to series that fall under that, “cheesy”.

And I avoid cheesiness. I say that, but my favorite series contain traces of it. So that’s just me being a hypocrite lol. Anyway, the connection will be that, when I first saw a GIF of “Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica” on my Tumblr dashboard, it wasn’t what was happening that got me curious, it was the tag. It included, “psmm”, “msmm”, “puella magi madoka magica”, “mahou shoujo madoka magica”, etc etc. I went, “What in the world is Puella Magi?”

That happened a few more times after that until I finally gave in and downloaded the series. I wasn’t expecting too much. I look at its summary on MAL and thought it will at most be mediocre. I took my time and read the two reviews on the front page, I didn’t finish both in fear that I’ll get spoiled (which will only worsen my view about it).  But based on the first few paragraphs of both entries, it seemed this anime will bend whatever my first impressions are. I assumed the people who wrote the review may be biased. It can’t be helped.

A day after the download finished, at one in the morning, I started watching it. I scowled at the very first frame.

I honestly thought I downloaded the wrong series. Combined with the eerie background music, the prologue was something I couldn’t smile about. I started to regret watching it at midnight. I’m not particularly fond of thriller stuffs. I comforted myself with the thought that my friends are still online on both Facebook and Skype. If things get scary, I can always close the video.

Blah, blah, blah.

Going back, I think I pushed myself too hard when I decided to marathon the series. The background for fight scenes and the “witches” themselves are portrayed in a very unique manner which probably gave headaches to a viewer or two.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica EP01

Tomoe Mami’s introduction.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica EP02

“Gertrud” – the witch that Tomoe Mami fought in Episode 2

If you can endure such designs (I know a lot of people who like this style), then I guess there wouldn’t be much problems watching this. I’m a fan of minimalistic art so too much colors and elements jammed in a frame gave me endless migraine while watching.

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Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is a story about an ordinary 14-year old girl named Kaname Madoka. I pfft at how predictable the characteristics of the protagonist was. Ah, she’s a very kind girl born in a loving family, without any outstanding talents but she’ll be able to save the world when she becomes a magical girl, I thought. Which wasn’t entirely wrong. No, actually that’s exactly what happened. However, her potential was something that came from a very twisted circumstance.

I was already in Episode 9 and Madoka still isn’t a magical girl. Why is the title “Magical Girl Madoka” if she’s not going to be one? I judged her character development was the only one that doesn’t move forward. Her companions already died and she remains a pathetic girl that cannot do anything except to cry as she learns more and more about the cruel lives of those which wishes had been granted.

Until Episode 10. It answered all the mysteries that remain. It also showed who really suffered the most in the entire series. After that, while I did not question the title of the series (it fits anyway), I wondered if Madoka really is the main protagonist.

Akemi Homura, a very cool, smart, and athletic creepy transfer student. The characters have no idea why this girl go to such lengths just to prevent Madoka from being a magical girl. Through Kyubey’s speculation, I agreed that Homura may be wary that if Madoka becomes a magical girl, she’ll be too strong and that makes her insecure.

That’s the worst…hear this, worst guess I have ever made. I’m putting all the blame on Kyubey.

If this was a movie with real people, the person that will play Homura’s role will probably come off the best actress.

Her character was something suspicious. A lot of people may have been irritated with her as they watched the series because of what she’s doing. She’s cold, straight-forward and not in any way merciful. I love antagonists so I had no problems with her from start to end, but neither is she my favorite character.

However, it was she who made me cry.

They said that to make a good story, the villains should also have redeeming qualities.

Akemi Homura is an antagonist that possesses the traits worthy to be the main character. “Giving light of her redeeming qualities” doesn’t even suit to describe the flashback about her. When I learned that, I’d say she’s not even a villain. But of course prior to the revelations, she was. She’s also the reason why Madoka has a lot of potential.

While she goes on and on about Madoka, the story is actually about her struggles, only hidden by the fact that the series is in Madoka’s point-of-view. The cause of her antagonism was her obsession to save her best friend.

So right now I feel like I sound like an anti-Madoka and pro-Homura. Nah. If I use “story” as an analogy, Homura is the main character, and Madoka is the theme. Does that make sense? For me, Madoka is more of a concept – the conflict that Homura has to go through in the entire series. So without the two of them, there will not be a story.

Yes, you did. More than necessary.

Yes, you did. More than necessary.

Homura repeated that one month (the setting of the story) multiple times to save Madoka.

In real life, someone already told me that I remind them of an anime character archetype, the “kuudere” archetype – I think: they described me as a blunt, straight-faced sarcastic person. Just to be clear, I’m not cool or anything like some seito kaichou, it’s just the bad personality that came with it lol. So I guess I’d shatter some impressions by looking like this while watching MSMM’s Episode 10:

Homura-chaaaan...

Homura-chaaaan…

 Continuation of this post written in 2015…

Anyway, to cut this ‘review’ short, after I finished watching Madoka Magica, I watched it multiple times. It was the very first anime that I gave “10” on MAL. I admit I was very stingy with scores even though no one’s looking.

After I was satisfied with it, I tried to check out a few fanarts about the show and wished it was drawn the same way. I guess some things can’t have everything. I recommended the series to a friend that is totally not an anime fan but is welcoming to the idea of watching something worth it. And when my friend came over, I watched her get misty-eyed in front of my computer as I laugh behind her back. She had to go home so she asked for a copy of the anime to take it with her and finish the show.

Then the next day, she told me it was good. But I think she got annoyed with the laugh of the Walpurgisnacht. She mentioned it specifically, hahaha!

The Walpurgisnacht.

So the only lesson that you’ll really get from this post, besides “don’t judge a book by its cover” that I think I’ve mentioned somewhere, is to not trust kawaii-looking stuff toys. And to think I was just watching Kämpfer earlier in my cellphone.

PS: I haven’t seen the third movie…yet.

Fin!

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One response to “An Awesome Tragedy ※ Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

  1. Pingback: Infinite Stratos 2 Blabber | Unlimited Burst

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