12 Days of Anime #1: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Modaka gears up and gets ready to attack…Wait, my show is over, why are you still writing about me?!

It would seem that every year, bloggers who felt guilty over their lack of commitment to the cause throughout the year have a tradition to try and soothe their guilty conscious. This tradition is 12 Days of Anime. From what I have heard, this tradition was first started by Canon-Chan.

This tradition involves reliving the 12 greatest anime related moments of the past year in the hope that others felt the same way you did, so you know, you can fit in and stuff long after the anime is over.

That is about the only rules I know of, so now I to shall throw my hat in the ring, and write 12 posts. Writing 12 posts in 12 days is something I have not done before, but let’s try our best and see where we go.

Note: My first paragraph might have been slightly exagerated, most of the time, the 12 days thing is done by very active,cool bloggers unlike myself.

Okay fine, I won’t curse anyone…probably.

Different bloggers will no doubt have different 12 day formats, as for me, well, I will write a quicksummary/introduction of the anime in question and then talk about the most memorable moment followed by other moments I found memorable.

Anyway, enough useless paperwork, here we go!

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ) otherwise known as Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika, in english: “Magical Girl Madoka of the Magus” (Source) was a most splendid anime.

Back when it first aired, no one expected it to be so magnificent. Everyone was just expecting another Magical Girl anime, and without it being based on a game, novel, or manga, who was to tell them otherwise.

My feel­ing is Shinbo is aim­ing for a true Magical Girl series, based on wha the promos have shown. Abso­lute pur­ity and good­ness in an unabashed, totally ser­i­ous way that leaves the old school magical girl fans declar­ing the glory days have come back. Sorta like Gur­ren Lagann for the Magical Girl genre. Which I’m afraid I just can’t get excited for. Magical Girl anime just don’t do it for me (he says, basing this pre­ju­dice solely off Prin­cess Tutu and the fact they have stu­pid names like Magical Musical ~Chu~ ~Chu~ Lyr­ical Heart and Soul Puni Puni Girl SOS).

–Scamp-Source

Writers’ Commentary

ExecutiveOtaku: Any series with SHAFT doing the production automatically gets at least a three episode test from me. While I can’t say I’m a fan of the genre on its own, seeing SHAFT and Shinbou put their take on it should be interesting. Likely to keep watching.

Hana: The fact that it’s SHAFT made me watch the trailer. But that’s all I’m watching. Moé magical girl crap not-my-thing is still crap not-my-thing. Next.

Chronolynx: While Shaft have made a few shows I really liked, they do get a bit stale after a while. Maybe, but probably not.

Mystlord: KYAAAAAAA SHINBOU MAGICAL GIRL ANIME. I don’t care that it’s kind of like a learning opportunity for up and coming SHAFT director Yukihiro Miyamoto. Character designs by Ume Aoki (Hidamari Sketch writer) = win. Script by the guy who did Phantom? Oh God I’m so ready to get on the awesome train. Shinbou, TAKE ME AWAYYYYY~~~

Crusader: SHINBOU MAGICAL GIRL ANIME GET.

ghostlightning: No chance.

Impz: Again?

source

Episodes 1-2 aired, and most people were surprised at how good well presented the show was. The animation was spectacular, the action quite splendid, a fascinating –if at first, seemingly cliche– backdrop(plot, setting, etc…couldn’t think of a better word) and an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. People were content, this would be another magical girl anime (though for some reason, the main character had yet to become a magical girl, hmmm, strange, most strange), and like any well presented anime, they would enjoy it. They would relish in Shaft’s visuals and loop the ending many times, but that would be it.

No one really saw where Madoka was heading until episode 3. People sat down to watch episode 3 expecting another episode similar to episode 2 and 1, but hoping that Madoka would finally become a magic girl. I mean, other than the responsibilities, what was there to lose? If you could have any wish you wanted granted, and you got to use cool magical guns, why wouldn’t you become a magical girl?

Shit like this kills the magical girl industry…

After episode 3, everyone who was writing about Madoka (and even some who weren’t) shifted into high gear and began writing posts that did their best to make Madoka look simple, and their authors smart. People began to use big words and phrases like “deconstruction of magical genre, subversion, symbolism, literary analysis” and a while slew of other words that I am neither smart enough to understand nor knowledgeable enough to remember.

You need to work hard, so that we can work hard on writing about you.

People did their best to explain Madoka, using every literary technique thought in high school, and a few thought in college to, but as pleased as some might have been been with their literary analysis of Madoka, few were ever pleased with their plot analysis.

The plot in Madoka, which had seemed so irrelevant at first, had picked up, and boy did it pick up. People tried so very hard to predict what would happen, only to anguish when the next episode aired. The plot was unpredictable, it didn’t seem like it, but Madoka pulled twist after twist, and in retrospect, people realized that each twist was obvious and in plain sight, yet, they had not seen it coming, no one had, and no one ever did.

Then, when everything had been resolved, the entire plot laid bare for all to see, Madoka ended. At this point, everyone who had been watching collectively stood up and bowed, for they knew that they had just bared witness to one of the best anime in the past decade, and some would say that it was one of the best anime of all time.

Our show may be over, but people will always love us.

In my opinion, the most important thing this anime showed us was that, sometimes it’s best to just be happy with what you have. Often times, we find ourselves wishing we could use magic, or be a Shonen hero (well, I wish for this sometimes…), we often wish to live in a separate world that is less boring than the one we currently reside in. Madoka(the character) had the same wish at the beginning of the anime. Unlike other magical girls, she wasn’t forced into becoming a magical girl, nor was it because she wanted to do good. Madoka was quite simply, just bored with her daily routine life. Bored, despite having great parents, a cute little brother, and fancy future gizmos. But, the anime showed me that even though we desire a different life, we don’t always get a better life, this is an important lesson for day-dreamers like me who spend the whole day fantasizing. And yet –I suppose you can owe it to human nature– even though I understand this lesson, I ignore it and day-dream anyway.😛

I really wish I could share your optimism Madoka. She really is a hopeful person, isn’t she?

Most Memorable Moment

The ending

Madoka->Archery+100

A few people criticized the fact that the final episode felt a bit dragged out. Now, that may very well be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that the ending was as memorable as they come. Despite the lack of pumped up music, you knew that once Madoka made her wish, shit would go down, and well, it did.
The ending was more than just a conclusion to the incredible plot. The ending was a also a statement in it’s own. Or rather two statements.

    1. You can’t have everything. You must compromise.

Madoka has come for your soul

      • The girls Madoka saved still died, or rather, they were always dead. You’d think that they’d go back to being normal girls or stay as magical girls, but nope. They died, and well, given the alternative, I think most of them would have preferred death anyway. In a way, I guess this is like FMA, you can’t get everything, not without giving a little something up. This idea also fit really well into the whole plot, and the ending was still somewhat happy, so everyone won!
    1. Always have hope. This is such a simple statement, but sometimes, it’s the easiest one to forget. I am glad Madoka reminded the girls, and the viewers that they should always have a bit of hope in their hearts. Very sweet.

Hope…it is good.

Other than the above, the ending also marked the end of one hell of a ride, and that to was in it’s own way, quite memorable.

Thanks for everything Madoka, we appreciate it!

Other Memorable Moments

Mami’s Death

What could possibly go wrong?

I alluded to this earlier, but no one really saw her demise coming. It changed what everyone thought of the show. No longer was this just another Magical Girl show, it was now a serious, bloody, dark social commentary (or something). The death itself was really gruesome, I often thought about it, and cringed every time. Shortly after the episode aired, I wanted to publish a post talking about why Madoka(an in particular Mami’s death) was so scary. I never did publish post, though I did make quite a few notes.

I started of with handwritten notes, and even made a draft of a post. I never published it though…I think it is because my idea was to use handdrawn illustrations, which I was too lazy to draw. Anyway, that’s irrelevant, I might finish it up someday though…I hope…or maybe publish it as a draft of some sort.

Absolutely horrifying, no seriously, this scene scared me really badly.

The truth about Homura

Friendship…sniff..sniff

I beleive it was episode 10 when we first learned of how Homura had been time travelling to save Madoka. This was a most epic ( I don’t use that word frequently) discovery. Once again, the plot had shown us that it was incredible. This episode really did a great job showcasing why Homura was who she was, and it also indicated that fate is not to be trifled with, as things continuously got worse each iteration, until the last one of course. I guess that’s another lesson learnt. Despair can only build up so far before an equivalent amount of hope comes out of nowhere and kicks it in the groin.

Self-sacrificing Homura. What a good friend.

Kyouko’s death

Manly tears were shed.

Gorgous and beautiful, her death and sacrifice touched my heart.

As an aside, do you guys notice those awesome visuals. Shaft did a fantastic job on the visuals in this anime. Not many anime since have been bested these creative gorgeous backgrounds and general art direction.

Kyubei

Those eyes are pure evil!

What a schemer!

This little “bunny” or incubator as the proper term goes, is no doubt in the running for villain of the year, or even the decade. This guy! The best thing about him was that he didn’t even understand what was wrong with his plans.

Guts…the kid has them.

Don’t worry, Madoka is a classic, people will always come back for you.

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  1. #1 by Mushyrulez on December 16, 2011 - 1:03 am

    Yeah, so what was wrong with Kyubey?

    Honestly, Madoka was… well, I wouldn’t say disappointing, but it felt empty. When I look back, I don’t feel anything. Nothing at all. The only thing Madoka did superduperawesomeamazingspectacularwonderfully was engaging the audience – boy, would you ever a larger discussion about one anime as it was airing? Even more than Steins;Gate, which focused primarily on its plot (until the end). Madoka raised existential questions and shit that made smart people look dumb and dumb people look smart. It created drama and drama and drama and wow I hate you you think Kyubey is mean huh

    I guess cows are justified in killing humans because y’know, humans kill cows, and that’s the wrong thing to do

    EH

    • #2 by Reiseng on December 16, 2011 - 6:33 pm

      Well, I don’t hate Kyubey. He just hurt my tender feelings! I And, how dare you destroy my faith in humanity! Humans are not cows, we, we uhh,, do smart things and yeah, do smart things! Also, we don’t eat grass, since cows eat grass, we can kill them or something.

      Anyway, forgetting my bad attempt at humour, looking back on it, I am going to have to agree with your analysis. One of the things I look for in anime is “heart” or how much love the creators poured into the anime, and Madoka doesn’t really have much of that. From a technical perspective (both plot and visual), Madoka is practically perfect. It’s like <insert famous literary author here > book. You can analyse the heck out of it, and every word means something but it is not warm or that fun.

      Since you only understand musical things, I guess the musical analogy would be the difference between an orchestra which is so technically perfect that the players no longer enjoy music and an orchestra that is good but made of musicians that love music. Madoka is obviously the technically sound orchestra.

  2. #3 by Mushyrulez on December 17, 2011 - 1:14 am

    Don’t worry, your humour is as humourful as my humour – i.e. brain tumours, get it, ha ha ha /dies

    Whenever I leave a comment or anything, you always agree! You’re like, the complete opposite of flomu :v I feel like such a bully, pushing you around and stuff.

    Also I understanding non-musical things😡 like, understand THERE IS MY MUSIC BOOK

    GET IT

    UNDER MY MUSIC STAND THERE IS MY MUSIC BOOK

    HAHAHAH seriously I’m going to be shot one day HA HA HAHAHAHA

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