Adolescence is probably one of the most influential periods in our lifetime. It is at this stage that we got to experience firsthand all sorts of different emotions such as love, envy, hate, or even despair. And Madoka Magica held no punch in taking full advantage of this theme given how the setting is also very compatible.
The story is very captivating if I have to be honest. There are no doubt some problems with this regard such as expositions that felt very contrived and awfully convenient.
Nonetheless, the general idea was very meaningful and packed with a lot of substance such as a powerful cast and dramatic revelation to further enhance the experience.
Some plot twists were cleverly disguised in the form of cheesy, cutesy pretense, which is pretty commendable given the contrast the show was trying to depict.
That being said, my biggest complaint is that at some point Gen was trying so hard to impose his ideal on the audience.
The best example of this case is how the characters and plot all seem to be adamant that “good” and “bad” must always balance out to maintain the order of the universe.
I understand where that came from, but seriously, the execution feels pretty dumb and pretentious as hell.
For the record, I’m not totally against this concept, for it bears a great resemblance to our daily life as well. It is just that the way it was conveyed didn’t click with me at all. Anyhow, that’s probably the major flaw of this anime to me.
Long story short, good idea, but badly presented.
The character of the anime is definitely its strongest point. I wholeheartedly enjoy every single one, from the main cast, the supporting, to the supposed “antagonist”.
For one thing, they are not without flaws, but damn, I can’t find any annoyance about that, to be honest. I have to give some props to Gen for managing to balance out the characters well in a relatively short series.
Each of the main girls carries their own ideals and has neat development from their introduction to their closure.
- Madoka: while mostly appears to be helpless, she is kind and observative. Her ideal took some serious build-up to be revealed but IMO it was worth it in the end.
- Sayaka: a typical naive young girl who seems to be the most fitting character at the beginning only turned out to be the biggest punching bag of the show. I must say she was really well handled, but that’s a given because Gen Butcher just “enjoys” this kind of character a lot.
- Mami: a very nice person on the surface but deep inside she has her own doubt and problems as well, very nicely portrayed indeed.
- Kyouko: probably the best girl to me. She had a rough start and appeared to be beyond redeemable but managed to have a spectacular comeback at the late game. Her theme is most likely “independence” or “solitude” which I can somewhat resonate with as well.
- Homura: the star player of the show, no doubt the most developed and fleshed-out character. I like her a lot despite her being a bit edgy sometimes. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s justified and not big of a deal. I think her theme is learning to let go or move on, but yeah, that’s up to how you interpret her story.
What I really like about this part is the diverse interactions between the main cast. In the beginning, one might think they’d stay like this forever, but as the story progresses, so do their relationships. They could be friends, they could be enemies, or even neither at the same time.
On another note, MadoMom managed to catch my attention a great many times as well. As a supporting character, she did her job well in providing a different view of some of the problems and not without some funny or comfy interaction with Madoka.
Kyuubey is quite a debatable character. Some say he’s entirely evil. Some argue that it was not his intention and was justified given the way his kind was portrayed. Personally, for me, he falls into that kind of “I understand why you’re an ass, but you’re still ass in the end”.
For real, it’s like when you sign a contract, and they didn’t point out the significant terms. Not until things went south did you get to learn the truth about everything. Logically speaking, it was our fault, but he was also responsible for trying to “evade” the issue.
Animation-wise, Madoka Magica truly was a bomb for 2011. I mean, it’s not perfect in every way, there are some serious inconsistencies with the design and animation, but overall, I was still fascinated by it in the end.
The sublime background is one thing but what defines Madoka Magica’s art is its peculiar, out-of-this-world style, especially when it comes to fighting sequences. A bit of light-hearted mixing dark and grim tone is a clever way to illustrate the world of Madoka, as it also goes well with the main theme and atmosphere of the anime.
That being said, there exists a minor issue being the awkward pacing when it comes to this. Some fights were great but some felt like it was dragging on a lot to “show off” their animation skill or something which kinda backfired tbh because I wanted to focus on what was going on instead of being distracted by pointless motion. It’s not a big deal in the end but yeah there’s that to take into account.
The directing is brilliant anyhow. In particular, characters’ expressions were made full use to avoid needless wordy conversation. Additionally, some symbolism was nicely placed to further amplify the atmosphere, thus resulting in powerful shots during the ride.
Lastly, the sound is one of the best things Madoka Magica has to offer. From the astonishing ED to the moe-bait OP and the battle themes, not a single one of them was wasted to complete the orchestra of hope and despair in Madoka Magica. Voice acting is also on point, I enjoy Sayaka’s voice in this regard, for she was probably the one who underwent the most emotional transitions and the Seiyuu did not fail to deliver.
The bottom line is, Madoka Magica managed to bring forth a rare breed of Magical Girl show. The “dark” tone under cutesy pretense was a bold move. Even if you have already anticipated that it is still backed by a solid cast, splendid animation, and uplifting music. Had I not found the plot intriguing, I would have still been entertained regardless. I’m sure it’s not the first of its kind, but it has high production value and delivers quite a performance despite the flaws mentioned above.