Saturday, February 26, 2011

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I've decided to make a little (that will probably grow to be not so little by the time i get done with it) post about Puella Magi Madoka Magica, currently at the top of my all time favorite anime. It's been called the Neon Genesis Evangelion of magical girl shows, and that's putting it mildly. Basically for the fact that it takes what you know or think you know of magical girls and turns it on it's head. On Tvtropes someone mentioned that at episode 6 the page was already longer than most shows that have seasons, and it's true.  Just note that i'll probably reveal some spoilers, as much as i try not to, so if you want to be unspoiled and watch this, just do without much knowledge other than you won't be disappointed.

Short description that should be mostly spoiler free, it's a 12 episode anime, currently on episode 8, that deconstructs the magical girl genre of anime (like Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, etc), writen by Gen Urobuchi, who is famous (or rather infamous, heh) for writing games for Nitro+ that are less than "normal" (like Saya No Uta, Fate Zero and Phantom of Inferno). All you have to do is take a look at the links there (Saya No Uta to really get the idea of where this guy's head is, links sfw) to understand that when this was announced the anime crowd in Japan was understandably curious. The opening for the show is generally typical of most other magical girl anime, although as the show goes on you notice things that are superficial beforehand, and the openings also have changed slightly for each episode. The series starts out with a group of friends and a dream that could be of the future, followed by a mysterious magical girl and a "cute" creature that offers to grant the girls a wish as long as they fight witches for him. They are shown around by Mami, in the weird "worlds" or labyrinths of the witches, which take a very different style, most of the time different frame rates and more rough animation, sometimes cut outs and such. There are many "runes" throughout the show that people are working on figuring out, that give names to the witches and some hints at what might be to come. There is also a good amount of German, that are right out of Faust. The show follows general expectations in episodes one and two, (which aired without end credit sequences and ending music) and then episode three rolled around, and threw everyone who thought they knew what they were in for. All i can say is, it's a hell of an experience after that.

Here is the opening before i get to what could be spoilers (while it lasts on youtube, they've been fierce on getting them taken down)

Now to things that are spoilers... don't read if you want it unspoiled (and really, i'll try to avoid drastic revelations, but i'll mention things that could be figured out)

Ready? Okay.

Those credits up there, bait and switch, especially after episode 3 where you learn that anyone can, and most likely will, die. It's not the happy go lucky magical girl show they said it would be, but what would most likely be if you gave 14 year old girls very powerful magic, and told them to fight to the death with cosmic horrors. Oh, and in episode 8 when you learn where they come from, even worse. (possibly, this show is doing a very good job at hinting at what is to come, but showing it in a way i don't expect, and in a very emotionally powerful way too.)

Kyubey... the "cute" mascot that is general to most magical girl anime, who gives the characters their powers and teaches them how to fight, episode 8 reveals his true name (possibly, or job, not sure really) and it was the number one google Japan search the day after the episode aired. While an English word, it only hints at what he really might be, and we still don't know what his goals are. Funny side note, Gen Urobuchi has done a wonderful job at misdirection when giving interviews about the show. At first he said when interviewed before episode 3 aired, that this was his attempt at getting back to making heartwarming shows. After it aired, he pointed out that what he considers "heart warming" isn't what others do. Then around episode 7 or so he said that Kyubey's name is a hint, and kyu is like "cute". Guess what? It's not, but ..kyubey... (spelled differently) does make his mane.

QB (as he is also known) grants the wish of the girls and has them sign a contract, then gives them a soul gem (is what it says) that the girls use to do magic. When they defeat the witches, a Grief Seed (also, ditto) drops and the girls transfer the darkness that has gotten in their soul gem by doing magic into the grief seed and give it to QB, and once you sort of see what he does with it. What that means is still unknown though, but creepy.

I could go on, but i'll wrap it up here. Maybe once it's over i'll go more in depth, but i'm getting sleepy and not feeling too hot, but i do love this show more than i can say, and everyone who likes anime (or at the very least doesn't mind subtitles in animation) should watch this.

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