Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Watch Madoka Magica. Just… don’t look up anything about it and watch the whole thing. Seriously, do it.

I wish that could be my NAW for “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, but not only would it be the shortest article on the site, but I feel that some of you just won’t want to watch this anime without a few more words from me. And even though going even a little in depth can ruin the surprises the show holds, I’ll do my best.

Keep in mind: there will be some very minor spoilers in this article, including the pictures, but even they can ruin this show’s surprises. So, if you’re brave and can take my word that this is one of the best anime I’ve seen in a long, long time, then hunt it down and watch it without reading past this point. It’s only a year old, so try to avoid spoilers as best as possible.

Okay. Keeping spoilers to a minimum, “Madoka Magica” is a show about a girl named Madoka who stumbles into the secret world of magical girls, who are tasked with hunting down and killing evil beings known as witches, which spread despair over the land and are responsible for tragedies such as suicides and whatnot.

It’s much more than your average moe-laden magical girl show, though. It’s a heavy deconstruction of the entire genre as a whole, and it plays with the various story elements and tropes that pop up in these kinds of shows. Simply put, what Evangelion is to mecha shows, this is to magical girl shows. Some of you probably know exactly what this show is like just by that descriptor.

That being said, the show actually follows in Evangelion’s footsteps, and it even has elements of Higurashi in there. (You know, the anime about the kids who are mysteriously, brutally, and constantly being murdered.)

Sweet dreams!

Now, some of you might watch this based on the article and get through the first couple episodes or so and think I’m nuts for liking this show so hard. After all, the first few episodes aren’t too special, although the animation is absolutely amazing. However, get a few episodes in and you’ll see exactly what I mean. To put it pretty bluntly and to basically spoil one of the biggest early surprises of the show: there’s a major mood whiplash early on. And the show gets dark.

Above: Dark.

This ain’t your grandpappy’s magical girl show, full of moe and the power of love. No, it’s a very real show that deconstructs these heroines and the rules that they abide by, examining their morality and how they work altogether. In fact, there’s very little fan-service, which for this kind of show is pretty rare.

A rare bit of fan-service from the opening. If this sort of thing is with another you, is it just masturbation?

I do want to go back to the animation real quick and say that it’s extremely well-animated. The show got a ton of awards this year (including 12 Newtype awards) and even got the grand prize for animation at this year’s Japan Media Arts festival. During the show’s real-life segments it’s okay but nothing special, but when they stumble into a witch’s world or have a battle, it’s easy to see why this show got the awards it did.

A lot of those background elements are in motion. The floor moves in this part, too. LOOKIT DIS SHIT.

I really can’t talk much about the show, though, because I want to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum. There are a lot of “WHAM moments” in the show and I don’t want to lessen their impact should you decide to watch it. What’s worse is that while the show is only a year old at this point, it was very popular around the internet earlier in 2011 when it premiered, so spoilers are plentiful everywhere you look. That’s why I’ve been so insistent that if you’re gonna watch this show, you’re better off avoiding any website that might spoil it for you. Including this review, in case you didn’t heed my advice above. When my friend Rory showed me the show, he said the same thing and I’m way happier for it.

I can safely say that the show is very layered in little details that make the observant viewer feel that much smarter for noticing them, and has a story that features such twists and turns that the article is pretty much almost over, because I don’t want to spoil anything for you people. It’s full of a ton of “oh snap” moments.

It’s easily a good watch for fans of magical girl shows, but if you liked Evangelion and Higurashi, I’d say you should check it out as well. While I’m not sure if everyone would find it to their liking, you might just wanna give it a shot anyway, ’cause it’s fantastic. Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It’s a damn fine anime, and one of the better ones I’ve seen in a while.

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