Urobuchi December: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

So here we are. Still one of the most influential anime in this modern era for a lot of reasons. For instance, this was one of a few hits that appeared during the beginning of the streaming era and brought in its influence on this world of anime. I mean, anime series are still trying to create some dark magical girl shows. Yeah, I still don’t think most of those shows understand how Madoka really did what it did. There is that thought of just making something darker makes it more mature and that avoids all the great things about Madoka Magica’s storytelling that makes it work. Madoka Magica is a special series because it’s still a fantastic show to this day. Yeah, I’m spoiling things. I don’t care.

So yeah, Madoka Magica huh? I’m actually writing about it here and I suppose that I will begin at start. Seems like a thing that people can do I suppose. One day, Madoka Kaname and her best friend Sayaka Miki go to school. There is one massive change. A new transfer student by the name of Homura Akemi shows up. A transfer student that already knows everything about her normal school life, is endlessly bad ass and successful at everything she performs and knows about Madoka’s class duties before Madoka even met her. She also has that air of mystery behind her which makes her even more fascinating. Of course, Homura is only one strange occurrence because the world of this series explodes more.

Then the real world of magical girls enters. Sayaka and Madoka get stuck in a strange place and eventually are saved by the older magical girl Mami. They also meet a cute mascot by the name of Kyubei who seems pretty interested in getting both to be Magical girls. To make spoil the first three episodes of tension and world building for all those things, after getting to know something about Mami and her pain with the mysterious Homura interrupting everything, Mami dies. She gets overconfident and she just dies. Never accepts Homura’s help and just ends up dying from it. Very important for the rest of the story.

So before moving forward with any more ideas or my opinions, I really must ask something. Did people just not read the tone of the story up to the end of episode 3? Did it really jump out of you out of nowhere? There was so much dynamic and stressful cutting and musical queues for me in both of my watches that I always felt uncomfortable watching this show. There was also a lot of articulate writing in creating a world of uncertainty that played very well into these first three episodes too. I mean, getting to know Mami in that short amount of time and then feeling for it when she died was a clever idea as well. I’m just amazed that so many people were surprised that the ending came like it was out of nowhere. It clearly wasn’t.

Moving forward from that, I really like how the death of Mami set up so many of the emotions in the story itself in very character motivated ways. It’s obvious that Homura has seen a lot and doesn’t change from the experience. On the other hand, the less experienced duo of Sayaka and Madoka were changed by it the death in different ways. Sayaka took Mami’s sacrifice to heart after going after her own wish for an injured pianist she wants to date. So obviously, she jumped into the entire magical girl system without knowing all the facts and was so hardheaded about that fact that nothing changed for her. She never wanted to see other people’s points of view and died from it. Sayaka is the most tragic character.

Then there are those people who really wished Madoka jumped into the mess out of nowhere like Sayaka did and guys…. are you watching what is happening to Sayaka? Really? Are you sure? I think Madoka being the living McGuffin of the equation is what makes the show so good and as worth it for me and her character arc. I think her just being there for her friends and everyone else even if they didn’t listen is great stuff on her own front. Especially when asking Homura for help for Sayaka’s sake. I think it clearly shows how Madoka comes from a good empathetic family that talks about their problems. I really do think that Madoka takes after her own mom which is a compliment considering how Madoka’s mom is awesome. There is so much character stuff to dig into with this show. I love it.

Now to shorten some character stuff at least a little bit. Homura herself is great too. Without giving too much tension or spoilers away, I really do love her arc in this anime. It’s the maximum tragic that it can be from her trying to harden herself to look more bad ass to when the real Homura shows up. Once you know her deal with Kyubei and the show itself, everything falls into place so well. I love that this show carries that sort of excellent writing behind it. I also think that Kyoko is another fascinating character from being the opposite of Sayaka because she has lived in the world of magical girls for such a long time. The play off between the two was good in some complex ways because even a cynical heart can change from seeing an innocent person going down a dark road. As once I’ve said, great character work.

Then finally, there is Kyubei pushing pressure on Madoka and the over all plot device of the ultimate witch, walpurgisnacht, that the show’s plot was all relying on. I mean, Walpurgisnacht is just a plot device that creates the tension in the story and that’s all they need to be. On the other hand, Kyubei is such a perfect villain for this show. Representing all the darkness and uncaring nature of the pressure for these teenage girls to perform in this society. Plus, I do like Kyubei’s nature of being too cold and logical for their own good. The no lies, but with-holding information to get their perfect results is interesting too considering that they are in their magical girl system. The reason behind it is dumb because its not needed, but I don’t take away from the story for me. The story is very well done and honest with all its feelings and what it wants to accomplish for a magical girl show.

From a visual perspective, I think Madoka Magica is on point as well. I’m one of those strange people who thinks that the earlier edition with the less detail in the show works better for the show here. For instance, the show is more about the characters, and I think the detail takes away from some of that a little bit. That is Shaft being shaft with their lack of detail during broadcasts, but just go with the lack of detail unless it’s important. Especially when the show is so well directed and thorough The cute character designs also fully realized the story with its emotional appeal. Same with the varied magical girl character designs with their powers and special abilities. I also love that the strangeness of this show comes from the witches’ dens are great. Really focused Shaft strangeness on a way that works.

So yeah, I honestly have not much bad to say about Madoka Magica at all. It is such a solid show and a classic that everyone should work at some point. Whether or not you know magical girl stuff, Gen Urobuchi’s writing is incredible and creates a relatable experience that everyone should watch. It is such a groundbreaking show for everything it wants to create and establish. The themes of a character growing up and a society pressing down on young teenage girls and young people at large. Same with the concepts of greed and other things that establish how people change from their wishes going right and wrong. In other words, a great monkey paw kind of story here.

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