Sunday, December 8, 2013
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (anime TV series), via Crunchyroll
Madoka is a bit of an airhead. She has two best friends and lives in an area that looks both rich and a little futuristic – I couldn't really tell if the series took place in the future or in an entirely different reality. Anyway, one morning she wakes up from a dream about a dark-haired girl who's in trouble. At school, she's shocked when that same dark-haired girl joins her class as a mysterious new transfer student. The girl, Homura, is standoffish, and Madoka soon has cause to wonder if she's some kind of villain. Madoka saves a cute white creature, called Kyuubey, from Homura and meets and befriends a girl named Mami. Mami and Kyuubey introduce Madoka and her friend Sayaka to the world of magical girls.
Magical girls are powered by Soul Gems and use their abilities to hunt witches. Kyuubey offers Madoka and Sayaka a contract, which will grant them each whatever they desire if, in return, they agree to become magical girls. Becoming a magical girl is serious business – is this really something they want to do? And why is Homura so determined to prevent Madoka from making a contract with Kyuubey?
The characters and world don't have a ton of depth. The series' biggest appeal is its visuals (especially the battle scenes) and the slow revelation of the truth behind Kyuubey and the magical girls. What starts off as a light and fluffy show gradually becomes much darker.
Back when I was first watching the show, several of its revelations came as a shock to me. However, my dad guessed much of what was going on within the first few episodes. I imagine the mystery about the magical girls will be more appealing to some (viewers like me) than to others (viewers like my dad).
During my first attempt to watch the show, I stopped just before the full truth about Homura's past was revealed, so that and the outcome of the final battle were as much a mystery to me as they were to my dad. Unfortunately, although I really enjoyed rewatching everything else and found the bits about Homura and her efforts to save Madoka to be fascinating (Homura's level of devotion to Madoka was insane), the very end of the final episode was a bit of letdown. It was all almost too big and grand, and Madoka's transformation and everything that went with it was disgustingly saccharine. I'm glad I got to see the whole show, but the ending wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped it would be.