Madoka Magica eps 1 & 2: I see potential in this one. Please don’t let me be wrong.
This year was supposed to involve me getting more familiar with the magical girl genre of anime. And when I mention that genre I mean the more modern form of it that involves more action. I’ve seen more Sailor Moon than I care to admit and I’m not going back. It was suppose to be Nanoha, Heartcatch Precure and that’s it. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is throwing a wrench in my plans because this is looking like it could be a really good show that I don’t have the experience to properly judge.
I think it’s safe to say that I’m a fan, but definitely not a fanboy when it comes to Shinbou+SHAFT productions. I’ve enjoyed some productions greatly (Bakemonogatari, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei), and I’ve been less than enthused with others (Maria+Holic, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Dance in the Vampire Bund). So I know that it’s not just the style that I like, it has to mesh for me somehow. This show gives me a feeling that it could do something special, and I’m cursing it with the dreaded “p-word”, potential. This has the potential to be something truly dark and special. But first I should probably give my thoughts on the actual episodes.
From the moment I started watching this show I had a good idea who was directing. Sure the show initially brought up memories of two shows I didn’t care to finish Final Fantasy somethingoranother and Pandora Hearts, but you could tell by the camera angles and the cuts that Shinbou was all over this. The show has style, loads and loads of it. And it’s beautiful, and true to form it gives me the feeling that I’m looking at some form of art. I don’t understand why things are done they way they are, but I appreciate the beauty of it all. The backgrounds are generally intricate and engrossing. The modern style of the buildings took me back, too. What looks clean, looks exceptionally clean in this anime. What looks diry and decrepit still has a bit of beauty and flair to it. That said, I’m still getting used to the character designs. I don’t know whether to say they clash, or contrast with their surroundings. The characters look very hand drawn and almost sketch-like at times. I don’t mind it all, especially given the characters’ ages and the genre. But after first it was hard to ignore the contrast when you see them in those perfectly formed buildings. Oh well, a small thing really.
I’m still slowing getting into the groove with the characters as only with two episodes under its belt so far, it has yet to really get into much detail regarding the plot or characters. It’s all a very appealing tease. Madoka is undoubtedly the lead heroine for this story, but because she’s still in the training phase along with one of her friends I haven’t gotten a real good feel for her, yet. She has ended up in the background a lot merely watching. Her friend Sayaka is one of those perky, upbeat characters that I undoubtedly end up loving or hating. She’s not getting on my nerves yet at all so I think I’ll grow fond of her. I feel sorry for their other friend Hitomi though, because they’re already in the middle of a exclusive thing and she’s already feeling left out, this leads to some rather awkward and somewhat funny misunderstandings about their “relationship”. Then of course there’s the transfer student who Madoka saw in her dream and who is now rather hostile towards her and Sayaka… hell she’s just hostile period. I doubt she’s a “bad” character, probably just misunderstood though her methods seem a bit extreme at this point. Without a doubt my favorite character though is Mami, Madoka and Sayaka’s potential senpai. She’s already a contracted magical girl (that contracted thing I will soon get into) who is looking so far to help the girls understand their potential undertaking and the initial reward they will receive for agreeing to be one the show’s magical girls. I love her outfit, I love her speech I love the fact she uses muskets and pulls that out of everywhere… You can tell I’m turning into a fan can’t you?
And this leads me to that whole “potential” thing I was talking about in the beginning, the plot. Apparently being a magical girl comes with a great reward, the little weird bunny-cat thing, Kyubey will grant any one wish to the person who wants to become a magical girl. With that wish fulfilled they agree to fight what appears to be the series antagonists, the witches. They appear to be the polar opposites of the magical girls in this show, at least as described by Mami and Kyubey. They do all sorts of horrible things from influencing humans in a bad way, to outright killing them. And from what I can tell they look pretty awkward and nasty, too. Though that just may be what and how one particular witch handles things. In short, being a magical girl puts your life at risk, and you can think of that one wish as one of those enlistment/commission bonuses the military gives out to their soldiers. It’s a great chance, it can also be a “enjoy it while you can” gift. On top of that, it looks like the magical girls can compete with each other and don’t have an infinite reserve of magic either. It’s an interesting set up. Death has been brought up several times in a way that makes me believe they’re serious about it with this show, too. I’m interested to see how they push these concepts, because I love all the ideas being thrown about.
I’m not sure what direction this show will go, it could veer towards a more standard approach (one that I’m familiarizing myself with right now) or who knows, maybe it’ll go real dark and veer towards the Alien Nine area of things. I can only hope. It should come as no surprise that I’ll give this show the five episode/first DVD test, though I’m positive it will taken many more episodes than that to get a good feel for the series.