Puella Magi Madoka Magica at a Glance

Monty Python’s Flying Circus called. They want their cut-outs back.

No, really. Just look at the “animated” portions of a Monty Python episode, and compare it with the fight scenes from Madoka Magica. Its kind of funny.

Well, I really really reallllllly liked Madoka Magica. I was a bit skeptical given that its Shinbo, but he’s managed to tone down the male gaze quite a bit more than he usually can manage, and he’s also proven that he’s a student of the magical girl genre. Its very by the books in the first episode, although this is part of what makes the effort successful thus far: so much of it is rote magical girl that as we can begin to see that things aren’t as harmless as they first appear it becomes much more of a subversion than it would’ve been otherwise.

To me, Madoka Magica honestly comes across as a love letter to adults who grew up watching magical girl shows. Its darker than a lot of magical girl shows are, and I honestly am not entirely sure that the under twelve set would really derive much enjoyment from it. Those witches and the trippy scenes like the one above are too scary for the ones under ten, and for those left-over a lot of the execution apart from the fight scenes is just going to be too laid back.

Actually, the show that I’m most reminded of when watching this is… Digimon Tamers. No, really. Digimon Tamers was written by Chiaki J. Konaka, and it really shows as the thing progresses. In this iteration of the franchise, for example, the Digimon actually die for real when they get killed in battle. So no magical Primary Village where the dead Digimon just become eggs again. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; the entire final arc has been described by some as Evangelion for kids, as the insecurities and neuroses of a little girl are misunderstood by a computer program which then runs an effort on said insecurities and neuroses in order to obliterate humanity… because the program believes that all anyone truly wants is to be obliterated. I’m in the process of re-watching it, by the way.

Ahem. But, yeah, that’s what I kept thinking of, although Digimon Tamers is still a children’s show despite its darker nature, whereas Madoka Magica really isn’t.

Although I grinned my way through the first two episodes for the most part, I could do without the lame lesbian jokes from the second episode. If this becomes a running gag, its really going to try my patience. It just wasn’t funny, and it was a bit jarring given the overall tone.

I think it is worth noting that this is the best OST Yuki Kajiura has done in years. Putting her to work on a Shinbo project is apparently the way to go, as the last time I recall enjoying her work this much was with Petite Cossette (I even own the OST for that). Her stuff had been sounding all the same lately; when I watched Pandora Hearts I just kept flashing to Mai-HiME during battle scenes. Not a good sign. That wasn’t happening here, although it was certainly obvious that she’s done the composition for the show. I would be interested in buying the OST, honestly.

Oh, one last thing, Madoka’s mom! She’s awesome! I wasn’t crazy about her little spiel about girls and women always needing to be pretty, although one could read it as the words of a woman who knows that, unfortunately, no matter how successful a woman is, she’ll always get judged by her looks. So maybe its a touch lesson from mom that she’s dressing up more pleasantly for her daughter’s sake. I don’t think its necessarily out of the question to take it that way since the whole show seems to be looking to shake our illusions of magical girl-hood as a purely fun and exciting pursuit.

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5 Responses to Puella Magi Madoka Magica at a Glance

  1. ariannasterling says:

    Wow. A mention of Digimon. That makes me so happy I could cry (Digimon was my first anime, and I still watch it frequently). Now that you mention it, I actually agree though. I haven’t watched episode 2 yet though, so we’ll see.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Oh, what was your favorite season? I really enjoyed Digimon back in the day… I tried re-watching the first season, but it didn’t really hold up that well. I’ve avoided re-watching 02 because I remember it being very melodramatic at points XD And I have to be honest that I didn’t like Frontier. Tamers is definitely what I consider to be the high-water mark of the franchise, which is fairly ironic considering that it was also the most overtly commercial given the role that the Digimon trading cards played in it!

      • ariannasterling says:

        I’ve enjoyed them all pretty evenly (still haven’t gotten around to watching Savers though) for differing reasons. I’ll always love the first season if only for nostalgia’s sake, same for season 02. Frontier was good because it was a pretty different spin with the spirit evolving things. Tamers was probably the best in terms of storyline and characters though. I also think it was the most intense of the seasons.

  2. Elineas says:

    Hey, I remember Tamers and its completely different tone from the other seasons when I was a child. I also remember that when I found out Chiaki J. Konaka did the writing when I returned to anime years after I left behind all the children’s anime I watched, I went “I can’t believe they let him write a children’s show.” It is by far the best season, but it’s just not like the other seasons at all.

    But I really came by just to say you stole my “love letter to magical girl” comment :). That and the agreement that the first episode’s by the book approach is rather pivotal to the setup for deconstruction; it frustrates me a little when people look at the first episode and say that it’s too typical without a trace of irony.

  3. Adrian says:

    Wow – an anime lover who’s also a feminist! I can’t believe there’s another person out there who would use the phrase “male gaze” in reference to anime. You’re my new heroine!

    And as for the series… I’m still trying to process it. Why is it that Kyuubey is so anxious to get the girls to make a contract? And why is Homura so dead set against him doing it? Are witches “fallen” magical girls (talk about a loaded term) or are they truly evil? @_@

    (oh, btw, when the battle scene began in episode 1, the first thing I thought of was Monty Python. ^_~)

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