Puella Magi Madoka (No Spoilers)

By: 14thLord

Release: 2011
Category: Magical Girl, Psychological
Also known as: "Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica" and "Magical Girl Madoka of the Magus"

Brought to us by a collaborative effort of Shaft and Aniplex, whom you might recognize for bringing us Ef: A Fairy Tale of Two, and Fullmetal Alchemist, we have Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Also known as Magical Girl Madoka of the Magus, or as we know it from the american release, Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Lets talk about Puella Magi Madoka Magica. To start, what kind of name is that?! I understand when localizing, often companies would change the name of the franchise to something that sounds more familiar, but Puella Magi Madoka Magica? Yes, lets use a french word that few americans can pronounce, to make it easier for people into japanse animations to understand and say. Most people I talk about it can only remember two of the words, whether it's “Puella Madoka” or “Magi Madoka”, if they even get it correct to begin with. I wouldn't of blamed the company for at least dropping the "Magica" at the end.

Just a pet peeve of mine, its literal translation of Magical Girl Madoka Magica just seems easier to remember. Even Mahou Shojou, and this is coming from someone that actually likes it when names are localized, so I can actually try remembering them.

At last, what is there to say about Magi Madoka, that isn't spoilers. Magical Madoka definitely takes a franchise that most people know, and turns it over its head through use of an AMAZING soundtrack, compelling storytelling, and beautiful art that reminds me of the very hungry caterpillar.

What is there that I can say that isn't spoilers, to give you the idea whether or not you might enjoy it? All I can think of is saying that it's unlike any other Magical Girl anime's that I've ever seen. When I original watched it, it had somehow ended up on my big list while looking at “Psychological” anime, with how it explores the concept of magical girls.

While Puella Madoka is only 12 episodes long, it's enough for them to develop a fully fleshed out story, with a memorable cast that's difficult to forget. Best of all, each girl is color coded for your convenience.

Characters: 10/10
While initially we're treated with what appears to be a generic cast of stereotypes for a standard anime, we're quickly treated with something far more. Each character feels so alive, filled with emotion, history, wishes and regrets. While many anime's struggle with having a full cast of fully dimensional characters, Puella Magi Madoka has no problem in making every one feel alive.

Plot: 10/10
It's rare that a plot has you glued and eagerly awaiting what happens next, but not only does Puella Madoka succeed in captivating your interest, it becomes even better upon rewatching. It'll have to speculating and talking about it, hours and hours after.

Fun Factor: 10/10
The whole experience of Puella Madoka was just a blast. Whether it's the Art, Soundtrack, beautiful animations, or stylized art.

Soundtrack & Art: 10/10
The art and soundtrack of this anime, simply put, is beautiful. While it's no Studi Ghibli, it's by one of the most gorgeous anime's I ever watched. It's also one of the few anime's that I enjoyed the entirety of the soundtrack, and actively sought out just to listen to.

English Dubbing: 9/10
While initially I cringed my nose at Madoka's voice acting, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a wide range of wonderful voices from talented voice actors. While most of the voice actors have a relatively small portfolio, they've all earned my respect from this piece. After meeting Lauren Landa at Connecticon 2013, I was blown away by what a sweet person she was, and how vastly different she sounded from the character Kyoko, that she voiced.

Overall: 10/10
Puella Magi Madoka Magica was a daring project, and a massive risk from the very beginning. The Magical Girl franchise has long since been stale and fading away, few taking it seriously any longer. Whether or not Puella Magi Madoka Magica has succeeded in revitalizing the genre, remains to be seen. One thing I do know though, I'll never think of Magical Girls the same.

I HIGHLY suggest going into the anime without looking up photos or anything more on the anime, as I feel it's best to make what you will of the show yourself, without others opinions clouding your view. You can find it released on Bluray/DVD, released in sets of 4 episodes. The first two released on Bluray, both of which serve as a movie form of the events throughout the series, with the third continuing the series.

Final Note:
I'd normally not make a comment about price, but Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an expensive anime. It's split into 3 DVD/BD's, each featuring near no extras, for a retail price of $40. As there are only 12 episodes in the series, you're effectively paying $10 per episode. The "Limited Edition" box set includes a few post cards, a soundtrack, and a bumper sticker, for $75 per box! At $75 for what should be in the STANDARD edition of the DVD/BD, it's at viewers discretion if you'd be willing to spend $120 to $225 on a single anime series.

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