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Title: Puella Magi Madoka Magica - Blu-ray review
UK publisher: Manga Ent.
Genre: Drama, Magical Girl, Tragedy
Studio: SHAFT
Type: TV Series
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
Year: 2011
Running Time: 5hrs 15mins
Rate this anime:
Average Rating: 9.85

Reevothemusefan's review

Reevothemusefan scored this with 10/10. Disagree?

What can I say about Puella Magi Madoka Magica that hasn’t already been said? Since it aired in Japan around a year and a half ago, it’s been universally praised in both the anime industry and community, it’s won multiple awards, there have been three movies made (two of them were shown in Japan this October) and it’s one of the best selling anime in Japan. It’s been a long wait but finally Madoka Magica is here and, with huge thanks to MangaUK, the series will be released on both DVD and Blu-ray. Should you check this out? If you want the short answer: Yes, yes you should!

Madoka Magica is an original anime adaption which was directed by Akiyuki Shinbo who again worked with animation studio SHAFT on this project; some might be familiar with both since they made Dance in the Vampire Bund and this year’s simulcast of Nisemonogatari anime series. The series was written by Gen Urobuchi, the character designer is Ume Aoki (some may recognise her from the Slice-of-Life manga Sunshine Sketch) and the score was done by Yuki Kajiura.

Madoka Kaname is your normal middle school student; she has a loving family, she has caring friends, and she scores average grades. One day, a mysterious transfer student named Homura Akemi arrives in her class. Madoka is surprised because she has had a dream about this transfer student the previous night. Homura asks Madoka if she can take her to the nurse's office but this instead leads to a sudden warning from the cold Homura saying that she should never change the normal life she currently has before she leaves abruptly.

After school, Madoka and her energetic friend Sayaka Miki decide to go and look around the local shopping centre. Suddenly, a voice in Madoka’s head calls desperately for help. While searching for the source of the voice, she finds herself in the dark, empty maintenance area of the plaza. There she sees a mysterious wounded creature that's under attack by none other than Homura, who turns out to be a magical girl. Sayaka arrives and attacks Homura, thinking of her as a threat, and both try to escape with this animal. As they run away from Homura, the maintenance area changes into an unfamiliar place where monsters attempt to harm our main characters. Another magical girl named Mami Tomoe appears and saves them from this nightmarish place. She tells them that the creature they've saved is called Kyubey. Kyubey then asks them if they want to become magical girls themselves.

So, as you can see, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a magical girl show. My knowledge of the genre is small (for example I didn’t watch Sailor Moon when I was young) but from friends, I understood what such a show involves. [[My plot description sounds like a typical introduction to a magical girl anime.]] Further on into the series, the rules governing the magical girls and the wishes they grant are very well explained by Kyubey. Mami is a veteran, so her knowledge helps Madoka and Sayaka decide whether they should become magical girls to fight the monsters known as witches.

Then something important happens…something that changes the way you look at this series.

Spoiling a show like Madoka Magica is a very easy thing to do but the amount of depth that is put into this series is mind-blowing. The more the plot starts to reveal itself, the more you just can’t stop watching – every character is important, every piece of dialogue holds new but important information, every action scene is creative and gripping, and you never find a part of an episode boring. It’s all wonderfully done.

Even mysterious characters such as Homura and the hot-headed magical girl Kyouko Sakura (who is introduced in the middle of the series) are given reasons and motivations why they became magical girls and they can be unexpected, to at least care about all these characters and what they going through is a big plus for me.

The plot just keeps getting more interesting and never loses steam. The first time I watched Madoka Magica, I considered episode eight to be one of my favourite anime episodes - until I watched episode ten, I felt that this was one of the best anime episodes I’ve ever watched and I’m being totally honest here. The ending is also memorable as well, leaving me with many emotions.

The animation in Madoka Magica is very different from other anime you may have seen - in this world, everything feels huge and detailed and Shinbo and studio SHAFT’s animation techniques are very fast and visually appealing; you should be familiar to this if you’ve watched Dance in the Vampire Bund. The so-called Witch Worlds are the most unique thing about the animation; everything that is shown oozes with creativity. SHAFT worked with the animation troupe Gekidan Inu Curry to create these witch designs. Watching Madoka Magica on Blu-ray was a blast, really showing off the range of colour and detail in the animation. The soundtrack is also brilliant; Yuki Kajiura does an amazing job to bring variation to the music, there are many tracks to suit the different moods, making each scene even more memorable.

Gripes have in no way affected the way I feel about Madoka Magica but I would have liked some of the characters to be explored in greater depth.

The English dub of Madoka Magica is for the most part, very solid, especially where it matters most. I don’t mind that the dub attempted to target the western audience but I did question some changes in the script. For example, I just didn’t like the way Sayaka kept saying the phrase “For real’s," it just kept popping up and was a tad frustrating. The Japanese dub however is pretty much flawless. The only extras on the Blu-ray are the textless opening, textless endings, and trailers.

In Summary

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is not only a great anime, it’s a phenomenal one which leaves you in awe and just for that, it’s worth every single penny. It might not be a true masterpiece but it certainly has left its mark on the way you look at magical girl anime from now on!

Screenshots (click to pop out)

Review Information

Score: 10 out of 10
Review By: Reevothemusefan
Date Published: Sun, 28 Oct 2012
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