An unusual and brilliant juggernaut of a love story which avoids overcomplication without patronising the viewer; Madoka Magica is a 12 episode Japanese arthouse science fiction series based loosely in the magical girl warrior genre. That sound offputting? Maybe you should at least read the rest of this review before you say you're so certain about that. Open mindedness is important going into Madoka, as some people may find aspects of its style threatening to their own personal insecurities. Clear mindedness is also necessary, as one who knows nothing about what they are getting into may well enjoy the show far more. Praise is due for Studio Shaft's experimental use of animation, although it may prove too intense for casual viewers to keep up at times. Different animation styles are shifted, blended, and juxtaposed against each other in a manner which compliments the story perfectly, and few other works have exploited animation as fully as a medium. However, the way in which the characters are animated can prove distracting in later episodes unless one watches the series through in one sitting. Madoka stands out as being more accessible than comparable anime to non fans; it is almost devoid of the industry's self referentialism which has plagued so many recent anime, instead referencing classical literature and mythology. However, some of the earlier episodes, especially the first one, are not particularly entertaining on initial viewing, and may put off some viewers from watching further. Indeed, Madoka's story is like an avalanche, with a pebble of a first episode sliding down the slope and picking up other debris until eventually the entire mountainside collapses from the force of the final three. The quality of character development varies from character to character, but generally the calls as to which characters get more or less development are perfectly made, with only Kyoko feeling slightly underdeveloped. Also, Homura is badass. Really, really, absurdly badass. The attention to detail in the writing and direction is utterly exquisite, with great care paid towards seemingly insignificant parts of the show, which can often reveal more about the larger plot than might at first meet the eye. All in all, this series is thoroughly worth watching, even for non-anime fans. A masterpiece.
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