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Reviews Comments: Well-Realized Concept? Yes. Deep? Ehhhhhh... Puella Magi Madoka Magica whole series review by Mad Man X

Normally, I don't find the Magical Girl genre appealing. Seeing so much unwarranted attention to easily tearable frilly dresses makes me want to stop the video and pace a bit. But, seeing the crazy hype this gets, I broke down and watched it.

ART: I know the character models were made for the Bait And Switch midseason, but they may be the worst part of the art direction. However, I will give the background artist credit...when he's taking from real life. The surreal squiggles were hard to get used to, though.

CHARACTER: Most of the lot was interesting...except Madoka. Why she had a Bile Fascination with this occult drek, and pretend nothing happened and go on with life (like actual adults) is beyond me. Anybody who can have a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum is not somebody you'd think is pure. As for the rest - Sayaka wasn't the bitch everybody claims she is, but in this world of Melodrama, she can get on nerves; Kyouko was the most interesting of the bunch because she seems to be the Only Sane Woman, although that's not saying much. Homura? Just too much subtext, please.

THEMES: Having sacrifice and Wish Fulfillment being the main themes does not make it profound/deep. Although the extent it is milked is an achievement, mining a concept that has no real place in the world is stretching some people's nerves. ESPECIALLY the ending. Having such miracle that ties every bow neatly reminds me of the shounen spirit this has. Well, I guess the writers couldn't dare to kill Kyubey, whom appears to be the real villain of the series. Or take a page from The Butterfly Effect, and teach an applicable moral that you can't save everyone (I must become Godlike and save everybody from their facebook woes!) for the intended audience.

Intended audience...oh who am I kidding? This is a series for people who grew up with Magical Girls, and teasing with Sour Grapes. Woe be to the new generation of children who take this depressing series seriously.


  • Bambooisgreat
  • 16th Jun 12
You are completely oblivious as to what you have just watched.

Periphery demographics? Are you kidding me? This is a seinen series. It is intended for an adult audience. It doesn't matter if you find the magical girl genre appealing or not because this show isn't made for people who find the magical girl genre appealing in the first place. The reason this show gets crazy hype isn't because of how adorable Madoka's frilly dress is. It gets hype because of how well that frilly dress contrasts with the surrealist nightmare it is surrounded in!

Speaking of which, it may be because I am a huge fan of surrealism in general, but I found the art style (especially in the enhanced blu-ray version) to be gorgeous. Look at all the imagination and vividness! Look at the one that was all silhouettes, or the one with octavia conducting an orchestra (which relates to the plot), etc. Beautiful!

The themes you claim aren't profound or deep enough were lifted from the classic german legend "Faust", about a man who makes a deal with the devil. I'm not saying classical works are excused from criticism but when you make remarks like "mining a concept that has no real place in the world...", you are getting in way over your head.

The general problem seems to be that you mistook this show for a typical, although darker and edgier magical girl show that found its following among the otaku equivalent of "my little pony" fans, and watched it as such. If you ever watch this show again, watch it as the deceptively harmless, cynical deconstruction of an innocent genre, turned into surreal faustian cosmic horror that it is.
  • MadManX
  • 19th Jun 12
Seinen=/=Literary depth, and mature content can be handled poorly. Like suicidalists are just brainwashed pawns for witches to feed off of. And since they are playing with the Magical Girl drama aspects as well, the Melodrama seems to be wrought full force. No girl ever thought about something selfless such as wishing a nuke on witches until then? Come on.

And yes, Deal With The Devil stories are more common than I thought. But that does not excuse little girls stepping into wish traps that anybody other than a HormoneAddledTeenager could avoid.

Also, does anybody get the feeling that Madoka is the Antithesis for Shinji Ikari? Unbelievably rich, could have any friend she wanted, needed a lot of time tweaking to mold into a Non Action Girl, and when she finally does save the day, she does so in a way that even Shinji would double take to make sure the universe wasn't fucking with him.

I know these are stepping into Pet Peeve Tropes, but I still believe this reinforces that one must be familiar with the Magical Girl genre to enjoy the moments rather than Wall-banging.
  • ChaoticTrilby
  • 18th Oct 12
"Why she had a Bile Fascination with this occult drek, and pretend nothing happened and go on with life (like actual adults) is beyond me."

Not sure what you mean by this. Explanation, please? Are you saying that Madoka should just ignore all the crazy stuff that's happening and live a normal life "like actual adults" (which she isn't)? You seem to be under the impression that the main characters are adults. They're not. They're middle-schoolers so they're actually worse than the Hormone Addled Teenager because they're that much more confused and naive. The show is at least partially a deconstruction of the magical girl shows in which young girls are expected to just cheerfully fight evil all the time, then go back to school and live normal lives.

As for not "stepping into wish traps," Madoka pretty much knew what she was doing in every time line. She wanted to help people, even when she realized that it meant being hurt herself. As for Homura, by the time she finally decided to become a magical girl in an alternate time line, it was after she realized that the alternative meant losing a friend. Again, she knew what she was doing. Mami, meanwhile, chose to become a magical girl because the alternative was death. You don't think too clearly when you're dying in a car wreck. Kyouko did it for a dumb reason and realized her mistake. Sayaka did it for an immature, naive, reason and suffered for it. The tragedy is in the naivete of those who don't know what they're doing and the self-sacrifice of those who do.

To the reviewer's comment above: Since when is Madoka "unbelievably rich?" Her mom's a business woman and she lives in a normal-sized home. I didn't even notice her somewhat higher social class until you pointed it out! Plus, she has two good friends and is not mocked nearly as much as Shinji in-universe. She's even fairly happy starting out, just with a few insecurities she thinks about at times, which make her no different from your average person. As for "finally saving the day," in most time lines, she actually fails because she jumps into being a magical girl before she understands it. The real hero is Homura, who, through her own efforts, makes it possible for Madoka to eventually "save the day."

"Homura? Just too much subtext, please."

I'm...sorry? What does that even mean? Do you mean that you have issues with the fact that she might be in love with Madoka? Tough shit. You wouldn't have any issue if Madoka were a boy, would you? Didn't think so. Deal with it or escape to some other world where homosexuality doesn't exist (good luck with that!)

For themes: the main one I noticed wasn't Wish Fulfillment or sacrifice - it was hope, no matter what the circumstances. Time after time, Homura failed to save Madoka and almost gave up hope near the end. As it turned out, her hope and determination throughout time lines actually was what made it possible for Madoka to believe in herself and save the world in the end. Even then, Homura is still essentially left without Madoka by her side by the end. Wishes are fulfilled through determination and the need to keep hope alive, just as in Real Life. So, it's hardly Wish Fulfillment. Especially since the "bow that ties everything neatly" actually causes "distortions" in time and spaces that become monsters themselves. Plus, Sayaka is still dead by the end, no matter what universe. It's not perfect and that's the point. The world is saved and that's great, but there are still problems. The load on the magical girls is just lightened a little. How does that constitute a perfect sort of ending? It's still hopeful and, in my opinion, pretty uplifting, but neither too depressing nor too saccharine.

As for Kyubey, well, his very presence in the end indicates that things still aren't entirely right. There is still entropy and, while he may have been the "villain," his species's presence in the universe seems to be ultimately necessary. Getting rid of him would have made things worse within the bounds of the universe the writers created. Make of that what you will.

When it comes to whether or not you have to know about the Magical Girl genre to like this, that seems to be a Your Mileage May Vary point. Mark just started this and he has no idea about almost all anime that isn't FLCL, but he's getting sucked in easily enough. Let's see what he thinks of it and then I'll get back to you on this matter. Till then, we'll just say Your Mileage May Vary, as always. It's still a great show - you just don't like it, and that's okay.
  • kay4today
  • 28th Nov 12
@Chaotic Trilby

"Do you mean that you have issues with the fact that she might be in love with Madoka? Tough shit. You wouldn't have any issue if Madoka were a boy, would you? Didn't think so. Deal with it or escape to some other world where homosexuality doesn't exist (good luck with that!)"

Gee, stop assuming the worst of the reviewer. Just asking "What do you mean by that?" would be enough, there is no need to make ridiculous conclusions like that.
  • guyy
  • 27th Jan 13
The first line of the first comment pretty much says it all. In contradiction to that statement...

It's not about Wish Fulfillment; it is, like all other Deal With The Devil stories, about how you need to Be Careful What You Wish For. In any case, nothing is profound/deep/good, or bad, merely due to including certain themes. We know that. People think it's good, or bad, for much more complicated reasons that have been hashed out in great detail.

Your complaints about the ending are hard to understand, because the ending is pretty much exactly what you say you wanted it to be. "You can't save everyone"...Sayaka still died, homicidal supernatural beings still wander the Earth, etc. As for Kyubey, he isn't really a "villain," and if he is, killing him off would only have helped make the ending closer to unpleasant perfection, you want your cake, or would you rather eat it?

I don't want to jump to the conclusion that you have homophobic leanings, either; but I honestly can't think of any other interpretation of an out-of-the-blue complaint about subtext between Madoka and Homura, because no one ever complains about heterosexual subtext. Well, almost no one. Or maybe you ship Madoka/Sayaka and Homura/Kyubey?

"Facebook woes"? Really?

There's nothing wrong with not liking the show, but I get the impression you're suffering from a severe case of Hype Backlash. I went into the show knowing almost nothing about it—or Magical Girl styles and shenanigans, for that matter—and for this kind of story, that makes a big difference. Hate it if you must, but try not to take it out on the fanbase.
  • kay4today
  • 27th Jan 13
They could mean it's annoying that there's "too much subtext" when it's not important or not going anywhere. Or all kinds of things.

I am personally annoyed by "too much subtext", because that whole "girl seems to be in love with another girl but it never goes anywhere and isn't really acknowledged by anyone in-story" gets grating after awhile.
  • ChaoticTrilby
  • 7th Mar 13
@ kay4today: I'd like to echo guyy's point that it was difficult to interpret that line in in any other way. Perhaps, if it weren't for the word limit, the original reviewer could have been able to expand on his point a little bit and say that "they should just get it over with and Homura admit her feelings for Madoka," or something, which would have been a perfectly understandable point of view. As it were, it just came off as dismissive of Homura's feelings.

I'm sorry that I came off as hostile, but it genuinely did sound very homophobic to me and I get tired of people being okay with heterosexual subtext, while disliking homosexual subtext. Thus, my rather fiery reaction. It isn't easy to stay calm and just ask what someone means when it sounds like they have a problem with the fact that the subtext itself exists, rather than with the fact that it goes nowhere.

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