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Live Blogs Magical Girls and German Poets: Let's Watch Madoka Magica
Hylarn2011-01-26 15:55:35

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As If We Met in a Dream...

So, right, this liveblog is covering Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Iíve been kind of obsessed with this series, so I figured I might as well put said obsession to a productive purpose. As productive as a series of notes on a fictional story can be for someone thatís not a liberal arts major, anyway

For anyone reading this that isnít already watching the show, Madoka Magica is more or less a Deconstruction of Magical Girl Anime. Think Neon Genesis Evangelion, except with transforming girls instead of giant not-robots. Or the cast of Hidamari Sketch wandering into Silent Hill. That works too

Anyway, Iím going to be writing this from the perspective of someone thatís already seen the episode being discussed, and the primary focus is going to be catching foreshadowing and clues, so someone that hasnít seen the series may want reconsider reading this before watching it (and they should watch it, itís quite good)

Some general notes on what to expect:

  • At this point Iíve already seen the first three episodes twice, and will be watching them again to write this
  • I donít expect that Iíll wait for episode 5 to come out before I do episode 4, but I wonít be writing it up based on the first viewing either
  • Iíll be including translations (or, more often, paraphrases thereof) of runes that seem important, and including speculation I find particularly plausible or interesting
  • I use Japanese name order. Partially because I spend too much time on Danbooru, partially because what I hear overrides what I speed-read
So, here we go!

Episode 1 - As If We Met in a Dream...

We begin a shot of curtains. They pull back to reveal a title card, which shows what weíll later recognize as a stylized Grief Seed (having gears in place of the typical spike), and runes reading 'Prologue in heaven 2011'. Which happens to be the title of the first scene of Goetheís [['s_Faust Faust]]. Weíll be seeing more where that came from

We move to a twintailed girl running through a crazy black and white hall. This girl is Kaname Madoka, our protagonist

She eventually comes to a door and opens it. Turns out that she was in a small building on top of a giant tree. Cue Magia

The scenery is composed mainly of destroyed skyscrapers, many of which are floating around. Thereís also what may well be a witch hoveringing in the sky in the middle of what appears to be a spell circle. Thereís also street lamps that glow red. Those seem to be especially ominous, the way Madoka reacts to one turning on

We see a girl weíll later know as Akemi Homura fly up to attack the witch(?). She gets a skyscraper thrown at her for her troubles, followed by being blasted with rainbow coloured magic. Madoka is watching this and talking to the creature Iíll be calling Kyuubey (as noted at the end of the post, thereís a lot of debate as to what to call him. Other valid names include Kyubey, Kyuubee, Mephistopheles, and That Damn Rodent). Madoka considers whatís going on to be horrible, but Kyuubey says that Homura(?) isnít strong enough alone, but that sheís prepared. Iíd like to note that thereís never anything to make it entirely clear that theyíre talking about Homura, or even the same person. Anyway, Homura takes a direct hit, gets knocked into a branch, sees Madoka, and screams. Kyuubey tells Madoka that itís over if she gives up, and that she can change her fate. But if she wants to avoid this outcome sheís need to become a Magical Girl

Aaand it turns out that it was Ďjustí a dream

Opening time! Not much to note here, other than that the music is quite good

We then spend some time with her family. Her father (Tomohisa) seems to be a stay at home type, and has some tomato plants growing. She has a toddler brother (Tatsuya). Her mother (Junko) is a high-ranking office women. On the whole, almost mind-shatteringly non-stereotypical

During this time with her family, she and her mother discuss things while brushing their teeth. Mostly related to romance. She ends up counseling Madoka to wear a flashy ribbon, on the belief that girls should stand out

Following this, Madoka ends up heading to school. She meets up with her friends Shizuki Hitomi and Miki Sayaka. Hitomi is pretty, a bit odd, popular with the boys, and probably not important. Sayaka is an all-around tomboy and destined to become a Magical Girl, provided that SHAFT isnít pulling a massive troll

As they walk they talk about advice that Junko gave to Madoka (which we get to hear little of both times). Hitomi thinks that Junko is cool, and this ultimately leads to Sayaka flirting with Madoka. Gotta meet the standard Mahou Shoujo Les Yay quota, after all

So, they make it to school. We get a comedic scene of their teacher ranting about her love life, then itís time to introduce the transfer student! Itís Homura, obviously. She spends a few minutes fulfilling the standard clichťs (tall, beautiful, everyone is fascinated by her, etc.), then she decides she feels ill, asking Madoka to take her two the nurse. As they go to the nurseís office, Madoka awkwardly tries to make conversation, as Homura leads the way, somehow knowing where it is. Homura seems to be annoyed by Madoka, but does asked to be called by her given name. Eventually Homura confronts Madoka, asking if she values her life, family, friends, etc. When Madoka answers in the positive, she tells her not to change. Presumably someone that wasnít told anything about this series, including the title, and was watching a version that had the opening removed might find the true subject of this conversation mysterious. The rest of us know Homura is telling Madoka not to become a Magical Girl

Cut to a montage of Homura being better than everyone at everything. Also; Kyuubey watching. Always watching

Then we move to Madoka and her friends eating at a mall, discussing Homura. When the subject of the dream is brought up, Sayaka jokingly suggest its destiny, while Hitomi suggests they may have met long ago. Itís probably not a coincidence that this mirrors the two most popular theories about the significance of the dream (It will happen, and Homura went back in time to prevent it and it happened, but then unhappened, respectively). I find the reset theory more likely, myself

So, Hitomi has to leave, and Sayaka and Madoka decide to head over to the CD store before heading home. We then see Kyuubey running through an abandoned area dodging Homuraís attempts to blast him. Then we move to the music shop, where Madoka psychically hears him. And only Madoka hears him. Naturally, she runs off to save him, leaving Sayaka behind. She finds her way to any area undergoing renovation, in a sequence oddly similar to the start of the dream

So, once she gets there Kyuubey falls out of a ceiling tile. Heís quite hurt, and for once Ďínotíí doing his Cat Smile. His wounds are also really weird. Theyíre the same colour as that ring on his back, and seem more like the white layer was torn away than anything else

We get some confusing shots of a chain (might get explained when we see Homura in action), then Homura shows up. She wants Madoka to release Kyuubey, but Madoka isnít going to give up on someone that asked for help. They stare at each other for a bit, then Sayaka intervenes with a fire extinguisher

Sayaka and Madoka run off, then shit gets trippy. Butterflies, flowers, and barriers to passage come from nowhere in 2d form. Itís our introduction to a witchís labyrinth. Madoka and Sayaka end up being menaced by butterfly-legged, puffball-headed, Pringlestacheíd minions, known as Anthonies. Then Tomoe Mami makes her appearance. As she walks towards the two we get two somewhat disturbing shots. The first is runes reading ĎI came to helpí; the rest of the runes are definitely from the witch, being the usual thematic ranting and Faust quotes. The second is that the lighting gives her a somewhat sinister look

Anyway, Mami transforms and promptly Gate of Babylons the Anthonies away. The labyrinth also disappears, leading to Homura reappearing. Mami scares her off. A bit later, she fixes up Kyuubey, who promptly demonstrates that he can speak telepathically with Sayaka just fine, and that knows her name, too. Then he asks both Sayaka and Madoka to make a contract with him, becoming magical girls. The end card continues the conversation, with his offer of granting a wish in return

Next: Episode 2 Ė That Sounds Wonderful

A note on the names: All of the magical girls have family names that can be used as given names. Homura is the extreme, with her given name normally being a family name. Itís sort of like meeting a guy named Davis Thomas; nothing actually wrong with it, but it sounds awkward

Kyuubey has some weirdness of his own: Itís unclear how his name is supposed to be Romanized, but the main two seen are Kyuubey and Kyubey, both of which are completely non-standard ways of Romanizing. His name in Japanese is a mix of katakana and hiragana, which is completely bizarre. And itís even spelled weird: Itís 'Kyuubee'. The 'e' sound is usually extended by adding an 'i' into 'ei'. Youíd normally never see 'ee'


Jan 26th 2011 at 4:11:25 AM
I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that "Kyuubee" is supposed to be rendered in English as "Cubť".
Jan 26th 2011 at 11:15:37 AM
Interesting so far. I'll be a regular.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


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