Madoka Kaname is an Ordinary Middle School Student with a loving family and a close circle of friends. One day, an enigmatic girl named Homura Akemi transfers into her class, setting off a chain of events that will completely change Madoka's life.
For you see, bizarre creatures called witches have been attacking Earth, killing innocent humans. In the shadows of the city of Mitakihara, a war is being waged between the grotesque witches and the magical girls who fight to limit their destructive influences. It is said that a mysterious witch, known only as Walpurgisnacht, will appear and destroy the world. A small cat-like creature called Kyubey appears before Madoka, and offers to grant a single wish in exchange for her services as a magical girl. It turns out that Kyubey has a plan to Save the World by destroying the witches, but the little creature will need Madokas help — and Kyubey sees great potential in her. The idealistic Madoka wants to accept the contract so she can help people in need, but Homura — who reveals herself to be a Dark Magical Girl — seems determined to stop Madoka for unknown reasons.
Who is Homura, and what is her deal? Just what are the witches? What is Kyubeys plan, and why does it require Madoka specifically? And what is Madokas destiny — can she truly save the world? Or will she fall to despair?
One thing becomes clear early on, though; things are not as they seem. What appears to be a straightforward Magical Girl Warrior tale becomes a twisted, morally complex, and surprisingly terrifying exploration of concepts like hope, despair, entropy, utilitarianism, and the psychological issues of the Magical girls, and it does not pull punches in regards to the horror the girls have to endure. The series is, in fact, the Trope Codifier for Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction, and has been perceived (how true this is is up for debate) to be the primary inspiration of a whole slew of imitators, each with their own spin on the concept, like Magical Girl Raising Project, Il Sole penetra le illusioni, Yuki Yuna is a Hero, and the 2013 tokusatsu series Kamen Rider Gaim (also written by Urobuchi).
Bringing together an all-star staff, Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Studio Shaft animating, Shaft's primary director Akiyuki Shinbo directing, Yuki Kajiura producing the music, nitro+'s Gen Urobuchi writing and Ume Aoki designing the characters for Shaft's first original series in a decade. The show started airing in January as part of the Winter 2011 season, though it was put on a temporary hiatus due to the Sendai earthquakes in Japan. The final two episodes were broadcast back-to-back on April 21st; the initial announcement was met with much rejoicing. When it was aired on Nico Nico Douga, over one million people watched. Compare this to Lucky Star's similar stream, which had over half a million.
The series has been dubbed and released in North America by Aniplex USA and Manga Entertainment in the UK. The series was aired on Australian TV on ABC3 starting on June 29. The series can be found on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki (all subbed), and dubbed on Netflix.
In November 2011, a theatrical film trilogy was announced. It is composed of the following:
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Beginnings: Part one of a Compilation Movie, released on October 6, 2012.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Eternal: Part two of the Compilation Movie, released on October 13, 2012.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion: Part three of the movie trilogy, released on October 26, 2013. A true sequel to the anime, originally intended to be its second season. The movie also introduces a new magical girl, Nagisa Momoe, to the team.
In December 2015, a trailer for a new Puella "project" was released. Because of previous announcements that the studio was considering making a Rebellion sequel, this may be confirmation of such a sequel.
In October 2016, it was revealed that the anime will be crossing over with The Battle Cats, featuring characters from the anime as Cat units and enemies. It has not yet been revealed what content will land on Madoka Magica's side.Note
The anime has several spin-offs, such as manga and games, which can be found in detail on the franchise page.
Compare Neon Genesis Evangelion, Bokurano, Narutaru, Berserk, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Princess Tutu, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Spec Ops: The Line, A Song of Ice and Fire, Warhammer 40,000, and many other no-holds-barred Genre Deconstructions.
Contrast Cardcaptor Sakura, which serves as the show's most obvious antecedent; Claymore and Lyrical Nanoha which are examples of relatively adult and drama-laden treatment of the genre that are, however, played straight; and Kill la Kill for a series that is the Spiritual Antithesis to this show, as well as Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt for the comedic version of this show.
Late-Arrival Spoiler Warning: Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of the most popular anime franchises. As such, there are a great deal of spoilers. Most of them are marked, while others aren't. Avoiding these pages is highly suggested for those who have not seen the series.