There is one thing that bothers me regarding Madoka, or more accurately, some of Madoka’s fans. Since the first episode of Madoka aired, on many forums and blogs and sites, I have noticed many comments along these lines: “I usually don’t touch Magical Girl Anime, but I am glad that I picked up Madoka” and comments on how Madoka has ‘redefined’ the genre.
I then began seriously thinking as to why these comments irked me so much. It was then that I realized that the people who made these comments probably have never even seen a Magical Girl show before (or have seen one or two) and made assumptions or had the misconcepition that the entire genre consists of similar works.
I would say that, instead of ‘redefining’, Madoka is just another Magical Girl show. Deconstructive, yes, but not revolutionary. After all, the genera is so rich with a variety of different shows that it seriously puts into question what these people’s understanding of the genre actually is. By saying that ‘I would not have touched Magical Girl shows’ and that Madoka ‘redefines’ the genre, I feel that these people are also undermining and overlooking many different Magical Girl shows that they have decided to lump together.
I mean, other than the shared features of Magical Girl shows like transformation scenes, mascot characters, magical items/powers, the fighting of evil and what not, there really is very little in common between Magical Girl shows. And before anyone says anything, as opposed to being ‘cliches’, I would say that the above characteristics are what defines the genre, like how Macross will always have music and transforming planes and how Kamen Riders will always have a henshin belt. As long as they are handled differently in each work, there should be no problems.
Anyways, to be honest, I really can’t see how someone can hate or avoid an entire genre. Is it a misconception that all Magical Girl shows are for little girls?
First off, in most cases, appearances can be deceiving. For instance, Heartcatch Precure, whilst targeting a younger demographic and appearing all flowery and sweet, is surprisingly mature at times and does a phenomenal job with its character development, interactions, action sequences, comedy and plot. The same can be said for Nanoha. While it is a series about 9 year old Magical Girls, with their maturity, you won’t be believing that for a second. Nanoha also shows no restraint in bringing on the big explosions and throwing in some spectacular battles with technologically based magic weapons that do serious damage. The same goes for Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon and a ton of other ‘girly’ or ‘innocent’ looking Magical Girl shows.
And if you are looking for ‘dark’, ‘different’, ‘mature’ and ‘complex’ Magical Girl shows, there are already a ton of them out there such as Revolutionary Girl Utena, Princess Tutu, Cutie Honey, Panty & Stocking, Mai-Hime, etc… Yes, believe it or not, these shows are all within the genre of ‘Magical Girls’ in one way or another.
So basically, what I am trying to advocate to fellow Anime fans is to not limit yourself by being a genre-ist, no matter the genre, especially when dealing a medium as vibrant and varied as Anime. In the case of Magcial Girls, I think many people have a misconception as to what the genre actually is and overlook the sheer variety of what the genre has to offer. As they say, you never know what you’re missing till you try it. Undoubtedly, there will be bad eggs out there that are exploitative or otaku-pandering and what not (if you don’t like that kind of stuff), but as I have been saying, one show is not representative of an entire genre.
All in all, I have to admit that I am grateful that Madoka has introduced, or reintroduced, many people to the genre of Magical Girls.