POSSIBLE SPOILERS! Here’s a portion of the Figma Madoka review that was cut out due to its length. It’s basically me giving my opinions on the show Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Written version after the jump.
So, Madoka Magica. Well, personally, I have to say that I did enjoy the series and it is somewhat unique in the sense that it presents a different take on the whole Magical Girl genera, being deconstructive and whatnot and the animation and fights, when they do happen, are superb as can be expected from SHAFT. Though technically speaking, Madoka as a whole is really nothing new. As mentioned by VillainousHanacha as we were discussing the series before hand, Madoka borrows many of its elements from previous works. The premise from Faust, the dark magical girl aspects from Nanoha and Mai Hime and even the animation techniques can be seen in other SHAFT works like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Hidamari Sketch. At its core, it does still contains the basic elements of a Magical Girl series such as them fighting the forces of darkness with the power of hope, having a cute mascot character, having transformation scenes, so on and so forth.
Many would also say that the plot of Madoka is truly exceptional. While I don’t disagree that it is above average, I don’t think that it was a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’d say that most of what makes the show seem so intriguing is the deconstructive take on the magical girl genera, the surprises and the plot twists. Take all that away, and you aren’t really left with anything that special.
And to be dreadfully honest, I think that most people, myself included, like the show for the plot twists and surprises. The actual plot itself is pretty contrived and the characters, aside from maybe Homura and Kyoko, are treated as mere stepping stones to get the plot moving along and didn’t receive nearly enough character development to warrant any attachment from the viewer. And I also think that the show suffers from that because attachment to the characters is really important in getting the viewer to become invested in the show. You don’t care about the characters and you don’t care what happens to them.
But before I get misunderstood, as I said in the beginning, I truly did enjoy the show and don’t think that there is anything wrong if you like the series for the unique premise and for the surprises. Yes, the ‘shock’ factor is a cheap trick, but while watching the show, it does achieve the desired effect of making one want to watch the next episode immediately, similar to Code Geass R2. Both these shows love to leave the audience hanging at the end of episodes. The downside of this is, of course, that it utterly fails or falls flat on its face on a re-watch or while marathoning. Besides, sometimes we can become fans of the said shock moments themselves. If I could draw a comparison, I find Madoka to be very similar to School Days in the sense that only an element of the series causes it to stand out and it’s popular because of said element.
Completely unexpected for anyone who has no prior knowledge or experience of the series. That shock factor is unequivocally key in propelling both series above and beyond the mundane to internet meme fame. It’s the juxtaposition of preconceived expectations and the unexpected. I love that kind of stuff.
However, at the end of the day, it’s just a gimmick to gain publicity and the creators of Madoka are well aware of that. But I think it’s perfectly all right to let yourself get caught up in it, as long as you are aware of it. It’s like how I’m not that big of a fan of School Days, but do own several pieces of Kotonoha merchandise.
To sum it all up, I think that Madoka is a show that is not groundbreaking but is a pretty awesome ride that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.