Have you ever had someone bake you a cake? Perhaps for your birthday, it’s beautifully decorated, looks delicious and smells lovely. Then suddenly a hand burst out of your delicious baked treat, pulls out your intestines, tosses them against the wall and says, “Look, art!”
What’s that I hear you saying? You’ve never had this odd experience? That’s okay, neither have I. But I’m sure I have some idea of what it’s like, after binge watching all 12 episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. However, even after this anime ripped out my guts without a care in the world, I cannot recommend it enough! I’m absolutely, 100%, totally in love with this anime! And here’s why.
On the surface Madoka Magica is your typical magical girl anime, it’s sweet, fun and immediately engaging. Right from the opening credits I was completely fooled into feeling safe and settled. It all appears to be a very normal “Mahou shoujo” (Magical Girl Subgenre). It follows the classic tropes: Cute teenage girl name Madoka Kaname meets an adorable cat like creature called Kyubey who offers her a “contract”. He’ll grant any wish she desires and in return she will be given special powers, and become a magical girl. Her sole purpose to fight evil beings called witches.
Now truth be told, I only started watching this series because of an epic fight scene I stumbled on while browsing YouTube! It was visually stunning, dark, edgy and skillful animated, plus it included badass girls flipping around, freezing time and shooting each other with high powered rifles and bazookas! Needless to say, I immediately wanted to watch the entire anime, but I was surprised with what I found. As the first episode began I was sure I had clicked on the wrong thing, and was slightly disappointed. I mean take a look at these two screenshots, you’d be forgiven for thinking they weren’t from the same show! But honestly – even if a magical girl animes aren’t directly aimed at me (being a 24 year old man), I still really enjoy them! So I thought “ah what the heck”, and kept watching. For that simple choice, I was richly rewarded.
Things quickly change in episode 3, as the series took a sharp nosedive downwards, into some very dark places. It all begins when fellow Magical Girl and mentor of Madoka, Mami Tomoe (SPOILER ALERT) has her head chewed off and swallowed by a witch! This horrifying moment isn’t overly gory, but it is tremendously shocking. If you were expecting a typical magical girl anime, that expectation just got tossed out the window, and it doesn’t stop there! Both Madoka and I began to ask some seriously big questions at this point! Where do witches come from? Why is Kyubey so eager to sign girls to a contract? What is his final goal? And why does he always have the one dumb look on his face!? Seriously, it gets really disconcerting as he drops some hefty revelations on us.
Now if I go any further down this road I risk spoiling the entire series for you. But trust me, there is a lot left to discover, including an M Night Shyamalan sized twist at the end. Which for me was the the cherry on top, or the strawberry icing should I say, if I’m going to go back to my original cake analogy. Anyway this final plot twist is what made this series go from good to great. But honestly it’s only the icing, there is so much that makes Madoka Magica awesome. The soundtrack is spectacularly and epic, and the animation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When the witches appear their animation is completely different to the norm. Resembling story book characters that move in stop-motion,and are more than enough to give little kids nightmares, (and possibly grown 24 year old men too!) The plot is unique and riveting , the characters are profound and yes I’m running out of superlatives to describe this amazing show.
So simply put, go and watch this anime! With only 12 episodes it’s perfect for a lazy winter Sunday indoors. You can likely finish it in one or two days, it just depends on how many times you have to pause and swear at your television, because Kyubey just dropped another bombshell!
– Joshua Baty