Also Known As: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Genre: Magical Girl
Format: 12 Episodes
Allegiance: SHAFT
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
Vintage: 2011
Intelligence Agency Report by: Hikari
One day, Madoka Kaname, a kind fourteen-year-old girl, is approached by a mysterious creature called Kyubey. This creature offers Madoka and her friend, Sayaka Miki, a chance to make their ultimate wish come true. However, there is one condition: they must fight witches that bring despair and darkness to humanity as magical girls.

Field Agent Report by: Hikari
Plot
Characters
Impact
Visual
Audio
8.00
7.50
9.00
9.00
8.00
Overall 8.00
(not an average)

Usually when you think of a magical girl anime, you think of adorable, moe anime girls transforming into magical beings and happily fighting the bad guys. There’s usually a lot of comedy, and overall the girls are happy, feeling blessed to carry the burden of saving the world. They have elaborate transformation sequences, and they wear beautiful outfits. However, this is not the case in Mahou Shojou Madoka Magica. When I first started this anime, I did not know what to expect; to be honest, I thought it was just going to be another typical magical girl anime. I was wrong.

The opening sequence reminds you of a post-apocalyptic world, and it hooks you into the main purpose of the story right away. The animation is very dark, very gritty, and the characters’ plight is very desperate. It makes you wonder how the characters came to be in the gloomy, horrible situation of becoming magical girls and ridding the world of darkness. The music is very Celtic and warlike, and it helps set the stage for the dark and gritty world these girls are experiencing. I really liked that aspect, especially the haunting, almost questioning melodies behind the dialogue—you know by the music that nothing will go the way the characters are planning. This could be a good or bad thing, but since you never know which direction the anime is going to turn to next, the music is a great heads-up.

The character development is slow at first, and there’s a lot of unspoken tension and conflict between the characters in the beginning. Madoka, the title character, is shown as sweet, sensitive, and very naïve. Throughout the series, I often wondered how she became so central, as she cries and worries most of the time. I kept thinking, what makes her so special? However, her naiveté and innocence is key to the anime’s plot development and ending. I also enjoyed the other girls’ roles; their suffering and desperation become the driving factor behind Madoka’s final decisions in the end. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect of a few of the characters, and there are some surprising twists throughout the series that explain the characters’ earlier actions, which I really enjoyed. The impact of the characters’ lives on one another is astounding. This anime made a deep impression on me, especially at the end of the series. The suffering and sadness of the magical girls is painful to watch, and I shed a few tears every now and then. You don’t realize how great a burden it is to save the world from darkness until you take it on yourself, and this lesson is learned right away in the anime.

Madoka’s key and strongest point is its animation. The girls move through two different dimensions while fighting the witches, and it is important that the textures and colors of the animation are different between the two, so you understand what’s happening. The animators did a great job of differentiating between the two, especially with the 2D paper-cut effect in the witches’ realms. I also liked the fact that each witch’s illusion-filled dimension holds key imagery and symbolism hinting at who or what she might have been in the past. This helps you understand how the magical girls and the witches are tied together, and why the connection is important.

If you are into twists on age-old genres, then this anime is definitely for you. There are a lot of shounen elements in the series, but it has that shoujo cuteness, too. The action, fighting, design styles, and plot are all amazing, and at just twelve episodes, the length is perfect if you have a busy schedule. So if you have the time, give Madoka a shot. You will not be disappointed.