Anime Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
Studio: Aniplex USA, Manga in the UK
Release Date: September 26, 2016
Runtime: 300 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray, buy on RightStufAnime, Amazon UK
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a Japanese anime about an ordinary middle school girl named Madoka Kaname. She has a dream about a girl battling a dangerous monster called a witch a strange creature tells her she can change the tragic ending by becoming a magical girl. The next day that girl, Homura Akemi, transfers to her school and strange things happen.
Madoka and her friend Sayaka discover a mysterious creature named Kiyubey and find themselves trapped in a labyrinth with a creature known as a Witch. They are rescued by a magical girl named Mami Tomoe and Kiyubey offers to grant them one wish in exchange for becoming magical girls and fighting Witches.
It’s Very Hard to Talk About This Series Because of Spoilers:
That is a brief summary of the anime; I can’t really discuss the plot because of spoilers all over the internet. I can’t talk about the plot because it would spoil the story.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica subverts many tropes found in magical girl anime. The reason it’s so hard to talk about is that every episode from episode 3 onward has a massive plot twist that surprises the audience.
It’s a Great Story:
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an interesting anime, and not just because it subverts magical girl tropes and the genre. It also addresses the idea of having someone grant any wish and the idea of having a wish granted.
It also gives interesting explanations of why strange creatures would turn young girls into magical girls and what they are. It’s a very realistic version of the genre.
It’s an anime that started the trend of magical girl anime with a twist. It certainly wasn’t the first anime to deconstruct magical girls, but it’s the first one in a long while that gained mainstream anime fans.
I really loved the anime because it is very well written and has an interesting setup that takes a few episodes to reveal its true colors but it’s one that you need to watch the first three episodes before deciding if you want to continue watching.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica English Dub Trailer:
The Animation is Amazing!
The animation for this anime is awesome. What stands out about tha animation is the art style and design of everything from buildings to characters; it’s all a very unique style that I’ve not seen anywhere else in anime.
It’s really interesting and the design of the city is gorgeous, while the Witches Labyrinths are all designed with different art styles and are very memorable.
The fight scenes are also very well done and a lot of fun to watch. They’re very well animated and the fight choreography is unique considering that each magical girl has a different way of fighting that is different and it’s not just spamming magical beam attacks or anything like that.
Studio Shaft really did a great job animating Puella Magi Madoka Magica, especially if you see how much they changed from broadcast compared to the blu-ray. The blu-ray looks amazing and it’s the version you see on streaming sites
English (reviewed) (Go90.com, Hulu, Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix)
English (Crunchyrooll Hulu, Netflix)
The Voice Cast is Great in Either Language:
The Puella Magi Madoka Magica dubs are great. Now I usually just review English because it’s my preference, but I will watch the original Japanese version if I really want to watch an anime without waiting for it to be dubbed in English.
The Japanese dub is fantastic. Aoi Yūki is great as Madoka Kaname. She portrayed the character very well and gave an excellent performance in Japanese. She’s a great voice actress and I really feel she was fantastic in this role.
Christine Marie Cabanos did a good job as Madoka Kaname. It does take her a few episodes to get into the role, but she couldn’t quite match her Japanese counterpart. She’s still a talented voice actress and I do like her work.
Chiwa Saito did a fantastic job voce acting in Japanese as Homura Akemi. She gave a fantastic performance and she was really great in this anime. She’s a standout Japanese seiyu in this role.
Cristina Vee is also fantastic as Homura Akemi. She did a great job, although she had to start off very subdued due to Homura’s character arc in the anime. She’s one of my favorite voice actors because of this role.
Kaori Mizuhashi is great as Mami Tomoe. She didn’t have a large role in the series but her character had a big impact on the story, and she did a great job voicing Mami in Japanese.
Carrie Keranen is good as Mami Tomoe. Her voice does sound a little deep but she did a great job, especially in one of the later episodes. She was good in this role, she was even better in the movie, but I’ll talk about that when I review the movie.
Eri Kitamura was excellent as Sayaka Miki. She did a great job in Japanese and you really felt for her character and what happens to Sayaka.
Sarah Anne Williams was fantastic as Sayaka Miki for the English dub. She sounded similar to her Japanese counterpart and she did a great job in this role. I really enjoyed her voice acting in this role.
Ai Nonaka was fantastic as Kyōko Sakura. She was great in this role and it was interesting to watch her character develop over the course of the anime. She really made Kyōko Sakura a memorable character.
Lauren Landa is also great as Kyōko Sakura. She did an excellent job in this role and she was great in the English dub. She sounds very similar to her Japanese counterpart and I really liked her work in the role.
Emiri Katō is wonderfully eerie as Kyubey. She played him/it as unemotional as possible, while still keeping an edge of the cute mascot character voice that magical girl anime use a lot. She gave a great performance.
Cassandra Lee Morris also does an excellent job as Kyubey. She’s not quite as creepy, but her tone is still disturbing when it comes to the character’s dialogue. She did a great job and because I played a lot of Persona 5, I keep expecting her to tell me to go to bed. I have with all my hate-filled affection, nicknamed Kyubey "Douchebey" but if I told you why that would be a spoiler.
Overall, the dub cast is great in either language, the Japanese dub is better but the English dub is great as well.
The Music Is Excellent:
Yuki Kajura makes amazing soundtracks and Puella Magi Madoka Magica is no exception. The score is excellent and memorable and the soundtrack is very well done.
The opening song is “Connect” by Clair S, and it’s a nice song, it’s a very interesting song because it doesn’t seem to fit the anime until you read the lyrics and you realize that it does fit the anime very well.
“Magia” is an excellent ending song and it plays for episode 2-9 and episode 11. It’s a very good song and it also has a lot of meaning to it like the opening.
"See You Tomorrow" by Aoi Yūki for episodes 1 and 2. The ending of episode 9 is "And I'm Home" by Eri Kitamura & Ai Nonaka.
All in all, Madoka Magica has a wonderful soundtrack that I enjoyed a lot.
You Can See the Foreshadowing if you pay Attention:
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a very difficult anime when it comes to discussing it. You can’t really talk about it without spoiling episodes 3-12, but if you pay close attention you can see the foreshadowing, and that may make or break whether or not you like the anime.
If you figure out the spoilers earlier, you might be annoyed because it’s too predictable. You might like it because it’s something interesting to watch. I can see how people might say that Gen Urobuchi just threw in shocking moments just to shock the audience and the fact that the anime is very depressing an be annoying for some viewers.
Will you watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica?
Odd Verbal Tics and Writing in the English Dub Script:
There are some odd verbal tics that I noticed in the English dub that doesn’t appear in the English subtitles when you listen to the original Japanese language track. The use of “For real” and “For realz” is very jarring because it just sounds odd, it mainly comes out of Sayaka Miki’s mouth and sometimes Madoka’s. It doesn’t feel like how they would talk, but it doesn’t happen too much as the series continues. I mainly noticed it in the beginning episodes.
There’s also the use of profanity where there wasn’t any in Japanese mainly from Kyōko Sakura who says she’s going to “take her dumb rookie ass out of commission. Permanently.” This wasn’t in the Japanese subtitles about her “rookie ass” it was just “rookie” and it just feels like they added that in the dub script so Kyōko could sound edgier.
The dub script is all right, but sometimes it felt like they added some things when they really didn’t need to be there.
Should I watch the Recap Movies or the Anime:
If you don’t have a lot of time you can watch the Madoka Magica recap movies Madoka Magicca: Beginnings and Madoka Magica: Eternal if you want, but I feel it’s just easier to watch the anime because the films trim out sense from the anime and just changed some animation for some scenes. While it is nice if you don’t have a lot of time, the anime is better.
I Love This Anime:
I’ll just say it’s an excellent story and one of my personal favorites. It’s got a great story. Excellent plot twists, a lot of emotional moments and a memorable and bittersweet ending.
It’s got a lot of great things going for it, but it’s flaws are not that there are so many spoilers, but that there are some odd writing choices in the English dub and that if you’re good at spotting foreshadowing you might figure it out earlier and you might not like how the story turns out in the end.
What Doesn't Work:
Good storytelling, world-building and characters
Plot twists make or break the anime
If you're smart you can see the foreshadowing
Great voice acting in sub or dub
Odd verbal tics and writing in the English dub script
My Grade: A:
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an anime that deconstructed magical girls and the genre. It is not the best magical girl anime ever, but it is one that made the dark magical girls popular again.
If you want a different magical girl anime then this one is for you. If you want to watch a more traditional magical girl anime there are plenty to choose from. The anime is very well written, has excellent animation, voice acting and sets out to tell a different kind of magical girl story.
I love this anime a lot and I’ll be purchasing it for my anime collection. I just won’t be picking it up from Aniplex USA because they’re very expensive and I can import from Amazon UK since it’s much cheaper.
I highly recommend streaming it since it’s on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix in both languages. If you want to invest in a physical copy, getting a region free blu-ray player and importing it from Amazon UK is definitely worth it.
I have reviewed the anime movie sequel Puella Magi Madoka Magic: Rebellion.
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