I’m in the middle of watching Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ). A number of people mentioned I ought to watch it and a regular reader and commenter here suggested in conversation on Twitter that it would change the way I thought about Magical Girls Series. I replied that I felt that that was highly unlikely. Today’s post is why.
This is not a review of Madoka. I’ll do that when it’s complete. In short – I think there’s a lot of interesting elements in the story, both in terms of plot construction and visual design. I marathoned the first 8 episodes yesterday and am still watching, so that says something. ^_^ Today I want to explain, in a roundabout, allegorical way, why the plot complications in Madoka did not surprise me all that much.
Tools you need before becoming a Magical Girl:
1) Extensive reading of major literary works
This is why “average” middle-school girls are so often pegged by magical sidekicks to become Magical Girls. If you are an adult, former Comparative Literature major, you’d recognize irony and other literary plot complications when you saw it and not fall for things so quickly. So, make sure your kids read O. Henry and W.W. Jacobs as early as they are emotionally capable of reading them. Adam also suggests adding the story of Faust to the list and I agree. Perhaps some of the more annoying Arabian Tales, in which promises by genies are twisted, as well. dmunder7 also correctly suggests that Greek Myths – especially those involving Delphic prophecies be on your child’s early reading list.
2) A healthy dose of cynicism
Again, most middle-schoolers are not yet steeped in the ways of the world and actually think that they are important. If you make your kids aware of the larger world and the horrors humans perpetrate upon one another at a young age, they are much less likely to fall for a line, whether it be the guy who asks them to help him find his lost dog in the woods, or the cute magical creature offering to fulfill dreams.
3) A list of questions
If anyone offers you a chance to be a magical girl, start asking these questions. Unless you get a complete answer to all of them, say no and walk away:
– What are all my powers and what do I have to do to use them? This includes weapons, spells, mantras, poses, songs, familiars, etc….
– What is the downside/trade-off to using my powers (health, lifespan, suck energy from people, etc…)
– Who are my enemies, how do I recognize them?
– Do we have past connection, do we have a current connection? (If we have a past connection, how did I defeat them last time? If we have a current connection, how will defeating them affect their daily life now?)
– Why are they my enemies?
– What are the risks I am taking (death for me, death for my loved ones, destruction of everything in the known universe, etc….)
– What’s the long-term effect of doing this? (Do you wipe our memories, do we all die, but save the world, do we get to return to a normal life…how do I get out of it, once I’m done?)
– Do I have allies? How can I recognize them? What are their powers?
– Did we have a connection in the past and how does it affect our connections (if any) now?
– What else do I need to know that I haven’t explicitly asked, but will affect me if I don’t know it?
– What’s in it for you?
If you have any questions you’d add, feel free to do so in the comments. I’ll add the best in to the list.
I hope this gives you a better perspective of my perspective of Madoka, as well. I’m going to watch a few more episodes now. ^_^
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not a list for Making a Magical Girl Anime. It’s a list to help you decide whether to become a Magical Girl…just like it says in the title.