Wahoo, it’s Guest Review Wednesday and today by a long-time commenter and friend of Okazu, but first-time Guest Reviewer, Greg C.! Greg has graciously offered to review The first two Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies for us. I would like you all to welcome Greg with your usual warm welcome. Take it away, Greg!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie – Part 1: Beginnings (also available on DVD or BD) / Part 2: Eternal (also available on DVD orBD) are the two disks in the Blu-Ray Collector’s Edition that I purchased. Various vendors will give you different bonus materials with purchase, so shop around. (Not bonus materials on the disks, but merchandise goodies with the movie.) Important safety tip: the sub-titles default to “None” and the sound defaults to “Dolby Stereo” and you probably don’t want either of those choices.
“They’re dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle.” – Sherlock Holmes.
Let’s start with picture quality. I’m watching the Blu-Ray release on a big screen plasma TV. It gets the most amazing picture quality. If you’ve seen the series, then you know where I’m going with this. Supposedly they redid some of the animation for the movie releases. The backgrounds, especially the witch’s labyrinths, look amazing. The main character designs are STILL pencil quality moe-blobs. *sigh*
Madoka Magica is a Shaft production and it shows. It shows so very, very hard. The “Shaft neck-tilt” is ubiquitous throughout. It would make a great drinking game to take a shot every time a character looks over their shoulder. A great drinking game if you want to get totally blotto. The changing art style trick they love to do works because of the complexity of the story. It’s done at very appropriate times. My main gripe is that this show about magical girls is definitely a male gaze production. The over use of the “zettai ryouiki to face” pan when characters are speaking is incredibly annoying. (Not as egregious as in Rebellion, but that’s a story for another day.) Be sure to watch for the trademark “Easter eggs” as well, such as “SHAFT” written on the side of a crashing train. The movies are littered with them. At least that’s fun.
“Hush, now — spoilers!” – River Song.
Now, let me warn you THERE BE SPOILERS HERE. If you haven’t seen Madoka in any form: RUN AWAY! AVERT YOUR EYES! Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
Okay, everyone still here doesn’t care about spoilers, right? Good. Here we go. My main nitpick with the movie release editing is right at the beginning: I gasped, “Wait… what happened to Madoka-chan’s opening dream sequence?” Gone. So immediately I’m upset because I know that all the foreshadowing that made re-watching the Madoka Magica TV series so awesome the second time is gone. Why is Madoka so upset in class when she sees Homura for the first time? WE DO NOT KNOW. It will have to be explained to us later, indirectly. The first episode is titled “I Met Her in a Dream… or Something” but that’s all out the window in the movie. Seriously, my favorite scene in the TV version is when Sayaka spoils the whole series in the first episode. However, after that, I’m okay with the choices they made to reduce 12 episodes into two movies. It’s mostly the school scenes that got cut. There is an overwrought Ryouko additional scene, but that is forgivable.
Plot-wise, I like to describe Puella Magi Madoka Magica as my favorite episode of Doctor Who. Homura is, of course, The Doctor. And Madoka… well… Madoka is River Song. Starting with “Silence in the Library” River and the Doctor were going different directions relative to each other. Homura and Madoka at the beginning of the movie are in different timelines. Of course, you don’t learn Homura’s secret until much later. How they ended up this way is unraveled beautifully over the two movies. And in the end Madoka has the will to do what The Doctor, and even Buffy, never did – give herself fully to the cause. And I do mean fully. Madoka went where only Lain has gone before. Gen Urobuchi, you magnificent writer!
Even with all the nit-picky things I mentioned, I still enjoyed these movies immensely. As many times as I’ve watched them, there are still tears. I’ve read the main manga, and some of the alternate story manga. I saw Rebellion twice. I haven’t bought any of the figures yet, but I’m sure I’ll crack when the Yukata Homura figure comes out. (So far I only have figures of my waifu, Saber.)
Be sure and watch until the very end after the credits. Nick Fury asks Homura to join the Avengers Initiative. I’m kidding, of course. But there is a tiny bit that is important to the next movie, Rebellion.
“That is enigmatic. That is textbook enigmatic.” – The Doctor.
Art – 3/9 The “moe-blob” characters are terrible but everything else is rendered beautifully.
Story – 10 It felt very well-crafted and it pushed all my buttons. I loved it.
Characters – 6 In the movies we get less depth because a lot of what is cut out are the little bits of character development that round out their personalities.
Yuri – 4 Homura loves Madoka but not that way. “Obsession” might be a better description than “love”. There is only the faintest whiff of Sayaka x Ryouko. Actually “4” is probably overstating it, but that can represent each couple getting a “2”.
Soundtrack – 10. Yuki Kajiura does her usual wonderful work. The Kalafina end themes, especially “Magia” are perfect. The ClariS opening “Luminous” is a typical bouncy anime title song.
Fanboy/otaku appeal – 1000. Seriously. At times enough to make me angry.
Erica here: Enigmatic indeed. Now I don’t know if I want to see these or not! Thanks Greg for compounding the question. And thanks for a great review!