Archive for the Puella Magi Magica Madoka Category


Madoka Magica: Rebellion bilingual DVD/BD Guest Review by Eric P.

May 6th, 2015

PMMM3rebellionOnce again it is Guest Review Wednesday and it is my very real pleasure to welcome back our long-time Okazu Superhero and friend Eric P. with his take on the dub of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion DVD/Blu-ray combo.  (I’ve linked to the entry on the Yuricon Store, so you have links to Amazon or TRSI) Take it away Eric!

 Some time after Puella Magi Madoka Magica came to an end, creator and director Akiyuki Shinbo came out with Rebellion, a direct film sequel as well as a kind of extended epilogue to the series. Its story and very existence met very mixed reactions at best from its dedicated fanbase, leaving some angered that it ruined the show’s “happy” ending (depending on how one interpreted it). It was a definite conclusion either way to the story it was telling, while Rebellion was technically more of a supplement, so in that regard the movie may not have been “needed” per se. Necessary or unnecessary, we have it either way regardless, so the real question is whether or not we could/should accept it.

The first time I watched Rebellion, I admit to having had mixed feelings as well. Upon second viewing, I made up my mind and decided that it’s in fact a great and worthy companion piece to the series, having become “necessary” after the fact. Although I agree the series had a good ending, I disagree about it being the perfect conclusion its hardcore fanbase made it out to be, since there were still a few things I found problematic. For instance, it just didn’t sit right with me at all for Kyuubey to not get the retribution he deserved, for purposely taking advantage of the girls’ naivety and ruining their lives. Only in Rebellion do we get that (after he attempted doing something truly despicable), among several other awesome moments that amount to a worthwhile view.

The visuals alone are undeniably beautiful, going beyond what was achieved in the series, to the point of overwhelming sensory overload. Some fans complained especially about the direction of Homura’s character, but her “likability” was never really the point. The choices she made were arguably still true to her character, and for those who didn’t recognize that need to give the series a fresh new look. Even though that’s Madoka’s name in the title, recognizing that Magica may in fact have been Homura’s story all along only puts a more solid perspective on everything that happens in Rebellion.
For many it took only one view to recognize how special the Madoka Magica series really was, whereas for Rebellion it would probably take at least one extra view as it did for me to recognize and appreciate its own merits and intent. Especially as a standalone feature, I know I only keep appreciating it with each new viewing.

Aniplex USA has put together a very nice physical set for this movie’s bilingual DVD/Blu-Ray release. Although not hardcover like the original import, it’s still a glossy cardboard artbox that comes with the magnificent soundtrack CD in its own blu-ray case, a couple of postcards and a booklet. Minus the staff interviews, it’s pretty much the same booklet as from the import release, but this time containing English translations, so we could read everything in one place. If I had one disappointment with this release, I wish Aniplex had thought to sub the ending theme song, so I could know and better appreciate what Kalafina was singing as we watch the spectral silhouettes of Madoka and Homura dancing together while the credits rolled.

As for the English audio in this bilingual release—to start with, the dub for the series has always been decently better than average. But for the movies, especially for Rebellion, all the English voice actors are at the top of their game, having grown familiar with the characters and knowing just what they need to convey. Cassandra Lee has always nailed Kyuubey’s innocent evilness, Christine Marie Cabanos continues reflecting Madoka’s moe cutesiness without being one-dimensional, while Cristina Vee especially almost perfectly captures Homura’s passionate feelings in Rebellion. In the scene where Homura delivers her speech to Kyuubey about love being the driving force behind her actions, many people have interpreted that moment as solid proof of the inherent Yuri in Madoka Magica, while others continued believing it’s still subtext. But when listening to Homura deliver that exact same speech in English, whatever subtext there was is practically gone, and I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way at all. Having watched Rebellion subbed twice before, I consider the English version interchangeable with the Japanese version, which is no doubt the highest passing grade a dub can get, just short of being the superior version. And yes, they actually and cleverly dub the cake-rap song, which they certainly deserve special kudos for.

Just as beautiful and haunting as it is cruel, if this be the final ending to Madoka Magica, it works as a fitting conclusion that doesn’t betray the overall story’s tone, even if it’s not what the fans would have expected or even “wanted”. Whether it be sad, bittersweet, or possibly even deceptively happy (despite the title and role Homura takes) is left totally up to the viewers where any interpretation is perfectly valid, both similar and dissimilar to what the series achieved. However, if this is not the end of Madoka Magica, and assuming that any further continuation is a direct sequel to Rebellion, one could not have imagined a more intriguing prelude to a brand new chapter, one that may well lead to truly epic heights. I for one am still genuinely curious of what would lay further ahead in Homura’s journey. Oh, and Madoka’s too as well, I guess.

Ratings:Overall—9 (minus one point for not subbing the ending song—as well as for the couple inappropriate fanservice shots of Mami’s pronounced chest, my one and only real nitpick against the movie itself)

Erica here again. I have not watched Rebellion for any number of reasons, but I have to say, Eric, you may have convinced me to try it. I agree that the series can easily be seen as Homura’s story and while generally, I’m against retribution when the point is (or should be) saving the innocent, you’ve made a strong case for this being worth our time. Thank you for the great review!

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Puella Magi Tart Magica Manga, Volume 1 (魔法少女たると☆マギカ The Legend of “Jeanne d’ Arc”)

March 30th, 2015

91RxF+0Ue0LYen Press is releasing the Puella Magi Tart Magica manga in April and, as I am wont to, I wanted to get a good look at the Japanese version in order to compare and contrast. So today, let’s take a brief look at the Puella Magi Tart Magica (魔法少女たると☆マギカ The Legend of “Jeanne d’ Arc”) manga.

For anyone already familiar with the Madoka Magica universe, Tart is an intriguing idea. We know from historical records that Joan of Arc testified to talking to angels and saints, that she was charismatic, passionate about France, driven, and used by every one in power at the time for their own purposes. It’s almost a no-brainer to see her in the context of a “magical girl” focused on her wish, not needing to distinguish between Witches and England in order to fulfill her contract with Kyuubey, and ultimately overwhelmed by her desire.

The story begins with Jeanne and her team of “pucelle” fighting a Witch (and the English) and freeing  a castle. We then look back to Jeanne and her sister Katrine attacked in the woods and saved by Lise, a Homura-like girl who is accompanied by Kyuubey. Instantly, Kyuubey pegs Jeanne as having magical girl potential, but it’s not until Katrine is killed that Jeanne makes her contract with Kyuubey. She and Lise set off to fight Witches…and the English.

The story is layered with actual historical events, and chilling narration, such as this line, after Jeanne meets Kyuubey, ” 1425 – A young Jeanne first hears an angel’s voice.”

Masugitsune, the artis,s has a clean, utterly typical moe style. It’s not quite rough enough to handle the horrors of the world Jeanne inhabited and not stylish enough to give us the amazing Witches the medieval mind would have imagined. I was genuinely disappointed that we weren’t getting illumination-style medieval horrors.

Yuri is little to none, but Lise’s attention to Jeanne, despite Katrine’s open admiration (and better sword handling) can be cheerfully misinterpretated any number of ways. ^_^

The thing that is vastly different in this Magica spin off series is that we already know the ending. And it is not a good one. Even if we the reader in Japan, did not know the ending of Jeanne’s story, the manga opens with it in color, so there is no way to avoid the inevitable knowledge of the brutal ending to Jeanne d’Arc’s short, but incandescent life.

Jeanne d’ Arc was 19 years old when she was burned at the stake.

The idea that Jeanne d’Arc, the Maid of Orleans, was a “magical girl” is not only appealing, but intriguing.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 5 Neither as obsessively Christian as they should have been nor as ignorant, they read like any character in any manga.
Yuri – 1 *Someone* will see something between Jeanne and Lise, because.
Service – Shockingly little, except some moderate, almost coy violence, with the exception of Katrine’s death, which was not subtle.

Overall – 8

I’m looking forward (well, no, but yeah) to reading Volume 2 and the English release of Volume 1 next month.

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Mangatime Kirara Magica (まんがタイムきらら☆マギカ) Magazine

December 18th, 2014

kstarm16Once again, we begin today’s review with me standing in an Animate in Japan. There I was, staring at the piles of manga and magazines. (“Piles” is not a metaphor. This week’s releases are stacked in piles in the front of the store.)

And I see a, well, probably a clearfile, but it’s shrinkwrapped to a magazine, of Devil Homura and I think “Okay, I’ll get that when I come back down.”  I don’t have a single use for a clearfile, but I like the picture. QED.

The clearfile was attached to a  magazine that kind of made my head spin. I’ve seen Gundam magazine and a few issues of an Evangelion magazine, but had no idea there was an entire magazine devoted to Puella Magi  Madoka Magica, called Mangatime Kirara Magica. As it happens, I purchased Volume 16, which is still available. Volume 17 is the current issue.

The magazine is surprisingly enjoyable, for a derivative of a work created by committee for the sole purpose of taking as much of my money out of my pocket as possible in the form of every consumer good in the world.

I actually laughed at some of the 4-panel gag comics, enjoyed a few of the longer form stories  – and it made an awesome prop at a high school talk I did yesterday on panel structure, genre and storytelling because of the sheer variety of the of genre types in the magazine.

Just when you think that every single drop that can be wrung out on Madoka has been, you find you are so very, very wrong.

Ratings:

Variable, but actually worth my money beyond even that clearfile. ^_^ Let’s say a strong 8

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Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica Homura Revenge! Manga, Volume 2 (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ ほむらリベンジ!)

May 4th, 2014

Back in January 2014, I reviewed the first volume of Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica Homura Revenge!, in which we meet Akemi Homura, cycling once again through another version of the story in which she meets Madoka, and desperately tries to keep her from becoming a magical girl. In Volume 2, we pick up as Sayaka and Kyouko face off about which one of them will protect the town.

After Mami’s death, things spiral quickly downward, with Kyouko, Sayaka and Homura in direct competition with one another, despite Madoka’s repeated pleas for them to work together. Sayaka falls first, the victim of over-reaching her limits, Kyouko falls on Walpurgisnacht, leaving Homura alone again to fight…only she finds herself not alone, as Madoka breaks her promise to not become a magical girl.

Madoka and Homura face Walpurgisnacht together (and for once, my timing worked out as I finished this book on Walpurgisnacht, in between dancing with the devil and flying about on my broom) and embrace, as Homura says farewell to Madoka and resets time one more time, to try again and keep Madoka from her fate.

The title is a bit misleading, Homura neither takes revenge, nor has revenge taken on her. This is, more or less, her story, one she has lived over and over again in hopes that she can stop it completely.  And, like so many other iterations of her story, it has no resolution. But for a moment, she and Madoka were able to be together and their hearts were as one.

Ratings:

Art –  6
Story – 7 I was hoping for a stronger ending, but the climax was good.
Characters – Is it just me, or Kyouko gaining prominence with every version?
Yuri – 1 It’s love because the two of them have such strong akashic ties by this point, but I would not say they are “in love”
Service – 1 Almost non-existent, which was kind of nice, especially as I saw some bits of the movie this week at a Japanese bookstore and in less than 5 minutes watched all their breasts bounce at least once and saw a lot of thighs.

Overall – Melancholy, but not bad. 7

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rebellion Movie – Guest Review by Katrina C.

February 19th, 2014

This has been an amazing month for Okazu, new Okazu Heros and Guest Reviewers! And today, we welcome Katrina C. for the last of our Madoka Movie reviews…she’s taking on Rebellion, and I know a number of you really want to know how that turned out.  Rebellion is available on DVD or Blu-ray and there is a Rebellion manga, as well. So let’s had the stage over to Katrina! /Applause/

Beware, there be Spoilers here. 

Hello everyone! My name is Katrina. I write queer fairytales, stories and games over at Darkmooncity. Sometimes I also throw events where people can enact those games.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion is the continuation of the story after Madoka makes her universe-changing wish to stop magical girls before they turn into witches. It starts off with our dream team actually…being a dream team. All five of the Magical Girls are present and accounted for, fighting Nightmares, loving and laughing together. It’s kind of the moment we’ve all been waiting for…but wait.. How is that possible?

As the movie progresses and continues to darken, we see the world fall apart (again) and uncover what’s actually going on (again). And like the first series (or first two movies if you watched those instead), it sort of breaks our heart.

Let’s start with the bad. The big bad is and will always remain that Madoka is a shiny thing with very little personality. It’s even more evident in this movie that Madoka exists pretty much so Homura can idolize her. That’s it. That’s her role. I can no more understand Homura’s attachment to Madoka any more than I can understand my own obsessive first loves. Like to my own sixteen year old self, I can try to explain patiently over and over again… but Homura’s not listening. It lessens the story for me because while I lap up Homura’s angst, it’s flattened by the lack of personality in Madoka.

For lesser bad, a lot of timey-wimey cop-outs happen to explain why Sayaka and Bebe know what’s going on… Sayaka I kinda get because she’s dead but who the heck is Bebe anyway? After the movie, we had a lot of deconstructive conversation and pretty much decided the humanoid Bebe was essentially her pre-witch self from the timeline where she didn’t bite off Mami’s head. But that really fails to cover it. Despite her inexplicable presence though, Bebe was darn cute and creepy. We sort of huddled together waiting for her to think Mami would be a tasty treat again.

This movie goes in cycles which for the most part I was indifferent to. It’s an echo of things that happen in the series but it has a deliberateness that makes it tolerable and part of the atmosphere rather than terribly boring.

The good part about this movie is that I found it immensely satisfying on a level that I can’t quite explain. The Incubators were once again being shifty, horrible creatures and Madoka once again does her whole god-form transformation. Except this time as she embraces Homura to ‘save’ her, Homura rejects it and becomes the devil. She rewrites the universe differently than Madoka did, based on her own personal desires. I found it satisfying to see Homura change her fate and Madoka’s. So many years of watching Yuri stories that don’t meet a satisfying conclusion has put me firmly in the “Yeah, it’s messed up but at least she got what she wanted” camp. I think I had trauma flashbacks to Yami to Bōshi to Hon no Tabibito during the end of the original series as Madoka floated away to become god. I loved that Homura’s will stood – that despite Madoka’s role as the Pink Magical Girl Savior, we’re left with a darker ending than the series – Homura’s ending. And one that could essentially pull everyone back into a time loop. We could essentially argue that Homura’s decision brought us right back to the beginning – that this was the Devil’s story all along.

As an out, queer woman I still cringe away from the idea that Homura’s love is cast as impure against Madoka’s universal-I-love-everyone-so-we-can-never-kiss sentiment.. that the source of Homura’s pain is her impure desire and Madoka’s serenity is her universal Mother Mary approach… but I’ll still take it. I always liked the Devil better anyway.

Ratings

Art – 8 – Because this story takes place in a Witch’s Barrier.. and we all know the Witch’s Barriers are the best part.
Story – 7 – No one really learned anything.
Characters – 5 – Homura is the only actual character here.
Yuri – 8 – Because Homura finally comes out to say it. Love.
Service – 8 – Extra points because Mami is like 14 and I’ve seen shots of her breasts more times that I’ve probably seen my own. And I model naked. Think about that.

Overall –  7

Once again the creators of Madoka have shown us that while they can think critically about Magical Girl and Yuri tropes, they can’t think critically enough to escape those tropes. But that’s okay. They tried at least.

Erica here: I’m pretty sure that, should I watch this movie, I’d come to the opposite conclusions on most points, Katrina, so thanks for weighing in with your perspective! ^_^

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