Puella Magi Madoka Magica Review

This anime… This is one of the darkest little girl/mahou shoujo shows that ever will be. It’s directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, who is the director mentioned quite often in the podcasts as producing a lot of “Shinbo-isms.” He has very common elements that he uses in his animes, usually slow pan-shots (which he often uses when he has run out of money), characters with their heads tilted back in every other shot, and the now-classic Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei shot:

Other anime that he has directed includes Dance in the Vampire Bund, Maria Holic, Bakamonogatari, and the new show Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. He’s also rumored to have been the director in some hentai, such as Blood Royale and Temptation, under the alias Juuhachi Minamizawa.

Shinbo is well-known for the dark elements in the shows that he directs. Tsukuyomi, despite being quite played up and comical, had very dark, depressing elements to them, and Madoka is no different. Madoka is about, well, Madoka. A young girl who finds herself at the center of a battle between witches and magical girls. She has a dream about a little cat-like creature, showing her a young girl getting beaten up and at the end of her rope. He tells her, she doesn’t have to fight on her own! You can help her! Just make a contract with me.


There may be spoilers from this point onward! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

She awakens from her dream as if nothing had happened, and the first episode continues on a very light note. Until Homura appears in class. It’s the same girl from Madoka’s dream! Okay, this is just weird! She’s a broken girl, who appears very emotionless and apathetic to the people around her. She warns Madoka immediately upon meeting her, not to “become someone else. Your family will miss you.”

The show continues on in a want-to-be light manner, pretending as if it’s a simple happy magical girl romance show, in a way very similar to Pretear. It tries to show a brave face, as Madoka saves a wounded Cubay (or QB, the cute little white kitty thing with WTF HAIR COMING OUT OF ITS EARS AHHHHH! – can’t explain why, but that freaked me out from the very beginning! It’s really just a foreshadow into what kind of horrible, awful creature Cubay/QB is .) from being attacked by Homura. She’s saved by Mami, a cute blonde with curly pigtails.

From there, Madoka and her friend learn from Mami and Cubay/QB all about being a Magical Girl. Well, not all about it. Only that in order to become a magical girl, you have to make a contract with the freaky little ear-haired cat-thing. However! In doing so, you get to have ONE wish. It can be anything that you can imagine! Cubay/QB desperately wants Madoka to make a contract with him, as he senses that she has some great power surrounding her.

All the while, Madoka’s friend is stuck in a love triangle. Her male companion doesn’t appear to have any feelings for her, and all she wants is for him to love her. He has broken his hand and is unable to play his violin, after having been an amazing genius at the instrument. All she wants is for him to be able to play again, and she has been supporting him since the accident. Of course, she uses her wish to heal him, hoping that he would come to her.

… but the triangle is completed when Madoka’s other friend asks the violinist to be her boyfriend.

The stress of being a Magical Girl and being unable to be with the person she gave up her wish for is too much for her, and despite Homura trying to help her from the sidelines, she becomes a witch that Madoka and Mami have to destroy.

Eventually you learn that Cubay/QB is really just an incubator – someone who plants the seeds to make girls into witches. He essentially steals their souls, putting it into a little gem, or “seed”, that grows into a witch.

The show gets so much darker as it goes on. I’ve heard people tell me that they “can’t watch magical girl shows” without even giving this show a try. It’s absolutely nothing like any other magical girl show out there. The closest comparison that I’ve seen that I can make is Pretear – and that’s only because Pretear has the slightest of dark elements underneath it. I highly recommend anyone who likes a creepy show, that unfurls as it plays out like a rose, to watch it.

A non-magical girl show I would compare it to would be Higurashi, for the “WTF is going on here?” effect. I truly think that this is Shinbo’s BEST show so far, and I hope that he can continue to change my opinion about him in the future.

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