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Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Saturday 27th October 2012

Matt Kamen on the “Evangelion of magical girl shows”

Puella Magi Madoka MagicaMagical Girls can be traced as far back as the 1960s, with the likes of Fujio Akatsuka’s Secret Akko-chan or Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Sally the Witch – the first manga and anime, respectively, to dabble in the genre of girls gaining powers from a piece of jewellery or trinket of some kind. Hundreds more would join their ranks over the years, some merely using their powers for twee but ultimately everyday adventures, others transforming into battle-ready warrior women fighting for the safety of the entire planet. Ever since Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon exploded in popularity in 1992, the more superheroic approach has dominated the field.

The Seiun-award winning Puella Magi Madoka Magica is definitely not part of that field. Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, a man whose directorial career is based around colourful, powerful women, and written by Gen Urobuchi, author of fate/Zero and Black Lagoon, Madoka Magica is a subversion of the themes, expectations and even visuals of its predecessors.

The series starts predictably enough – Madoka Kaname is a quiet, polite, thoroughly nice young girl who gets swept up into far from ordinary circumstances. Homura, a new girl in school, seems to know Madoka and delivers a cryptic warning to “stay the way she is”. Later, a strange cat-like animal beckons to Madoka, introducing itself as Kyubey and offering to grant her any wish. The catch? She must agree to become a ‘Puella Magi’ and fight Witches. Homura appears as a Magical Girl and attacks; Homura’s friend Sayaka helps her escape; the pair becomes trapped in an abstract dimension and attacked by monsters; another Magical Girl, Mami, appears to rescue them – and then things get really weird.

Puella Magi Madoka MagicaUnlike so many of her peers across anime and manga, Madoka doesn’t immediately jump at the offer of unspecified mystic might. Her slow consideration of the proposition is just the first of many ways that Madoka Magica injects some originality into the premise. Instead, it descends into much darker territory, and Kyubey’s persistence leads to the slow disintegration of the heroine’s life. Attacks from the monstrous Witches grow in frequency and intensity, and as Madoka’s friends find themselves seduced by the allure of power, they find tragedy is not far behind.

Make no mistake – irrespective of its sugary appearance, Madoka Magica is not for kids. It replaces the typical ‘monster of the week’ that the likes of Tokyo Mew Mew would be fighting with chilling creatures rendered in a deliberately abstract manner; about as far from the comforting anime melange as possible. Kyubey, a being that would normally fill the role of a cute mascot is similarly perverted, being an emotionless and almost sociopathic creature. Even the powers it offers out have a tragic, soul-destroying caveat to them – a far cry from just about any Magical Girl series that came before.

The series was an almost unprecedented success when it aired in Japan last year, and its popularity has already seen an entire movie trilogy enter development – the first two films retelling the series, the third with new events – along with a plethora of spinoff goods. Find out just why Japanese audiences can’t get enough of Puella Magi Madoka Magica in the darkly spellbinding first volume.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is available in the UK from Manga Entertainment.

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica Complete Series Collection

was £29.99
What does it really mean to be a magical girl?
Madoka Kaname is an average 14-year-old girl who loves her family and friends. One fateful day, this all changes when she has a very magical encounter with a strange creature called a Kyubey. Kyubey have the power to grant one wish to chosen girls. However, in exchange, those chosen must become magical girls and use their powers to fight against witches, evil creatures born from darkness and catalysts of despair. Was this encounter by chance or fate? No matter the circumstance, this will surely change her destiny. This is the beginning of a new magical girl story…
Check out the smash hit series that fans are calling, “The Evangelion of Magical Girl anime” on this complete season collection. 3 discs, 12 magical episodes, uncut and waiting to blow your mind!



Madoka Magica versus Angel Beats

Andrew Osmond says if you liked that… you might like this…
So, you’ve finished Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Good, wasn’t it? Don’t be too depressed that it’s over. A new story is being prepared as a feature film (not to be confused with the two-part compilation recently released in Japan). Moreover, writer Gen Urobuchi revealed in October that a further TV incarnation of the show is on the cards. But if you’re looking for something to watch till then, consider Angel Beats, out on Blu-ray and DVD.

Cosplay: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Paul Jacques rounds up the best dressed fans
Amy Sun is in the pink as Ultimate Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
With all three of the Madoka Magica Movies available on DVD and Blu-ray now in the UK, it’s the perfect time to take a quick look at the franchise.


Naruto Music: tacica

Tom Smith on Naruto’s newest song.
Japanese duo Tacica won’t be winning the Manga UK Blog award for most original song title anytime soon, mostly because no such award exists. But if it did, they still wouldn’t win. Especially not with the title of their hit single and Naruto Shippuden opener, Newsong.

Wolf Children Tweet-a-long

Join us on Wednesday for Mamoru Oshii's anime masterpiece
Join us on Wednesday 8th January to watch Wolf Children and tweet our own commentary.

When Marnie Was There

Andrew Osmond on what’s next for Studio Ghibli
In December, Studio Ghibli announced its next feature film to the world, looking ahead to summer 2014 and When Marnie was There, based on a British children’s book by Joan Robinson.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Culture shocks and military musings, in Gen Urobuchi's hard-hitting anime
"It’s an interesting time to have a hero with a militarist outlook. This blog has discussed the arguments over the alleged political content in the blockbusting Attack on Titan and Ghibli’s film The Wind Rises. In both cases, the controversies connects to Japan’s own militarist past in the 1930s and ‘40s, and the spectres they conjure up in countries round the world; of Japanese kamikaze pilots, of torturers ruling POW camps, of the so-called “banzai charges” of soldiers sworn to die for their Emperor."

Claymore versus Corpse Princess... versus Ichi

If you liked that... you might like this...
Claymore creates a whole race of silver-eyed babes in armour, while Corpse Princess serves up a present-day warrior schoolgirl who appears to be going commando under her skirt.
Animatsu Entertainment is proud to announce that the highly anticipated live-action feature Attack on Titan: Part 1 will be released in UK cinemas from 1st December.

Japan Cupnoodles Museum

Daniel Robson sucks it up
That might explain why in 2006, Nissin sponsored the anime series Freedom, designed by Akira and Steamboy godfather Katsuhiro Otomo and directed by Shuhei Morita. Set on the Moon and exploring themes of blossoming adulthood in a post-Earth society, the characters in the seven-part series are often seen chowing down on a steaming hot Cup Noodle.

Who's Who in Dragon Ball #4

A rogues' gallery from the latest DVD box set
Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth? Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!
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