Posted by psgels on 28 January 2011 with categories: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica



My impression of this season, now that we’re four weeks in: it’s small, full of teenagers and there are quite a few series that I really don’t want to waste my time on. But holy crap! I’m really amazed at how many really good series have appeared. Madoka Magica’s fourth episode was again a really good one. At this point, Madoka Magica is already my favourite Shaft series since ef – a Tale of Memories.

Where Heartcatch Precure was exactly what the shoujo-targeted mahou shoujo needed, Madoka Magica was exactly what the seinen-targeted mahou shoujo genre needed. This is looking out to be an excellent deconstruction at this pace. To just take an example here: just about every mahou shoujo accepts her fate in the first or second episode. After a few minutes of doubt, she’s willing to change her entire life in order to fight crime because she happens to be some chosen one. In Madoka Magica, Madoka still hasn’t become a mahou shoujo after four episodes. The past four episodes have shown that the downsides to becoming one have some real significance.

This episode also showed that just about everyone has her own agenda, which especially became clear when Sayaka suddenly decided on a whim to become a mahou shoujo, for the sake of her boyfriend at the point where Madoka herself had decided not to become one. This also shows what a bastard Kyubei can be: he says goodbye, but instantly appears whenever he feels that someone is ready to make a contract.

Regarding a bit of a small detail: I wonder what Homura meant when she said that it would take a long time for people to file her as missing? I mean, wouldn’t the people at her school find it strange that she’s gone? I mean, I of course do not know how schools in Japan are supposed to act when students start skipping classes, but in the Netherlands it’s a pretty serious offense for kids of Madoka’s age to be absent unannounced for more than a couple of days.

Which brings me to the next question that may be thinking a bit too much into the setting here, but how many people know about the existence of these mahou shoujo? Do the police know about them, for example? I mean, what happens when one of these seeds explodes without either a mahou shoujo nearby, or one that pretty much kills everyone around it? That’s bound to raise some suspicion sooner or later, isn’t it?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

31 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    Uhhh…why are screencaps of episode 3 listed in this entry for episode 4?

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Firechick: oops, actually uploaded the wrong pictures. Fixed now, thanks.

  3. Will says:

    This episode was a top notch above others. If the two previous one I was only waiting for them to go in the alternative world, this episode was solid from all the line. It was a depressive episode, but not too dramatic for my liking.

  4. Myssa Rei says:

    I think one of the highlights of the episode was the brief look we had of Kamijou after his arm is (to his view) miraculously healed. While Sayaka seems to have jumped into a life of danger with the right intentions, the look on Kamijou’s face tells me that her wish will come to haunt her VERY quickly (if the title for next episode is any evidence). Gosh, there’s already a betting pool on just long she’ll last!

  5. Tan-Tan says:

    The only thing that turn was kind of a turn off was the zombie humans trying to commit suicide. Or maybe they do that a lot at night >_>

  6. Tomtom says:

    Is this show really that good? Because Í’ve just about had it with all the mahou shoujo shows out there (come up with something new for once, ffs), but on the other hand I’m still looking for some more shows to follow..

  7. maskedguy says:

    @Tomtom: What is your question? If you mean “Is this show generic?” then, definitely no.

  8. Piratejenny says:

    This whole episode was absolutely gripping; I’m beginning to make bets with myself to see how much longer Madoka can resist becoming a Mahou Shoujo.

    About the school absence thing – I taught for several years in Japan, and middle school students are indeed obligated to attend every day. While there are futoukou (non-attendee) students, their parents are always in touch with officials, and the authorities are always concerned. Mami might not be a proper denizen of the ‘Madoka’ universe, so her absence might not be as obvious to the teachers.

  9. Solaris says:

    >That’s bound to raise some suspicion sooner or later, isn’t it?
    They said before that witches are just a flow of evil intentions, so that whenever they’re araound you could just notice an increase of murders, suicides or unclear missing. (That it’s exactly what Madoka avoided thus not being a magical girl)
    By the way, the question is how can she still see the witch marks on people’s neck unless she’s a magical girl?

  10. fangel says:

    I think in Japan, when a student is absent they wouldn’t any attention to it for the next couple of days, becuase they might just assume that family business is involved. But probably after a week and a half or so, then the school will get invovled. Japanese people are very careful with privacy and they don’t like it when other people stick their noses in their business, so probably out of respect for privacy they don’t bother with the situation immediately.

    And I’m probably thinking when a grief seed explodes and no one’s there to kill the witch or familiar then the public will probably consider it a serial killer or a hysteric epidemic. Nobody these days will even consider something out in the paranormal because basically science kind of rules all those miracles and magical moments and such. Most people will think about science before they even come to the point of thinking about the supernatural being the cause. If science doesn’t work to solve the problem, maybe after that it would psychological?

    I don’t know, hope this may have answered some questions you had!

    And I actually wasn’t going to watch this series because it looks like another puffy-princess sailor moon, wanna-be thing but it turned out to be the exact opposite. These are actually the series that I would like to see more of. Magic shows like this or supernatural shows but with a freakin reality check!!

  11. qwerty says:

    Wouldn’t it be absolutely evil if the kids outburst at Sayaka was prompted by a sickeningly cute voice whispering at the back of his head…

  12. Jeremy says:

    Wow, this show is really getting better and better :)The art also seemed nicer in this episode. I cannot wait to see if Sayaka dies xD Let’s hope so :D But if it happens Madoka will never become a mahou shoujo. Wouldn’t that be a nice twist, the show called Mahou Shoujo Madoka where Madoka never becomes a magical girl :D

  13. victor says:

    I root for Madoka and I like her indecisiveness. This episode was awesome.

  14. Juliancan says:

    I must admit: I can’t help but compare this with the first season of Ef. Not only do they have similar camera placing, both also play with psychology.

  15. Kiarae says:

    Man this series!

    Admittedly when I first saw the title “Mahou Shouho Madoka Magica”, my mind went to Magical Princess Minky Momo and switched off as something I would never EVER watch. Yet I got bored enough after watching what did look interesting to me and started going through the new series I had skipped. Now I’m looking the most forward to this series as the episodes come out (and am nearly through with a Mami cosplay as well…/fail)

    I’m someone who hates happy perky series with too many bright, shiny magics and main characters in frills and pink. But this series? I am in love with. Why did no one do this to the genre before!?

  16. hardrock says:

    I was actually kinda bored by the slow pacing of this episode. It was ok, but it just lacked something. I thought it was a little stupid in parts. The super seriousness and lack of meaningful dialogue with the dark haired girl is frustrating. The decision for the girl to become a mahou due to her boyfriends hand is also a little hmmm. I mean, come on, you just saw someone get their head lopped off and your going to go for it just so someone can use their hand? Its tempermental and pulls me towards shallowness. I’m still guardedly optimistic about this series, so hopefully it will stop frustrating me soon.

  17. halcyon says:

    @hardrock

    I agree about the dark-haired one, she seems too serious and two-dimensional for now, but of course a character of her calibur will get a background later. As for the girls decision though. I don’t think it was too unthinkable. That bastart Kyubey was there to take advantage of the situation and considering she likes the boy, even I would probably, forget about Mami temporarily and make the same choice after his outburst.

    Also, the ways that Madoka was getting handled (being ripped up and sucked into the TV) gave me goosebumps.

    I’m glad all the hype for this show (the countless ads and celebrity cast) is actually being lived up to and possibly even surpassed. Just keep up the seinen and stay as far as possible away from the shoujo.

    But yeah, this anime is absolutely amazing so far, and I too hope that Sayaka will die. I mean, if the story can kill off a character like her as well, then the sky’s the limit. (I just dread any revivals or the dark-haired one taking Sayaka’s place.) But that’s way off for now anyways.

  18. Janette says:

    I’m wondering if Sayaka dies next episode. Either way, as a)it’s now known that characters can and will die and b) in episode 1 we see Homura’s death?, Madoka, and no other girls, the only reason Sayaka wouldn’t be there is…yeah.

    That doesn’t look good for the new girl at the end of episode as well…

  19. Kyubey says:

    Don’t hate Kyubey’s ability to be at the right place at the right time. Some call it luck. Some call it hard work. I call it just plain awesome. Service with a smile.

  20. halcyon says:

    Oh Kyubey

  21. brianwuzhere says:

    Just a thought, if Madoka is “frustrating”, then what do you call Dragon Crisis?

  22. hardrock says:

    lol, Dragon Crisis isn’t nearly the anime that madoka is, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. Maybe I’m just being hypercritical.

  23. Ncrdrg says:

    Damn, the anime is good. I’m really eager to see how Ayaka’s choice will backfire on her. You know it will somehow, they were warned not to make a wish for someone else.

    I’m betting on the guy shacking up with another girl and being too busy for her with his music. There’s really a great deal of pleasure to be had when thinking of dark and cruel ways to hurt those cute lolis.

  24. Tomtom says:

    I’ll give this anime a go now. Given the screenshots, title and the fact that psgels seems to favor the mahou sjojou genre I was sceptical about this one. With so many positive comments it has to be some good though.

  25. Solaris says:

    I’ve always hated Shaft because they use style to make up for everything else lacking in their own series. But now they’re showing they can add good contents with Madoka Magica, even if it looks they took a little too much from the genre. Madoka still remninds me a lot of Nanoha, but the premise is now completely reversed and darkened. I hope they’ll live up to the expectations they build and make good use of such good chars. They made daring choices letting Mami die like that and promising trouble for Sayaka. I wonder wether it will go like everybody just thinks or Shaft has got some other surprise up to their sleeves?

  26. ren says:

    Bah Kyubey you evil lil punk!

    Incidently, I find it perfectly legit that Mami hasn’t been revived yet considering Madoka’s indecisiveness of the entire Mahou shoujo thing now. Sigh, I miss Mami T_T

  27. windy says:

    I think that in all the “Magic Shoujo” series, the main characters act behind the curtains, they never expose their existence as “magical girls” to the public, the police or whoever; I suppose we have the same pattern here, but yes, their existence as “normal people” should be rooted in the other people’s lives. Maybe, merely hypothetically, if the girls were to become mahout shoujo, memories of their existence would be erased from all the people who knew them and interacted with them, and make it so as if they never existed in this world. Maybe, that’s why it is also that painful and sorrowful to become one.

  28. windy says:

    I meant the memories the other people have had of them would disappear if they were to die (if they are alive, they exist and everyone recognizes their existence, be it family, friends, teachers, the police…), not before, as long as they’re alive they exist, but then everything about them may be erased if they die (maybe even the parents wouldn’t remember due to some spell they had daughters like that).

  29. brianwuzhere says:

    @Solaris, SHAFT anime is always an interesting visual experience for me and Madoka is no exception. However, I think how good the actual content of it all has a little more to do with Urobuchi being the scriptwriter.

  30. Cicero says:

    I was told to check this out because it was Neon Genesis Evangelion with Magical Girls. But to me it’s rather more like Highlander only with Magical Girls. And by Highlander I mean the dark fatalistic movie, not the lighter TV show.

  31. Ara says:

    Amazing series, indeed. And I’m glad I found an amazing review. I have also watched it ongoing.
    I’m from Russia, and at my school nobody really cares, if someone’s absent even for a month. That someone just returns, when he feels like it. And my teachers can’t do anything with it. They’re told not to involve in students private life or scold them. However, it’s Japan… Have Gen been in our country by any chance?

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  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 04:05 AM)
    “Firechick, answer: Hell no. And don’t impersonate Bam. You suck at it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 03:05 AM)
    Yeah guys! Why aren’t you reviewing Go! Princess Precure?
  • Firechick
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 02:51 AM)
    Is anyone gonna review Go! Princess Precure? I hear it just aired.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:14 PM)
    Synecdoche is incredibly rich in detail, and keen return viewers can find a lot of things they missed the first time thru. Kaufman didn’t have a single teacup in a shot that didn’t mean something. Pacing is a bit of an issue, but if you notice the passage of time you can see that was deliberate as well. The movie could’ve been livelier, but for a movie about death and decay that would’ve been a bit of a sell-out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:01 PM)
    @Emma: Birdman and Synecdoche have a lot of thematic elements in common, and given that Synecdoche was released in 08 makes me realize that Alejandro González borrowed quite a bit from it; although in the end they are different enough to justify Birdman’s existence. Where Synecdiche was a better written movie, I feel that Birdman was the better directed one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    Well Bam, I had a go of synecdoche there. A bit of a slow burner, near the end slightly drawn out, however that last stretch was forgiven by that bonkers ending.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:23 PM)
    The voice of the main character got kind of annoying though, the dub wasn’t all that good either.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:22 PM)
    This was based on/was a homage to a series by the Gigantor creator and having grown up with gigantors 90s reboot this felt like a nice throwback, plot is fairly simple but used effectively. It’s a shame that it feels like there was more to tell but at seven episodes I suppose it avoids outstaying its welcome.

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