Posted on 21 January 2011 with categories: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Well, I guess that this shows that this series knew exactly what it was doing. The twist that this episode pulled… I did not expect that so early on in the series. It was by far the best episode of Madoka Magica so far. This is another one of those SPOILER episodes, so you might want to close this window if you haven’t seen the episode yet.

Of course, “mentor deaths” have been used before, and this episode did contain a ton of foreshadowing (I mean, there were a lot of lines by Mami that could easily be translated to “I’m about to die”), like you usually have with these kinds of episodes. The actual death scene was really well executed, though: there was no overly long death speech or melodramatic yelling. It was simply over in an instant. It didn’t even have time to sink in due to the huge sudden mood whiplash. On top of that, this wasn’t just about Mami who just found herself some new friends, but this episode also questioned what it means to be a mahou shoujo, almost like a deconstruction.

As for the next number of episodes, it’s probably going to focus on Madoka and Sayaka becoming mahou shoujo. The interesting part is going to be how it’ll happen. This episode pretty much analyzed why they want to become one, and after what happened at the end of this episode, it’s especially going to be interesting to see how Madoka ends up becoming one. Is it just going to be for the sake of Mami, or will there be more involved?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 13 January 2011 with categories: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

As for the shows I’m not going to blog:
– Rio Rainbow Gate is one of those rare shows that are so bad that they’re good. But it’s still way too stupid for it to be interesting enough to blog.
– Kimi ni Todoke just was too annoying, despite how the graphics have gotten even better in the process.
Note: this season I’m going to have a bit of a strange blogging schedule, due to Heartcatch Precure and Showa Monogatari, so in about half a month I’ll have room to pick up two more shows (yes, I am going to end up blogging 50% of this winter season!). Even with that taken in consideration though, I don’t think that Kimi ni Todoke will be one of those two, due to the large amount of other interesting shows this season.
Note2: I’m going to be blogging four shows on Thursday. So yeah, some of them will be delayed. Especially because I’m not often in the mood for these low quality versions that often pop up first.

In any case: yeah, I’m blogging a Shaft series again. Soredemo Machi last season did a great job of taking away a part of my bias for them, and this show holds some nice potential. It obviously takes a lot after Nanoha, but brings enough of its own for now. I’ve seen Shaft do much worse in this area before, in any case.

This episode wasn’t as good as the first, but I still liked it quite a bit. This show is especially good at its action scenes, which are really artistic and well directed and do a great job getting me to care about the characters. This entire episode built up pretty decently to that scene at the end, though I would have liked to have seen more details into the witch, and less general explanations.

Now, this episode did show that we shouldn’t expect much from the humour in this show. There was this one bit in which that classmate of the lead characters started making lesbian jokes… and they didn’t work at all. It just shows how dry Shaft’s humour has become, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Thankfully it was just limited to one scene and this show takes itself seriously during the other parts of this episode.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 6 January 2011 with categories: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Some Quick First Impressions, Yumekui Merry

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is an average schoolgirl who becomes a mahou shoujo.
Ah, this one passed the first episode test as well. I was a bit afraid since this is Shaft and all, but this episode was fresh, solid and had none of the things that usually annoy me about them. The soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura is excellent as expected, and the visuals are actually used well here: this show has a good balance between simple, regular character designs on one side, and twisted images and background once the magical world in this show pops up. The creators really tried to make another one of those dark mahou shoujo and they really succeeded in contrasting two extremes with each other. Now, there still is the danger of Madoka becoming too pure and her co lead becoming too perfect and serious, but there’s still plenty of time to flesh out their characters. Overall, I’m impressed. Now I really want to ask Shaft to keep this up, because I don’t want to be disappointed by them for the umpth time.
OP: Yuki Kajiura composed this? Hmm, this is some of her weaker work. Visuals have both neat and cliched ideas?
Potential: 80%

Yumekui Merry

Short Synopsis: Our lead character runs into a dream eating girl.
Now this is more like it! I mean, it’s not like Yumekui merry doesn’t have its cliches: it revolves around teenagers, the male lead has multiple romantic interests including a childhood friend whom he lives with, but unlike Infinite Stratos which offered nothing beyond that, this show makes sure to not glorify these cliches, and put in as much interesting stuff as possible. Seriously, this was an excellent episode with some terrific direction and camera work. The way in which it brought the lead characters’ dream world to life is really well done, and it’s especially good at using these tiny details in its environment, like a random can lying around. The entire episode was chock full of creativity, and the action scenes themselves were stunning. The characterization manages to both create charming characters during the light hearted moments, but also hit hard with the subtle yet powerful emotional scenes. Bring on more giant fish-bones!
OP: No cheesy j-pop! Instead it’s got great background art and a pretty decent tune.
ED: Unfortunately cheesy J-pop, but the visuals are interesting here…
Potential: 90%

IS – Infinite Stratos

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is the only guy of his class.
Ah, this is one for the production values. The battle scenes are well directed and exciting and the soundtrack is really solid, courtesy of Hikaru Nanase. … so why was it wasted on this kind of crappy story? I had hoped that this episode would give a more interesting story behind this whole series rather than just the “guy who is surrounded by girls” (mind you, with the right execution it could have become a great series despite these cliches), but this episode was just… unbelievable. It’s entirely about harem hijinks. The antics between the lead characters are all horribly dull and typical, with the same spoiled brats, fangirls, childhood friends, tsunderes and “walk into shower”-scenes that we’ve seen a thousand times before. Beyond that: nothing. Throughout the entire episode, there were no hints whatsoever at anything deeper and the only thing that wasn’t utterly boring was the action scene at the beginning. Even the OP just kept hinting at nothing but silly fights and harem hijinks. This episode seemed to go on for bloody ages because of this. The final nail in this one’s coffin was the very bland characterization: nearly the entire cast is just a walking stereotype and acts incredibly predictable.
OP: Bland J-pop. They got Hikaru Nanase here and they don’t even use her properly…
ED: Even blander.
Potential: 15%

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