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Puella Magi Madoka Magica

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica
MadokaBD.jpg
Cover for first DVD/BD volume of Puella Magi Madoka Magica featuring two characters, Madoka Kaname (right) and Homura Akemi (left)
魔法少女まどか☆マギカ
(Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika)
GenreDark fantasy,[1] magical girl, psychological thriller[2]
Anime television series
Directed byAkiyuki Shinbo
Produced byAtsuhiro Iwakami
Written byGen Urobuchi
Music byYuki Kajiura
StudioShaft
Licensed by
Original networkMBS, TBS, CBC
English network
Original run January 7, 2011 April 21, 2011
Episodes12 (List of episodes)
Manga
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica
  • Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice
  • Puella Magi Oriko Magica
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura's Revenge!
  • Puella Magi Oriko Magica: Extra Story
  • Puella Magi Homura Tamura
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion
  • Puella Magi Suzune Magica
  • Puella Magi Tart Magica: The Legend of Jeanne d'Arc
  • Puella Magi Oriko Magica: Sadness Prayer
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Wraith Arc
Novel
Written byHajime Ninomae
Illustrated byYūpon
Published byNitroplus Books
PublishedAugust 14, 2011
Game
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable
DeveloperBanpresto
PublisherNamco Bandai Games, Nitroplus
GenreAdventure game, RPG
PlatformPlayStation Portable
ReleasedMarch 15, 2012
Game
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Battle Pentagram
DeveloperArtdink
PublisherNamco Bandai Games
GenreAction game
PlatformPlayStation Vita
ReleasedDecember 19, 2013
Films

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (film series)

Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ, Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika, "Magical Girl Madoka Magica"), commonly referred to as simply Madoka Magica, is a Japanese anime television series that was produced by Shaft and Aniplex. It was directed by Akiyuki Shinbo and written by Gen Urobuchi, with original character designs by Ume Aoki, character design adaptation by Takahiro Kishida, and music by Yuki Kajiura. The story follows a group of female middle school students who choose to become magical girls and must battle surreal enemies called witches. They consequently learn of the anguish and perils associated with their new roles.

The first ten episodes of the series aired in Japan on TBS and MBS between January and March 2011, while the final two episodes were delayed until April 2011 due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. A manga adaptation of the series and various spin-off manga series have been published by Houbunsha and licensed in North America by Yen Press. A novelization by Nitroplus was released in August 2011, and a dedicated magazine titled Manga Time Kirara Magica was launched by Houbunsha in June 2012. A video game for the PlayStation Portable was released in March 2012 and another for PlayStation Vita was released in December 2013. A film series has also been produced; it consists of two films recapping the anime series and released in October 2012. A third film featuring an original story was released on October 26, 2013, and a concept film acting as a trailer for a new project was screened in December 2015. A smartphone game, Magia Record: Puella Magi Magica Madoka Side Story, launched in August 2017, and an anime adaptation will be released in 2019.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica has received widespread critical acclaim; critics praised the writing, visuals, and soundtrack of the series as well as its unconventional approach to the magical girl subgenre. It became a commercial success; each Blu-ray Disc volume sold more than 50,000 copies. The series garnered a variety of awards, such as the Television Award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards, as well as 12 Newtype Anime Awards and the Grand Prize for animation in the 2011 Japan Media Arts awards.

Plot[edit]

In the fictional city of Mitakihara, Japan, a middle school student named Madoka Kaname and her friend Sayaka Miki encounter a small, cat-like creature named Kyubey. It offers a contract in which a girl may have any wish granted in exchange for obtaining magical powers and being tasked with fighting witches. Meanwhile, a transfer student and magical girl named Homura Akemi tries to stop Madoka from making the contract with Kyubey. Madoka and Sayaka then meet Mami Tomoe, an upperclassman at the same school who is also a magical girl. Mami offers to take Madoka and Sayaka along on her witch hunts so they may learn of the responsibilities that come with being a magical girl.

As Madoka contemplates accepting the contract with Kyubey, she watches a witch kill Mami and realizes the life of a magical girl is filled with danger, anguish, and suffering. This is further enforced by the appearance of Kyoko Sakura, a veteran magical girl whose wish indirectly caused the death of her family. Madoka also discovers magical girls give up their souls to form their Soul Gems, the source of their magic. When Soul Gems become too tainted with despair, magical girls change into witches. This is exemplified when Sayaka, who is disillusioned with the current state of the world, falls into an inescapable despair that turns her into a witch. It is then revealed that Kyubey's alien race is harvesting the emotions of magical girls to use as energy to counteract the spread of entropy. Madoka also learns Homura is a magical girl from a different timeline who has repeated the same month countless times to try to save Madoka from a grisly fate.

After these revelations, Madoka decides to become a magical girl and makes a wish to stop the creation of all witches in the past, present, and future. The scope of this wish rewrites history and the laws of the universe, and her existence as a human is erased from time. She transcends into a cosmic phenomenon called "The Law of Cycles", which appears to all magical girls at the moment before they become witches and rescues them by taking them to a heavenly paradise. A new reality, in which Homura is the only one who remembers Madoka, is formed.

Production[edit]

While collaborating on Hidamari Sketch and Bakemonogatari, Akiyuki Shinbo told Aniplex producer Atsuhiro Iwakami he wanted to create a new magical girl series, beginning the development of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. During the early planning stage, Iwakami decided not to adapt an existing work to give Shinbo more freedom in his direction style.[3] Another goal of the project was to develop an anime that would appeal to a wider audience than the usual demographic for media within the magical girl subgenre. Iwakami and Shinbo intended their series to be accessible to "the general anime fan".[4] Shinbo then asked Gen Urobuchi to work on the project as a scriptwriter and Ume Aoki as a character designer.[3] Takahiro Kishida was engaged to adapt Aoki's character designs for the television series.[5]

In his role as producer, Iwakami took a mostly hands-off approach. Because Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an original series rather than an adaptation of an existing work, his main goal was "coming up with a high-quality piece of entertainment". After helping to recruit the staff, he allowed them freedom to develop the content of the story, providing minimal guidance. After viewing the character designs that Aoki created, he was sure he could trust the creative talent of the team. In an interview with Anime News Network after the series finished airing in Japan, Iwakami said, "I don't matter much; it's up to those talents to do their work. If something comes to a stand-still I might intervene, but they did an excellent job and I was very happy seeing the results in episode one."[4]

Writing[edit]

During the pre-writing planning phase, Iwakami asked Urobuchi to make the storyline "heavy".[4] Shinbo specified it should contain copious amounts of blood and violence, elements that were unusual in the magical girl genre. Iwakami also asked for many of the magical girl characters to be killed throughout the series.[6] Urobuchi said he had no trouble with these requirements, referencing his past reputation as a writer of very dark and somber stories, the extent of which Shinbo had not known.[7]

One objective was for the script to contrast starkly with the way the anime was to be marketed. Shinbo planned to advertise the series in an innocent and pure manner that would deliberately conceal its dark undertones.[8] For example, the title logo was rendered using rounded fonts that would appear harmless to audiences. Urobuchi further misled fans by using his Twitter account to persuade them the plot of the series was innocuous. The true nature of the series was disguised because Shinbo wanted its dark themes to be a complete surprise to the viewers.[7] Iwakami later defended the mature themes in the Puella Magi Madoka Magica, stating, "the story of Madoka is serious but it's not entirely inappropriate for children. For example, there's nothing sexually explicit in it. There's some death, but it's not gratuitous; it can be explained within the context of the story."[4]

Shinbo granted Urobuchi a large amount of autonomy in writing the series and determining the path of the story.[9] In describing his interactions with Iwakami and Shinbo while working on the series, Urobuchi commented that "neither one is the type to show their hand, they would always wait for me to make the next move".[10] To create a successful deconstruction of the magical girl genre, Urobuchi studied aspects of traditional magical girl media that were "troubling or overlooked".[6] He also stated the plot development was heavily influenced by the character drawings by Aoki. He also credited horror fiction author Stephen King and Shinbo's previous projects such as Hidamari Sketch and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha as inspirations for the series.[9]

Urobuchi attributed his past experience working on projects with screenwriters Ichiro Itano and Yōsuke Kuroda as a major influence in his writing for Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and has referred to both of them as his mentors.[10] To set the initial pacing of the series, Urobuchi used a technique he credited to Kuroda. The first episode would throw the viewer into a specific part of the story with unknown context, the second episode would define the rules governing the story's setting, and the third episode would divulge the revelation in the plot to hook the viewer.[9] The twist in the third episode was determined during the project proposal stage and involves the death of Mami, a main character. This decision was controversial; Urobuchi said production staff continually approached him and asked him to reconsider because of their fondness for the character. He refused and the plot remained unchanged during production. Urobuchi realized this progression could be very hard for viewers to accept and might hurt the overall series' success with some audiences; he said, "I always thought this is an age where entertainment basically is about soothing and healing, like adopting a style where unchanging day-to-day life is to continue forever".[8]

In an interview with Ultra Jump Egg, Urobuchi gave insight into his writing philosophy, stating that he believed the overarching plot of a story was more important than the characters in it. He said he would first determine the actions and the ultimate fate of a character before even assigning it a name, and contrasted this with other writing methods that first focused on developing the characters and then creating a storyline for them to follow. He again defended his decision to have Mami die, saying this could have the effect of making the character more memorable, saying, "I think there are quite many characters who became immortal exactly because they died, like Caesar Zeppeli in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure or Raoh in Fist of the North Star. Precisely because of the way they died, they were able to live forever."[8]

Character design[edit]

From left to right: Kyoko Sakura, Sayaka Miki, Madoka Kaname, Kyubey (in lap), Homura Akemi (standing), and Mami Tomoe

Urobuchi stated that Sayaka was his favorite character overall and said her plotline was the most enjoyable to write.[11] Because of her grim fate by the end of the series, a destiny that Shinbo believed was slightly unfair, he asked Urobuchi if it was possible to change the plot so Sayaka could be spared. Urobuchi declined, saying her death was integral to the overarching story.[10] Shinbo then asked if she could be brought back to life, saying he had become very attached to the character. Urobuchi again refused, saying this would be impossible because of the already-established rules governing the story.[4] Shinbo acquiesced to this but said he believed there may have been too large a burden placed on the characters who were young, middle-school girls.[10]

The alien character Kyubey was also envisioned and designed by Urobuchi. Iwakami stated that as one of the primary antagonists in the series, "the mash-up of cuteness and darkness is the central theme to Madoka, and Kyubey is an epitome of that theme".[4] A central goal in Urobuchi's writing was to highlight the moral and ethical dissonance between Kyubey and the young middle school girls, which was done through actions such as Kyubey eating its own corpse to recycle energy.[9] He compared the character to monsters in the works of horror fiction author H. P. Lovecraft, commenting of Kyubey: "he isn't evil, it is his lack of feelings that make him scary".[12] Urobuchi also remarked upon the moral ambiguity the series displays in an interview with Asahi Shimbun, stating "Al-Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers due to their self-righteousness. Justice for some people is an evil for others. Good intentions, kindness, and hope will not necessarily make people happy."[6]

Due to unforeseen scheduling problems with Shaft, production of the series was postponed for three years following the completion of its writing. Once the issues were resolved, production began without further complications.[4] The animation studio led the conception and design of the witches, and created each one's individual backstory.[10] Urobuchi had originally envisioned the witches to be similar to conventional monsters such as Godzilla, but upon seeing the surreal concept art for one of the main witches, Walpurgis Night, he said; "How can Homura possibly fight against something like this?" Designers from Shaft added quotations from the German folklorist Faust to the series.[11] Throughout production, the animation production team Gekidan Inu Curry had freedom to insert new details and to modify existing ones from the original script; for example, during a scene in the final episode in which the team added black wings to Homura—something that was not included in Urobuchi's writing. Urobuchi praised this aspect of the production, commenting, "additions by the animation production team added more mystery and depth to [the] characters, and without them, it would have been very difficult to write any further stories in the world of the series".[9]

Music[edit]

Iwakami and Shinbo recruited Yuki Kajiura to compose the soundtrack for the series after Urobuchi recommended her. Shinbo had previously worked with Kajiura on Le Portrait de Petit Cossette; Urobuchi told of the inspirational effect the music from that series had on him while writing parts of the script. Urobuchi said he had long been a fan of Kajiura's anime soundtracks and praised her work ethic, saying she would always familiarize herself with the story's plotline while composing for it.[10] Japanese pop music duo ClariS was also commissioned to perform the series' opening theme "Connect" (コネクト, Konekuto).[13] Iwakami involved himself in the song's development to ensure it would fit with the series, marking one of the few times he intervened in an aspect of the production.[4] Both "Connect" and the ending theme "Magia" by Kalafina were revealed in a television commercial several weeks before the series' premiere in Japan.[13]

Broadcast and distribution[edit]

Blu-Ray Box Set for the anime series.

On January 7, 2011, Puella Magi Madoka Magica debuted on Mainichi Broadcasting System (MBS), Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), and Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (CBC) in Japan.[14] The first ten episodes aired weekly without interruption and were made available for streaming on Nico Nico Douga and BIGLOBE's Anime One service. That March, the planned broadcasts of the last two episodes were halted because of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami; TBS also canceled its scheduled airing of the 10th episode so it could provide more news coverage of the natural disaster.[15]

Urobuchi apologized to viewers for the delays; he also said the postponements could be viewed in a positive light because they alleviated some production pressures on animation studio Shaft because of the tight broadcast schedule. Citing particularly challenging drawings for episodes 11 and 12, Urobuchi and Iwakami planned to have Shaft continue to improve the episodes up until their rescheduled broadcasts. According to Urobuchi if episode 11 had been aired in its current state as scheduled, the result would likely have been disappointing.[15] On March 23, 2011, the broadcast for the rest of the series was indefinitely delayed but the production team reported that they were continuing to work on the episodes and announced their intention to finish airing the series by April.[16] On April 10, 2011, the official website for Puella Magi Madoka Magica announced that broadcasts would resume on April 21. Episodes 11 and 12 aired back-to-back on MBS while TBS and CBC ran episode 10 together with episodes 11 and 12.[17]

Iwakami later commented on this unique production experience in an interview with Anime News Network. He said Shaft was always pressed for time during the production process and only just completed each episode before its air time. After the earthquake and tsunami, he stated that many of the company's staff were upset by the incident and were unable to work effectively on episodes 11 and 12. He said, however, "a week went by, and two weeks went by, and the staff started saying that they couldn't stay in shock forever, that they had to keep on going, and then production continued".[4]

The series was released on six Blu-ray Disc (BD) and DVD volumes between April 27 and September 21, 2011, having been delayed by the earthquake from the original release date of March 30, 2011.[16][18] Drama CDs were included with the first, third, and fifth BD/DVD volumes. The sixth and final volume released on September 21, 2011, contains a director's edit of episode 12.[19] The series began streaming on Crunchyroll on February 15, 2012, as well as on Hulu and Crackle.[20][21]

Aniplex of America released the series in North America, including an English dub, in three BD and DVD volumes released between February 14 and June 12, 2012. Aniplex also released limited editions containing the original soundtrack CDs and special items.[22][23][24] Manga Entertainment licensed the series in the United Kingdom and released it on October 29, 2012 on BD and DVD in a complete collection.[25][26][27][28] Madman Entertainment licensed the series in Australia, where it was broadcast on the children's channel ABC3 on June 29, 2013, following an early preview on January 6.[29][30] The dubbed series began streaming on Viz Media's streaming service Neon Alley in late 2013.[31]

On September 1, 2018, a new television anime series, based on the smartphone game Magia Record, was announced to be scheduled for 2019.[32]

Related media[edit]

Films[edit]

In November 2011, it was announced in the December issue of Kadokawa Shoten's Newtype magazine that Shaft was developing a three-part theatrical film project.[33] The first two films, titled Beginnings (始まりの物語, Hajimari no Monogatari) and Eternal (永遠の物語, Eien no Monogatari), are compilations of the anime television series featuring re-recorded voices and some new animation. The first film, which covers the first eight episodes of the television series,[2] was released in theaters on October 6, 2012, while the second film, which covers the last four episodes, was released on October 13, 2012.[34] The first two films were screened in selected locations in the United States and seven other countries between October 2012 and February 2013;[35][36] they were also screened at Anime Festival Asia between November 10 and 11, 2012, in Singapore.[37] The two films were released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on July 30, 2013, in standard and collector's edition sets and is being made available for import by Aniplex of America.[38] The third film, titled Rebellion (叛逆の物語, Hangyaku no Monogatari), features a new story written by Urobuchi and acts as a sequel in the television series. It was released to Japanese theaters on October 26, 2013.[39][40][41] The film received a North American imported release on December 3, 2013.[42] The first and second films were re-released with an English dub on July 15, 2014.[43]

A short concept film for a new story, described as a "movie-based image board", was debuted at Shaft's anniversary exhibition Madogatari on November 27, 2015.[44] Shaft representative director and president Mitsutoshi Kubota later confirmed in an interview in Newtype that the concept film will launch a new Puella Magi Madoka Magica project.[45]

Print media[edit]

Houbunsha has published several manga series based on Puella Magi Madoka Magica. A direct adaptation of the anime series was illustrated by Hanokage and published in three four-chapter tankōbon volumes that were released between February 12 and May 30, 2011.[46][47] The manga has been licensed in North America by Yen Press.[48] A side story manga titled Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice (魔法少女かずみ☆マギカ〜The innocent malice〜, Mahō Shōjo Kazumi Magika: The Innocent Malice), which was written by Masaki Hiramatsu and illustrated by Takashi Tensugi, was serialized in Manga Time Kirara Forward between March 2011 and January 2013.[46][49] A third manga titled Puella Magi Oriko Magica (魔法少女おりこ☆マギカ, Mahō Shōjo Oriko Magika), which was written by Kuroe Mura, was released in two tankōbon volumes on May 12, 2011, and June 12, 2011.[46] Both Kazumi Magica and Oriko Magica have been licensed by Yen Press in North America.[50] The first volume of Kazumi Magica was released in May 2013.[51] Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Wraith Arc (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ[魔獣編]), which was written and illustrated by Hanokage, began serialization in the 20th issue of Manga Time Kirara Magica released on June 10, 2015. The plot describes the events that happened between Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Eternal and Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion.[52]

The first volume of an official anthology comic featuring illustrations by guest artists was released on September 12, 2011.[53] A dedicated monthly magazine published by Houbunsha and titled Manga Time Kirara Magica (まんがタイムきらら☆マギカ, Manga Taimu Kirara Magika) was launched on June 8, 2012; it features various manga stories, including spin-off stories of Oriko Magica.[54] A film comic adaptation of the series titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Film Memories went on sale on May 26, 2012.[55] Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story, another manga by Hanokage, was published in three tankōbon volumes between October 12 and November 12, 2012,[56][57][58] and was licensed by Yen Press in 2014.[59] The first volunme of Puella Magi Suzune Magica (魔法少女すずね☆マギカ), which was written and illustrated by Gan, was released on November 12, 2013, before being serialized in Manga Time Kirara Magica on November 22, 2013.[60] Puella Magi Homura Tamura (魔法少女ほむら☆たむら), which was written and illustrated by Afro, is serialized in Manga Time Kirara Magica; its first volume was released in October 2013 and was licensed by Yen Press.[61] Puella Magi Homura's Revenge! (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ ほむらリベンジ!), written by Kawazukuu and illustrated by Masugitsune, was serialized in Manga Time Kirara Magica and released two volumes in December 2013; Yen Press licensed the manga.[61]

Hajime Ninomae wrote a novel adaptation of the series that was illustrated by Yūpon and published by Nitroplus on August 14, 2011.[62] Pre-release copies were available at Comiket 80 on August 12, 2011.[63] A book titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Beginning Story, which is based on Gen Urobuchi's original draft treatment for the anime, was released in November 2011.[64]

Video games[edit]

A video game based on the series titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ ポータブル, Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika Pōtaburu) and designed for the PlayStation Portable was released by Namco Bandai Games on March 15, 2012. The game allows players to take many routes and change the ending of the story.[65] Urobuchi returned as the writer and Shaft animated the title, while Yusuke Tomizawa and Yoshinao Doi produced it.[66] The game was released in two editions; a standard box including a bonus DVD, and a limited edition box containing a Madoka Figma, a bonus Blu-ray Disc, a Kyubey pouch, a 'HomuHomu' handkerchief and a special clear card.[67]

An action game for the PlayStation Vita titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Battle Pentagram (魔法少女まどかマギカThe Battle Pentagram) was developed by Artdink and published by Namco Bandai Games, and was released in Japan on December 19, 2013.[68][69] The game features an original story that was created with guidance from Urobuchi in which all five magical girls team up to defeat a powerful witch called Walpurgis Night.[70] Upon release, a limited edition version that included codes for additional in-game costumes and merchandise such as a CD copy of the game's soundtrack and an art book, was also on sale.[68]

A free smartphone application called Mami's Heart Pounding Tiro Finale (マミのドキドキティロフィナーレ, Mami no Doki Doki Tiro Fināre) was released on October 14, 2011.[71] A third-person shooter (TPS) titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica TPS featuring Homura Akemi was released for Android devices in December 2011.[72] A second TPS title featuring Mami was released on August 2012[73] and a third featuring Sayaka and Kyoko was released on October 16, 2012.[74] A puzzle game for iOS devices titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica Puzzle of Memories was released on March 29, 2013.[75]

Costumes from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, alongside content based on other anime and games, are available in Japan as downloadable content (DLC) for the PSP game Gods Eater Burst.[76] Costumes and accessories are also available as DLC for Tales of Xillia 2,[77] and were available for Phantasy Star Online 2 in October 2013.[78] Another collaboration with the mobile game Phantom of the Kill took place for an event that ran from August 8, 2015 to September 21, 2015. During that campaign, players had a chance of obtaining playable Madoka characters through in-game lotteries. Puella Magi Madoka Magica-themed missions, weapons and items were also available at that time.[79]

A pachinko game titled Slot Puella Magi Madoka Magica was released in 2013, and a second pachinko game titled Slot Puella Magi Madoka Magica 2 was released in 2016. Slot Puella Magi Madoka Magica 2 features the song "Naturally" by Aoi Yūki and Eri Kitamura.[80] Also in 2016, the smartphone game Girl Friend Beta announced a collaboration with Puella Magi Madoka Magica in which players got a Madoka card as a log-in bonus.[81]

A smartphone game called Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, was released in Japan on August 22, 2017.[82][83][84] The game features a new protagonist named Iroha Tamaki, who arrives in Kamihama City to search for her missing sister. The game features the theme song "Kakawari" (かかわり, "Connection") by TrySail.[85] An anime adaptation of the game will premiere in 2019.[32]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Puella Magi Madoka Magica has received widespread critical acclaim. UK Anime Network's Andy Hanley rated the anime 10 out of 10 and lauded it for its deeply emotional content, and described it as immersive and filled with grandiose visuals along with an evocative soundtrack. He recommended watching it several times to fully comprehend the complex and multi-layered plot. Hanley called it the greatest television anime series of the 21st century thus far.[86] Scott Green of Ain't It Cool News called the series "hugely admirable"; he praised the animation team's attention to detail, stating that the series "would not work nearly as well if the characters in general and as magical girls specifically weren't presented so spectacularly winningly by the production". Green also said he would highly recommend Puella Magi Madoka Magica to anyone with an interest in anime.[87]

T.H.E.M. Anime reviewer Tim Jones criticized the show's "weak character development" but also called it "beautiful, well-written, and surprisingly dark", and gave it four out of five stars. Jones also commended the unique animation and design of the backdrops shown during witch fights, which he described as "surreal, beautiful, [and] trippy".[88] In his review of the three BD volumes of the anime series, Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network characterized the story as very emotionally dark and "one of the most ambitious and beautiful anime series in recent memory." He awarded each of the volumes ratings of A or A+ overall.[89][90][91] Awarding the series five stars out of five, Common Sense Media wrote that the "animation style is full of fluid motion and attention to detail that makes it a uniquely pleasurable experience to watch" and "the main characters [are] well developed and its hard not to get attached to them as the story progresses".[92]

Reviewers highly praised the series' darker approach to the popular magical girl subgenre in Japanese anime and manga. In its review of the series, the staff at Japanator said this trope "added a level of depth and complexity to the genre that we haven’t ever seen, and I don’t think we will see again ... [a]dding on that dressing gave the show a more perverse and cruel feeling to it, making it all the more compelling to watch".[93] Liz Ohanesian of LA Weekly attributed the series' popularity with older, male audiences—an otherwise unusual demographic to the genre—to the genre deconstruction of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. She also commented on the series' cultural impact, writing that in Japan and the US there has been incredible fan interest the series. She credited the all-star crew including writer Urobuchi, director Shinbo, and the Shaft animation studio as "hitmakers" and described the anime as "a series designed for acclaim".[94] TechnologyTell's Jenni Lada wrote that the show's external appearance belied its true "darker and more twisted" essence. She recommended viewers watch at least three episodes to discover the series' true nature.[95]

According to Sara Cleto and Erin Bah, the subversion of the magical girl genre "draw[s] attention to the question of narrative power"—particularly in the use of alternative timelines—as the characters fight for their survival.[96] Production I.G's Katsuyuki Motohiro watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica after hearing opinions that it exceeded Neon Genesis Evangelion. Upon viewing the series, he was "amazed that there was a person who could write such a work" and began analyzing Urobuchi's other works; he was motivated to ask Urobuchi to write the crime thriller Psycho-Pass.[97] In issue 103 of Neo, journalist Matt Kamen wrote, "With its ... daring approach to a dated genre, Puella Magi Madoka Magica essentially does for magical girls what Neon Genesis Evangelion did for giant robots".[98] Writing for the Kotaku blog, critic Richard Eisenbeis hailed the series as "one of the best anime" and wrote, "It deconstructs the magical girl genre and builds an emotional narrative filled with memorable characters".[99]

Sales and accolades[edit]

The first BD volume sold 53,000 copies in its first week, 22,000 of which were sold on its first day, breaking the record held by the sixth BD volume of Bakemonogatari.[100] The second volume sold 54,000 copies, breaking the first volume's record.[101] Each subsequent volume sold over 50,000 copies in their first week.[102][103] This was despite controversy over the pricing of the volumes, which some considered to be unfairly high. The staff at Japanator stated they could not recommend the volume to their readers due to the prohibitive cost.[93] Bertschy concurred, writing that the "limited episode count and high price of entry make the show inaccessible to an audience unwilling to shell out".[89] The 2017 compilation album Puella Magi Madoka Magica Ultimate Best ranked at No. 4 on Oricon's weekly albums chart, having sold over 13,500 copies.[104] By the end of 2017, Ultimate Best was the 29th best-selling anime CD album of the year.[105]

Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that Puella Magi Madoka Magica had grossed ¥40 billion from the sales of related goods within two years of its release.[106] A live broadcast of the entire series was streamed on Nico Nico Douga on June 18, 2011, garnering around a million viewers, surpassing the previous streaming audience record of 570,000 held by Lucky Star.[107] According to Google Zeitgeist, Madoka Magica was the most-searched and fastest-rising search query in the anime category of 2011.[108]

The show won the Television Award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards[109] as well as 12 Newtype Anime Awards[110] and the Grand Prize for animation in the 2011 Japan Media Arts awards.[111] It was nominated for the 32nd Nihon SF Taisho Award[112] and won the 2011 Bronze Prize for Kyubey's catchphrase.[113] It also won three Tokyo Anime Awards in the Television Category, Best Director and Best Screenplay,[114] and the Selection Committee Special Prize award at the 2012 Licensing of the Year awards.[115] Madoka Magica was awarded a Seiun Award for "Best Media" at the 2012 Japan Science Fiction Convention[116] and was also awarded a Sisterhood Prize for the Sense of Gender Awards.[117] It also won the 2012 UK Anime Network Reader's Choice Award.[118] In 2015, the show was awarded the inaugural Sugoi Japan Grand Prix; Japan's nationwide vote for manga, anime, and novels considered as cultural assets that have the potential to be beloved all over the world, among all of the works published since 2005.[119] In 2017, Madoka Magica was selected as the best anime of 2011 by the Tokyo Anime Award Festival.[120]

Legacy[edit]

The radio station Tokyo FM reported that Puella Magi Madoka Magica has developed into a social phenomenon in Japan.[121] Toussaint Egan of Paste magazine stated that the series was "widely celebrated by fans and critics alike" upon its release and that the show is "a postmodern reconfiguration of genre tropes rife with plot twists and existential malaise on a cosmic horror level".[122] The Spanish film director Carlos Vermut [es] has cited Madoka Magica as a large influence on his 2014 film Magical Girl.[123]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]