About the time the holiday season barrels down upon us, I always feel drawn to watch an old favorite TV series in order to relax. This year I felt I hadn’t watched enough anime and chose to revisit one of my favorites—Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011). Cute costumes, magical girls, and surrealism: what’s not to like? On top of all that, throw in a thoughtful twist on the whole Magical Girl genre and you’ve got a delightful anime series on your hands.
Madoka Magica basically shows the hidden downsides to the whole magical girl lifestyle. The lead character, Madoka, and her good friend, Sayaka, are actively recruited to be magical girls by an odd alien cat-like creature, Kyubey. But the magic comes with strings. The girls get to choose whether or not the magic girl lifestyle is for them, which is a new twist. If the girls accept Kyubey’s offer, they receive a wish granted in exchange for a dangerous life fighting witches, which will ultimately culminate in the girl’s demise. A complication comes in the form of a Homura, a mysterious magical girl, who is ultimately trying to protect Madoka. Homura’s wish when she contracted with Kyubey was actually to keep Madoka safe, allowing her to keep reliving the same place in life until Madoka finally ends the ultimate fate of all Magical girls with her Contracting wish.
One of the first things that draw fans like me to Madoka Magica is the fantasy visuals. First there is Kyubey, the alien cat-like creature. As much as you can tell there is something not quite right with Kyubey, he’s just so cuddly. His first introduction is designed to inspire a sympathy that clings after his darker purpose is revealed.
hen there are the Magical Girl costumes: gorgeous frilly icing. They are some of the cutest, frilliest, most to-die-for costumes ever. Most of the characters are the very epitome of Lolita style. I am absolutely in love with Mami’s jaunty gun-toting corseted uniform and Madoka’s ever-so-sweet poof. Even though they are not my style, I love to analyze what it would take to make one of these dresses for cosplay. What cosplayer could see these costumes and not drool?
Madoka Magica tends to be a polarizing series, though, due to how they depict the enemy monsters, the witches. It tends to be a love-it or hate-it situation with the enemy and accompanying battle scenes; it really depends on your appreciation for surrealism (which I love). In this magical world, evil witches are seen as German surrealistic visual overloads. (Yes there are German phrases sprinkled in.) With all the moving parts and reality alterations, it’s amazing that a Magical Girl can win; but they do—sometimes. And it’s really a sight to see.
Between the stock storyline turned on its head and all the inventive visuals, Madoka Magica has wormed its way to being one of my favorite animes. I mean who couldn’t love the Magical Girl life gone wrong? It’s Sailor Moon in a Salvador Dali painting. But it is definitely not for everyone; I have heard it referred to as a bad acid trip. Some people just can’t get past the visuals, but I love surrealism, and Madoka Magica’s creativity must be praised. Needless to say I enjoyed my unusual accompaniment to the holidays. It was quite soothing after all the hustle and bustle. I hope you find comfort in an old favorite too.