Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica) is an original anime made by Studio Shaft and Magica Collective. Magica Collective is an artist collective containing Akiyuki Shinbo, Gen Urobuchi, Ume Aoki, and Atsuhiro Iwakami. It aired in 2011 and has gained a lot of recognition since.
Genres: Psychological, Drama, Magic, Thriller
Madoka Magica is about a teenage girl named Madoka Kaname. She has an encounter with a magical being named Kyubey, and that’s when her journey begins- the journey of uncovering the dark and horrifying truths about being magical girls. Kyubey grants them one wish- any wish, no matter how large or impossible, in exchange for a lifetime of fighting witches (took a kouka/equivalent exchange). The girls are given short-term happiness and are then plunged into a world of despair.
The Mahou Shoujo genre comprises cute girls with sparkly eyes, frilly clothes, a fluffy animal sidekick, and the ultimate power of unbeatable optimism. It usually serves as an inspiration to the younger audiences, with themes of the power of love, good always prevails, etc. Puella Magi Madoka Magica deals with the magical girls’ dark side, making it fall under a unique sub-genre called magical girl deconstruction or dark magical girls. This subgenre’s intended audience is not young girls but teens and adult males.
The elements in this anime are a perfect mix of Mahou shoujo (magical girls), action, and horror. It is very fast-paced and plays around with dark emotions such as despair. It focuses heavily on story development and not so much on character development.
Being a plot-driven story, the character development was given less importance. Madoka Kaname is the protagonist of this show; however, her passivity makes her dull. She comes across as a reasonably average character with an inferiority complex. Feelings of worthlessness drive her actions. She doesn’t consider her life a significant loss and could easily choose to sacrifice her happiness for the sake of others if required. Homura Akemi is a mysterious transfer student who joins Madoka’s school. She is very blunt and isn’t liked very much by Madoka’s best friend, Sayaka Miki. She is a magic girl veteran who appears to be selfish. However, she works in the shadows and tries to keep Madoka and the other magical girls safe.
Sayaka Miki is Madoka’s best friend. She’s a very chirpy girl with a very romanticized view of the world. She’s very social and loves her friends dearly. She wants to save people and be like a superhero. She sees magical girls as seigi, no mikata, or allies of justice. She does things because they’re the right thing to do, but deep down, she’d like some appreciation for it.
Sakura Kyoko is a magical girl veteran who moves into Mitakihara (the town where this story takes place) around three episodes. She fights witches for selfish reasons and looks down upon other Magical girls. She has an aggressive demeanor, but she is shown to soften up as the show progresses. Kyubey If there was one character that was developed well, it was Kyubey. If you want to know more, watch the show. We found it unconventional and fresh that the show portrays 14-year-olds having mature and in-depth discussions about heavy things like loneliness and despair.
Art and Animation
The art style is typical of SHAFT. If you’ve watched the Monogatari series, you’ll know what we’re talking about. In case you’re new to Studio SHAFT and their work, here’s a little something that can help you understand better. SHAFT has a unique minimalist and often abstract art style. In Madoka Magica, the character designs were cute and moe, but the backgrounds in contrast to them were dark and grim. The characters had roundish faces and eyes, which is different from other SHAFT works. They did some stellar work with the animation of the action scenes and general ominous vibes given throughout the show.
Genkidan Inu Curry designed the witch lair scenes. They were very abstract and different from the rest of the animation. This was intentional as SHAFT wanted it to look like the girls were in another world that they didn’t fit into.