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First Look: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica


I think the best phrase to describe this show so far is "art students try their hand at spicing up an anime". Then again, it is Shaft, which is known to be rather "cutting-edge" (code for "strange") with their animation. Much like with their previous show Bakemonogatari, this show combines moments of videotaped elements with classic animation. So far, it seems to be working well for the show.

Basic Plot:
So far three episodes in, there isn't too much in the way of plot development with more focus made on character development and some art exploration. The basic premise of the show is that of magical girls fighting "witches". Our protagonist, Madoka Kaname, has a very strange dream one night and sees a girl fighting some twisted creature (a kind of lower-level Eldrich Abomination) and wishes out loud that she could help this girl who is being badly hurt. It seems to be a dream when Madoka awakens in the morning, but she is startled to discover that the girl in her dream is real and is a new transfer student to her class.

Eventually, as it is worked out, the girl is Homura Akemi and she is a magical girl. Our protagonist then gets caught up in the world of females who exchange the fulfillment of a single wish to become magical girls that must fight against "witches" who cause all kinds of despair and pain when they develop in this world.

Ratings (out of 5):
Picture: 3
The artwork is unique, with the characters having wide faces and an almost sketchy outline. The show mixes in bizarre live-action during the scenes where the characters are in the witch's world. This is Shaft, so do expect things like cotton balls with mustaches (I'm not kidding) to pop up. Although the animation manages to be very fluid, I'm not a fan of the style, although I may get used to it by the end of the show.

Story: 2
So far the plot itself has been fairly unoriginal save for a few small points. Most of the major points are fairly worn tropes in the magical girl genre. It's a bit disappointing, actually.

Sound: 4
No audio problems were noticed. The sound is clear and not muffled. The character's voices are easy to hear and make out.

Overall: 9 of 15
A mediocre series so far, but it holds some promise. It might be worth watching just for the fairly bizarre scenes each episode. If you have spare time, it's worth a watch, otherwise there are many other wonderful shows to watch.

Vital Info
Title: Puella Magi Madoka Magica / Magical Girl Madoka of the Mage (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ)
Studio: Shaft, Inc.
Sites: Official - Japanese
Review Source: Fansub of TBS broadcast

I just watched three episodes and although the story isn't something outstanding, I loved the art, especially the extensive use of light colors and the contrast between the light and dark scenes. Fighting scenes were quite good as well, except for the "videotaped elements". (but yeah, this is SHAFT) I really liked three different interesting attacks by Mami, particularly the first one, which very quite cool. The cast is pretty good too.

Having watched a little further, the plot does seem to pick up. As long as you can get past the weirdness that is Shaft it's worth a watch if you don't have anything else in queue. Of course, I'll try to post a full review once I finish it.

I usually watch most of the shows every season but I haven't been watching anime for about a month. There are quite a few shows to catch up for me. It's good to hear that the story gets better. I'm pretty used to SHAFT, except for the "videotaped elements" you mentioned. I really liked their Natsu no Arashi! and Arakawa Under the Bridge was quite enjoyable as well. I'll be looking forward to your full review.

With the revelations in episodes 6-8, I think the score may be much higher on my full review. No spoilers, but the plot has gotten much more complex and the background for some motivations has been shown and things aren't all they seem.

However, as a First Look is just that, I will not be revising the scores in the initial review.


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