In the city of Mitakihara, a schoolgirl named Madoka Kaname and her friend Sayaka Miki are approached by a ‘familiar’ named Kyubey, who offers to grant each of them one wish in return for making them a magical girl.
However, contrary to the glamorous advantages of becoming a magical girl, Madoka soon finds out that being a magical girl ensues death, isolation, and pain. Seeing this darker side, Madoka questions about humanity and wonders whether she should become a magical girl.
If you’re looking for an anime that is a combination of the old and new, Madoka Magica is the perfect choice as it is essentially Sailor Moon meets Cardcaptor Sakura, Mai-Hime andXXXHolic. It was difficult to stay put with the story at first – the anime kicks off very slowly with never-ending moments of Madoka getting in the way, and Kyubey asking Madoka to become a magical girl.
It eventually picks up its pace as we begin to see that being a magical girl is not what it seems. One by one, we learn more about each girl’s background and you can’t help but feel sympathetic for them – with the exception of Madoka’s character whose personality can be slightly irritating and exaggerated at times.
In terms of the story’s plot, Madoka Magica is weak, under-developed and not entirely original. It could have fleshed out more plot details and character development, but with its pacing issues and not-so- indepth characters, it was understandable as to why there were only 12 episodes. If it weren’t for the occasional plot and character twists, the anime would not have been successful to such extent.
Produced by SHAFT and Aniplex, the art and animation showcases the ‘it’ factor. Throughout the anime, you will see amazing art of contemporary architecture and interior designs. The battle scenes are also impressive. Whether the magical girls are fighting amongst themselves or fighting against the witches, Madoka Magica is the epitome of what the magical girl genre is about.
The animation at the start might disconcert some viewers as SHAFT’s experimental art direction seem incompatible with the series’ moe style. But as the series go on, the art becomes refined, and the battle finale of Madoka Magica boasts animation that one does not usually see in anime.
Once you have seen this anime, you can see why it ignited a lot of buzz when it first came out in 2011. The anime is probably not re-watchable as a whole, but Madoka Magica‘s art and animation (in the latter parts of the anime) were definitely some of its best highlights.