Tag Archives: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Otakon 2011: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Analysis Panel

Fan panels at anime cons don’t seem to get much coverage- I noticed before I was attending cons with regularity that all the anime news sites tend to cover is licensing announcements, which are honestly kind of boring. Yes, Funimation has licensed another title; no, they won’t release it when you actually feel like watching it. Next?

I set out to Otakon this year to correct this horrible injustice and cover some panels myself (and to cover the con from a Sailor Moon perspective for Moon Chase again, like I did last year), only to come away with a new understanding of why no one covers fan panels; not much happens there. It’s usually a large group of people getting together and collectively saying, “How awesome is our favorite show? That’s right, SO AWESOME!” I enjoyed the Durarara!! panel, but that’s really all it was.

Fortunately, as you might have already surmised from the title of this post, the Madoka panel was actually worth devoting some time to, so hit the jump and we’ll get that out of the way. Continue reading Otakon 2011: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Analysis Panel

On the Puella Magi Madoka Magica Finale, Part II

Madoka and Religion

I do apologize for bringing up Evangelion AGAIN, but you know, there are some areas where the two shows are opposites: in Evangelion, there’s a ton of symbolism relating to the Abrahamic faiths, but the show isn’t really about any of that; Madoka doesn’t bother with much religious symbolism (in fact, most of the symbolism is about other things entirely), but the show is literally about a girl who dies for our sins. Evangelion uses religious trappings, Madoka uses actual religion.

However, one thing they have in common is that while at first the Christian parallels on both shows jump out at you, to me the real substance of the religious material in both shows has more to do with Jewish mysticism and/or ideas that predate Christianity. Rather than being a token similarity, or the fact that one show was influenced by the other, I think it’s because both shows want to deal with religion (to the extent that Eva deals with it at all) on a more primal level, and if you want to go truly primal with religion, the year 0 is just too recent.

Continue reading On the Puella Magi Madoka Magica Finale, Part II

On The Puella Magi Madoka Magica Finale, Part 1

And suddenly, a hole in the world was filled with joy as all otaku everywhere became one.

I said all along that the reason I wasn’t recapping Madoka was because I was too shocked after each episode to write anything, and that’s partially true, but there was another reason; it’s because I didn’t feel a need to. It’s fun to take a show that maybe isn’t appreciated as much as you think it should be and point out its nuances, but Madoka wears so much of it’s greatness right on its sleeve, I didn’t think anyone needed me to explain to them what the show was doing, or why it was so good.

For the same reason, while I did want to chime in with a few thoughts on the finale, I’m not going to go into too many specifics, because everyone else is doing a great job already- the show seems to have brought out the best in the anime community online, because I can’t remember the last time so many blog entries and response posts I read about a show were this insightful.

So if I spend a lot of this post comparing Madoka to other landmark anime, or talking about the show’s handling of religious ideas, rather than the actual plot and characters, you can go elsewhere for discussion of those things very easily- seriously, pick a website that deals with anime, someone will be saying something about this show that’s worth reading. But you’re certainly welcome to hit the jump for my personal and slightly-loopy take on it.

Continue reading On The Puella Magi Madoka Magica Finale, Part 1

Otakubites: Questionable Birthday Edition

The Third Birthday: NOT The Birthday I Wanted

This is a good time to point out that I’m not a feminist. Granted, I probably agree with equity feminists on many points, but in my opinion, once you’re putting a specific gender front-and-center in the name of your ideology, you’re still too hung up on gender. It’s not that I don’t think women should get equal pay for equal work and whatnot, but if the idea of “masculinism” remains unacceptable, it seems to me that feminism should be too for the same reasons. Let’s just all be proper humanists and call it a day, I say.

Continue reading Otakubites: Questionable Birthday Edition

The Significance of Morning Rescue(?)

Not content with merely deconstructing (by which I mean, ripping the guts out of) its own genre, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is sort of deconstructing the culture that has grown up around anime fansubbing as well.

For those that know about Otakusphere but somehow don’t yet know about Madoka (a group that probably contains all of two people, but hey, I aim to please), fansub groups have been keeping the Japanese commercials for the beverage “Morning Rescue” in their cuts of the popular dark magical girl show, and the commercial has become internet-popular. Due to demand for the actual product, Jlist (and possibly other retailers I’m not aware of) have started carrying the drink for people outside of Japan to order. I don’t know the numbers, but Peter (owner of Jlist) has tweeted that the drink is selling well.

Fansubs of unlicensed shows are considered more or less morally neutral; while digitally downloadable versions of licensed shows can be considered theft (and let’s just leave it at that, without getting into the whole piracy/theft/copyright infringement definition quagmire), downloads of unlicensed shows don’t really do anything; you’re seeing something that isn’t meant for you, since you won’t be viewing the advertising the way the targeted market will (or have access to the product even if you do see the advertising), but you aren’t finding a sneaky way around an actual purchase, either, because there’s no actual product available for you to buy.

However, when fansubbers start leaving in commercials, and those commercials lead to actual sales of the Japanese products that companies paid the TV station to advertise, doesn’t that end up becoming a net positive?

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean it’s a net positive in financial terms. For every one person who orders a bottle of Morning Rescue from Jlist after watching a fansub of Madoka Magica, there are probably about a thousand people who will just watch it and do nothing- not enough to make the company that makes the drink a lot of money.

Still, you have to wonder; if the world has become flat enough, thanks to global retailing and shared interest in different subcultures, that the commercial is creating the same desire for a product that it was meant to inspire in the targeted audience, doesn’t the once-lowly fansub watcher therefore become part of the targeted audience? From Morning Rescue’s perspective, they don’t care if Madoka fans live in Japan or China or Timbuctoo; they want people to watch the show, see their commercial, and buy their product. If someone in the U.S. orders a case of Morning Rescue based on the commercials they saw in a legally “gray” fansub, are they any less valid as part of the target audience than a person in Tokyo who bought one? It’s still advertising dollars well spent.

I haven’t been covering Madoka Magica on a regular basis, mostly because my recaps of individual episodes would end up being a .WAV file featuring the sound of my jaw hitting the floor continuously. But I think the Morning Rescue phenomenon that spawned from the Madoka fansubs has really interesting implications for the future of digital anime distribution, legal and otherwise- I mean, I’m not sure what they ARE yet, but they’re certainly interesting.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan

Donate to Japan Relief, and even Homura will smile. Hey, it could happen.

I wasn’t going to say anything about the situation in Japan on this blog because I’m not sure I feel it’s my place to tell people that they should go donate to the relief efforts, which is pretty much all I can do. However, what Daniella Orihuela Gruber is doing with Anime and Manga Bloggers For Japan over at All About Manga immediately made sense to me. Obviously, I owe Japan some of my happiness, and I’m glad that Daniella put together a framework for me to donate that just felt right. I would have donated anyway, but to tell you the truth, just sending off a random amount of money to a relief organization has always felt a little strange to me.

One thing I’ve learned from Twitter over the past few days is that natural disasters seem to spawn lots of highly random pro-Japan fanart on the internet, so I figured I might as well partake of some of that while in a drawin’ mood. Now, anyone can show you pink, frilly little Madoka cheering on Japan, but honestly, how many cheerful Homuras have you seen? Actually, thinking about the kind of Puella Magi Madoka Magica art that is now available on the internet in spades, I probably don’t want to know the answer to that.

That’s about all, I just wanted to help get the word out about this nifty little fundraiser that came around at just the right time for me- consider giving if you haven’t already.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Episode 5 Thoughts

I roughed out a concept for Sayaka preparing to do her own version of "Unlimited Blade Works", but decided not to do a finished piece. I kind of like it as a rough sketch, though.

Well, Puella Magi Madoka Magica has moved up in the hierarchy from “Things I might want to mention once and a while,” to “things I must blog about NAO!”

I figured I’d just jot down a few of my thoughts and questions about the show at this juncture, rather than recap it. Well, okay, here’s your recap: Two magical girls fought. Kyoko is a bitch. There, done. Needless to say, spoilers abound.

Thoughts on Episode #5:

1.I’m glad Sayaka has regenerative powers- leads me to believe that they’re not looking to bump her off so quickly; I don’t think I could handle losing another sympathetic character at this point. However, nothing seems to be off-limits with this show, so who knows.

2. I was really confused by what Homura’s power seemed to be, until @Rangoric pointed out that it seemed to be like the property of Gae Bolg in Fate/Stay Night: An inversion of cause and effect. Everything somehow misses Homura, because the effect of her power is that everything will miss her. I thought after her battle in episode #3 (against Charlotte) that she had some sort of weird displacement thing going on, but his explanation makes a lot more sense to me. It really makes me wonder how she’s going to handle fighting Kyoko, since it seems to be such a defensive power. How can she damage her?

3. Oh, and speaking of Kyoko, I know I’m like, SUPPOSED to hate her, but uh…yeah, mission accomplished there, guys. Why can’t a witch come and eat HER head?

Of course, with this show, I should be careful what I wish for- they’ll probably only kill her off after they’ve done some huge redemption arc and revealed that she was actually abused by her older brother at a young age, leading to her callous attitude, and inside she’s the sweetest little girl there is. Dammit.

4. I’m surprised no one on the show has even mentioned the possibility of bringing Mami back through wishing. I know a lot of fans were pleased that the series didn’t immediately go that route, but it seems odd that it wouldn’t occur to Madoka. I don’t think Madoka will use her wish to bring Mami back, because I’m pretty sure she’s going to use her wish in a more interesting way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did. I may not normally be keen on characters coming back from the dead, but I’d be okay with it in this instance, since I’d trust the show to do something interesting with it.

However, the fact that Mami’s silhouette is the only one depicted sitting down in the ending leads me to believe she’s not coming back:(.

5. Speaking of wishes, what would happen if a girl wished for there to be no more witches? According to Kyubey (um, assuming he can be trusted, which is increasingly doubtful), NOTHING is off-limits for the wish. I will be a little disappointed if the series never addresses this question (or something similar), even if it’s just Kyubey pointing out the limitations on wishes he can grant; it seems like such an obvious Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.

6. Do you think “Unlimited Blade/Musket/Whatever Works” are an inherent property of Puella Magi, or was Sayaka just doing it because she’d seen Mami do it? I had assumed it was the former, but Rangoric thinks it’s the latter- he assumed that the fact that Sayaka did an attack that was derivative of Mami’s was meant to show that she was still inexperienced, copying instead of creating her own attacks.

7. I would like to bet someone a box of Pocky that Kyubey will be revealed to be Satan, or some close associate thereof, before the end of the series.

8. At this rate, I don’t see how Madoka could possibly become a magical girl until at least episode 12 or 13, if even then. What would be a bigger subversion; if she ends the series without becoming a magical girl at all, or she becomes one, but her outfit is different than it is in the OP? Come to think of it, I honestly think giving her a completely different costume would be more of an upset to the genre. Like, “What do you mean I can’t even trust the OP?”

Otakubites: Puella Magi Madoka Magica and DRRR!! dub

1. Late to the Party: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I like this new policy; rather than actually watch a whole bunch of first episodes to determine what’s good, I wait a few weeks into the season until it’s been determined what the one show everyone absolutely cannot shut up about is, then just watch that one. Obviously to anyone who’s been on Twitter in the last month, that show currently is Madoka Magika. Beware, those who have not seen through episode 4; spoilers abound.

I’m hesitant to call it “The Evangelion of Magical Girl shows,” because that somehow sounds awfully pretentious, but it’s certainly an apt comparison. Mami’s last stand in episode 3 reminded me very much of Asuka’s final battle in The End of Evangelion; both fought in a state of kinetic euphoria, realizing for the first time that they were no longer alone, and the end came as an extremely brutal shock. Also, the soul searching Sayaka does before deciding to become a Puella Magi reminds me of what Shinji would be like if he ever took his head out of his ass for the five seconds it would take to think about somebody else for a change.

It probably is doing a disservice to the show, however, to just keep pointing out the Eva parallels, so I’ll just leave it at that- I think the show is ultimately going for something different. The deconstruction of the genre is obviously similar, but I don’t think the themes necessarily are.

Madoka is currently the weakest link in the show, which would bother me were it not for the fact that I think it’s very much intentional- I’m wondering if the fact that she’s actually considering using the wish she gets by becoming a magical girl, in order to become a magical girl, will create some interesting divide-by-zero sort of situation, hence the “potential” everyone keeps talking about.

I hope her potential isn’t just latent magic power that she was born with or something, because that’s REALLY boring; I’m interested in the idea that she could end up being the best magical girl because there’s nothing else in her personality to compete with it.

Also loving the ultra-modern aesthetic of the architecture on this show, it makes the “real world” look strangely cold and sterile compared to the reality marbles, complicating the good/evil dichotomy. I’m not going to say the witches are good- last time I checked, making people inhale chlorine gas is rather bad- but don’t you think it’s funny that those creatures in the reality marbles are so cute, and the colors are so warm? Meanwhile, Madoka’s house and school look like they’re part of the same giant, impersonal hospital. I’m not sure at this point whether or not that’s the result of the art direction going off and doing it’s own funky thing, or if it’s something deeper; I look forward to finding out.

2. On the Durarara!! Dub

With the first Durarara!! DVD collection hitting shelves now, the normal reviewer-type thing to do would be to say whether or not I recommend it. However, I’m currently sitting here surrounded by my full set of Durarara!! mini-figures, sipping coffee out of my Shizuo-emblazoned mug. I also have my very own “Certy” pencil case, and have written one of the wordiest blogs about the show ever. I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan of this show: do I think you should buy it? Hmm, y’think?

If you’re actually unfamiliar with the show and and are genuinely wondering whether or not to buy it, then I would direct you to Mr. Huber’s review. What interests me, and what I’ve been curious about ever since this show was licensed, is the English dub.

I was initially going to write up some impressions of the dub based on a five-episode screener, generously provided by Aniplex, but my first watch of the dub left me so ambivalent, I didn’t know what to say for a good while. Now that the show is actually, well, RELEASED, I think I’ll wait until my copy arrives and I can watch the full nine episodes properly before I get into analysis-crazy mode.

From what I’ve read, the general consensus is that the younger cast (Mikado, Masaomi, and Anri) are poor and/or miscast, while Celty, Shinra, Simon and Shizuo are good. Generally speaking, I agree with this- although I think there’s something interesting going on with Bryce Papenbrook’s performance as Masaomi that some fans may not have picked up on. Anyway, I think the problems with the dub are indicative of what happens when a dub is made for a hyper-specific, enthusiast audience; they let Izaya say “Shizu-chan” because they know everyone watching knows what honorifics mean, but he has to call Rio “Ms. Mazenda” in episode 2 because GOD FORBID he use her first name; Japanese people just don’t do that! Even though he’s speaking English!

Meh, I’m getting ahead of myself- more dub musings after my copy arrives.

3. Otaku USA Conclusions

Remember last time, when I was trying to decide whether or not to continue subscribing to Otaku USA? Well, I think I have my answer; the latest issue has a cover story about Evangelion by…RevolutionofEvangelion.org. Really? Without getting into my concerns with that particular site, they’ll just run an article that a fansite sends them? More importantly, they run it as the cover story?

Dropping a magazine because of one article is silly at best, but I haven’t really been enjoying it in general; their article on Excel Saga was of little interest to me, because I’d actually seen the show, and too much of their stuff seems to be like that- either “Hey, this anime exists-check it out!”, or something critically suspect like the Evangelion article.

I wish I could remember whether Animerica, which I loved to pieces, was actually much better back in the day, or I just wasn’t completely spoiled for otaku coverage yet. Rightly or wrongly, I certainly remember it being better.

4. Zettai Hero Project- Dropped, sort of

Dropped for now- currently replaying the early Tomb Raider games on my PSP after getting them through PSN. I do plan to eventually get back to it, but I also want to eventually play Disgaea 2 and Persona 3 Portable, both of which I have yet to touch in their console iterations. I don’t dislike ZHP, but it may be hard to get back to it with that kind of competition around.