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Madoka Magica – Episode 1 Review
Puella Magi Madoka Magica, or Madoka Magica for short, is an anime about girls with magical powers, kind of like Sailor Moon or even Magic Knight Rayearth. There has been many series that have used the magic girl archetype, so how does Madoka Magica stand out amongst other shows of a similar genre? I hope to answer that question as I review all twelve episodes of Madoka Magica. This anime had been highly recommended to me before, so let’s take a look.
The first episode starts off with the main character, Madoka Kaname, going through a dream sequence which appears to be some kind of foreshadowing of events to come involving a mysterious girl with long black hair fighting some unknown entity. A creepy cat creature insists that Madoka must make a contract with him if she wants to save the world from whatever catastrophe is being depicted in the surreal, ruined cityscape.
Madoka then wakes up in her bed and starts her daily routine. It goes without saying that she appears to have a pretty normal life. Waking up early for school, eating breakfast with her family, talking with her Mom about what is going on in her life, basically just an ordinary life of a young girl in 8th grade. Although I’d say that her mother and father look way too young to have a child that is already in the 8th grade, but this could just be that the art style makes them look young.
So Madoka leaves her house to meet up with her friends, Sayaka and Hitomi, and the three of them go to school. Their conversation along the way is basically what you’d expect to hear from a group of young teenage girls. During homeroom at their school, the teacher introduces a new student to the class. The new student is a young girl who calls herself Homura Akemi. Madoka immediately recognizes Homura as the girl from her dream, while Homura spends the remainder of the scene glaring at Madoka like she killed her pet.
Sometime later that day, Homura approaches Madoka and asks her to take her to the nurse’s office. Madoka agrees and starts leading her there, even though Homura appears to already know where to go. Once they are alone in one of the hallways, Homura confronts Madoka and cryptically warns her not to change who she is unless she wants to lose everything she cares about. Homura walks away, leaving a very confused Madoka to try and figure out what just happened.
After school is over, Sayaka and Madoka go to a local music shop in the mall. While listening to music, Madoka hears a voice calling out for help. Specifically, the voice is calling for Madoka. While most people would freak out at that point, Madoka decides to try and figure out where the voice is coming from. Madoka follows the voice to a dark and abandoned part of the mall that appears to be closed for renovation.
Madoka enters the closed off area and starts to look around. Suddenly one of the ceiling tiles drop and a strange white cat like creature falls out. It appears to be badly injured though, and Madoka picks it up in her arms. Out of nowhere, Homura appears and demands that Madoka gets away from the creature as soon as possible. Madoka refuses, claiming that the creature cried out for her help. Sayaka shows up and creates a distraction with a fire extinguisher to help Madoka escape with the creature.
That is where everything goes to hell in a hand basket. While Madoka and Sayaka are running they suddenly find themselves in a warped, freaky looking landscape that makes Alice in Wonderland look normal. To make things weirder, freaky looking butterflies with long necks, cotton faces, and mustaches (yeah you read that right) appear. It becomes clear that the acid trip monsters are not friendly, but then Madoka and Sayaka are saved by a mysterious blonde haired girl. The mysterious girl unleashes magical ton-o-guns salute on the mustache monsters, the surreal landscape vanishes and leaves the trio of girls back in the normal world.
Homura appears again but is politely encouraged to leave by the blonde haired girl. After Homura departs, the blonde haired girl heals the small cat like creature. The creature calls the girl by her name, Mami, and thanks her for saving it. Mami says that she only healed it and that it was saved by Madoka and Sayaka. The creature introduces itself as Kyube and asks the two girls for a favor: he wants them to make contracts with him and become magical girls. Well, that is totally not creepy. At all.
So far I’d say the art style of Madoka Magica is really appealing. Although many characters look really young which can be a bit off putting. The strange dimension depicted in this first episode was, well there aren’t many words that can describe it beyond acid trip or bizarre. It was like the show suddenly had a completely different art style and shifted between the two. That and the monsters shown in this episode will likely show up in a couple of my nightmares someday.
As far as dubbing goes, this one hasn’t been too bad so far. The voices seem really fitting and it never feels like the characters have a voice that is too old or young for them. Even better it feels like there is never a moment where a character is overacting. Dubs have come so far in the past ten years, it is pretty impressive.
So far, Madoka Magica is setting the stage for what will likely be a very interesting anime. Will it stand out amongst other magic girl themed shows? We’ll find out soon enough.