Thought: does the magical girl genre exist in the world of Madoka Magica? We can assume that anime does, given that Sayaka references anime tropes when she’s joking around in the first episode, but apart from that the only media we’ve seen the characters interact with is music (both pop and classical). Do the characters in-universe have any concept of what a “magical girl” is before they meet one/become one? It’s not entirely clear. Which is odd, in a way, since having pop culture set a precedent that real life does not match up to would lend a degree of social commentary—in a “television is not preparing our children for the harshness of reality” sort of way—to the series. After all, if you’re going to take familiar tropes apart (and here, clearly the subversion of familiar tropes is for the benefit of the genre-aware audience, rather than the characters themselves) you may as well use that process to make some sort of point.
Maybe it’s too early to be diving into that sort of discussion. It’s just something that blipped across my mind while I wondered where exactly this ideal image of a magical girl that Mami worked so hard to display, and her friends admired so much, came from. Are they taking cues from media? From history, perhaps, given that Kyuubey’s been making contracts since early human civilisation? From a logical combination of society’s ideal visions of femininity and society’s ideal vision of selfless heroism? The fact that Madoka’s setting seems to be some sort of deliberately ambiguous, slightly sci-fi, and architecturally stunning Anyplace isn’t helping. Do these characters exist in a bubble, a world vaguely recognisable as our own but effectively just a grand and beautifully-designed stage for this story to play out that’s isolated from any conception of actual society as we in the real world know it??
God. Anyway. This week we’re dealing with the wake of Mami’s untimely death, and everything is the worst. Continue reading
Have I talked yet about how much I love the music in this show? Each track is distinctive and atmospheric, helping to set the tone of each individual scene and build a consistent otherworldly sense for the whole series. I especially enjoy ‘Sis Puella Magica’, which manages to be both beautiful and haunting, evoking a sense of simultaneous wonderment and foreboding that really does sum up the Madoka experience, and especially neatly reflects these first few episodes where we—and Madoka—are still figuring things out. And oh boy does that “mild sense of magical foreboding” come together this week.
After a handy, abridged flashback to the fight scene at the end of the previous episode, Madoka wakes up wondering once again if it was all a dream… until she glances over and sees a pink-eyed Devil Kitty sitting on the shelf with her toys. To her credit, her immediate instinct isn’t to scream and fling the creature across the room, which means she has more resolve than me.
Given that these are spoileriffic analyses, I want to take a moment to talk about Kyuubey. They (er… it? Homura says “it”, and Mami says “he”, but let’s go with “they” for now) are pretty cleverly designed in terms of fitting all the technical hallmarks of a cute magical girl companion while also managing to use those same elements to be unnerving. Kyuubey has big eyes and a cat mouth, which should by all technicalities be adorable… but the unblinking, ever-staring red eyes and the fact that the mouth doesn’t move when they talk is uncanny and creepy. Kyuubey is small and fluffy and has those Neopets-esque ear extensions, which should be cuddly and cartoonish… but instead they just seem alien. Kyuubey speaks in a high-pitched cute voice, but the existential words they actually say create an unsettling dissonance. Even before we know Kyuubey is essentially the villain of the piece, everything about them is engineered to set the audience just a little bit on edge. Continue reading
The curtain rises on a strange and twisted wonderland, a young pink-haired girl running through a warped checkerboard landscape. This world is cold and silent, an unsettling mess of colour and pattern offering no solace. The girl finally finds a door, but on the other side is only more chaos: a strange upside-down monster hanging suspended in the stormy air over a destroyed city, locked in battle with another young woman. She is clearly magical, flying, fighting, but is also clearly in trouble. The pink-haired girl can only watch in horror… or can she? Amidst the floating rubble and thundering chaos a small creature appears and offers her a bargain, a chance to help, fixing her all the while with an unmoving catlike smile…
…aaaaaand snap, the pink-haired girl wakes up in a soft and sunny bedroom. Was all of that really just a dream?
And so begins Puella Magi Madoka Magica, 2017’s Big Summer Rewatch Project. Who’s excited to dive back into this world of magic, monsters, and metaphors? I know I am. Continue reading
So, ToraDora! A show about coming of age, love, heartbreak, and a bird that swears.
Overall, I enjoyed rewatching this beautiful beastie a lot—it struck the right balance between being nostalgic and impressing me afresh, and it was nice to know that for the most part it’s still as fun and engaging as it was when I first watched it in early high school and it lodged itself in my brain. I’d like to thank everyone who read along each week, and leave you with a few final assorted thoughts and retrospectives… Continue reading
The end begins with Ya-chan bursting through the front door of her parents’ house, because Taiga left her a fake phone message saying Ryuji had been injured in a car accident. Ryuji is fine, and because nothing brings people together like casual deceit, suddenly three generations of his family are all stuck in one place where they manage to reconcile and grow. Continue reading
It’s happening, people. It’s happening. Continue reading