“mahou shoujo” - def. subgenre of Japanese anime and manga involving young girls (usually early to mid teens) with superhuman abilities who either volunteer or forced to fight for good and protect the Earth from destruction.
It has been awhile since I’ve profiled an anime series or OVA on the site. The great thing about attending anime/manga conventions is one discovers new anime or manga to obsesse over. This year, after a visit at this past April’s Anime Boston 2011, my latest anime obsession looks to be our latest “Anime of the Day”. My choice happens to be the latest in a long line of mahou shoujo anime series: Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
This series was actually recommended to me by someone on Twitter months ago but I was still hesistant to check it out until recently. It was while doing some last-minute research before heading over to Anime Boston 2011 that I finally latched onto Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This is peculiar since I’m not that much into the mahou shoujo (“magical girl”) subgenre of anime and manga. Fellow site writer pantsukudasai56 is the one who probably knows about this subgenre than I. It didn’t stop me from finally checking it out. Once back from Anime Boston 2011 I went and found all 12-episode of the first season (it’s just been recently announced that there’s to be a second season). I ended up watching all twelve episodes over a week and fell in love with it.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is about very cute teen high schoolgirls who suddenly get thrust into a world of magic and science. There’s a major character that I always call an anime series’ mascot and this time it’s a creature resembling something crossed between a bunny and a siamese cat. Kyuubei (others spell it’s name Kyubey, Kyubei, QB, etc…) is a very cute creature who will grant a chosen girl any wish they want as long as they enter into a contract with it to become a Puella Magi who is a girl with magical powers to fight evil and witches.
The series’ animation and characters actually make it out to be a very cutesy anime. From the playful and gothic lolita-style design of the girls. Even the creature known as Kyuubei was drawn to elicit nothing but “awwwws” and “d’awwwws” from those who first see the initial episodes. But it’s not that which got me to love this series. Unlike most other mahou shoujo series this one actually becomes quite serious after a couple episodes and turns a major corner into becoming quite a dark series. This turn is even more disturbing considering that the animation continues to be cute and lighthearted. The look of the character design might turn some people off, but for this particular series the gosurori (“gothloli” aka “gothic lolita”) style fits the series and should change the minds of even those who hate the look.
The animation by the anime studio SHAFT is exquisite despite a few inconsistencies here and there, but overall it’s one of the more beautiful and inventive looking anime series of late. The writing by Urobuchi Gen is what sells the series as it combines the early cutesy nature of the series with the darker turns it makes until the very end which is heartbreaking and emotional, to say the least. Here’s to hoping that some enterprising and brave licensor in the U.S. like Sentai or FUNimation will take a chance and license the series for a North American release.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica looks to be the anime series of 2011 and has only been seen in Japan. How those outside Japan are able to see the twelve episode is something to be left unsaid. Maybe those still wanting to know the answer can enter into a contract with Kyuubei and find out.
Some of the transformation animations from the series…