Horror AMV of the Day: Homura’s Seven Devils (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica)


It’s that time of the year when all things dark, terrifying and horrific invades the halls and corridors of Through the Shattered Lens.

While many who hear the term magical girl and colorful-costumed girls fighting evil won’t think dark and disturbing well they’d be dead wrong. The magical girl genre of Japanese animation have always had that undercurrent of darkness which makes these so-called kiddie anime series more adult than that many people realize.

In 2011, the magical girl anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica (aka Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica) came out and it finally explored that very undercurrent of darkness in the magical girl genre that people discussed about. The series was still cute, but also disturbing in how it explored the cost these teenage girls would incur in gaining magical abilities to fight evil.

The latest AMV of the Day takes Madoka Magica (especially the three films which followed the series) and it’s two lead character in Homura Akemi (girl with the dark hair) and Madoka Kaname (girl with the pink-hair) and their very complicated relationship that transcends not just their friendship, but time and divinity itself.

What better song to pair up with Madoka Magica but none other than “Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine.

Anime: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Song: “Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine

Creator: Kinnsao San

Past AMVs of the Day

Trailer: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal


“Mūn Purizumu Pawā, Meikuappu!”

When it was announced in the summer of 2012 that a new Sailor Moon anime series was in production the anime fandom was all a-twitter about the news. Whether one was male or female, Sailor Moon was a major part of the viewing regimen of anime fans young and old.

It’s now two year since that announcement and we finally have the first trailer of the return of Sailor Moon back on the airwaves. The series title will be Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, but it will most likely be shortened to just Sailor Moon Crystal to keep it simple. Toei Animation will be the studio doing the animation work while the series will premiere on the network Niconico in Japan while it will also stream on the website streaming service Crunchyroll.

It’s been over 20 years since the original Sailor Moon series went off-the-air and to say it’s back with a brand new season has made anime fans ecstatic (grumblings about the change in animation style notwithstanding) the world over.

Sailor Moon Crystal to premiere on July 5, 2014.

It Figures (No. 1): Godoka

For some time now, Arleigh has been trying to get me to write up a post about figures.  We both enjoy collecting them, and my collection of them is rather extensive so there’s certainly no lack of material.  Again, it all came down to motivation to just get started, and what motivated me the most was my most recent acquisition, the Good Smile Company version of Ultimate Madoka, or as she’s better known, Godoka.

Yes indeed, the contents are fragile, and very valuable.  Many Bothans died bringing this….ahem, wrong story.  Anyways, this is one thing I really appreciate about the Japanese.  That’s no cheaply made, reused, been sitting in the back with people taking naps on it kind of cardboard box.  That’s a sturdy, never before used, highly protective one.  Plus they put just the right amount of packing material inside to keep the figure from shifting, but not so much that it crushes it.

And that effort paid off.  Here she is, safe and sound in the comfort of my own home, without nary a dent in the box.  The boxes themselves are often times practically works of art.  On them they usually show the various angles and options one can do with each figure.  I know Godoka is yearning to be free from her plastic and cardboard prison, but first I think one needs to appreciate just how big this box is.  This picture doesn’t really do it justice, since there’s no basis for comparison.

Now this one gives you an idea.  That’s about 14.5″ wide, and the box is pretty much square, so that should show that they didn’t mess around with this figure.  The boxes for the other figures in this series were only half this size.  But now that we’ve had our fill of boxes, let’s get her out of there and take a better look.

Here we have a look at all the various pieces that comprise her.  While this may not be a lot by some figures standards, by a scaled, static figure this is a lot.  In case it’s not easily seen, in addition to the main figure, she had two different bows, two sets of wings, an arrow and of course her base.  What also probably isn’t easily seen is the fact that the plastic tomb is not only held together by the snaps and tape, but also with twisted wire.  This last part is always a pain in the rear, so be sure to keep a pair of wire cutters handy.  Trying to untwist those wires by hand is not a fun task, and I do not recommend those without much patience to attempt it.

Now we finally get to see Godoka free from her constraints.  And let me tell you, she’s no lightweight figure.  A good amount of weight is in the dress of hers, which is good since that’s where she’s going to attach to her base.  The pattern of stars on the black interior of the dress is a very nice touch, and GSC did not skimp on the details.  One thing to be wary of is her hair.  It feels pretty fragile, and the ends are very pointy so if you’re not careful, she could very easily snag a piece of clothing and possibly snap a strand of hair off.  I thought it was going to happen to me a couple times as I was getting later parts put on her, but thankfully I managed to avoid any catastrophes.  Ah, I can hear you now.  “But pantsukudasai, when you say she’s detailed, just HOW detailed, if you know what I mean?”  Oh, I do know what you mean, yes indeed.

Homu Homu would be drooling in envy.  Yes, in keeping with a fine tradition in figures, they made sure to sculpt a pair of panties on her.  Sadly, it’s just a very standard pair.  Some figures get very fancy underwear indeed.  Still, it’s this attention to detail that makes collecting so worth while.  And when you think about it, it certainly makes sense.  I mean, if you’re going to have a figure in a dress, it stands to reason that she’s going to be wearing something underneath it, doesn’t it?  And since one must appreciate all aspects of their figure, it’s only natural that I’d flip each figure over and check out their pantsu.  Nothing perverted about that in the least!

Now here she is with her bow and arrow.  As I mentioned earlier, she comes with two different bows.  The other bow does not have the pink energy charge around it and it just her regular sprout bow.  I assume that’s if you want to display her as if she’s already fired the arrow.  I think it looks much better with the arrow and the charged bow.  The only downside to this is that the bow doesn’t feel particularly sturdy, and as you move the figure the top wobbles in a way that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in me.  Still, for the most part the figure is going to be safely behind glass, and other than the vibrations from me walking past, it should be kept stable.  It’s not like I live in an earthquake zone.  A great deal of care must be taken when getting the arrow into her hand.  Her hand is removable, so I’d recommend taking it off and then attaching the arrow.  It can only go in one way, so don’t try forcing it!  Also, there are many little barbs on the bow and the arrow that could easily snap off if improperly handled.  They didn’t do us any favors by wrapping some plastic around the bow either.  I had to carefully cut the plastic wrap off, because those barbs I mentioned earlier made it difficult to slide off otherwise.

The next troublesome point were the wings on her feet, but this was more a troublesome aspect simply because it’s not very clear which wing goes on which foot.  When you try putting the correct wing on the correct foot, it slides on snugly and securely.  While this might seem like the obvious thing, in some cases they don’t get all the slag out of the slots for the holes, so things like this don’t always fit right.  Luckily for me, when I tried them the other way, it worked just fine.  You can kind of see in the bottom corner of the picture, but it does come with instructions.  The reason why they’re sitting there, unused is two reasons.  First off, I’m a guy.  We don’t need no stinkin’ instructions.  Secondly, they’re in Japanese, which I cannot read a single word of.  The pictures they show aren’t terribly helpful in deciphering what one is to do.  At any rate, you can probably guess, but those wing tips are very fragile too.  Take your time, and you should be fine.

The last detail to add to her are the wings on her back.  These thankfully were very obvious how they needed to go, and other than having to weave the right wing in between a couple strands of hair, it went on quite painlessly.  Again, the details they made with the sculpt of the figure are indeed stunning.  The way the dress flows, the ruffles in it, all her accessories, it made the wait for this figure from when I originally ordered it back in June all worthwhile.

This group shows her from various angles.  It’s truly a satisfying feeling when you finally get your figure all assembled and ready to properly be displayed.  Certainly another run to Ikea is in my future so that I may properly save her from the evils of dust.

Lastly, I felt it fitting to have her shown with the other figures in her line.  On the right we have the pairing of Kyoko and Sayaka, and on the left we have the pairing of regular Madoka and Homura.  In the middle, with Godoka taking careful aim, we have the hated Mami.  No one is romantically interested in Mami.

I’ll end this with saying that while she might be a bit spendy for some people, I feel that Godoka was worth every penny I spent on her.  If figure collecting is your thing, don’t delay on grabbing her as fast as you can.  She’s still available now, but when a figure looks this good, it’s tough to say how long she’ll be around for.  If you wait too long, the only way you’ll get her is by forming a contract with a certain someone….

Anime You Should Be Watching: Princess Tutu

Mahou shoujo (magical girl) anime has become the bread-and-butter of the anime scene. Whether one would like to admit it or not they have watched some episode or an OVA of a magical girl anime by chance or accident. I mean if they caught reruns of Sailor Moon in the past 10 or more years then they’ve watched a magical girl anime. There’s one magical girl anime that hasn’t been getting as much attention even amongst anime watchers. It’s this mahou shoujo series that I think more people should be watching and I’m talking about Princess Tutu.

Princess Tutu is a series adapted from the manga of the same title written by Mizuo Shinonome. It’s a series that dares to do something different with the magical girl genre by relying less on violence and battles (people tend to forget that these series may be called magical girl but they’re also quite violent). The series is a sort of fairy tale but with the complex twists and turns that anime tends to layer onto something old and familiar to good effect. We have a duckling given the chance to become a human through a magical gem necklace. When in human form she resembles an awkward, sweet teen girl who reverts back to her duckling form if she quacks. Only by touching water once more can the duckling become the human girl Ahiru once more. This necklace, given to her by a sort of puppetmaster figure of the series, also allows Ahiru to take on the ballerina aspect of Princess Tutu whose mature bearing and expertise in ballet grants her special powers.

One could say that Princess Tutu only owes it’s mahou shoujo label due to the magical abilities granted to Ahiru in her Princess Tutu aspect, but other than that the series is quite different from such magical girl series like Sailor Moon, Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. While the series does have conflict between the other characters around Ahiru like Mytho, Fakir and Rue the fights doesn’t use the more typical magical duels and battles common in the genre. Instead the series uses a clever way of implementing ballet and it’s use to represent fight’s between characters.

Like some magical girl series of it’s kind Princess Tutu has it’s comedic and light-hearted moments. Where the series shines is when it delves into the darker side of the narrative. Just like the traditional fables and fairy tales this series works best when letting the darkness of the story come to the forefront instead of just being hinted at. It’s definitely a turn in the series’ narrative that may surprise some people who are expecting an anime that’s all about cute character. Ahiru and the rest of the cast might be animated young-looking (with the male leads looking androgynous), but the trials and tribulations they go through during the series’ run would be considered very adult if done live-action.

Princess Tutu is actually available as a complete set on DVD and not very expensive when compared to other anime DVD sets. So, if one looks at mahou shoujo anime as their cup of tea or just looking to dabble their feet into this type of anime then Princess Tutu is a good place to start. I would usually put up a trailer of this series to better give people an idea of what to expect but I think two great AMV (anime music videos) produced by two fans of the series best describes what people should expect.

There’s Danse De Raven by Chiikaboom…

…and then there’s Hold Me Now by Marissa Panaccio

New Sailor Moon Series to Return in 2013

News that should make fans of Sailor Moon fans everywhere happy has been reported by Anime News Network that the storied mahou shoujo franchise will make a return with a new tv anime series. The announcement was made by idol group Momoiro Clover Z, the series’ publisher Kodansha and it’s creator Naoko Takeuchi and that the new anime adaptation of Takeuchi’s work will return in the summer of 2013.

This news has been greeted very positively by those who remember fondly the original set of anime series which aired over in Japan and around the world from 1992 thru 1997. Even now the series continues to make constant reruns on syndicated tv worldwide with the iconic Sailor Scout characters still some of the more popular anime characters cosplayed by both male and female.

There’s no word on whether the original voice actors of the earlier seasons will return to reprise their role, but for now fans of Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon are just ecstatic that a brand-new series will be making it’s way back onto the tv airwaves in a year’s time.

Source: Anime News Network

Aniplex USA has licensed Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Wonderful news was announced during the first day of Anime Expo 2011. While I wasn’t able to figure out a way to attend I was still able to read up on announcements made during the industry panels being held at the convention. One such panel was the Aniplex Industry Panel where they made two major announcements.

First, was that the anime series Blue Exorcist will be released in the US in a four-volume DVD. There’s no word on whether this will also include a release in Blu-Ray format.

The second major announcement was one that should excite anime fans throughout the US. The very popular mahou shoujo anime series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, will also get a dvd release for the US market. While the panel gave more details on the Blue Exorcist release announcement not much about the Puella Magi Madoka Magica US release was given. The good thing is that Aniplex of America has already put up the official website for Puella Magi Madoka Magica though at the moment it’s still more of a “coming soon” and “under construction” welcome page.

I’m sure more details will come out about the home video release in the US for this mahou shoujo series. I also hope that it’s original Japanese-language w/ English subtitle option gets a 5.1 surround sound mix.

Source: Anime News Network

AMV of the Day: Devil’s Game


The latest “AMV of the Day” is another one which is based on the mahou shoujo series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It’s become one of my favorite anime series of late and with each repeat viewing just increases my love for it. This latest anime music video takes that “magical girl” anime series and combines it with a symphonic rock song to create an AMV titled, “Devil’s Game”.

“Devil’s Game” is not just my latest pick for “AMV of the Day” but also the latest from AMV creator-extraordinaire Chiikaboom whose anime music video creations have always become instant favorites of mine. This latest really highlights the darkness that permeates throughout the anime series. For a mahou shoujo series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica get pretty dark and the subgenre as a whole uses themes of darkness to balance out the cute magical girl art design.

Within Temptation’s “A Demon’s Fate” is quite an appropriate song to use for this video. The series is all about Magi (magically-enhanced teen girls) fighting evil Witches to save the innocent people and the world. The series also includes Kyubey whose extremely cute appearance hides a secret that the song’s lyrics and title really meshes well with.

Chiikaboom’s editing of the video was not as extensive as some past ones which really comes and goes in rapid-fire fashion. For this video the editing and scene transitions matches very well with the bass drum sections in the song that it’s not noticeable at first glance, but really shows after repeat viewings. And it’s well-made AMV’s like this using scenes from this series that really should help sell Puella Magi Madoka Magica to the uninitiated whose experience with anime is from Adult Swim showings on Cartoon Network.

“Devil’s Game” is the best Puella Magi Madoka Magica AMV I’ve seen, so far, hand’s down.

Anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Song:  “A Demon’s Fate” by Within Temptation

Creator: Chiikaboom

AMV of the Day: Hold Me Now (Princess Tutu)

(amv slightly spoilerish)

When I came across this particular AMV I knew that I had to post it as the latest in the long line of “AMV of the Day” for the site. Like a previous AMV posted months earlier this one uses the excellent mahou shoujo anime Princess Tutu. The AMV I speak of is called “Hold Me Now”.

This particular anime music video takes the ballet-themed mahou shoujo (magical girl) of Princess Tutu and combines it with the song “Håll om mig” by Swedish singer-songwriter Nanne Grönvall. The end result of this combination makes for what  consider one of the best AMV’s I’ve seen since I’ve been watching them for the past couple years. It’s on par with the previous Princess Tutu AMV posted in March (Danse de Raven).

While that previous AMV had a much more seductive tone to the video this latest Princess Tutu music video settles on some heavy dramatics to give a sense to the story of the anime. I particular like how the amv’s creator, Marissa Panaccio, was able to deftly time the beats of the song to the action on the video (or is it vice versa). I’ve been watching this video for the last couple days and I’m still not tired of it. That in itself is a mark of an AMV that’s done well.

Anime: Princess Tutu

Song: “Håll om mig” by Nanne Grönvall

Creator: Marissa Panaccio

Review: Trouble Witches NEO

Over this weekend I came across a little game over on Xbox LIVE Arcade listings that I knew I had to buy and play. Of late, I’ve been playing quite a bit of the so-called “shmup” (shoot ’em up) arcade shooters. While I’ve played such games in the past the niche shmup titles of the gothic lolita variety which have become quite popular in Japan was still new to me. My first introduction to this subgenre of the shmup was when I bought a copy of the gothic lolita arcade shooter Deathsmiles for the Xbox 360. Less than a year later I’ve bought a second game which improves on the previous one I bought. Trouble Witches NEO from SNK was seen, downloaded and soon played for countless hours over the weekend.

Trouble Witches NEO (developed by the doujin team from Studio Siesta in conjunction with Bouken and SNK) is quite similar to the many shmup arcade shooters now coming out of Japan and being discovered by Western gamers. Like Cave’s Deathsmiles series (there’s two games released for the series and plans for more), this title is bullet hell taken to the next level. It also uses the popular trend of using “moe” (overly cute) character designs that usually range means all characters will look like gothic lolita in design. While Trouble Witches NEO does have it’s gothrori look it does share lots of similarities with the cult shmup series Touhou Project. That series is pretty much a “mahou shoujo” (magical girl) smorgasbord and Studio Siesta’s own title bear’s similarities.

Sure, one would say the game is very cute to the point of sickening (for some but not to me), but is the game any good they would ask. I would happily declare that the game is quite good. It boasts three different difficulty levels that should allow for all sorts of gamers to try from the pathetically newbie to the shmup genre to the hardest of the hardcore who have mastered all the shmup titles Japan has to offer. The game also offers several game modes from the title’s Original version which pretty much ports the Japanese arcade version straight to the console as seen by the 4:3 aspect ratio gaming screen. There’s also the “Arrange 360 Mode” which updates the game’s graphics for the Xbox 360 and gives it widescreen gaming window. It’s in this newer mode that one can play single-player, multiplayer (offline with another controlled and player), Story Mode and an online co-op through Xbox LIVE. There’s also the usual Score and Boss Attack modes which should challenge even the most hardcore shmup gamer.

It’s in the Story Mode where one can unlock two other maid-witches (the term generally used for the playable characters in this game and others of its kind) by playing through the mode with each of the 6 available playables. For 160 MS Points a player can download a 9th playable character. It’s not necessary to buy this playable, but for 160 points it’s not bad and she’s actually much more powerful then the other 8 which should help in trying to rack up a major high score in the Score and Boss Attack Modes. The former just needs a player to score as many points in the time allowed (3 or 5 minutes). The latter mode just has a player fighting the 6 bosses in the game over and over until all their lives are spent. So, as you can see this game doesn’t lack for replayability value. Just trying to go up in the online leaderboard ranks should occupy a gamer days if not weeks to try and accomplish.

The gameplay itself is not to difficult to do. The left analog stick or the D-Pad ( I recommend using the analog stick option) controls the player’s maid-witch while the A-button fires her basic attack. The B-button activates one of three Magic Cards a player can buy in a floating magic shop. Each card gives a player different attack options. Some are as basic as a 7-way fire which fills the screen to a decoy that attracts enemy fire to the ultra-powerful Fire Bomb which literally takes out everything it touches on the screen. The shop itself also sells extra health (lives in this game) and a magic potion which will increase the time a player can use the all-important Magic Barrier.

The Magic Barrier (activated by pressing the X-button) creates a circular barrier around the player which slows down incoming fire by turning them a purplish-pink. To make it even more interesting, if a player destroys the enemy whose fire has been caught in the Magic Barrier those very enemy fire turns into Gold Coins (Star Coins if a Magic Card ability is used to destroy the enemies) which can now be used to buy replacement Cards or buy new health/increase magic level. The Magic Barrier lasts only as long as the player’s total amount of magic which begins at a default 120. One can remove the barrier at any time by pressing the X-button again which will allow it replenish on its own. Gamers will soon learn to use this Magic Barrier strategically. It’s best used when there are a lot of enemies on the screen who give off tons of fire.

Overall, Trouble Witches NEO is another shmup arcade shooter which has made its way into the Xbox 360 and one that is worth the 800 MS points needed to buy it (960 points if one buys the 9th playable). It’s a fun game that’s readily accesible to all levels of gamer, but still very challenging to the veteran shmup gamer (I’d dare say even those would have a hard time mastering this title). While only a couple of these shmup titles have been available to North American Xbox 360 users there’s many more available to Japanese Xbox 360 owners and hopefully those other titles will make the jump to the West just like Trouble Witches NEO.

PS: As a treat to fans of this type of game Trouble Witch NEO comes not just with the localized English-language voice acting (which is hilarious in it’s awfulness when heard during the Story Mode cutscenes), but with the original Japanese-language voice. Just my preference I always switch the setting to Japanese language. The game retains it’s “moe” factor in that setting and definitely loses it when the English-language was picked.

AMV of the Day: Repeat (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

The latest AMV of the Day continues my current obsession over a great mahou shoujo (magical girl) by the name of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This amv is called “Repeat”.

“Repeat” uses the song “Sleep Now” by Hugh Hall and it’s atmospheric sound goes hand in hand with the dark, almost gothic sensibilities, of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I’m none too familiar with Hugh Hall’s music, but the song that creator Chiikaboom used to highlight the dark nature of this anime series really makes this amv seem like a well-made trailer for the series. In fact, if I didn’t know that this video was an anime music video I would’ve thought it was a professionally done teaser trailer for the anime series.

This amv once again shows just how engaging an anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica really is. Yes, the animation and character designs are quite cute, but that lighthearted aspect of the show doesn’t last very long. This video shows just how mature, dramatic and tragic this series ends up becoming.

Song: “Sleep Now” by Hugh Hall

Anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Creator: Chiikaboom