Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Tokyo Mew Mew A La Mode Review


It’s time to look at the quick sequel that came out after the original Tokyo Mew Mew. In omnibus form it’s only one volume so it definitely doesn’t take too long to go through it. It’s a fun sequel but one that does end way too fast. It feels as if the series was cancelled with how abrupt it all is. It doesn’t have the depth of the first series, but it isn’t bad. It’s just uninspired and hits a lot of the beats from the original without the needed length to make the whole thing flow.

After the Mew Mew team destroyed the villains’ ambitions the world probably thought they would enter an era of peace. Unfortunately that was not to be. Monsters continue to spawn in the streets and the heroes are having a much tougher time than normal due to Ichigo moving away. Without their leader the team is lost. We are then introduced to a girl named Berry. She was an ordinary teenager until one day she accidentally receives Mew Mew powers. The cafe owners who run Mew Mew behind the shadows think she has a lot of potential and tell the old heroes that Berry will be their new leader. Ichigo also comes back home temporarily to help the team until all of the monsters are down for the count. The team is pretty stacked now so surely they can win right?

If you think that the whole Berry thing sounds rushed…you’d be right. She basically becomes leader of the team overnight. It’s fortunate that the rest of the team are so understanding of this. Berry is a nice enough protagonist. She’s very similar to Ichigo, but maybe a little bolder and more willing to jump into action. It doesn’t really help the romance angle any more than the first series though. I definitely have no complaints with Berry. I think she is able to hold her own series pretty well. She’s certainly the best of the Mew Mew members at this point. Meanwhile the main guy this time is Tasuku. Tasuku is definitely better than the guy from the first series as he actively does his best to protect Berry and help her get through her personal problems. The guy is pretty selfless and he can even fight a bit. He does fall for mind control pretty easily though and the resolution to that plotline doesn’t help his case either with how quick he snapped out of it. That means the mind control couldn’t have been all that strong. While mind controlled he definitely doesn’t make for a particularly good villain either.

It kind of goes without saying, but naturally I wasn’t a big fan of the romance here. It takes a long time to really go anywhere and the dynamic was better when they were childhood friends. No reason why they couldn’t have just stayed that way. Still, I’ll say that the romance was better than what we got in the first series. That one had way too much back and forth with all of the different guys going after Ichigo. At least this time Berry was only with one guy the whole time.

Now lets talk about the new villains. Or at least most of them. The villain group was fairly big, but some members didn’t get to do anything like Sweet Juliet or Blue Bayou. They’re around to fill out the ranks, but the series ends before they can do anything. Happy Child has an interesting design for sure but he definitely isn’t much of a threat. Really, one of the only tough villains here is Royal Highness. He strikes using mind games and deceptions. That may not sound too impressive but it’s relaly all you would need to take down most of the cast. For the ones that remain all you need are some quick energy bolts. I can’t say that he was an interesting villain though.

Duke is effectively the leader of the group and she even has a hat that looks like something out of the Ku Klux Klan. Right away you can tell that she’ll be one of the big bads here. That being said, she doesn’t seem to have all that strong of a resolve to be honest. She is very quick to re-think her whole plan and that’s part of what hurts the ending to A La Mode. After all of the destruction and nationwide terror her group basically just calls it quite. In a matter of pages they go from trying to destroy the world to just walking away. It’s way too rushed and just hard to believe in general.

The series ending so quickly also didn’t let us properly explore some of the subplots. One example of this is Ichigo who begins to lose her powers for some reason. As a result she can only transform for a few minutes. It’s actually a pretty interesting idea but I’d like an actual reason for it. The rest of the members don’t seem to be affected, but at the same time they are barely characters here. They each get like 2-3 lines of dialogue, but for the most part are just in the background. It’s a shame since having them interact more with Berry could have been fun.

The art is pretty good though. It’s always pretty clear so you can see what is happening during a fight scene. The characters are all drawn differently so you won’t mix them up either. It’s definitely the strongest part of the manga. Not to say that the rest is weak or anything, but the art is just very solid. You won’t have any problems with it as you’re reading through the volume. There’s no problem with the writing either. The dialogue is good and the characters do a good job of saying what they mean. There are never any big misunderstandings because the characters are trying to be vague.

A La Mode’s concept is good and it’s nice seeing the old characters again. I’d definitely be up for more one shot sequels for other titles with a new main character or just bringing back the old cast more like what Fire Red did. Either way it’s fun to see how they’ll make the new villains a threat. In A La Mode’s case I’d argue that they never were much of a threat though. At most they could challenge the heroes when it was one on one, but whenever the teammates would show up it was over. There just wasn’t much that the villains could do at that point.

Overall, A La Mode is a sequel that feels like filler for the most part. It doesn’t really add much to the story, but I’m sure people were probably hyped when it started back in the day since the original Mew Mew ended with a big cliffhanger. I think keeping Berry’s more mysterious personality (Okay, she only had one line but I got that vibe) from the ending would have made her a more interesting character here. It would have also been very unique for sure. I definitely recommend checking this sequel out if you read the original. The series definitely has pacing issues, but overall I would put it above the first series. The plot does start right away so that’s always good.

Overall 6/10

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7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Princess Tutu Review


It’s time for a pretty unique anime that I had never really heard of until I began watching it. The Magical girl genre has always been pretty good, at least for the titles that I’ve seen. Madoka Magica is one of the greatest anime ever and Sailor Moon/Cardcaptor Sakura were also pretty fun back in the day. Princess Tutu is the first one I’ve seen in a while and it’s pretty solid. There is always an air of mystery with the series and not everything is as it seems.

The first arc starts off with a Duck being turned into a human. Duck had always wanted to be a human so she could cheer up Mytho (Pronounced Muto) since the guy always seemed sad. This was her big chance and she is now enrolled in a dance school. She quickly makes two friends once she’s there. Duck then discovers that Mytho is actually missing all the pieces of his heart and it’s up to her to find them. Duck can transform into the hero known as Princess Tutu in order to complete this task, but she will have to deal with many objects that have gained sentience. Whether it be solving puzzles or giving them a pep talk, Tutu must stand strong.

Of course, it’s easy enough when there is no big antagonist, but that doesn’t last for long. The big villain behind the scenes is Drosselmeyer. He’s an old story writer who died and went to the spirit realm so he could become all powerful. Whatever he writes becomes reality so he is a dangerous opponent. We also have the evil Princess Kraehe who doesn’t want Mytho to regain his heart pieces and stands in Tutu’s way. Mytho’s best friend Fakir has the same objective although he is at odds with Kraehe. Tutu will have to overpower all of them to help Mytho out.

Arc 2 continues the plotline of gathering the heart pieces, but the game has changed quite a bit. For starters, Kraehe gets a bigger presence in the story as we find out that she is working for the Raven King. He wants Mytho to get his heart back to he can take over his body and destroy the world. Drosselmeyer is still around as well and Tutu has doubts on if she can get all of the heart pieces back and even if it’s the right thing to do at this point.

Throughout the show, the town is very cloudy. It’s still light outside, but this effect makes everything a little more mysterious than it would b otherwise. You always wonder if something sinister is about to happen. It’s a pretty nice atmosphere effect to make scenes a little more tense even when they’re happy moments. It helps you feel like someone may be in control in the background.

The show even hints at the final plot twist early on as Duck will wake up one morning to randomly find that they have an animal for a classmate or a cat for a teacher. Humans randomly change, but everyone acts as if they’ve always been there. The whole town can be strangely isolated at times with people only being around when it’s inconvenient. Yet, the humans still appear enough to cement their roles in the town. Very mysterious.

Princess Tutu is first and foremost a dancing show. Tutu beats all of her opponents by convincing them to dance with her and the bond they develop as a result gets the villain to turn good. Most of the villains aren’t evil after all, they just went down the wrong path to ruin. It’s handled pretty well and I wouldn’t call it cheesy. It’s outlandish, but as none of the villains were super evil it was pretty believable. A few of them did try attempted murder so the water’s a little murky but it’s a nice gimmick.

The soundtrack may not be the most exciting as a result, but you’ll get to hear a lot of classic songs. Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and other iconic songs from ballet. It’s a very soft soundtrack that lets you focus on the dancing. I think a quick electronic/fast paced rock song would have fit in well enough, but I suppose I can see why they didn’t go that route. The animation is pretty good. It’s nothing amazing, but the show has aged well for its time. The character designs are on point and the action scenes are good when they appear. At first I wasn’t expecting too many fights but about midway through Arc 1 we slowly started to get more and more of them which was certainly a good thing. I love a good fight scene even if the villains always seem to have the edge in raw power. That’s why you also need some dancing to slow them down.

Duck is our main heroine and she’s a fun character. She can run low on confidence at times, but always does her best to do the right thing. The fact that she can transform from human to duck and vice versa is certainly very useful. It’s also interesting how she gets a different personality as Tutu, but still does seem to be in control and keeps her memories. I suppose it’s just a really big confidence boost inside of the power up that happens automatically. Either way, I definitely had no qualms with Duck. She made the hard calls and never deserted her friends.

Mytho is an interesting case since he was missing his heart for quite a while. Without it, he let everyone push him around for a while. He had no emotions so he was fine with betraying everybody and just doing what he wanted. It was definitely hard to sympathize with the guy. In arc 2 he made for a good villain as he turned evil thanks to the Raven’s blood. I suppose we can’t blame him here either, but it is tempting since it shows a lack of willpower. It was probably his best string of appearances. We finally see the real Mytho in the final episode so that’s something. He finally becomes the hero he has always wanted to be. I guess Mytho was an okay hero, but a good villain. All in all that makes him a good character, but he serves as more of a plot device for the cast to fight over than anything else.

Fakir starts off as a rather antagonistic person who slaps Mytho and threatens Duck’s life. We eventually learn that he only became a villain to keep Mytho safe. See, it goes back to how the characters are all puppets who are being manipulated by Drosselmeyer. The whole town is essentially one giant page and the author has full control. However, Drosselmeyer’s plan can only continue if Mytho gets his heart back so Fakir has decided to prevent this from happening. He isn’t able to stop Duck though and that’s why he goes down the dark path. Eventually he comes around though and after realizing that it is futile to try and stop Tutu, he does his best to protect Mytho. By Arc 2 he is finally a full fledged hero who helps in saving the day. It’s definitely hard to forget how over the top he was at the start, but I suppose all of the characters either started out evil or turned evil at some point. Duck is the only one who was a hero throughout. Fakir also gave us some fun action scenes which was neat since he had a sword.

Rue is the best character in the show and one of the main supporting characters. She agreed with Fakir that Mytho shouldn’t get his heart back but didn’t change her mind quite as quickly as he did. She wants Mytho to stay with her, but if he regains his memories then he will likely ditch her right away. Her character’s destiny from the story is to be despised by all and then to die. Again, it makes for an interesting dynamic since they all know that they’re merely puppets in a story. Rue shows some glimpses of possibly returning to the good side, but then her father the Raven King shows up and makes that impossible. Rue still does her best to spare some humans that she comes across and ultimately doesn’t want to be a villain, but has a hard time getting out of her predicament. Arc 2 as a whole was pretty tough on her, but at least she got a happy ending. Rue made for a very good rival to Tutu and the show basically said that she is even stronger. Rue has quite a lot of special abilities at her disposal aside from dancing. Tutu got some plant abilities to counter them, but I’d still give Rue the edge.

Raven King is the big villain in Arc 2, but 90% of his screen time is just him on the throne. He only throws one body slam near the end or attempts too, but that’s the only action that he gets. He is pretty huge and technically powerful, but he just isn’t fast enough to hit the heroes. Maybe he shot some energy blasts, but I can’t recall if that was really him or I’m just mixing up an effect. Either way, he had a nice voice, but was also very repetitive. His role was to keep reminding Rue that she was doomed to be forever alone. He’s not a very nice guy to say the least.

Drosselmeyer is the actual main villain, but I never liked him. He’s not nearly as intimidating as the other antagonists. He panics quite a bit and while he talks a good game, there’s nothing interesting about him. He’s pretty OP since he can do anything from the mirror world but he rarely goes to the human world since he is supposed to be dead. The heroes can’t really do anything to him either so he’s just around. I suppose it can be entertaining to see him running back and forth all the time.

Edel was a pretty shady character from the start and I had a feeling that you couldn’t trust her. I never liked the character since she always just spoke in riddles that went around and around. Maybe that could have worked, but it didn’t this time. Everytime Duck would ask something Edel would just dodge the question. Uzura was slightly better as she was a kid version of Edel who was always yelling. She also didn’t add much, but at least the yelling and drum playing she always did must have been real annoying in real life so I like thinking about how the villain has to put up with that.

Autor is a character who shows up near the end of the series and he was pretty cool. He actually knows the truth behind the town and is working to get past it. Unfortunately, he is not the chosen one so there isn’t much he can do, but he acts as a mentor to Fakir. He even has a pretty cool moment where he takes down the guys with the axes. They certainly went off the deep end and had some of the worst plans possible so I was glad Autor won. I was expecting him to be a villain for a while so it was cool to see him as more of a rival. He was one of the more low key great characters in the show.

Pike and Lillie were Duck’s two friends from school. I didn’t care for Lillie as she always pretended to be Duck’s friend but would then backstab her constantly and try to get her into trouble. She would try to chip away at Duck’s self esteem and was just mean the whole time. We never even got a character moment to explain that so it was just odd. At least Pike was always trying to be helpful and supported Duck in what she did. Then we also have Mr. Cat who is the dance instructor. He’s pretty annoying and is constantly asking people to marry him and sweating bullets when they refuse. The gag shows up in every episode that he is in and got old the minute it happened. He’s definitely the worst character in the show.

The main cast was really good or at least very interesting the whole time while the supporting cast was quite a bit weaker. Still, there were always enough good characters to keep the ball rolling. The writing was pretty good throughout. Everyone moved with purpose and they all had their own motivations. The show didn’t have any real fanservice as even the transformation scenes and the tricky Duck turning into a human moments were handled really well. It’s a pretty safe anime that I could recommend to anyone.

If I have any problems with the show, it’s that I’m not a big fan of some aspects of the final twist. I’m fine with them all essentially being stuck inside a fake town that is all a story. I think it was maybe a little too far when they were all literally puppets being forced to move around. Even if Fakir is now the one with the controls, it takes away from their free will. Based on Fakir’s struggle to write a happy ending, they do have some limits and it’s all based on will power, but they still do control an awful lot. The characters really have to wonder about everything they do now and if it is really what they wanted to do. I think just take away the strings and have it so the authors can write new characters and events into the mix, but they can’t actually control the characters. That would work a little better. I ultimately don’t get why Drosselmeyer didn’t just write a new ending after the bookmen stole it, but I’ll assume that he just didn’t have enough willpower left.

I suppose that the romance was handled pretty well. Mytho had a tough time making up his mind and the first choice couldn’t work out for some characters, but it’s just another tough call to make. Duck made the hero call and just did what was best for the team so that was definitely nice of her. Anyway, being a duck isn’t so bad. It sounds pretty fun if you ask me although I would definitely stay in human form for the most part. It’s still the best way to play.

Finally, a neat visual effect was the little clocks that would zoom in on various characters whenever Drosselmeyer checked in on them. Since he was essentially the grand author in charge of this production he needed to keep an eye on them somehow right? I would have liked to have seen more of how he used those to affect the real world though. I guess we couldn’t see too much or he’d truly be OP but there must be some limits to it. How is he even this strong? He brings up the most questions in the series for sure and I suppose we just have to roll with them.

Overall, Princess Tutu is a pretty fun show that I’d definitely recommend checking out. I’d say that it’s probably a little closer to Madoka than Sailor Moon in how serious it is, but is pretty well placed in the middle. It has a lot of Sailor Moon’s happy scenes and monster of the week moments at first, but also has the increased stakes and mystery of Madoka. There is also quite a bit of drama since Duck wants to bring Rue back to the side of the heroes, but this proves to be a really difficult task. It’s also hard to say which arc was actually better. Arc 2 got off to a faster start since the characters were already introduced but Arc 1 did have the better climax. I’ll probably say that Arc 2 takes the narrow win here. It’s just a very balanced show that did a good job of playing to its strengths.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rebellion Review

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All right, it’s time to look at the movie that followed the TV show for Madoka Magica. I’m assuming that you have already seen the TV show so I will be mentioning the ending since we have to connect how it leads into the film and what happened. While the movie isn’t quite as amazing as the TV show, it’s still great and gives us some epic fight scenes while still dealing with deep themes. The ending is not as satisfying as the TV show’s end, but it is fairly original.

As you remember from the TV show, Madoka used her unlimited magical powers to recreate reality and add another rule to the books. The Law of Cycles was created and when magical girls are filled with despair, Madoka takes them to the afterlife so that no witches are born. Sayaka was taken so the rest of the magical girls were on their own and Homura was the only one who was allowed to keep her memories of Madoka. The witches were gone, but in their place came a new evil, the Wraiths.

That should have been the end of everything, but Homura wakes up one day in a world that seems to have forgotten this. Witches are still gone, but so are Wraiths. Nightmares have taken up their place and Sayaka, as well as Madoka are both alive once again. Kyubey acts like he cannot talk anymore and Mami is friends with the witch who ate her in the show. This world seems messed up and Homura has to find a way to make everything turn back to how it was. This labyrinth cannot hold her forever!

There’s a lot to say here so where to start right? Let’s go into the technical parts of the film first. The soundtrack is not quite as good as the TV show’s since we’re missing the incredible end theme that was present over there. Nonetheless, it’s still quite good and the songs definitely give the film the feeling that the heroes are always in danger. You can tell that the very city is sinister the entire time and it helps to create a good atmosphere for the viewers.

Animation wise, the movie likes to be very abstract so it doesn’t show off the animation very often. For the most part, you won’t notice much of a difference between the show and the movie. That being said, there is one scene where the film uses its animation seriously when Mami fights with Homura. That was certainly the highlight of the film and the action scene is quite good and we get to see why you have to fight very carefully when time control is being used. The two heroines shoot hundreds of bullets at each other so when time moves again, it gets very chaotic. These two are also likely the strongest of the magical girls so seeing them fight was epic.

The fight wasn’t very short either so we really got to see what they could do. Obviously, Homura could win in an instant with time control so Mami intelligently placed a thread on Homura so that Mami wouldn’t be stuck in time. That move’s what makes the fight so even. Homura was confident that she could win the fight, but she was also trying not to destroy her friend in the process. Both of them were holding back and due to the circumstances, I’m fine with Homura not winning. With her time mastery, she is virtually invincible, but take that away and Mami should in fact have the edge thanks to her incredible offensive capabilities.

I liked her as a character much more here than in the show. Of course, Mami didn’t crack here like she did in the other version and even tried to stop Homura from shooting herself. I’m actually glad that Mami defended Bebe since they were friends for quite a while so she shouldn’t betray the creature just for a transfer student. Protecting one’s friends is what a magical girl does after all so while I was rooting for Homura to win, Mami made the right decision in fighting at that point.

Kyoko’s still ahead of the other Magical Girls for me (Aside from Homura) and she gets a decently good role here. She’s the first to be told that the world isn’t real and she backs Homura up the whole time. By the end of the film, her role quickly begins to grow smaller, but she is a little outmatched against the heavy hitters. She has been surpassed by all of the other magical girls, but she still tries hard and is a nice friend to have.

Madoka is an interesting case here because some twists make her look a little bad and possibly weak considering that she’s all powerful. All right gang, spoilers for the film are coming up now so skip the rest of the paragraphs to avoid them until the final one. I do recommend just checking out the film before reading the review so you can have your own thoughts on what just happened and your views on Homura’s decisions. Before going into the characters, I should really talk about the timeline here so that it all makes sense. As you remember, Homura was still fighting Wraiths in the after credits scene of the show. She was not fighting to save the world, but she did it because that’s what Madoka would have wanted.

Well, at some point, the Incubators found her. It’s hinted that it may have been willingly, but even if it wasn’t, the Incubators trapped her soul in a prism so that nothing could interfere with it. This allowed Homura’s despair to turn her soul into a witch since the Law of Cycles cannot breach the barrier that the Incubators had put around her soul. If you think about it for a minute, this means that the Incubators were able to defy one of the fundamental laws of the universe. It’s been hinted that these cosmic beings can do just about anything, but their limits are very vague so it’s still hard to quantify. They cannot end entropy on their own after all and offensively, they don’t seem to have a lot of power, but maybe it’s all just an act. They have no emotions so they may not even care what happens to their physical selves.
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Back to the timeline though, as a witch, Homura recreated the city where she used to fight with the other heroines. Her soul lured in Mami, Kyoko, Sayaka’s friend, and the violin player among others. It was impossible for anyone to free Homura from the outside and once the heroes were tricked into entering her labyrinth, they could not get out again and they also forgot their memories rather quickly. It was like the old days of entering a witch’s labyrinth, but Homura is much stronger than an ordinary opponent. Homura even erased her own memories so that she could have fun with her friends. It was created to be a perfect world after all so she would have infinite happiness here.

In the end, her illusion was too good and Homura sought out the truth. There were 3 people in her labyrnth who didn’t belong. Madoka realized that her friend was in trouble so she assumed a physical form once more and entered the labyrnth. Realizing that there was a lot of danger here, she gave her powers to a creature known as Bebe and gave Sayaka her memories. They are essentially Madoka’s bodyguards and have ascended with her to the next plane of existence. Naturally, this means that they both got a big power boost, which explains why Sayaka was so quick in her brief scuffle with Homura. Madoka forgot her memories, but the two bodyguards didn’t lose theirs.

The heroes were able to defeat Homura’s witch form and made it back to the real world. Homura’s despair had still covered her soul so Madoka reached out to take her to the afterlife, but Homura had actually been tainted more than the heroes had realized and literally ripped out the human Madoka from her godself and altered the laws of reality once more. Homura essentially became evil to counter Madoka being good. If Madoka became a god then Homura was essentially a devil. (The word demon is used in the film) She decided to recreate the universe and now Homura is the ruler of it all. Madoka still has her limitless power and could overthrow Homura in time, but she has lost her memories again.

The film ends with Homura stating that the heroes will remember at some point and they will try to fight her. With Homura’s abilities are great as they are now, it’s hard to see how they can pose a challenge. Only Madoka can hope to defeat Homura and she will need to get her memories back first to do that. Sayaka seems to recall some parts of what happened even after Homura erased her memories so she will likely be the key if the film ever gets a sequel.

A sequel really isn’t needed, but I would like one. We know that Homura will either keep them under her power for eternity or they will eventually defeat her, but what will the heroes do then? Madoka can recreate the universe a third time or bring things back to the way they were. If Madoka does the latter, the Earth is not in a good state. From what we saw of the present, there aren’t many inhabitants anymore and the whole world is like a large desert. It’s easy to see how the heroes succumb to despair so quickly and it’s what ended up breaking Homura. If Madoka ends up just recreating things from scratch, it will be like Terminator where the cycle will never end, but at least then the heroes get to have more adventures.

By the end, I thought that the film did a pretty great job of explaining everything. Now, the whole film works well into a linear timeline and the show also made a good amount of sense and it’ll probably feel even more grim when you watch it since you know that Homura ultimately ends up turning evil and wasted Madoka’s wish. The one really iffy part here is how Homura was able to grab infinite Madoka and pull her down from the heavens. She is now a demon who is evil incarnate, but that should not be enough power to grab Madoka even if the heroine was surprised.

As I mentioned earlier, the ending is very original because evil actually won in the end. There was no happy ending to be found and the powers of love and friendship lost to a twisted version of those that Homura used. Whether you decide that good wins in the end or not, the film ends with evil having the clear upper hand and it’s really 50/50 as to what side will ultimately claim victory this time. Madoka can’t count on any of the other characters to help her aside from Sayaka so it will be tough.
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So, I still like Madoka a lot like in the show, but the one thing that makes her look a little bad is that she lost her memories when she went into the labyrnth. It’s okay for the mortals to lose theirs, but Madoka is literally a concept who is above everything in the universe. She should have had enough power to have stopped Homura without putting in any effort. I’m glad that she stepped in unlike most cosmic deities, but it did make her look a little weak. It’s a good thing that she has two bodyguards by her side. This will likely give One Above All fans from Marvel some breathing room for debates since Madoka clearly has some weaknesses now. Personality wise, she’s definitely still a lot of fun though. Even without infinite power, she’s a good fighter.

Sayaka is no longer mortal and she can now use her witch form to fight, which makes for a pretty good power up. She’s a solid character as you would expect and still backs Madoka up whenever they get into a tough situation. She has moved on from the violin player, which is great character development if you ask me. That guy certainly wasn’t adding to the story so I’m cool with him being gone from the main focus. The power up was also very good for Sayaka and I’m glad that she was able to keep her memories and personality since she had been dead.

Kyubey is still as sly and crafty as ever and his plan here is really ambitious as he wants to control Madoka and her unlimited power. I don’t think that the plan should be very plausible, but I suppose that if Madoka had destroyed Homura while inside of the gem, then they would be able to steal her power, but it’s all assuming that Madoka couldn’t break out of the barrier and with unlimited power, I feel like she should be able to easily bust free. Those cosmic beings definitely have some good tech to be able to stop her. His chase scene with Homura was a lot of fun and it was like a high budget version of what happened in the first episode of the show. It’s impressive that he was able to last so long when Homura was really out to get him.

Homura’s story is the most tragic like usual and she totally went off the deep end. At the start of the film, she was the Homura that we all remembered as she tried to escape this fake world. She was willing to fight her friends and get into a lot of trouble to restore Madoka’s vision because she’s always done everything to save her friend. That being said, the revelation of being a witch and the temptation of being able to keep Madoka in the world was too much for her and she ended up being a total villain by the end. Homura’s sharp change in personality was definitely drastic and she is now a complete demon and definitely not a magical girl. Her abilities have risen tremendously and she can now erase memories and do what she wants with the world. While her abilities aren’t unlimited like Madoka’s, she seems to have gained a fraction of them. She mentions that she took the Madoka part of the Law of Cycles while the other two are still around with their powers intact, but all three have lost their memories now. (Sayaka may have some though)

It’s too bad that Homura is a total villain now. I also don’t fully understand why Homura made her final decision. If she had gone with Madoka to the afterlife, they would have been together forever like with Sayaka, who is always by Madoka’s side now. That would surely be better than trapping her in the new Earth while repressing her memories. I don’t fully understand Homura’s rationale for doing this, but since she has become a demon, she may just prefer it this way.

If you ignore the moral implications for a second, Homura’s world is actually a lot better than Madoka’s. Everyone is essentially back to life and the world is how it was before everything was destroyed. The Kyubey race can no longer hurt them and while villains are still around, the heroes can defeat them with ease. Everyone gets to live and Madoka doesn’t have to be a cosmic entity who can’t hang out with her friends anymore. On the surface, it’s a perfect world. The problem is that Homura had to alter everyone’s memories so they wouldn’t object to it. Madoka simply erased her existence from everyone’s minds, which is different from Homura deliberately altering her friends so they wouldn’t try to stop her.

If she had willingly gotten everyone to agree to her plan, then it would be completely okay. She just went about it the wrong way. For her, it’s likely a deal that is worth it since she gets to hang out with Madoka again. (I don’t get why Madoka had to be the transfer student this time though. Wouldn’t that change so many things that Homura should be a little concerned?) As always, Homura is just doing things for Madoka. Now, the heroine won’t have to be a cosmic deity who is forever alone. That being said, Homura is also looking out for herself this time and now she gets to have the life that she always wanted. I feel like I would sympathize with her wish a little more if she didn’t act so creepy/evil in the final scenes. For some characters, their bond is stronger than their desire for justice so protecting Madoka at any costs is something that I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with especially with how well the world turned out to be. Seriously, if Homura hadn’t been so over the top at the end, I wouldn’t have minded the ending nearly as much. Homura’s still a villain, but she’s a very likable villain at this point. Who knew that one character would end up being the best hero and the best villain in this franchise!

When you think about it, friendship is still the main theme here. The main difference with this compared to other shows is that the powers of friendship actually hurt the main characters. Madoka sees that Homura is in trouble and decided to enter the labyrinth in a human form, but it was her undoing. Homura’s friendship for Madoka turned into something sinister and led her into the road of evil. Everyone believed in the power of friendship, it just turned out badly for the characters.

Naturally, the series got even higher in the tier lists here thanks to Homura’s big power boost. Not to mention that Sayaka was also a lot stronger as well. This series really does blow the rest of the magical girl series away with how strong the heroes are. Mami could likely take down the group of sailor scouts on her own if you ask me. The Wraiths and Nightmares weren’t particularly impressive, but they have a lot of minions, which will help to distract the opponents. In a possible sequel, I’m sure that the characters would get even stronger!

As with the show, we get a lot of random abstract scenes during the show, which are always intriguing. The cotton balls with mustaches are still around and we get to see them fight the new villains at one point. The magical girls also have a weird transformation scene for each of them, which are all odd and likely have deeper meanings, but it’s good to just take them at face value sometimes. One really entertaining scene was the cake song where the heroes took on the nightmare. It was fairly creepy, funny, and entertaining at the same time. Talk about high stakes!

With the battle between good and evil, the film reminds you that it can be very easy to cross that bridge. Madoka allowed her friend to pull her back from her ascension and Homura turned evil. One must be strong and know when to hold steady so that you do not end up being led astray. Saving someone else is always a top priority and you must make every endeavor to complete that mission, but you must also not allow yourself to become weak enough that you are dragged to the dark side yourself. It’s something that Madoka probably wishes that she had known earlier.

It should be quickly noted that the original ending was actually Homura ascending with Madoka, but it was altered before the film came out due to the company pulling rank. That’s too bad because that ending would have been perfect. It even felt like the film could have ended there so there was definitely some behind the scenes action going. The extra content isn’t bad per say, but this ending would have been superior!
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Overall, Rebellion was a fun movie and it was still really great. I wasn’t crazy about the ending, but it was a very thought provoking film like I expected and the characters were still all likable like in the show. The soundtrack and animation are strong and the film was around 2 hours so it had quite a lot of time to develop. The Mami vs Homura scene is the one to look out for and the film nearly ends at one point, which was a great fake out. It’s also slightly regrettable though since that ending would have been vastly superior to the true one that we got. If you enjoyed the TV show, then you should definitely enjoy this film and it’s cool to see the main characters finally get to fight as a team for a change since they all got to be alive in the fake world. I do hope that the film gets a sequel at some point so that we can have a more positive ending for the heroes. Particularly for Homura since she’s still my favorite character in the series so I’m hoping that she’ll see the light and realize how far she has come from being the noble hero that she used to be. I’m confident that she would become a hero again in the next film. While her new personality is still pretty epic as the villain, it’s just not the ending that I had envisioned for her. Madoka has always been a layered show and Homura’s final actions are much deeper than your average villain’s. I don’t believe for a second that she should not be considered as a villain by the end because her wish was selfish and altering someone’s memories is always immoral, but at least it’s a decision that I can understand. The whole concept of helping someone through whatever means possible is always an intriguing one and something that I can sometimes agree with. It’s a concept that I’ll probably try to discuss more in a future review that deals with the subject. It shouldn’t be too long until something has this theme again since it can be quite prevalent at times. Almost forgot, make sure that you stick around for the after credits scene. It is fairly vague, but you get to decide what just happened. I like to think that someone is protecting the world from Kyubey and doing it in a way that Madoka would object to, which will raise some tension for the next film.

Overall 9/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Review

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At this point, who hasn’t heard of this show right? It became a pretty popular title back in the day and I’m sure that the fanbase is still strong right now. I had heard of the show and knew that it was supposed to have been very different from the average magical girl title because there were some dark twists. This did worry me to an extent especially when I saw one of the big names behind the show, but Madoka Magica actually ended up being a fantastic show and one of the greatest anime of all time. It’s not something that I had expected (To put it mildly) but it just goes to show that any show has the potential to be great if it plays its cards right. The show starts off with a bang and never lets up!

Madoka wakes up one day to witness the end of the world as a magical girl fights against a powerful deity. The girl appears to be losing and a creature asks Madoka if she wants to help change this fate by becoming a magical girl. Madoka thinks long and hard about this and then wakes up from her dream. Was it really a dream though? In the real world, she has had a perfect life. She never lies or does anything wrong and is essentially as good a person as one can be. The girl from her dream appears one day along with the creature and the Witches start appearing. Magical Girls must hunt and destroy the Witches to keep people safe and the creature is really determined for Madoka to become a magical girl although everyone else tries to stop Madoka from making such a decision. What could possibly be wrong with becoming a magical girl?

I’ve mentioned in the past that a few shows have managed to really feel like movie quality titles with a great soundtrack, writing, and animation staff. Unfortunately, the three shows that pulled this off all ended up being pretty bad by the end. (Attack on Titan, Fate/Zero, and Sword Art Online) Aside from those three shows I can’t say that any other title has ever had that big budget movie effect for me. Even shows that I love like Yugioh GX and Digimon Data Squad while they are amazing, still felt like classic anime and not necessarily that mainstream theater effect. Well, now I can finally say that I’ve found a great show which pulled it off. If you can imagine how I enjoyed the overall development of the previously mentioned shows when they didn’t end up turning out well, you can imagine just how great this was for such a good show.

First of all, Madoka Magica has the greatest opening in anime history. Not the opening in terms of music, but the opening scene. Within the first 2 minutes, the world is already on the brink of destruction and we see a big budget fight between a deity and a magical girl. I have to quickly pat myself on the back here as I knew that the magical girl in that scene would be my favorite character in the series immediately. One glance at her and I knew that this was a character who wasn’t going to mess around and who would be a deadly fighter. I’m glad to say that my instincts paid off and she was definitely a shining point of the show although the writing was so good that virtually every single character was great so she did have some steep competition. (Never a doubt though)

When your first scene is that epic, you know that the show is going to go places. Seriously, name a better opening scene to an anime. There is none and I doubt that there will ever be a better one although it is always possible. (Like an opening scene to a new Megaman EXE show where Bass is fighting someone with a high budget. That would be amazing) Immediately you can tell that this isn’t going to be the next Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon’s a fun show, but this one destroys it in an instant. This show is a better Sailor Moon than Sailor Moon, a better Fate/Zero than Fate/Zero and a better Serial Experiments Lain than Serial Experiments Lain.

Why did I pick those three shows in particular? Sailor Moon is self explanatory as they are both magical girl shows where the heroes fight villains with their powers. Fate/Zero tries to be really deep and philosophical with a lot of dark themes like Madoka, but Madoka pulls them all off so much better without going overboard. Finally, Madoka can also be very abstract at times like Lain, but it’s far more interesting. You could make a case for Madoka being the greatest anime of all time, but Yugioh GX still holds that honor. However, it’s impressive in and of itself that Madoka could be so great in only 12 episodes while GX had 180. If GX had ended after the first 12 episodes, it’s safe to say that Madoka would win. No other 12 episode start to a series can match up to this title.

I’ll start to actually discuss the show and the characters in a minute, but let’s cover the rest of the technical information. The soundtrack is incredible and easily a 10/10 for the show. The opening theme song is the only weak part and the actual music is still really good. The images just aren’t that exciting and while that is the point, I could do without the metaphysical Madoka meeting herself as that was a little on the fanservicey side even if it was all meta, which I am slightly more lenient with. It’s still not really needed. Beyond that, look to the ending theme as it is one of the greatest pieces of music in all of anime. It’s a great opera styled theme that is similar to what you would hear in Tsubasa and it really sets the tone for the battles. There are also many more opera themes as well as fight themes, which makes for a very epic soundtrack. It doesn’t get much better than this and the end theme will probably be my favorite theme to listen to for the next year or so until I find another really cool theme. I never keep a favorite theme forever due to a mix of hearing it extremely often so that I am ready for a new theme and the fact that there are always new themes to listen too.
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As you would expect, the writing is impeccable and the series wouldn’t have been able to have been as thought provoking or interesting if the writing was not as good. The characters are all typically polite or politely rude (Think of it as being passively aggressive in their manner of speaking) so they don’t resort to swearing. The logical loops and deep thinking will make you think as well and you’ll have to choose a side many times since the characters disagree with each other. It’s all handled very well and you will definitely be engaged at all times.

There is only one moment when the writing falters and it is to make a point about how the Earth may not be worth saving. Several characters come to this conclusion and I’ll go into that more in a moment as some of the points are fairly valid. Still, you should SKIP THE SCENE. It’s really the only bad scene in the entire anime and while it is trying to prove a point, you can still skip it and you won’t miss much. Just have the remote ready when Madoka’s friend Sayaka is on the train and you hear two guys talking. They essentially try to cram in as many swear words as possible in that minute and it’s a pretty terrible scene. They are cut off before they can say that dreaded f word and they presumably don’t live through the experience, but you don’t need to hear their dialogue. They’re just being generally gruesome and skipping the scene will allow you to enjoy the episode a lot more. It’s only about a minute or two so you seriously aren’t missing anything.

The animation can be a little hit or miss depending on what style you prefer While the characters are not in combat, the animation can be a little abstract and the characters always have lines in their eyes. It’s odd and the characters feel like they are in a sketch half the time, but I quickly grew to enjoy the style. It’s not something that will fit with all titles, but this one pulled it off. I wouldn’t call the animation amazing though as it is simply good. However, once the fights starts, the animation quickly rises up to epic levels of awesomeness. I would call the animation amazing during the battle scenes. They are very fast paced and trying to keep up with the action is one of the fun parts about watching the show. The heroes seem to have limitless variations on how they can use their abilities, which fits the abstract style. Their abilities are certainly great and I’ll talk about their powers more later as the series is definitely fairly high tier.

The abstract scenes are always fairly interesting. Usually, it’s just a bunch of unrelated images that hit the screen and if there’s some kind of meaning to them, you likely won’t get it. It does make for a lot of very interesting backgrounds and minions though. Everything just looks so crazy and insane that you’ll feel like it’s all in some kind of acid dream. If handled poorly, this could have been bad, but it’s very interesting to see what the animators can think of. It’s not overdone and it does show how chaotic the Witches are. Between the creepy laughs and the cotton balls with mustaches, there is always something to capture your attention.

Madoka is the main character of the show and she’s certainly the most innocent of the bunch. She’s essentially led a perfect life as she has never lied or really done anything wrong. Not literally of course as she has likely made mistakes, but she has always made sure to do what is right and never lost sight of that. Once she finds out about the other magical girls being hurt, she wants to become one and help out, but everyone gives her a tough time about it. Let’s just say that her becoming a magical girl would present a dangerous situation for everyone. Also, it would mean breaking her ties with family and friends since there are a lot of circumstances that would be tough to explain in her situation and her life would certainly be changed. It would also force Madoka to make a lot of tough choices. She tries to please everyone, but that is impossible due to how everyone wants something different.

She does a lot of crying during the show as a result, but it’s a lot more genuine than the average lead. Madoka does a great job of fulfilling the lead role. She doesn’t actually get her powers for the majority of the show so if you’re waiting for that, it will be quite the wait even though the theme song spoils what her costume looks like as well as all of the posters. Her final decision in the show is great and she really thought it through on all angles, which shows how intelligent she is. Her ending can be seen as sad depending on who looks at it and you need to have strong emotions and believe that what you are doing is right if you don’t want to fall into despair. Madoka had complete confidence in what she did so the ending turned out to be a happy one for her. You don’t come across a main character like this very often. I would mention Madoka’s abilities, but they mostly don’t come until the end. I can say that she fired pink arrows, which are fairly powerful. Her main powers are tougher to describe and while I could give you the general idea, I don’t want to spoil them because it could hint at her overall wish. You’ll need to watch the show if you want to figure it out!

Sayaka is Madoka’s best friend and she gets a fairly large role in this adventure. She ends up getting super speed as her main ability along with unlimited swords at her disposal. She has less raw attack power than the other members, but she makes up for this with her high speed regeneration. She ends up being the weak link on the team for sure, but she means well. Unfortunately, she decides to use her wish to help someone else anonymously. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but she ultimately starts to realize that this may have not necessarily changed her life for the better and that’s when the doubts start to come through. Her ending isn’t quite as happy as the other characters, but she still got closure and she meant well. She was a good friend for Madoka and her strength allowed the lead to make it so far through the adventure. Sayaka was very outgoing and always ready for a fight.
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Homura is easily the best character in the show and it’s not even close. As I mentioned earlier, I knew that she would be the best before 2 minutes had even passed by in the show. First impressions are important and Homura started out strongly with her first fight scene. She ended up being one of the strongest characters in the series as the only one who can really hope to challenge her from the heroes is Madoka. Most of the villains are child’s play for her except for the ultimate evil. Homura’s ability isn’t revealed for quite a while so I’m a little hesitant to say exactly what it is like with Madoka’s. Needless to say, she can control one of the elements of reality, which allows her to put up a good fight against anyone. Thanks to the extent to which she can control this, there is literally no other super power in this show that can counter her. Homura could defeat the rest of the magical girls in an instant thanks to this and the whole show is essentially a constant reminder of her strength.

Watching Homura mop the floor with the rest of the cast is always very satisfying and even the ending is fairly accurate. I can safely say that there is no plot hax in the ending as the villain being too powerful makes sense. Homura’s ability is great, but the one thing that she is lacking is offensive power. If something is strong enough to block all forms of conventional weaponry, then there is nothing that Homura can do. That is essentially her limit and while she can still outclass most of the opponents that she fights, there will be some that even she cannot defeat. Homura is very powerful, but she’s not insanely overpowered and that’s always a good mix. (Although I like overpowered characters as well.)

From all of the characters, you could argue that Homura has the toughest road. It’s even sadder than Madoka’s as Homura has a very tragic history. She is always trying to help out a friend through her actions, but the task proves to be nearly impossible. Despite all of this, Homura manages to resist the feeling of despair for quite a while and ends up helping a lot of people along the way although she acts reluctant about it. For her purposes, Homura must put on a mask of coldness so that others will find her to be calculating and unfeeling. In reality, Homura cares a lot about what is happening. Still, she is not Madoka. She does not care about what happens to the world, she simply wants to protect her friend. Homura is a very deep and interesting character. She’s certainly one of the best characters that I have seen in a while.

Mami is my least favorite member of the magical girls. She has the least amount of willpower and she is quick to take drastic measures that never help out the situation. She has mastery over strings and also has unlimited guns. From all of the members, she seemed to have the widest arrange of techniques and it was fun to watch her take down whole armies with a single combo. She was certainly powerful and while she wouldn’t be a match for Homura or Madoka, it’s safe to say that she could beat Sayaka and Kyoko. As a villain, she’s a good character, but I’m not crazy about her as a hero. Her latter scenes really destroyed the character even if Mami meant well. Mami just didn’t know all that much about the contract so she was mostly just leading the other characters astray unintentionally. Mami is not necessarily the kind of friend that you want to have by your side although it was definitely happy for her that Madoka showed up as fighting alone for eternity definitely does not sound like a fun thing to do.

Kyoko is the tough member of the group and she uses a spear. Her abilities were probably the most limited as she was mainly just good at slashing at high speeds. She’s quick and still proved to be more than a match for Sayaka, but she never looked overly impressive. It’s safe to say that Homura would have crushed her had the battle kept going. Kyoko’s personality shifts the most from the members as she goes from being a cold blooded killer to remembering what it means to truly be a magical girl. Her character got a lot of development and by the end it’s safe to say that she even passed the main character for me. She was really likable at the end and she was certainly willing to risk her life to save Sayaka. Things may not have turned out so well, but Kyoko never backed down and stood by her beliefs. I also like her policy about not wasting food and her wish was pretty selfless. Unfortunately, the people affected by the wish did not respond very well to it.

As for the Witches, a lot of them have names, but you won’t remember just about any of them since they come up so quickly. It doesn’t matter as it’s not a big deal, but the designs are still fun to watch. Typically, the Witches just get curbstomped as the heroes open up a clinic of combos onto them. The exception is the final boss, Walpurgisnacht. Walpurgisnacht is an incredibly powerful Witch who is immune to all methods of conventional weaponry and her attacks come in very quickly. Given how many minions are available to Walpurgisnacht, it is said that no single magical girl can defeat her. It’s safe to say that this is true for the most part and that’s why the Witch makes for a great final boss. She’s even got a really cool evil laugh that you’ll want to watch out for.

The new villains who replace the Witches aren’t quite exciting. They are the Wraiths and as far as we know, they all look more or less the same. They may appear in the film or maybe they just won’t be a focus anymore. They appear to be very slow, but there are thousands of them so their quantity helps to overshadow their lack of quality. I don’t see any of them being as powerful as Walpurgisnacht, but maybe they’ll surprise me. Either way, their designs aren’t bad as far as minions are concerned.
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Even the supporting characters are fairly likable in this show. Hitomi is another friend of Madoka’s, but she is not chosen to be a magical girl. As a result, she is typically only around for the slice of life scenes, but I like to think of her as the Fluttershy of the series. As polite and sincere as Madoka is, Hitomi is even nicer typically. She does end up stealing someone’s potential boyfriend, but she does it in a fairly nice way. Hitomi never lets up with her polite lines and she’s a good friend to the other girls. You would typically expect at least one bad influence as most shows have a classmate who’s terrible, but not this time. Madoka’s mom is also very nice and she was an entertaining side character as she tried to rise to the top of her business. She gave Madoka encouraging words whenever the situation called for it and she opted to trust Madoka up to the very end. Madoka’s father got less of a role, but he seemed to be a nice guy as well. The only supporting character who wasn’t that good was the love interest for Sayaka and he still wasn’t as bad as I expected. He’s the kind of character who overreacts a lot and never seems grateful, but even he apologized for his behavior later on, which is something that you usually wouldn’t expect. A little more gratitude would have been great, but this is better than nothing.

Kyubei is a very deep character and a fun mascot for the series. Upon first glance he seems like a very innocent creature who’s just looking out for the heroines, but you quickly find out that he has some ulterior motives. He needs energy to save the universe and that’s where he starts to come to odds with the humans. He is essentially just using them and he knows that they will ultimately be destroyed and their souls will forever be lost. He knows this, but he doesn’t really care as he is the embodiment of a population which can feel no emotions. As a result, if each life that is lost can save another thousand, it is certainly worth it in his book and the final death will save an entire universe. Looking at it that way, his motives make sense. Many of the characters dislike him by the end and they feel hurt by his choices, but I never actually disliked him.

See, most of his points actually made a lot of sense. Now, I’m not justifying his decisions and saying that he is a hero because he is not. Kyubei still did not tell the main characters all of the details, but I do agree with him about the fact that he told them enough. Kyubei did warn that making a contract with him means that your life will be at an end, but you could gain whatever wish you desire. In a sense, he is asking if any wish is worth losing your soul and living the rest of your life in nonstop battles against Witches. This is a deal that is naturally not worth taking no matter how you look at it. Trading your life for a wish is an interesting matter and one that could work. If you knew that you could save your family or a friend in exchange for your life, a lot of people would be willing to do it.

Your soul is another matter. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that in the real world as no one can snatch your soul away from God provided that you have given your life to him. Only you can choose to take your soul back and ultimately lose your right to Heaven. Still, you can redirect the example. Would you be willing to go to a dark path in order to keep a friend or relationship? Hopefully you won’t make the wrong choice there and the characters are forced to make some tough choices. Luckily, there are themes of redemption and second chances here and Madoka helps the other characters to have a happy ending although they all go through some tough battles with despair. In short, one’s soul is infinitely worth more than their life and you should be wary of making any sort of deal with it here.

Still, Kyubei did make sure that the terms of the deal were clear and he always gets the character’s permission before undergoing the contract. Kyubei is quite fair in this matter and he always talks very eloquently. He also got me when he brought up the classic animal debate. The sad part is that he is not wrong. He explains that he gives humans much more respect than they give their animals. This was the only part of the show where I was legitimately worried. For a moment there, I thought that the show was going to jump the shark with animal violence, but luckily the show narrowly avoided this as we got some abstract images and then some peaceful ones with animals. That being said, the point was valid.

Many animals are slaughtered each and every day in order for us to keep consuming meat. It’s why I’ve always had great respect for the vegan lifestyle as it does save many animals. If everyone were to live like that, many more animals would be alive. Unfortunately, it’s not something that will ever realistically happen and I do eat meat myself. I love animals so it may be a little hypocritical to eat meat and it’s a tough debate. Perhaps it seems futile to not eat it or I just like to hope in the back of my mind that the animals were at least ended in a humane way. I don’t think that I will ever stop eating meat, but I do feel bad about the consequences of such an act and recognize that it does hurt the animal race. Hopefully some day, there will be no need for animal violence in this world with technology. At least in Heaven I won’t have to worry about animals being hurt anymore. This argument nullified most of the points that the main characters brought up about them being tricked with the contract completely so I give Kyubei a lot of credit here.

I also thought that the main characters overreacted with some of the twists. What happens when their soul gems turn completely black felt a little obvious given that it is literally their souls. The plot twist about their bodies also wasn’t that major if you ask me. It was a twist all right, but it doesn’t actually change anything about what status their body is in. So, I understood Kyubei’s confusion at their reaction even if he doesn’t completely understand the concept of emotion.
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Another concept that the show deals with is whether or not the human world deserves to be saved. Naturally, the heroines are magical girls who fight to save the humans and thus the world from the Witches. Many of them begin to wonder if the mission is something that they are interested in and most of them come up with different answers. Homura doesn’t care what happens to the world and she just wants to help her friend. It’s a bit of a natural response and one that makes a lot of sense. When you turn on the news each day, something terrible is constantly happening and you can easily understand the argument of how humans are plaguing the world. Acts of unspeakable cruelty are likely happening this instant and you wonder if we would all be better off if the world just blew up.

Kyoko just fights to help herself and it’s another attitude that many take. As long as you help yourself and get the best of life, your life will have been satisfying right? Of course, many people figure out the hard way that it just isn’t that simple and end up being unfulfilled. Others will end their lives thinking that is was great until they see what is in store for them next. Sayaka wants to help others, but when you fight your whole life just for the sake of helping someone once, you risk being depressed on the outcome. For example, if you work overtime for many hours to help the boss finish a project, but then get no recognition in the end, you may feel like the whole thing was just a waste of time. Helping others is always great, but you do have to think of yourself a little as well.

Naturally, Madoka does the best job with this. She essentially represents the purity of someone who just wants to help everyone have a better life and she is satisfied with doing so. She essentially gives everyone a second chance and they can hopefully find redemption. You can draw many similarities to the Cross and the death of Jesus. If I wasn’t a Christian, I would honestly just agree with Homura’s view. The world really can seem like a bad place at face value with terrorists everywhere and you are essentially living in a corrupt world. When you look at how our world is turning away from God and how so many people just believe that there is no God, it’s easy to wonder what the point is as many people will not be saved. Luckily, with the Bible and its teachings, we know that there is always a chance for redemption and you can never give up.

Redemption is one of my favorite themes in media. No matter what your past is, you can always turn things around as Jesus always gives you another chance. It’s not to say that you can abuse this by constantly sinning and going back since Jesus can sense what is in your heart, but if you generally want to turn your life around you can do so. You’re not saved by acts, but through submission and trust in the Lord. Madoka saw the world and instead of focusing on the bad, she saw the good parts of life and tried hard to help everyone. She definitely experienced a lot of sadness as you certainly will when you care about everyone so much, but she never lost faith in the fact that she could help everyone. Nobody is every beyond hope and so long as you believe that, you will be willing to keep on trying to help people. There are many people who will never be saved and who will keep on committing vicious acts, but you need to focus on the fact that you will be able to save others. Even if you only save one person during your journey, that is one person whose future has been rewritten and it will have made your life worth the journey.

Hope and Despair naturally play big roles in the show as well. Once you feel despair, it is all over and your soul is lost in the show. Homura was my favorite character and she tried to cling onto hope right until the end. She went through unimaginable hardships trying to help her friend as she relived the same month over and over again watching helplessly as the future kept on happening. Still, she tried and tried to save her and this showing of friendship and loyalty was very well done. Having a friend like that is certainly an amazing privilege. Even Homura began to feel despair towards the end and we’ve all gone through similar times of doubt and hopelessness, but so long as you remember the positive points of life you’ll be okay. Even at the very end of the show, a message plays stating that someone is always fighting for you so don’t give up hope. For us Christians, we know that God is standing by our side through tribulation and strife so we must never give up hope even when things look bleak.

It’s one of the reasons why the show probably has the best ending in anime history as well. While I can’t say that I am 100% positive of this like I am with the opening scene, I can’t think of an end scene that beats this one. That inspirational message at the end was great and the ending turned out to be happier than I would have guessed. Homura has not quite bought into the redemption message and still believes that the world is not worth saving, but she continues to fight for her friend. She is truly a loyal individual and I hope that she can see the world as Madoka sees it someday. After all, the second chance opportunity applies to her as well and she is such a great character that I’m hoping she will see the light. She is still fighting the villains so there is always a chance and we know that she will never give up.
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One of the good things about the show is the fact that it manages to avoid the fanservice trap for the most part. There is a scene which you can describe as fanservice in the opening that I thought wasn’t needed even if it is trying to be meta as the main character meets herself. It then takes a break until the final episode (Unless you count transformation scenes like in Sailor Moon, but even then, most of them are simply skipped or pass by very quickly) where two characters meets each other on the astral planes. There bodies don’t have any defining features so it’s fairly safe, but it can still definitely be called fanservice. I’m slightly more lenient on the meta stuff, but it’s also a scene that didn’t really need to be handled like that. Still, it could have been much worse and was still not that bad. Actual fanservice would have forced me to have taken away a star from the show so I’m glad that it didn’t come to that.

I mentioned earlier that the series is pretty high tier so let’s talk about where it stacks up. Madoka vs Sailor Moon is certainly a classic debate and I’d say that the overall consensus is that Madoka has the slight edge. I would agree with this although I don’t think that it’s too slight. Most of the magical girls in this show could easily crush the whole team of Sailor Scouts and I can’t think of many magical girls who can oppose them. All of the heroes are incredibly fast and very durable. While they wouldn’t be able to overpower the opponents in titles like Naruto and Bleach, they are still skilled and stronger than I had been expecting. Homura and Madoka in particular were much more impressive than I could have thought. There’s also one character in the show who grows so powerful that she makes the One Above All from Marvel look like chump change by the end. She was basically able to alter the universe itself and perform time paradoxes with ease. This is power on a multiversal level and it’s safe to say that I hadn’t been expecting anything like that. It was a pleasant surprise and her meta feats were much better than the usual ones.

While Madoka Magica does deal with some dark themes, I would ultimately call it an inspirational story full of hope. While things look bleak many times, it also shows us how hope can always make a difference and we see many characters who have strong bonds with each other. The ending is a little on the uplifting side even if the memory plot is always a little sad. I prefer when everyone knows everything that has transpired. At least one character remains in the know which is more than I would have usually expected and that’s definitely a good thing. The character even gets a power up out of the deal, which is always a fair trade.

The show is also very mature with its themes, but it’s handled appropriately. We don’t get any gritty moments or overly violent scenes just for the lolz. It’s mature in the sense that the characters are dealing with serious problems, but the show is rather tame. In terms of violence, it’s less violent than the average shonen show and there are only some moments that have blood. None of it is excessive and it never gets bad. The romance plot that is around is also handled delicately and is nothing like what you would see in current films. The rival in the romance plot is even polite about the whole thing, which is fairly rare to see nowadays. This is just another check mark for Madoka Magica.
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Overall, Puella Magi Madoka Magica was an incredible anime. Of course, you could probably tell that from how positive this review was. The show was very moving and every part of the anime was fantastic. From the soundtrack to the writing to the fights, Madoka Magica can hold its own against any show. All of the characters were very well developed and it’s amazing how the show could accomplish so much in 12 episodes. It accomplished quite a few things like having the best opening scene of all time, the best ending theme of all time, one of the best final scenes of all time, and just being one of the overall greatest anime of all time. I have a feeling that the movie won’t be able to match up to this show, but few things can. This is definitely one of the most unique anime titles out there and I highly recommend checking it out. Whether you are a fan of action, slice of life, or you just want to watch something thought provoking, this will fit the bill. You won’t have seen a show quite like this one.

Overall 9/10