Friday, December 14, 2012

Magical Girl Madoka

The Plot: Madoka Kaname is thirteen year old girl who unlike her close friends, mother, and other family is shy and unsure about what to do with herself and life besides spread hope and good cheer to all she encounters just like characters in fairy tales, until that is people from some very mysterious dreams begin to appear in her life. One of them comes offering a most interesting chance. Provided she choose a wish to be granted, almost any wish, this person can activate her innate magical powers, making her into a superhero to do battle with supernatural abominations called witches which torment humans in planes unseen called labyrinths. It all seems a dream come true until, well...

The Verdict: This is a tragedy, one of the three greatest to come out of modern animation, one not defined by incestuous sheets or bodies on the stage but rather by true heartbreak. This is the story of your little sister who radiates warmth but strength, that you just want to hug because she can do no wrong, and yet thanks to the fates, and villain of nightmarish inevitability, we cry as all that make her great causes everything to fall apart--almost that is. Tragedy is not defined by an ending of horror and sadness  This is is a story to restore faith, but what that faith is in, and what it ultimately means depends upon the actions we take.

Watch it, watch it with friends. Talk about it. Cry. Watch a shounen, or better yet this movie (series), to feel better, and then go outside and act to make it so...

Facts: It is 12 half hour episodes with two 2-hour and 40-minute movie adaptations. There is a sequel film and more in works. The main writer is Gen Urobuchi. Cassandra Lee, Sarah Williams, Christina Vee,Christine Marie Cabanos and more round out the English voice  cast. Studio Shaft made it and a ton of merchandise and supplemental stories. The series has also generated discussion--lots of it--and more. The stories written since the anime include spin-offs, prequels and alternate versions  of the story. None of them, however, are needed to watch the show. Music, which is by Yuki Kajiura, and animation are also beyond amazing.

The Justice

Bechtel-Sarkeesian Test: Most of the cast is female, so pass.

It must also be said, without spoiling too much, this story really does have, albeit allegorically, the subject of why anyone would create, perpetuate, and justify (patriarchy, the Other that must be sacrificed for the greater good, and most of all) rape culture at its core. What a the possibility and implementation of resistance to the above can look like is an allegorical theme.


(Hitomi Shizuki, Madoka Kaname, and Sayaka Miki discuss life and ribbons before school...)
(...And wonder over the strange new student.)

(Madoka and her mother Junko who advises her daughter in her own way...)
(...a lot; the two are very close.)

(Kyuubey, Madoka, Sayaka, and Mami Tomoe discuss what it is to be a magical girl.)

(Sayaka comforts and protects Madoka--often.)

(Madoka, Kyoko Sakura, and Mami discuss a choice of Madoka's.)

(Kyoko and Homura Akemi plan for an incoming battle)

(And plenty more...)

Die Hard Test: Also Passed (cry for SPOILER WARNING)

Low Angle Syndrome: There is none here.

Better Than Star Wars: it is purposefully unclear where the story takes place and what ethnicity everyone is supposed to be, which works well for what they are trying to do here.

Suck It Disney: Here love is celebrated in all its forms--romantic and platonic, straight and gay (SPOILER WARNING). The Kaname family also does not conform to norms and no one makes a big deal out of that at all.

(Kyoko Sakura to Sayaka Miki, though there is circumstantial evidence that each of the three primary colors--Mami, Sayaka, and Kyoko--possibly could have feelings of some sort of love for each of the others at some time. The prequels and retelling spin-offs, linked above, add more evidence to these possibilities...)

(As she reveals more about herself, it is clear that Homura Akemi does indeed love Madoka, quite amorously...)

(...How Madoka comes to feel about her however is debatable.)

(Madoka with her father, mother, and brother Tatsuya)
(Tomashia and Junko Kaname; the latter is a business executive, while the former takes care of the home...)
(...and the hungover executive herself.)

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