Title: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Encompasses: Episodes 9 – 12
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia/New Zealand), Aniplex of America (North America)
Based on: An anime-originating series which has since spawned a line of manga and game titles.
Genre: Drama, Magical Girl, Tragedy
Audio: Hybrid Dub (English / Japanese)
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Classification: M for Supernatural Violence
Cost: $29.95 on DVD, $34.95 on Blu-ray
Special Thanks: Madman Entertainment for kindly providing me with a copy of this title for review
Sayaka falls into despair her Soul Gem gets weaker and weaker. When the other magical girls arrive they have little choice but to put a stop to the spread of a new Grief Seed before it is too late. Can Madoka’s words reach Sayaka before it’s too late and just what is the Walpurgis Night?
In the eight episodes before this final volume, Puella Magi Madoka Magica set itself up well as being a unique take on the “Magical Girl” genre… a genre which some of us would have grown up watching. While other shows might have spent the first eight episodes introducing a group of magical girls who rise up against a threat to their school, friends, community and come out unscathed… this is not the case with Madoka Magica. For the purpose of plot-related impact (and there being no episode to spare), the storyline has already resulted in one character’s life tragically ended, another one about to potentially becoming a supernatural (antagonistic) being known as a witch and the inner workings of what it truly means to be a magical girl slowly unraveling.
With volume 3 bringing the anime series to its intense conclusion, the team behind the Puella Magi Madoka Magica have successfully drawn the series to a close. After regretting her decision of becoming a Magical Girl and letting her soul gem fully corrupt, the worst case scenario arises for Sayaka with the gem shattering and her no longer able to retain a human mindset. Through the events which follow, including a foolhardy attempt at restoring her…. the scenario for all the girls turns more dire with Homura’s odds of defeating the Walpurgis Night diminishing, the truth behind Kyubey revealed and Madoka being left with the ultimate choice of becoming a magical girl with full knowledge with what she faces. Kyubey has remained a consistently interesting character throughout the series – and being devoid of emotion his character role was always one which kept you questioning his true intentions. Even when these are revealed it is not a cliche reason either way but a coldly logical one that suited the already harsh reality of the show itself.
Most notable of these episodes was Episode 10, which provided much needed backstory, a placement for why Madoka is such a target for Kyubey and why Homura goes to extraordinary lengths to protect her from forming a contact with him. The backstory is emotionally touching and well panned out and I won’t deny I could have gone for another half episode to really expand it out – but what they provided was satisfactory. The conclusion, including the much desired transformation never really lived up to expectations and would have benefitted from an addition episode for that extra impact. But this is only related to delivery in my opinion, with what they providing being a well-thought out one that left me uncertain as to what sort of end it could be called. That said, I remain very interested to see what they will be including in the third Puella Magi Madoka Magica film release (The first two, released in Japan this month serve to summarise the tv series).
There were two issues I had with this series… the first being its episode length. The writers were able to for the most part avoid deviations from the main plotline and with the episode count they had, managed to deliver well-planned out storyline which alone I can’t see many issues with BUT I would be interested to see what they could have done with a couple more, expand upon the backstory, dive into the backstories and personality of the magical girls in more detail or even just feature another of their creatively animated battles. Of course with additional episodes there would be a risk of impacting the flow of the storyline – but I admit I was left wanting more. The second issue is with the English distribution of the series – with one volume of four episodes every two months. I found myself in the same situation as the first season of K-ON! where I enjoyed the storyline but found myself having to keep getting into the show with each release (Not that it matters with all three volumes now released).
Madoka Magica Volume 3 provided a solid end to an already strong performing series, and if you have already purchased the first two volumes than there is a lot in the final four episodes to satisfactorily warrant finishing the series. It attempts to put a new view to an already established genre of anime, goes in with that intent and pulls it off well!
Many of my comments from the first two reviews for this series carry over to this release. The visuals are of a consistently high and detailed quality and left me glad that Madman Entertainment (as well as respective publishers in other regions) offer a blu-ray release of the series. I did appreciate the designs of the new “Witches” including “Walpurgis Night” and the areas they appear come at you with new aesthetic ideas and themes and make for interesting fighting sequences. But in turn it felt that in an attempt to focus on Madoka’s time to shine, the fighting between Homura and Walpurgis Night didn’t have as much focus on it as it could have. True, there were more important plot-points during the fighting but given a number of memorable battles in the past – I would have loved to have a more detailed final look at SHAFT’s creative means of portraying battles between witches and Magical Girls.
Audio and Voice Acting
As with Design, many of my comments in regard to audio and voice acting remain the same as preview reviews. The great compilation of music tracks by Yuki Kajiura one again shines in this release and are used appropriately throughout the episodes. Irrespective of your preference of English and Japanese dub – both are relatively solid and the voice cast suit their respective characters well… so take your pick.
Unfortunately over here in Australia there are no limited edition releases, so with the exception of the artbox released with volume 1 all additional content has been on-disc. Unfortunately the on-disc extra content hasn’t ever really amounted to much and as with every other volume release this has comprised of:
- Textless Opening Sequence
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the entire TV series of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and the conclusion was no exception. Consistently strong storyline, visuals and audio makes this a title I could highly recommend to those of you who have not yet tried the series out yet. An interesting take on a genre that has been present in anime for many years now, and could very well be a masterpiece that will be remembered for years to come.
Storyline / Character Development: A
Music/Voice Acting: A
Extra Content: C
Personal Preference: A
Overall Score: S