PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA THE MOVIES: PART 1 BEGINNINGS / PART 2 ETERNAL (BLU-RAY) (LIMITED EDITION)
Label - Madman Entertainment
Audio - English (DTS-HD 5.1)/Japanese (DTS HD 5.1)
Subtitles - English
Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1
Region Coding - B (Blu-Ray)
TV Standard - PAL
Rating - M
Year of Release - 2012
Author: John Mathews
Madoka Magica began development after Akiyuki Shinbo expressed his desire to work on a new magical girl series after Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha to producer Atsuhiro Iwakami while they were working on Hidamari Sketch and Bakemonogatari. In this set we get two movies Beginnings and Eternal , in this review I hope to combine both movies as a whole as it is really one overall experience. A schoolgirl named Madoka Kaname and her friend Sayaka Miki are approached by one of these Messengers of Magic named Kyubey and a Magical Girl named Mami Tomoe with an offering to become a Magical Girl. But as this is all happening, Homura Akemi, another Magical Girl, tries to prevent Madoka and friends from making such a deal. The premise to this movie series is very intriguing and draws the audience in as the world it creates unfolds. Essentially; 14 year-old Madoka Kaname has a dream in which a dark haired girl is struggling against an evil force.
As Madoka wakes up and goes to school that morning, the very same girl, Homura Akemi, enrolls in her class. Even stranger, Homura seems to know Madoka and later confronts her in the hallway about whether she cares for her friends or not, saying she should not try to change her life, lest she risk losing everything.
After school, whilst visiting a record store with her friend, Sayaka Miki, Madoka hears a voice calling for help. As Homura insists that she hand Kyubey over, Sayaka helps Madoka and Kyubey escape by discharging a fire extinguisher on Homura.
While fleeing, they are caught in a strange illusion and approached by strange creatures. After allowing Homura to escape, Mami heals Kyubey, who tells Madoka and Sayaka he intends to form a contract with them to make them magical girls. After bringing Madoka and Sayaka to her house, Mami, along with Kyubey, provides the girls with some much-needed explanations. Mami reckons that it's a difficult choice, and thus offers to take Madoka and Sayaka with her on a witch hunt, in order to help them decide if there's a wish worth risking their lives for.
They also discuss Homura's apparent attack. Her reasons are unknown, but they speculate it could be to avoid competition: vanquishing witches brings rewards to the victor, for which magical girls occasionally clash. Strong character development begins to build around this point, with us becoming understanding of the motives and causes behind each of these individuals.
The next day, Kyubey, who cannot be seen by normal people, accompanies Madoka and Sayaka to school (much to Sayaka's surprise), where they learn that they possess the ability of telepathic communication, mediated by Kyubey. While walking away, Madoka asks what her wish was, but Homura, visibly disturbed, remains silent. Pacing wise at this point we notice that the movies are flying at a rapid speed, it is fortunate as these movies give a great recap to what I presume would have been a much slower paced anime series.
After school, Madoka and Sayaka meet Mami for the witch hunt. Sayaka brings a baseball bat, while Madoka shows them sketches of magical girl designs (including one of herself) drawn in class, to the other girls' laughter and her embarrassment. She then leaves, much to the other girls' annoyance.
In the credits, Mami wakes up and comforts the woman she saved from suicide, while Madoka and Sayaka watch with admiration. They listen to classical music together rather happily, but then Kamijou starts crying quietly. In terms of soundtrack, the series has a great original score which really stands out in the crowd of crowded anime series.
After another witch hunt in which she defeated a familiar, Ulla, Mami tells Madoka and Sayaka that she was involved in a deadly traffic accident and didn't have time to think about her wish. Later that night, as Madoka helps her drunk mother to bed and talks with her father, Mami is approached by Homura, who warns her about making Madoka a magical girl.
The next day, whilst visiting the hospital, Madoka and Sayaka find a Grief Seed that is close to activating. Madoka goes in search of Mami, whilst Sayaka and Kyubey remain near the seed and are engulfed by the forming barrier. Madoka soon returns with Mami, but as they enter the barrier, Homura confronts them and tries to warn Mami about the witch she intends to face. Mami first tries to warn her off such a wish, and laments that her job as a magical girl has left her lonely and afraid, but feels relieved that Madoka wishes to fight alongside her.
The Grief Seed begins to activate, while a happy Mami fights off the minions of the witch. As Mami's headless body falls to the floor, the witch continues to chomp on her remains, as the horrified Madoka and Sayaka can only watch. After some harsh words, she departs, leaving a deeply saddened Madoka and Sayaka alone, grieving for Mami.
After this major characters death, Madoka and Sayaka are both crushed and frightened. At this point the series takes an emotional turn and really impacts how the audience perceives in a strong turn which adds depth to an already strong plot. After stopping the process at the last second, Madoka then is swallowed by a witch's barrier.
The witch uses mind reading to demoralize Madoka with images of Mami's death, but Sayaka appears in the form of a sword-wielding warrior to rescue Madoka. Sayaka, listening as he plays it beautifully, reaches the pinnacle of happiness.
Madoka is deeply worried about Sayaka, and fears that the new magical girl may meet Mami's cruel fate. Explaining that magical girls have given up everything for their wishes and are beyond any hope of salvation, Homura tells Madoka to give up on Sayaka.
Still worried as ever, Madoka decides to accompany Sayaka on her patrols of the city. Does he not know or is he just withholding information?
Overall Puella Magi Madoka Magica was probably one of the best and most entertaining anime movies of the year, its acts a s a great recap for the series. Dark, fast paced and at times humorous, the series is a shining achievement for anyone interested in a fantasy based anime.
Some random stuff I learned in the series.
The song that Kamijou plays on the roof is the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, arranged for violin.
The magical girls now have distinctive marks on the nails of their middle fingers.
The lighting and direction during the creation of Sayaka's soul gem give the impression of a romanticized death scene.
When Homura refers to Mami's death by decapitation in the cafe scene, she symbolically removes the cover on top of her coffee.
Video Quality: 5/5
If you have a blu ray player, this is the version to get, it is a limited edition set; the video quality is superb. Presented in it original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 the video really does shine. It has rich vibrant colours, which can be seen throughout the series. Black levels are also strong, with no contrast issues between some of the darker scenes. There are no signs of compression which is a major benefit of getting this set. A flawless video experience Puella Magi Madoka Magica has to be seen on blu-ray as overall anime always benefits from the format.
Textless Opening and Ending
TV Commercial Collections
16 Page Booklet
This collectors edition set is worth getting, it is limited so I would not wait.you get the usual madman extras in the set including textless opening and ending credits, so you can enjoy the title sequences text free.
We also get the theatrical trailers included which is highly entertaining, along with the commercial; make note this was released in theatres.
Finally the set comes in a stunning hard box case, inside the box we have a 16 page booklet which includes production stills and art.
Overall this is a stunning set, it is nearly identical to the Japanese set, but yet this is English friendly. The series itself is a unique anime with deep characters and a dark fantasy word. With fantastic audio and video; this is not one to be missed!