Sleeper hits come in all shapes and sizes. Be it a movie about four guys who get incredibly wasted in Vegas and have to find their friend before the wedding, or the mega anime hit of 2011, Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The anime follows the tale of young Madoka Kaname, a second-year junior high student who gets thrown into the very messed up world of magical girls, witches, wishes, and aliens. The show has become one of the most beloved series in all of fandom, with fans and merchandise spanning across the globe. But now that the first two films have been released stateside, how does the rehash of the entire 12 episode series hold up as a cinematic venture?
Let’s take a look at Puella Magi Madoka Magica Part 1: Beginnings and Part 2: Eternal.
I’m not going to sit here and give you an entire re-stating of what happens on the TV show because one, this show is amazing and it would be a huge disservice to you to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet. So do yourself a huge favor and go find a copy of it. It’s a beautiful tragedy that doesn’t fall into the same old magical-girl tropes we all know and/or hate. Second, because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do this amazing plot justice in the span of a 250 word paragraph that summaries typically fall under. The basic premise is that Madoka Kaname finds out about the beautiful and exciting world of the magical girl, only to discover it’s not as great as it seems, and learns the true nature of despair, hope, and sacrifice.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for the movie to look or feel any different from the original show, you’ll be disappointed. The two movies retell the entire series from start to finish, with no deviations in terms of the plot. There are a few added scenes, some ranging from just extra dialogue, to an entirely original conversation between Homura and Kyuubey in a graveyard at dusk. What they do change is small stuff, like the scenery (as shown in this lovely picture I got off tumblr, attributed to otakuanimegirl)
They also added on transformation sequences for each of the girls, with different sequences every time, which I thought was a lot of fun. There were also some changes to the costume designs. Kyoko’s outfit looks a little more ornate and polished than in the series. In Sayaka’s costume, her hair clip is now a more elaborate fortismo symbol (for you non-musicians, basically a sign on sheet music noting that the notes should be played super loud) to really emphasize the idea of Sayaka’s music-based magic:
So, if you’re not in the mood to see the show again, this might not be the movies for you. However, if you’ve never watched the show and are interested in cramming the series in as quickly as possible, then this is perfect for you and you should take advantage of it. My personal opinion is I hadn’t seen the series in a long time, so it was nice to be able re-watch the whole thing. The film kept all of the important moments, cutting some of the obnoxious filler and filling in a lot more of the gorgeous scenery.
What I will say is that I didn’t like the rapid cutting of the scenes of Madoka and her mother. The show really works on portraying her relationship with her savvy, business-lady mother, with conversations on friendship and love. In the film, however, it feels rushed cause of the time constraints. This relationship wasn’t super important in the show either, but I feel as though it mattered in a way, and it was a shame to see it sort of kept in just for posterity’s sake. Also, if you’re looking for some answers to big questions, like why Madoka has a black cat in the original opening (though the reason was revealed in an interview) or other mysteries surrounding the show, prepare to be disappointed.
The voice work is on par, as far my non-Japanese-fluent ear can tell. The music is strong, and mainly uses classical tunes and songs composed by renowned Japanese composer Yuki Kajiura, who most people remember for the music of .hack//sign. They do reuse almost all the music from the show, though there is a new opening with new animation, and like the original opening, is sung by ClariS.
What everyone should be really excited for is the release of the third, and thus far final, installment of the film series, Part 3: Rebellion. The film will be an entirely new story, continuing on from the end of the show, with the original cast of characters. Not much can be pulled from the trailer, but it seems like it will have some answers about the ending and how the new magical girl system works. It’s coming out sometime in 2013, so we won’t have to wait very long!
Overall, Puella Magi Madoka Magica Movie Parts 1 and 2 is a well put together rehash of the original show, just know what you’ll be seeing before you sit down to watch it. While I do wish there had been more differences in the movies from the show, it’s clear to see that the majority of the budget went to cleaning up and polishing scenery and style – not a bad way to use it, but leaves a little to be desired.
– Shinier animation with good changes here and there.
– Good voice work and music.
– No major changes to any of the show, save for one or two new scenes, with no further explanation about anything.
– Combined, they run a little long but at the same time feels rushed.
Tune it next week when I review one of the most highly anticipated sci-fi movies of the year, Cloud Atlas.