Series Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I think I should say first that despite how I see the ending, I couldn't bring myself to hate the show. In fact, I still enjoyed it more than any other series in the season.

Many people has labeled the show as "legendary" or "epic", and I can't say I disagree with that. Not many series out there had achieve status and approval of fans like this one. I could name Evangelion, Gurren-Lagann or Cowboy Bebop, but it's not my place to compare because I haven't seen any of these shows yet. But none of them had achieve what PM3 had in just 12 episodes.

Simply put, the show really does everything right. They had an excellent concept, which is the reason for Puella Magi to exist, the reason for Kyubei to exist, the wish of a Puella Magi-to-be, her eventual fate, the witches, the taint of the soul, etc. The animation was unique and fantastic. Everything from the Aoki Ume character designs, the backgrounds, the bizarre witch world and witch designs, the mood lightings, actions scenes and Shaft being Shaft has been carefully engineered to keep your eyes glued to the screen. "Connect" and "Magia" are both gorgeous songs, especially "Magia", which have a lot of emotional impact if you actually took time to check out the lyrics.

But what truly brought the series to epic heights is the directing, or the story style. In the beginning, we were charmed by the high production values, how cool the magic is, how cool the witches and witch world are, and how our first Puella Magi Mami is so awesome. Then comes the shocker at the end of episode 3. It tells us smack in the face that they're not going to give us the light and fluffy magical girl show we've come to expect from the preview. From that point, it's like we're watching a different show altogether. Shocking revelation after shocking revelation greets us, and as the series grew darker and more depressed, the questions piles up. Half the people we cared about met a tragic end. The atmosphere hits rock bottom, but they brought it back up with the phenomenal finale everyone has anticipated.

In short, it was hell of an emotional roller coaster. The technique isn't all that uncommon and we've seen it work well on series like Mai-Hime and Eureka Seven, but it has never been so effective. Perhaps it's because no other anime is as depressing as PM3 tried to be.

I guess my beef with the show is how it all works out in the end. While I could accept that the wish Madoka made might be the best possible choice (thanks to random Anons), I'm just not a fan of "bittersweet" endings, and it was something I feared would happen as early as episode 3. Perhaps a part of me still wished for a happily-ever-after ending, which was something I expected out of the Magical Girl genre, the Aoki Ume characters, and the initial impressions. Thus, I can't say that I'm satisfied with how it all turns out.

Nevertheless, Shaft brought us on an incredible ride with lots of creativity, ingenuity and effort. I may not get the satisfaction, but I sure had the enjoyment. It is something beyond what you think an anime can achieve, and everyone should give it a try.

Although now I'm going to try to forget all about it. ARRRGGHH WHY MADOKA WHY

Plot/Concept: Excellent!
Story Style: Phenomenal!
Audio/Visual: Excellent!
Value: 10