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Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Entry updated 8 March 2017. Tagged: TV.

["Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika", literally "Magical Girl Madoka Magika"]. Japanese tv series. (2011). Shaft, Aniplex, Hakuhodo, DY Media Partners, Hōbunsha, MBS, Movic, Nitroplus. Cast includes Yuki Aoi, Emiri Katō, Eri Kitamura, Kaoru Mizuhashi and Chiwa Saito. Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo. Written by Gen Urobuchi. Twelve 25-minute episodes. Colour.

Japanese schoolgirl Madoka (Aoi) is offered a Faustian pact by the Alien Kyubey (Kitamura), who promises to grant her a wish if she agrees to be recruited as a witch hunter. But while such an opening should be familiar to any Anime viewer from literally decades of "magical girl" shows, this collaboration between director Shinbo and writer Urobuchi viciously deconstructs the tropes and traditions of girls' entertainment in Japan, instead rewriting a standard tale of superheroines in frilly dresses into a hard-hitting Future War, in which the fight against "witches" is not an idle playtime fantasy but an ongoing struggle against deadly forces prepared to respond with extreme prejudice. Most notably, the creators apply Hard SF motivations to the usual hand-waving Magics of the genre, positing Kyubey as a heartless extraterrestrial manipulator whose quest to halt Entropy requires the sacrifice of untold numbers of human teenage girls, whose life-force has been found to be the most resilient in the universe. Compare to Shinseiki Evangelion (1995-1996), which similarly tinkered with the expectation of cartoon drama for Japanese teenage boys.

The franchise was extended in books, Manga, games and three movie sequels. It was an understandable crossover success in the otaku (see Fandom) market in Japan, and won the Best Media prize at the 2012 Seiun Awards. [JonC]


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