Tears will shed endlessly from the eyes as one enters the Madoka film trilogy – and this isn’t from the story, the waterworks will begin only seconds into the movie as the aesthetics are just so unprecedented.
Of course, it’s not only through visuals that this film surpasses all precedence – yet one will just be so overwhelmed from the very start, it takes not long to be captivated and engaged. SHAFT is already a renowned studio, and Madoka is an astonishing series as it stands – thus when providing the resources of a featured film towards these two which, as is, amount to something revolutionary from mere dirt and stone, they become untouchable. The film establishes a league of its own – subsequently building its own near-eternal place in the hearts and memories of many.
Starting with zero expectation
To recount the full experience, it’s time to momentarily break free from the usual perspective.
Summer was the season following that of Madoka’s televised premiere, and it was then I decided to embark on the coaster of hype which many had already decided to ride. The series wasn’t necessarily one way or the other for me – there existed points grander than others, although it was ultimately nothing I had a seizure of admiration over as did many others. When the film approached, I felt this was an opportunity to find what it was I missed out on the first time around – however, I failed to locate anything of the sort.
It’s as if I came to the ocean, standing by the shore in search of seashells – yet rather than any of that, a tsunami which scales all layers of atmosphere, wrapping the Earth with expanse to spare, rained down upon me instead. One would think at that point, would not the subsequent outcome be injury or death? Perhaps it would, yet in the case of the movie, the inevitability which ensues is that one will be drowned in the majesty of Madoka. The film was a siege, a total blitzkrieg of phenomenal from the opening second – to the well beyond the credits.
“This was made to be a film”
Blasting down the roads at mach five, making it to the theater just in time, the film fades in and begins all so vivid and cheerful. It’s common knowledge that the first two parts of the Madoka movie take place after the TV series – that is no secret. And thus of course, “Part I” initiates as a reincarnation of the first episode of the animation. However, despite that being the case, one would be a fool to simply dismiss the film as a recap and cast it away right then and there – the movie indeed opens up identically to the TV airing, although there’s much more to it.
Starting from the top, the opening few segments are occasionally regarded as the least interesting portions of Madoka Magica. As they lay the foundation for our leading heroine’s life, whilst nothing too extravagant, they do have enough charm to propel one’s desires for more. In particular, if one has already seen the TV series, one will know that these beginning scenes are simply deceptive background for impending tragedy – and so here is, in fact, the point where one will be most excited, fidgeting with an anxious lust to see the true action to soon unfold later into the film.
Progressing forward into the movie, one will notice how it truly seems as if nothing is missing.
Whatever the specifics behind how episodes were adapted into a film optimized script, the movie is very straightforward and accelerated in tempo. It does not feel as if everyone at SHAFT ran around with hair on fire, slapping this together – in fact, it’s incorrect to say anything was pushed faster than necessary, i.e. rushed.
Instead, everything was tuned to top gear – considered carefully under the goal of gaining the most effective presentation, an aspiration which they’ve more than accomplished and mastered. From the first second, to just a short while before Mami’s moment of fame, the film is composed of constant dialogue – neither a tick, nor a tock, transpires without a conversation being active. And even beyond Mami’s tide of devastation, speech slows only ever slightly – the film gets heavier as it goes along, although verbal exchanges and monologues are hardly paused.
And as one can imagine, the abundance of dialogue isn’t merely nonsensical babble – the movie progressively, albeit time consciously, explains details regarding relevant concepts, like mahou shoujos, to us in a manner which is baffling in how explicit and easily understood it all is. Gen Urobuchi’s screenplay is truly simplified, or rather, elaborated upon so well, a true newbie to the realm of Japanese animation could grasp and appreciate the intricate themes of the film.
Keep in mind however, this doesn’t mean there is no finer details – the visuals will be showing much for one to parse on their own. Mami’s incident for instance isn’t followed with a generic blurt of dismay, it’s followed with clouds of sorrow, an immediate collapse in the atmosphere – and the scene itself is rather cruel in its composition, dramatic yet not overdone in terms of emphasis.
As the film rapidly goes from regular schoolgirl lifestyle, to meeting strange talking creatures, to the fascination of heroism – there is no intermittent sense of mystery as we do feel we understand the setting and situation. It’s not necessarily enigmatic as we find ourselves thinking all to be as we perceive it – yet of course, this is only to then see how horribly incorrect we were.
Like a Soul Gem tainting with darkness, tension goes from zero to sixty as the film swiftly escalates. Every single second to transpire feels as if another percentage of development towards the finale – and one will truly feel it, an exhilarating thrill as if riding upon a vehicle with frightening velocity, surpassing the speed of light, and packing more power than any bolt of electricity.
As sentiments evolve throughout the film, the scenes respond, the visuals react – the aesthetics output an appearance of defilement to correspond with depression. The scenic sunny skies seen at the start of the film are displaced by dark nights – with the only beaming hues being those grimy few of modern industry in order to devise a sense of uneasiness, alongside more abstract effects like an encompassing filter of bloody crimson, or perhaps an intense contrast of neutral black and white.
These visual effects embody the global emotion, the feelings felt by the many girls, or at least the more critical few like Madoka herself, or Sayaka – and as they reflect our leading heroines’ moods, in addition to amplifying emotion, they also serve to foreshadow.
Brilliance originating from the plot shimmers as one comes to realize that whilst the movie was direct in making mention of all kinds of interesting concepts, it’s only further down that other aspects are made clear on top of the earlier few – and it’s then understood how these all intertwine on such an extensive level of collaborative scheming.
In other words, the plot is never ambiguous – it starts off simple, almost deceitfully so, yet with the unraveling of more specifics, everything escalates on a scale unlimited. Not a single sentence is spoken, or word uttered, if not relevant to the story in some way, significant or subtle – a main factor in driving the excellence of the story.
Now forget not how integral interdependence of the sensory elements is when it comes to stimulating the senses – the visual frontage will have one feeling more than the expected. The TV series already had artwork certainly more than exquisite – and the initial reaction is to believe that the film has sustained as much near identically. It does admittedly retain all the basics – yet honestly, the movie looks as if it rewrote the entire aesthetic DNA of the TV series.
All definitely remains the same in terms of style or contents, yet when it comes to composition and technique, all has gone from masterful, to a degree which can be considered “above human” in terms of achievement. SHAFT has essentially created a world of their own – as watching the Madoka movie will leave one feeling not as if simply staring at a fanciful screen, one will feel as if witnessing dimensions collide, the second dimension interacting with the third.
Stages are assembled to the utmost finesse – every single frame, without exception, could standalone as a fine art piece. And not to mention, one should already be familiar with how Madoka comes boasting detailed patterns, abstract arrangements, and intense contrasting colors in the backgrounds of many scenes – most of which were enhanced for sake of the film.
That in mind, frames are delivered in a constant flow of arete superiority. In a typical anime series, one would count the sakuga scenes, the scenes in which a key animator was given right to have their way with the storyboard, as they’d be the special instance – yet in the case of this film, one should merely count the in-between and average scenes instead.
There’s perhaps a total of two less than crucial scenes delivered to “normal” standards, or essentially what one would expect of a higher quality TV series – and the remaining predominance of the film is nearly all purely key animation.
Having said that, it’s the increased aesthetic intensity which remedies one of the greater areas of problem plaguing the original TV series of Madoka. This was never a legitimate issue so much as it was a subject of taste and preference, yet the circus-like enemies dubbed “witches” left many unable to take the clashing seriously in Madoka Magica.
In the film however, it feels as if the witches are more involved both visually, as well as plot-wise. The latter for the reason one will come to a greater realization of the logic behind them, as well as the potential they hold for grander development – with the former being in how all is more appropriately in accordance, or for those less poetic, how the witches are not still and static. Learning the truth about the witches, and then realizing their role in the cycle of life prior to Madoka’s redistribution of reality, one will be struck with emotion straight through the soul.
Now of course, the TV series also explains the witches, yet the film seems to do it in a fashion more direct – the tighter grasp the film keeps around the plot has it feeling substantially more fluid, and one must say, Madoka gives the impression it was destined to be a film to begin with.
That same reasoning applies to the characters – one will feel so much more intimate with them all in the film, having a significantly clearer exhibit of their persona available to assess their true person.
Mahou shoujos are more than appearance.
Mami will come off as arrogant, selfish, and perhaps even pompous to some degree – yet going deeper, one will figure it’s merely a misunderstanding on her part as she’s skewed in her perception of what is just.
Sayaka follows a near similar route – although she falls to much greater irony, stating herself after becoming a mahou shoujo that she’d have no regrets, only to be drenched in them by the time all goes wrong. Sayaka’s main fault was confusion – she was uncertain of herself, missing some amount of confidence, and this led her to her own demise prior to Madoka’s grant of salvation.
Kyouko in particular is far more lovable in the film, her rough attitude is backed with a reasoning without us having to linger on her true intentions for long – and it goes both evidenced and explained what her perspective is, and how she came to acquire it. She is like Sayaka in a way when it comes to how she became a mahou shoujo – yet she differs in that she, unlike Sayaka, did not drift into uncertainty. Kyouko settled on the ideal of serving none but herself in order to sustain her own survival.
Homura is notably asymmetrical to the others – being driven by sincerity, with a solid unquestionable purpose, yet she’s also on the edge of despair. For her, it is an endless bout between her love for a friend, and physical limits – even with her efforts, all seemed to be simply impossible, fruitless, and vain.
That is, however, prior to Madoka’s awakening – the final savior of this state of affairs.
Madoka is unsure of herself from the start, and she never much changes in that respect for the majority of the movie – yet she does not idle or dwell in the same state, rather, she sees what is occurring to those around her, and she continually contemplates the matter. It’s perhaps this which makes Madoka truly the most admirable of the characters of this series – as rather than be quick to act, she would be quick to ask herself why all was happening as it did.
A strength that most typically overlook of her person is that she’s thoughtful and considerate – and these traits are what led her to understanding the structure of the world.
They made her capable of conjuring the spectacular wish for which she exchanged her soul – and they also allowed her to account for everyone’s ideal outcome, not merely her own. And when turning cognizant of this – gaining the understanding that this is what Madoka, the girl who seemed hesitant and weak, spent the entire duration of the film doing, thinking and determining how she can save not merely her friends, but everyone for that matter, if one was already crying from the beauty of the aesthetics, they’ll be tearing-up even harder now.
The Incubator isn’t so evil either – he’s actually no villain whatsoever. This creature isn’t attempting to harm humanity in any way, it has no such intent, it is simply doing what it requires to survive – and such incidentally overlaps with what the necessities of humans for their own health and prosperity. One could still say that even if such is the case, Kyubey was cunning in his ways of going about it – yet this isn’t true either.
As he says himself, Kyubey does not comprehend the human element of “emotions” – he comes from a separate instance of life, and to him, he acted on what he viewed to be the best terms.
There’s no time for rest.
At this point, the film has, more or less, made the impossible – it has created a set of standards so high, other series will find it frankly not possible to meet or exceed. Yet one should pause for a second and remember that this is merely two parts of three – we’ve seen only Part I and its successor, both of which retell the TV series.
Beyond the credits of the second film, there were two clips which truly fuel the Madoka hype machine – the first of which shows Homura venturing off into a rigid landscape, gradually walking forward to meet her new enemies in a desert-like, albeit dusty place. After Madoka eradicated all witches of past and present, in their place came “wraiths” – creatures which are more so spectral and supernatural.
It remains unknown to us the specifics or anything else regarding this new force which mahou shoujos must fight – yet the spark that ignites the fire, or rather, the catalyst which causes it to burn searingly brighter is that we’re shown a preview for the upcoming third film following Homura’s few seconds of spotlight.
The third film looks as if it will wreck the place from such an excess of epic.
One may recall Sayaka’s love interest was taken from her by a blonde bishoujo friend – this friend evidently plays a major role in the third film. Now again, it’s unclear how exactly this all functions together, yet there’s a statement made in the PV for the third film which implies wraiths have some kind of relation to one’s dreams or nightmares. The whole crew of much-loved mahou shoujos are shown to be back in action as the PV flashes through a few sightings of them – however, it’s not a joyous reunion so much as it is a hectic reaction to a flash problem.
What one can pull from the PV for Madoka’s Part III is that after Madoka recreated the world, something gets misaligned, involving the blonde bishoujo no less, and then the Madoka five mobilize once more – somehow regaining their physical state after all which has occurred, or so would be fair to speculate.
To close, when the PV for Part III ends with a note “Coming 2013″, an adrenaline rage burns on the inside. A fellow beside me was repeating to himself “Need movie” in a feverish tone upon the PV’s end and taunting notice of “Coming 2013″ – and whilst I’d normally label such an individual as senile or exaggerating if I needed bother mark them as anything at all, I’d be forced to sort myself into the same category as well in that case.
If one is not on the Madoka hyperoller just yet, watch the film, and then you will be.