I didn’t find enough time to reply to the comments in my first Madoka Magica post and there’ve been so many plot twists and food for thought since then I feel I need to say more about it. The fan reaction to this show is staggering: it makes Twitter a very dangerous place at certain times of the week but I honestly can’t recall a new anime series that had everyone fired up like this.
Back when I started blogging it was all about Haruhi Suzumiya…and that was the first season before everyone got upset about Endless Eight. For Madoka though the opinions I’ve seen so far have been overwhelmingly positive; while in the NoitaminA slot Fractale has met a lukewarm reception and Hourou Musuko has been excellent in a more understated way, Shinbo’s latest offering has set the fandom on fire…consistently and repeatedly.
An issue I see quite often in anime fandom is the cry of “it’s not a cartoon! It’s animation!” I’m as guilty of that as anyone, and even set out my own thoughts on the topic a while ago but quite frankly it’s a whole can of worms I can’t be bothered to deal with again. I will say though that Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica IS a cartoon. But what a cartoon it is.
“I am the bone of my sword…” and so on. Make of that parallel what you will
I have it on good authority that the magical girl genre isn’t always aimed solely at a young female audience and, if you look at how long ago the Cutie Honey franchise ran before Hideaki Anno did his live-action remake, it never was. In terms of premise and outward appearances Madoka is the sort of thing you’d expect to see kids tuning into on Saturday mornings but what makes it one of the first big pleasant surprises of 2011 is how much else is hidden up its frilly sleeve.
Looks like I made it to the second round of the tourney thing, but I’m sadly short on topics for writing thanks to the fact that my laptop is the only working PC I have right now. It’s able to cope with DVD playback though so I can at least rewatch old favourites; I’ve had Le Portrait de Petite Cossette for instance on my shelf for a while but only came back to it last week…and I’m glad I did.
The first time I watched this I felt a bit overwhelmed by the visuals so didn’t really grasp what it was trying to say. I guess it was slightly wasted on me at the time but watching the three episodes again, across as many days, worked better for me so now I really feel I appreciate it more than I did then.
I’m not an Akiyuki Shinbo completist as I am with some other directors. As dazzled as I was by Petite Cossette and Bakemonogatari I was never tempted to watch Maria+Holic or Dance in the Vampire Bund for instance but his signature style has led me to respect him enormously. Following the two seasons of ef, in which his influence crept in quite noticeably, I realised how those wonderful ‘Shinbo-isms’ are as immediately recognisable as the trademark quirks of Hideaki Anno.
Arakawa Under The Bridge is very much in Shinbo’s comfort zone: it reminds me a lot of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei with its pun-riddled wordplay, sketch-based storyline, zany characters and of course that artistic obsession with colours, composition and geometry. The source material of the two shows doesn’t share the same writer so I wonder whether the production team are being selective with the projects they take on. The similarities go even further, and mostly in a good way too.
There’s been a lot said about Bakemonogatari just lately, which makes me worry about whether I have anything new and valuable to say. I’d been relatively quiet about it for other reasons too: one being how the middle section of the show left me with mixed feelings. Another is that, as I mentioned in my comment to Gaguri’s excellent recent post, the overall experience of dialogue and visuals combined is so overwhelming that I’ll need a rewatch to appreciate it fully.
Where’s a Reaction Guys-style celebration when you need one?
The problems with the middle episodes were minor ones: mostly the general absence of Hitagi, plus the ‘higher class of fanservice’ (as I clumsily called it) starting to feel a bit exploitative. Fortunately episode #12 made up for whatever I’d felt unsure about earlier on with the only remaining concern being that of the final three episodes. As in, how could anything follow on from this without feeling like a let-down? It was as fitting as it was surprising – I wouldn’t have minded too much if the series ended there and then.
I love Bakemonogatari. From the Heavy Crab, through the clever twist to the Lost Snail, the truth behind the Monkey’s Paw and the tension of the Snake Constrictor, it’s a visual treat and provides a metric fucktonne of characterisation and cinematography that I could wax lyrical on for ages. Except I won’t. First, it’s spoilerific. Second, I think I need an entire post just to explain why I find Hitagi Senjougahara to be awesome before even outlining what makes everything else about these episodes so great.
I would hardly dare to argue
Granted, she doesn’t appear much in the middle portion of the series, but trying to make sense of the Senjougahara Fascination phenomenon became a bit more important when I found myself a part of it. What the hell is this? Am I developing a 2D complex? Well, yes. And no. Idle thoughts coming up.
I know I’m late to the Bakemonogatari party. I shouldn’t be, considering how it’s so Relevant To My Interests: it has a vampire, a tsundere, puns and wordplay with Shinbo occupying the director’s chair, for crying out loud. The first couple of episodes didn’t blow me away immediately though: there’s always this vibe of quirkiness that surrounds everything that Shinbo does, which means I have to do a little mental adjustment to appreciate it so I’m confident that it’s worth sticking with.
The whole catching of a floating girl reminded me of the beginning of Miyazaki’s Laputa for some reason. Oh yeah, the staircase looked like DNA or something
I was a little sceptical about the Nisio Isin connection since he was the author of that Death Note spin-off I had mixed feelings about. This is I think completely his own work however, and fortunately has plenty of potential too. After I’d sat through both halves of the first arc my confusion gave way to a sense of respect for how the visuals and themes worked together. I now have a really good feeling about this one.