I've been watching Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica, airing this season. It is produced by SHAFT and directed by the reputable Akiyuki Shinbo. It follows titular character Madoka and her friend Sayako as they stumble upon a world in which magical girls do battle with "witches".The witches can not be seen by normal humans, and they cause despair and misery wherever they go. By making a contract with a strange creature called Kyubey, Madoka and Sayako can become Mahou Shojo to fight the witches, and at the same time are granted one wish of their desire. However, once in this contract they must lead a life of servitude; fighting the witches and collecting their grief seeds.
What makes Madoka Magica great is that its initial impression as a cutesy magical girl show is only the veneer to a darker tale revolving around young girls as they face certain danger and death. While other shows of its ilk take a much lighter approach; the tone of Madoka is very dark, and the choices carry heavy consequences for ones as young as our heroines. Combined with the aesthetic style of director Akiyuki Shinbo, who has a fondness for the odd and bizarre, create an atmosphere that is bleak from the first second to the last.
For many fans of the magical girl genre, this unique spin on the style can be a great refresher. For others, they may find it lacking in some departments. Up to this point, only four episodes have aired and each spends their time advancing characters through backstories and plot development. So if you came hoping for slice-of-life moments or fanservice you'll have to go digging up some other things. Madoka is sure to engage you in the story and its characters, one way or another.
Madoka is a must watch, not only because it is the best thing this season, but because it is one of the best anime to come out in a long while.
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