Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 04 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 29 Jan 2011 – Booyah! This was, in our opinion, the most powerful episode of the Winter 2011 season so far. The fact that Mami “bit it” but no one in the normal world knows, and she didn’t leave a corpse, really puts into perspective just how harsh and merciless it is to be a maho shojo. The dark undertone of this series so far is exactly what we was hoping for; the girls can’t just automatically contract with Kyubei; there has to be a deep, heartfelt reason to do so.

Sayaka finds it, as she can no longer live with the injustice of her friend – a violin prodigy – losing the ability to move his hands after an accident. His life of music was taken away, and there’s nothing a normal Sayaka can do about it, which crushes her. However, magic and miracles, she has learned, do in fact exist, and she decides to make that contract, in exchange for her friend recovering his gift and hence, his life.

Equally moving is how she realizes that she isn’t just doing this for him; there is a part of her she detests that wants to be the one to save him, and for him to fall for her in return. This personal stake makes the situation a selfish fairy tale in her mind, but it also happens to be perfectly doable. Considering the good her wish will do, though, we think she made the right choice.

We also like how we don’t actually witness Sayaka’s contracting and transformation; but she shows up in the nick of time to save Madoka, who is still too scared and indecisive to contract, and trapped in the middle of a group of people (including a classmate) charmed by a witch into poisoning themselves in a warehouse, possibly for nothing other than the witch’s amusement. This is dark stuff, and the suspense around Madoka’s peril is very well presented.

We’re really enjoying how witches and the creepy, crazy, messed-up way they futz with reality and perception. They’re so far removed from conventional reality, and yet know exactly how to manipulate humans, including Madoka, into wishing they had never been born, or to kill themselves at the drop of a hat, or whatever. To anyone who thought Sayaka’s decision was rash: Madoka and those innocent people would be dead if she hadn’t made it.

Anyway, Sayaka is now a maho shojo. Will Madoka follow suit? Obviously; I’m really looking forward to how. I’m guessing for now that Sayaka will start facing challenges from rival shojos wanting a piece of Mami’s former territory; and the rookie Sayaka unable to hold them back without Madoka’s or Homura’s help. But even though our main character isn’t a maho shojo yet, this episode rocked.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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Mawaru Penguindrum – 03 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 22 July 2011 – Shoma and Kanba still don’t quite believe Himari when she bursts into Survival Strategy mode, but when the penguin hat returns her to her dead state, they start believing pretty darn fast. And like last week, they do things they normally wouldn’t do for her sake: namely breaking into Ringo’s house to snoop around and then tailing her again.

Meanwhile Ringo exhibits more of her mad ravings as she prepares curry for her unwitting future husband, Tabuki, who it turns out is only seven years older than her, and a friend of the family. This girl takes curry very seriously (I even had to make some after watching this). But her carefully-crafted plan to woo him with food backfires when she is met at his door by his gorgeous, age-appropriate girlfriend. I must say at this point we felt pretty bad for Ringo, despite how scary crazy she can be…although Tabuki knocks on the door to his own housethat’s pretty nutty too! ;)

But what with the apple (ringo) imagery in the OP and ED, and Ringo’s fascination with “executing fate as it was written”, it’s pretty likely either she or her diary are the Penguin Drum. Or is that too obvious? Either way, on her way home, in a ludicrously complex sequence of events, she encounters a cat whom she sees as Tabuki’s girlfriend and yells at; the cat then bumps into Himari’s penguin. The two animals fight for a fish as Himari chases them, and they barrel back into Ringo. The pot of curry she’s carrying is sent flying and lands all over her face. Thus she and Himari meet. Now that’s fate!

Now that the thre siblings are properly acquainted with Ringo, it may be easier to coax the drum out of her, whatever it is. One interesting dynamic would be if Ringo knew the bros were in her apartment and were tailing her, and isn’t letting on for whatever reason (they weren’t that stealthy). Whatever the case, it’ll be at least another week before the drum is discovered. Not that we’re complaining; this gorgeous and hilarious series is as addictive as curry.


Rating: 9 (Superior)