Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 03 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 26 Jan 2011 – Madoka and Sayaka tread deeper into the world of maho shojos and witches as they happen to encounter a grief seed while walking around. By this point, we learn that Sayaka will most likely wish for her ill friend to recover, while Madoka’s wish is simply to become useful and be good at something.  It’s also hinted that she has the potential to become an extremely powerful maho shojo.

Mimi warns her that being a maho shojo (at least in her experience) isn’t any picnic, as there’s pain, anguish, suffering, no time for boys, and no one to talk to about the weird shit going on in her life. Mimi puts up a brave front, but inside, she’s a mess. Madoka tells her not to worry; they’ll be a team and she won’t have to wallow in her loneliness anymore. Mimi is heartened.

But Mimi also underestimates the witch (despite some really slick gunplay) and apparently gets eaten. Madoka and Sayaka are moments away from contracting with Kyubei when Homura steps in to clean up the mess. Homura hopes this is a lesson to the girls to not enter her world, but with Mimi apparently gone (and “miracle” in the next ep’s title), there’s a possibility Madoka’s wish will be to bring Mimi back.

We definitely like the conflict already arising between the perks of being a maho shojo (powers, looking awesome, helping people) and the potential pitfalls (saying sayonara to anything resembling a normal, long life; the temptation that comes with those powers). This is no choice for the faint-hearted, and Madoka is so far being presented as someone hardly ready to make such choices.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 02 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 15 Jan 2011 – By episode’s end, Madoka and Sayaka understand a lot more about how a Maho Shojo operates, and so do we. We also learn that Homura wanted to snuff out Kyubei (Kyuubey?) so he (she?) wouldn’t create more competition for her. A Maho Shojo’s job may be all about hunting witches, but the inherent rewards can make the competition fierce.

Mami expertly shows them both the tools of the trade (soul gems, grief seeds) and how to find and destroy a witch. The abstract, surreal, downright unsettling way in which witches are depicted is particularly well done here: the different animation doesn’t come off as a gimmick, but rather a strange and alien world a witch creates to discombobulate and weaken their opponent. Still, this particular witch, while powerful, isn’t a match for Mami’s awesome rifles. Everything about their duel oozes style, originality…and confidence.

So Sayaka and Madoka need to come up with an ultimate wish that will be fulfilled by Kyubei in exchange for risking their lives to the witch hunt. They live great lives, so it isn’t immediately apparent what to wish for. After witnessing Mami in action, however, Madoka essentially wishes to be like her: someone “useful” who is strong enough to protect the innocent.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Natsuiro Kiseki – 03

Yuusuke insists he saw Daiki’s sister Natsumi flying, and proposes she and her friends may be witches, which angers Daiki because it isn’t like Yuusuke to lie. Yuusuke follows Saki, who learns of his falling out with Daiki, and devises a way for them to make up: she arranges for them to watch them fly again, under the guise that she’s the only witch. The rock doesn’t cooperate, but they make up anyway.

Every week both we and the girls learn one or two new things about the wish-granting big rock. This week, we learned that an identical wish can be wished upon other people (i.e. Yuka and Rin getting stuck together), but the same wish apparently won’t work twice on the same people (i.e. everyone flying.) Which, if that’s true, kinda sucks, since it means no more flying. But regardless of the rock’s ‘rules’, it’s existence and their ability to wish upon it must remain closely-guarded secrets.

If too many people find out, it may ruin it’s power altogether…or even worse, attract the attention of Men In Black who may abduct and experiment on the girls (and it’s just not that kind of anime!) Still, even without the rock working, Saki managed to help Yuusuke and Natsumi’s brother make up. One way or another, the rock brings people together.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)


Car Cameo:
A somewhat crude but still identifiable white Honda Integra DC5 (AKA Acura RSX) zooms down the street as Yuusuke stalks Saki.

Natsuiro Kiseki – 02

On an ordinary hot morning during summer vacation, Yuka and Rinko inadvertently make a wish at the big rock results in Natsumi and Saki being physically fused together, unable to escape each others’ proximity, despite having never made up after their latest row. Suspecting their friends are to blame for this development, they head to the temple grounds to confront them, having to work in unison to move properly. Yuka and Rinko flee, and a long cross-town chase ensues. The duo turn out to be unstoppable after all, wearing down their quarry. When they see an exhausted Yuka running towards the water’s edge, they lunge at her to save her, but in that moment, the spell is broken, sending them both flying into the water. Having survived their ordeal and sustained proximity, Natsumi and Saki finally make up.

If there was any doubt remaining that there were supernatural forces at work, there’s definitely none now; if only two of the four friends wish the same thing at the same time near the rock, it comes true, one way or another. What works so well about this episode is how the magic is very subtle, and the predicament of being stuck to someone you’re in a fight with, while hardly a new concept, is the perfect way for them to overcome said fight when executed well, which it was. The episode was a good blend of lovely hot summer day slice-of-life and cat-and-mouse marathon.

The chase was very long, not particularly fast-paced, and at the end of the day, totally unnecessary, but who cares? It’s length, and the lengths Yuka and Rinko go to evade their pursuers, force Natsumi and Saki to talk to one another, cooperate, and remember why they’re friends in the first place. They’ve always bickered, but they’ve also always made up. We’ve grown to like these characters fast, and were happy to see them make up from what were hardly irreconcilable differences. The post-credits shot of Natsumi’s brother’s friend reading up on witches was nice foreshadowing; he saw them fly, and will probably keep his eye on them.


Rating: 8 (Great)