Tag Archives: Medoka Magica

Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Type: Medoka Magica’s more upbeat little sister

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Synopsis: In the future, the Japanese government asks young girls, around the age of 12-15, to fight monsters from a different dimension in order to protect the magic tree that is protecting humanity. They mainly recruit these girls using phone apps, because kids and their phones these days. The app says you can be a hero, and it even gives you cute fairies as sidekicks for free! Of course, once you get nice and addicted, it ramps up the difficulty of the monsters and that’s when you finally notice the in-app store purchases and start thinking….man, I could really use that power upgrade, and the use of my legs isn’t that big of a price.

Pros: Yuki Yuna is a magical girl anime. Specifically, the subgenre of dark-magical girl anime. This means that the big reveal is the price the characters have to pay for being magical girls. Without spoiling it too much, I’ll just say that I liked the “price” being paid, because it was drastic enough to be meaningful, but not too big to be forgotten. The girls don’t have to give up their lives or anything, and the in some ways, the price is optional. It gave the characters a lot for agency in their decision to use their powers and ultimately made them seem like the “heroes” they aspired to be. This differs from Medoka Magica, the current dark-magical girl measuring stick, because there the price was pretty much an ultimatum done for selfish reasons. Yuki Yuna differs from Medoka in that it’s pretty positive. Yuki Yuna stays pretty light until Ep.8, with everything up till then being pretty typical female slice-of-life stories with good humor, like the new girl becoming friends with everyone, the young girl learning to be more confident, gossiping about love only to discover that none of them have any juicy stories because their in middle school. This is mixed with stellar actions scenes, so you never get bored. Compare this to Medoka, which gets dark at Ep.2. After Yuki Yuna’s Ep.8, things start to spiral, as the truth of the girl’s powers are revealed. What I liked about the reveal is that is was dark, but it didn’t overdo it. It didn’t come off as malicious, and there’s no “evil” organization controlling everything. The girl’s sacrifices are honored and rewarded. If anything, it’s a system whose tragedy lies in it’s necessity.

Cons: For as show called Yuki Yuna is a Hero, the title character is not really present all that much. There is a character named Yuki Yuna, but she isn’t really the protagonist, and she doesn’t act as a audience surrogate. Her only role is being the most “optimal” hero. In fact, Fu Inibozaki is a more likely candidate for main character. But the show really is more of an ensemble story. Speaking of the story, while watching it, I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. Ya know? I knew that this was a dark-magical girl show, so every episode I asked myself, “is this the one where it all goes to hell?” But since this happened so late in the show, fans of this kind of dark twist may be annoyed at the time it takes to get there. Don’t watch this show looking for a tragedy like Medoka, because you won’t find any. This anime strictly adheres to the happy ending troupe. No one dies, no one’s feelings are hurt, and the girl’s sacrifices are even mitigated by the end of the show. I’ll admit, that last part was regrettable as it lessened the impact of the girl’s decisions. I do wonder, however, how people who watch it blind may react to the show. Now let’s talk spoilers: In the show, the girl’s have to sacrifice something to unleash their full power. The people in charge of recruiting don’t tell the girls this because ignorance is bliss or whatever. But, as the show suggest, this leaves tremendous psychological scars on the chosen girls. Worse yet, because the sacrifice is required for an optional second transformation, a power boost if you will, there really is no reason not to tell the girls. A little “hey, you have this secret weapon, but only use it as a last resort because it will cost you something precious. ;)” text would have been sufficient.

Watch it: More upbeat than Medoka (4/5)

MVP: Fu Inubozaki

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Girl Power!

Best Episode: Ep9. “Those Who Know Grief” (that breakdown really got to me)

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion

Type: What a heel turn

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Synopsis: So this is the third Madoka movie, but its actually the first sequel to the anime. The franchise did that thing where they dupe rubes into buying two “movies” that are really just elongated clip shows of the original. What rubes.

Pros: Rebellion is a continuation of the anime story, but you don’t know that for about 30 minutes. The movie starts with all five magical girls together, and Homura still in her shy girl phase. Given that this anime deals with timelines, your not exactly sure when the anime takes place until the first reveal happens. Since a lot of the film’s impact depends on surprise and twists, I’ll try my best not to spoil much. What’s not confusing is the stellar action and animation of the Madoka franchise, and we finally get to see the girls fight as a unit! We also get their transformation sequences for the first time (probably), and they certainly fit with the rest of the show. The Russian (?), French (?) inspired animation scenes that are still here and as discomforting as ever. The story, while still a bit off, certainly changes the trajectory of the franchise. Rebellion feels like a movie, which is all I ever want.

Cons: The ending might bother some people, though I though it was great. The film is a solid two hours, but I feel that it could have been a smidge shorter. Once again, despite being the title characters, Madoka feels more like a hanger on than protagonist. The film is Homura’s story, and sadly, she still does her signature hair flip every five seconds. Some of the girls also felt a little out of character. Like, why would Homura confide in Kyoko of all people? How come Sayaka is more perceptive this time around? What’s with the little girl? No really, they never properly explained that part.

Watch it?: Another great entry into a weird and awesome franchise

MVP: The Actions Scenes

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Still my favorite part

Best Moment: The Homura/Timoe fight (the fated battle!)

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Magical Girl Madoka Magica

Type: Kinda weird after watching Sailor Moon

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Synopsis: A deconstruction of the magical girl anime sub-genre that subverts stereotype by, wait, sorry, I have snort this ounce of cocaine while listening to this indy cd I bought while eating at a cruelty free thrift shop….and scene. Anyway, by “deconstruct,” I mean that it shows how all the stuff in magical girl shows, like talking cats and enchanted jewelry, are actually sinister.

Pros: All jokes concerning the hipsterness of pretentious critics aside, Medoka Magica is a deconstruction anime. It takes apart the elements of its genre and adds dark connotations to each. Evangelion did it, School Days did it, and probably a bunch of other shows I’m forgetting to mention. Case in point, in Medoka Magica: the cat is cute but creepy, the witches’ rooms are all twisted version of storybook drawings, even the opening has Medoka crying in her Magical Girl dress. There are a lot more, but discussing them would ruin the plot, so have fun catching all the references. Past the analytical aspects of the show, you’re left with killer fighting scenes and pretty imaginative enemies. Seriously, the fights in this are something to behold. Even if you don’t watch the show, you should catch on of these fights on Youtube or something.

Cons: For one, I don’t think the show’s promotional artwork properly conveys the actual tone of the show (though, this too could be part of its deconstructionness). I feel that the main characters were underwritten, with most coming off as two dimensional. Medoka is the modest one, Homura is the cool one, Sayaka is the tomboy, Kyoko is the wild one, and Mami is the wise one. None of them really move past their assigned role, well, maybe Homura and Sayaka. The ending could also be way better, but I’m guessing the series was leaving itself open ended for the movie sequel.

Watch it?: The hype is deserved, if overblown (5/5)

MVP: Mami Tomoe

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I really loved her fighting style

Best Episode: Ep. 10 “I Won’t Rely On Anyone Anymore” (origins!)

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