Closing out 2016 was rough. That’s partly the reason why it took so long for me to plop myself in front of the computer to post something, anything really.
But I’ve been kind of inspired. Kind of being the operative word.
Right before we closed out 2016 a friend, and sometimes Tea & Fiction contributor Sydney Sun recommended a Netflix show to me.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
I had to cut and pasted that from Google because there was no chance in hell I was gonna remember that.
She basically called it: Sailor Moon, if Sailor Moon had PTSD.
I think my initial reaction was: “Wha?”
It is really hard for me to get into new shows these days. I tried to watch Designated Survivor and literally left the room. So the buy-in for me for that this show was kind of like Sailor Moon. That on its own is a tall order to fill because of how much I love that series.
Yes, it is campy as hell. Yes, there are so many weird plot holes you could drive several semi-trucks through. Yes, it is incredibly messed up that Sailor Moon is the only one to ever get a guy and the Sailor Scouts are basically glorified, babysitters. But I love it.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica brings us into the world where young women are the warriors of the world and endowed with unearthly abilities but at a cost.
The intriguing thing about Puella Magi Madoka to me is the way the show’s writers and creators built the backstory of all the characters. Throughout the series, each character grows into tangible individuals that snag you emotionally.
The only character I would say doesn’t get an in-depth once over is Mami Tomoe.
As Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are learning exactly what “Magical Girl” is, Mami Tomoe becomes a plot device. She becomes the essence of what the Magical Girls strive to be: skilled, kind, effortless in fighting and able to take down anything.
But Tomoe doesn’t get the deep emotional investment in other characters. She is a facade of what Magical Girl should be in all its glory and then rips the rug out from under the audience when you get a glimpse into how empty and lonely her life is.
It was the first and the only moment in the beginning of the anime that I realized this wasn’t going to be happy-go-lucky. When Mami open up to the girls she declares that since they are now together things were only going to get better. I’m such a skeptical fool I saw her demise before it occurred.
Mami’s death in a lot of ways brings upon Sayaka’s fate. When Sayaka considers using her “one wish” to help her sick, male friend Mami gives her a sober warning. If Sayaka’s wish is meant to get the boy to somehow appreciate her more… she may want to consider changing her mind. It is sound advice and relates right back to how many young girls probably sacrifice their own happiness to make other people (boys) happy.
But Sayaka’s story arc is built on loyalty and love. A kind of love that will bring her to her end.
It is in her story that we find out the brutal truth of what it takes to be a Magical Girl. Your soul no longer belongs to your body and your destiny is essential sealed.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica was darker than I expected, but it went places I have not yet seen in “female superhero” themed stories. With every action there is an immediate reaction, often very very opposite.
It also offers a really interesting perspective on fate. Even when you try to stand in the way of what is meant to happen it still manages to come back with a vengeance.
The theme of fate in the show is double edged sword. You either do what you believe is right and suffer basically the rest of your life. Or you allow jaded nature to overtake you and become what you swore to destroy. The cycle is vicious but the story is fascinating for those interested in multi-layered superhero anime.
Oh, and the ending credits theme is slightly addictive.