Beginnings, Eternal, and Rebellion: These three are the names of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica films, and the productions that brought the story of the much-loved Anime to the silver screen.
The gruesome tale of five Magical Girls, this series is known to most if not all fans of Japanese pop culture as a horrific look at the sub-genre first made popular by series’ like Sailor Moon.
Written by Psycho-Pass‘ Gen Urobachi, it’s was hard to deny myself a chance to experience these films. Though the first two left me with a bad taste in my mouth, the universe-altering storyline of the third (Rebellion) had me very much intrigued so, thanks to Madman Entertainment, I decided to take one more trip into the world of the true Magical Girls. Whether or not I’d come out alive, well…that was up to the universe to decide.
Were all the magical girls truly saved from despair? Now… the great “Law of Cycles” leads the magical girls to their new fate. Madoka Kaname – a girl who once led an ordinary life sacrificed her very existence to set every magical girl free from their cruel destiny. Homura Akemi – another magical girl who was unable to keep her promise with Madoka continues to fight in the world Madoka left her behind in. Madoka has changed the world. In this new world, is what the magical girls see a world of hope… or despair? – Madman Entertainment
The last movie left off with a grandiose plot twist that had main character Madoka transcend human, Magical Girl, and Witch to become something necessary to aid in the evolution of the universe; a God. This movie starts off in a manner that makes it seem as though all that holy effort has gone very much to waste seeing as the girls are still fighting the forces of evil. Twists and turns lead us to a point wherein which the girls are, once again, caught in a Witch’s elaborate labyrinth which they’ve been trapped in since the universal shift.
I could just be an uneducated lout, but the movie simple confused the heck out of me. It isn’t often that I sit down to watch a movie and leave it feeling as though I need to go back to school, but Rebellion was one of them. I consider myself enough of an intelligent person to absorb and understand a film’s plot, themes, lessons, and everything else in between but it felt as though Rebellion did not even tell me the full story. At times it was almost like I had accidentally skipped scenes and missed out on crucial information pertaining to the events taking place but…no, they were just ill-explained…or not explained at all.
I did, however, consider the plotline as a whole to be very interesting and even more engaging as the story progressed in a surprisingly natural manner. Nothing seemed to be forced along and nothing seemed to be rushed. I found it appealing that certain things weren’t over explained but in that lies a huge contradiction seeing as certain story aspects certainly needed to explained more. It’s fitting, though, taking into account the psychologically straining nature of the series.
Madoka Magica, both the movies and the series, has always played host too odd yet wonderful visuals thanks to Japanese studio Shaft who you may know produced the much-loved Monogatari series. A mix between soft-style animation and what I can only describe as Tim Burton’s wet dreams, Rebellion once again takes viewers on the closest thing they can get to a legal peyote trip.
Already impressive is the film’s traditional animation which was used mostly on the human characters and on most pieces of background movement. Their enemies, on the other hand, were brought to life in style we’ve not seen much before outside of the aforementioned Monogatari series and Puella Magi Madoka Magica itself. Shaft have implemented a combination animation style that fuses together the likes of traditional techniques with that of more unused styles like stop motion.
Appropriating what look to be real-life objects, the studio creates a truly terrifying environment that genuinely scares the child within me; something not many Anime can do. Though hard to swallow at first, you quickly come to understand the blinding parallels between the real world and that of a Witch’s labyrinth through these incredibly striking visuals. They also allow you to come to terms with the erratic nature and instability of human emotion which is a huge theme in the film.
Backing up the film’s visuals is the fitting soundtrack that takes a great deal of inspiration from the more European side of the musical world. Most tracks are soft yet powerful thanks to use of more orchestral instruments like violins and chellos. Most of the film is made up of these warm tracks used only to lull the audience into a false sense of security.
These tracks quickly shift into booming French-inspired pieces with sharp tones and deafening pitches or heavy rock riffs that line up fantastically with some hand-to-hand Magical Girl combat. Auditorally, the soundtrack isn’t the only good thing about Rebellion; the English voice cast do a wonderful job with their respective characters especially when it comes to dishing out some of that true-to-life emotion. There’s no over-the-top screaming nor is there any unnecessary dialogue, everything said is on point and I can only give credit to the voice actresses who did such fantastic jobs.
I actually very much enjoyed Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, though there was a lot throughout it that made me question whether or not I blacked out for minutes at a time. The ending, I found, was satisfactory despite the shaky way in which it arrived there. The characters all make a great deal of sense in accordance to each other and they all interact in exactly the way you’d expect semi-damaged young girls to do.
It’s nowhere near a perfect story but it has amazing production value: The visuals are amazing, different, and you won’t be able to easily forget them. The soundtrack is fitting, well-composed and all around wonderful. It’s one of the better Anime films out there and I’d recommend it to almost anyone with even a slight interest in thought-provoking Anime.
Become a Magical Girl by heading to Madman Entertainment’s online store and purchasing Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion by Clicking Here.