Puella Magi Madoka: the Movies is an animated magical girl drama film series that is also based on the animated TV series of the same name. This film series is about a teenaged girl named Madoka, she is just an average young girl that just wants to be a little popular with the boys and she also loves to hang out with her friends (I'm sure we all knew a girl like this at one point in our lives). Madoka's life takes a huge change on the day that a new student, Homura, joins her class and demands that Madoka keeps her life the way it is. Later on we see Madoka hanging out at the mall with Sayaka (one of her best friends), where they are just browsing for music until they see a little cat-like creature running around the mall. The two of them go chase it but end up getting caught in a supernatural situation with a labyrinth, an evil creature called a Witch, and magical girls. The two girls are saved by a magical girl named Mami, then she goes on about how lucky Madoka and Sayaka are to be alive and explains the situation. The little cat-like creature, Kyubey, ends up making them an offer to become magical girls themselves however Homura is not very happy with the idea. Will Madoka and Sayaka become magical girls? Or is there something more to Homura, Mami, and Kyubey than meets the eye? (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).
This box set contains the first two films of the series and they go together really well as they feel like that they are part of one really long movie instead of two. I really enjoyed the story in these movies as it has a nice fresh and original take on the magical girl genre. I like how these films manage to keep the drama very interesting in both their life inside and outside patrolling the city for Witches, normally you'd only care for one or the other, in this case they managed to make both sides of the coin very interesting and entertaining. This is also a very dark story compared to most magical girl series as this is not a series where everything goes all happy and well for the main characters, they do go through some bad times (that's an understatement), so tragedy is part of this world.
I really liked the dark element to this series, it adds some realism to the situations and you do see consequences happen for all of the actions that happen in this show. Some points of the film got so dark that I nicknamed this series, Shin Megami Tensai's: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, it gets that dark. This is also a film where you will really have to focus on what is going on and if you miss one part of detail in these films, you'll find yourself confused later on from not paying attention. With that said, the writing for these films is incredibly brilliant and is some of the best writing I have ever seen in anime.
A good chunk of the characters are really well done due to having enjoyable personalities and some really cool fleshed out origin stories. There are some characters that are a bit bland though due to not being fleshed out enough to be considered interesting but they are far from being terrible characters. Characters also have more of a human feeling to them, where they do not seem like an invincible Kryptonian Superman but more like your average down to Earth person that you can relate to. This down to Earth human element will make all of their situations more meaningful and this makes for incredibly strong drama.
Action in this series is really good as the battles were incredibly interesting and well thought out and you'll be incredibly entertained by them. The action scenes are also very unpredictable and intense and you'll be on the edges of your seat with excitement from being unsure of to how the battles will pan out. The violence in these films can get quite brutal compared to other anime of this genre and it was awesome yet sad to see all at the same time. It is very nice to see a magical girl franchise do something new for once as it paid off really well.
A complaint I have with this film series is with the second part, for some reason it has two sets of opening credits that play. One of them is at the start where the opening credits should be but for some odd reason we get a second set of opening credits half-way through the film. I'd understand why they would be in there if part two was played as its own two-part feature, even so, you'd think that would be cut out and just played as one film. Then again, it could be trying to capture the feeling of when this anime change opening credits mid-way into the season but even so, that is very stupid thing to be put right dab in the middle of a film as it ruins the mood a little. This is a film, not a television series, get your heads in the game.
Artwork in these films are very beautiful, you get some very detailed backgrounds that are superb to look at. The character art is very cute and very well designed to where that they are very memorable. The characters also had a living rag doll look to them and it worked well as they managed to pull it off without the characters looking creepy. Animation in these films is great as it is very smooth and consistent and there were no parts that lowered in quality, that's great as there is a lot going on with the animation.
The English dub in these films are great and is one of the best English dubs that I've heard. The voices suited all of the characters and the acting was really well done. The downside to all this is that it makes it very hard for me to get into the television anime as this version of the Madoka story is very smooth and clean, where it has made me a bit snobby towards the TV anime. This set does include the films with the original Japanese dub for those that want a more pure experience. The soundtrack was very good and did go very well with the movie and I especially liked the songs that played during the credits.
Each film does come with their own set of special features consisting collections of television commercials, theatrical trailers that aired in Japan, and text-less versions of the credit sequences. The second film also has a little preview for the third film in the series (review coming very soon). The commercials and trailers were very typical as they weren't interesting with the exception to two of them. These trailers are only worth one watch once you have finished watching the films but after that, don't bother watching them again. The text-less opening and closing features were very fun to watch as they had some very interesting visuals and some really nice music. The opening and closing credits are also in higher quality than your typical television anime credits and it is very nice to watch them on a huge HD TV (well no s**t). The preview for the third film in the series was okay and did get me interested but just like the other commercials and trailers, it is only worth watching only once.
This set comes with two physical bonus items with one being an awesome hard box cover, while the other is a little booklet full of bonus art. I really enjoy the box for this set as it has some very nice art on it and makes for a very attractive looking piece on your shelf. I know, most people won't consider that a special feature but it's always been special to me seeing movies and shows that come in fancy looking boxes, really gives the term "Box Sets" some meaning. The booklet that comes with this set is full of some nice art-work and promotional images. I'm not going to lie, I did find this booklet to be a little disappointing due to the content being very thin, especially for when it came to the concept art for all the characters. This is a booklet that you only look over once and never touch it or remember it ever again, it is a very forgettable feature.
Overall, this is an incredible set of anime films that fans of the TV series and people that are looking to get into this series will really enjoy. This is defiantly the best magical girl series out there since Sailor Moon (1992 - 1997).. Actually I'll give this series even more credit and say that this is even better than Sailor Moon, that's saying a lot as Sailor Moon is an anime I'm really biased about due to it being my favorite. Must see anime.
Title: Puella Madoka Magica: The Movies
Animation/Production Studio: Shaft
Genre: Animation/Anime, Action, Supernatural, Magical Girl, Drama
Running Time: 300 minutes (2 Films)
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Rating: M15+ (Mature themes, supernatural violence)