You know how you sometimes come across a game, tv show, book, etc that’s just so good you have to share it? Think of that as the reason why today’s Important Importables is all about Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the magical girl and horror anime series from Gen Urobuchi, Shaft animation studio and Aniplex. The series originally ran in Japan from January – April, 2011, with Aniplex planning a US release on DVDs sometime in the near future.
Ready to make a contract and learn more about the anime, where it all started, and the other media the series has inspired?
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Puella Magi Madoka Magica started with a 12 ep animes telling the story of four magical girls, or Puella Magi. Witches exist in the world, disrupting oridinary humans’ lives by making them sick, causing terrible accidents or perhaps even making them so depressed that they consider suicide. Puella Magi contract with a familiar, in the case of Puella Magi Madoka Magica a small rabbit/cat beast called Kyubey. By forming a contract, they can have a wish granted and gain the power and magic necessary to defeat witches. Once a contract is made, a girl is given a Soul Gem, which is a source of power. It doesn’t provide infinite power though, and performing her job can make a Puella Magi’s Soul Gem tarnish. By defeating witches, grief seeds can be acquired and either used to cleanse Soul Gems or fed to Kyubey. The wish that the girl makes influences her abilities as a Puella Magi.
Madoka is the star of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The series begins with a dream where she about sees a Puella Magi fighting a witch, though at the time she doesn’t know what she’s seeing and what’s going on. When she gets to school, she sees a new student named Homura has registered and she looks exactly like the girl from her dream. When she runs into her, Homura tells Madoka that she shouldn’t try to change her life if she cares about the people important to her.
Homura appears again after school when Madoka and her friend Sayaka are spending time together, and they see her attacking a strange creature. Madoka grabs the animal and runs, with Sayaka providing a distraction. During their escape, however, a witch attacks them. That’s when another Puella Magi, named Mami, appears to save them. She also heals the creature, known as Kyubey, who says he thinks both Madoka and Sayaka should form contracts to also become Puella Magi. Mami and Kyubey explain what magical girls are, how they compete against each other to fight witches and obtain grief seeds and how Homura was trying to keep Kyubey from meeting and contracting with Madoka.
While it may sound like a typical magical girl series, things are really much darker and more twisted than they seem. To get the full effect of the show, you have to watch until at least the third episode, as that’s when everything changes and you see the true nature of the show.
Off-shoots and spin-offs
Due to the series success, there have been a number of additional stories and adaptations to help people better understand the Puella Magi Madoka Magica universe. The first was a three volume Puella Magi Madoka Magica manga, written at the same time as the anime and offering a retelling of the original story. It’s very similar, though there are a few differences that can provide additional information about the characters and story. The second was a manga series called Puella Magi Oriko Magica. It was set in an alternate timeline preceeding the events of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and mainly follows a Puella Magi named Oriko. She can see the future, and is trying to save Mitakihara Town and the world from the most powerful witch with help of Kirika Kura, another Puella Magi who hunts down Puella Magi. Mami, Kyubey, Kyoko, Homura, Sayaka and Madoka appear all appear in this two volume series.
The third series is a manga called Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, which is currently ongoing with one volume released so far. It seems to be set during Puella Magi Madoka Magica and follows a group of Puella Magi called the Pleiades Saints, who actually work peacefully together. Their familiar is a character identical to Kyubey called Jubey, though Kyubey does make some appearances. There are seven Pleisades Saints in all, though the focus is on one in particular named Kazumi. She has amnesia when the series begins, and is the only one of the Saints who thus does not know her original wish. The seven work together to defeat witches and gain grief seeds, but also find themselves dealing with strange pseudo-witches.
Finally, there are the games. There’s a trading card game inspired by the series coming out soon, called Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Precious Memories. While a few of the cards have been shown, details such as how to play haven’t been revealed. Also, Namco Bandai is working on Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica Portable, a PSP game based on the original Puella Magi Madoka Magica series. It will be a dungeon crawling RPG, with turn-based battles and some visual novel elements for the story segments. We most likely won’t see it in North America, but since it’s region-free people can import it after it’s released on March 15, 2012.
COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables talks about Namco Bandai’s Tales series.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables reviewed Hakuouki: Yuugi Roku for DS.