the_sun_is_up: Aliciabeth from Claymore succumbing to zombie-ification. (claymore - drowning)
*sigh* Time to paint a big target on my chest. Time for you to bring out all your rotten fruit. Because seriously, no one wants to hear this. Nobody wants to hear about why Madoka Magica sucks because everyone fucking adores this show. Its fandom is massive and rabid and I’d have to be pretty stupid to invite their wrath. Oh well.

Hell even I like this show. Mostly. But goddamn it, every time I see some reviewer gush over how amazing and perfect it is, it gives me an eye twitch.

Today it was JesuOtaku. I watched her review of PMMM, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a good review and you should watch it, but when she got to the end of the review and started praising the narrative and inevitably gave the show 4 stars out of 4, I just got... eye-twitchy. It was the same feeling I got when I saw Zac Bertschy gave PMMM full marks across the board. These two in particular are both reviewers who tend to have little patience for weepy pandery moe dramas, and yet here they are, watching yet another weepy pandery moe drama and... giving it a glowing review??

So over two years after seeing it for the first time, and after working on this post off-and-on for god knows how long, here’s me, giving my take on this universally beloved show and why I think it’s pretty good but certainly not great and brought down by some pretty glaring flaws.

First off, we have to ask ourselves: why does Madoka Magica exist? Or more specifically: who is it for?

At its core, PMMM is a moe drama just like Uta Kata and Elfen Lied, and the purpose of shows like these is to:

a) present us with a bunch of cute innocent young girls

and

b) beat them with the angsty stick until they cry, thus turning them into adorable helpless woobies that the target audience of adult men can fantasize about hugging and/or boning.

Moe, Agency, Victimhood, Sexism, and Faust )

Writing this post has made me rather depressed, because I really really want to like Madoka Magica. Scratch that, I do like Madoka Magica. Mostly. Because for the most part, it’s a really good show. Art direction, animation styles, cinematography, soundtrack, voice acting — all are absolutely fantastic. I even like a lot of its ideas and some of the execution, and I think it could have been a really brilliant, landmark show. But the core themes and the way it handles them are so damn skeevy that I just... I can’t. I look at this show, and all I feel is disappointment.

And that’s why, whenever I see some intelligent thoughtful reviewer give this thing a perfect score, I feel the need to punch something.

Edit: Whoops, forgot to include my favorite quote about Madoka, from somebody else on Dreamwidth:

It is a work designed to punish its female protagonists for caring and to blame them for their beliefs; everything in it was written with murder in its eyes.

Yep, pretty much. I still like it, but yeah, ick.
the_sun_is_up: Panty and Stocking looking confused, with the text "What?" (psg - wut)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica was given a Sisterhood Prize in the Sense of Gender awards, which are chosen by the Japanese Association for Gender, Fantasy, & Science Fiction. These awards honor "science fiction or fantasy that expanded or explored our understanding of gender," and the Sisterhood prize was added this year to honor works that "develop a new kind of relationship between women which may not have been noticed or told before."

I have to admit, my reaction to this news was one big "Huh?" I'm having difficulty figuring out how PMMM of all things "develops a new kind of relationship between women." The female/female relationships in this show seemed like your bog-standard close friendships flavored with lesbian subtext like you'd find in any anime with a female-dominated cast. The only unusual thing about the female friendships in PMMM is that they frequently resulted in the death and/or traumatization of one or both girls involved. Madoka befriending Mami was directly responsible for getting Mami killed, Hitomi's friendship with Sayaka ended in them fighting over a man which resulted in Sayaka's breakdown, Madoka's bond with Sayaka completely failed to bring Sayaka back from monster-ification, Kyoko warmed up to Sayaka just in time for her to mercy-kill Sayaka and sacrifice herself in the process, and Homura's love for Madoka led to the repeated deaths and psychological scarring of the entire cast while continually increasing Madoka's destructive witch power (although that turned out to be a blessing in disguise). Pretty much the only time a female friendship in this series didn't have horrible results was in the very last episode.

But while this theme is unusual for shows of PMMM's type, I wouldn't really say that "women being friends with each other always ends in terrible tragedy" is a "new kind of relationship that hadn't been noticed/told before." So yeah, still puzzling over that one.
the_sun_is_up: Panty looking excited, with her hand on Stocking's abdomen. (psg - PEEKABOO PEEKABOO PEEKABOO)
I was browsing TV Tropes this evening, and somehow I ended up getting quite absorbed reading the page for Saya No Uta, a Lovecraftian H-game whose storyline impressed me by being completely fucking terrifying. SPOILERS will follow.

The game is about a med student guy who gets in a car crash and survives thanks to some experimental brain surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery has the side effect of screwing up his perceptions, making the whole world look like a Silent-Hill-flavored fever dream — everything looks like it's made out of flesh, blood, and guts, and his fellow humans look like grotesque monsters. (Yes, it's like that one story from Osamu Tezuka's "Pheonix.") Just as he's about to off himself while still in the hospital, the guy meets a cute loli in a white dress, whom he latches onto as a lone shred of normalcy and sanity in his fucked-up world. Of course, she only looks like a cute loli because of his brain being screwed up; in reality, she's a horrifying Cthulhu-looking monstrosity from beyond the stars who has come to Earth in order to assimilate us. She likes to eat people.

The plot gets even more delightfully horrifying from there, if you can believe that, and all three possible endings are major nightmare fuel. I have a pretty big soft spot for horror — I love Higurashi and most of Junji Ito's work — but Saya No Uta sounds like it's beyond my tolerance level. Alas, I must admire from afar.

It was after I'd read all the gory details of the plot that I finally saw who the writer was: Gen Urobuchi, the same guy who wrote Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

HA!

I have two reactions: a) this explains a lot about why PMMM is the way that it is, and b) it also explains why Urobuchi promised that PMMM would be "a heart-warming, happy story" — compared to the other stuff he's written, PMMM is heart-warming and happy!


Edit: Also it just occurred to me that Saya No Uta is like what would happen if somebody wrote an H-game starring Riful. That is both hilarious and terrifying.
the_sun_is_up: Kyoko and Moko from Skip Beat standing inside a heart shape, smiling cutely at each other. (skip beat - so adorable and gay)
So [personal profile] cypsiman2 has been watching PMMM lately, and that prompted me to jump on the bandwagon and finally watch those last two episodes of the show that I keep putting off watching.

I was putting them off because after getting spoiled for the ending and initially squeeing, the more I thought about it, the more I was sure that I was going to have issues with that ending. Now that I've seen it, yep, I sure do have issues with it, and issues with the series overall, but those are going to have to wait for a later post. For now, have some relatively shallow as-I-watch sort of commentary on episodes 11 and 12.

Spoilers for episodes that aired like a year ago )

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