Magical girls: the great debate

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    Dance hard techno Foxxy Loveshakes's Avatar
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    Default Magical girls: the great debate

    This is no place for Mahou Shoujo amateurs. Only the most refined, studied, most magical people should participate in this discussion. The topic this time around is simple.

    With so many people watching anime by recommendation nowadays, us more experienced viewers run into a few problems. These are associated, usually, by newer folk claiming things that certainly aren't true. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a show that's sparked a lot of controversy. Newer folks claim it's the best magical girl show of all time because it's edgy and dark, while Mahou Shoujo fanatics everywhere watch these newfolk parading the streets with this flavor of the month.

    What's your opinion on Madoka? Does it really present a new theme in the magical girl universe? Or is this, like I said, just the flavor of the month?

    My personal beliefs? I'll let you know after a few posts. I will say this though; It certainly hasn't done anything "new".
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    Monster Professor Dr. Mecha's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxxy Loveshakes View Post
    This is no place for Mahou Shoujo amateurs. Only the most refined, studied, most magical people should participate in this discussion. The topic this time around is simple.

    With so many people watching anime by recommendation nowadays, us more experienced viewers run into a few problems. These are associated, usually, by newer folk claiming things that certainly aren't true. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a show that's sparked a lot of controversy. Newer folks claim it's the best magical girl show of all time because it's edgy and dark, while Mahou Shoujo fanatics everywhere watch these newfolk parading the streets with this flavor of the month.

    What's your opinion on Madoka? Does it really present a new theme in the magical girl universe? Or is this, like I said, just the flavor of the month?

    My personal beliefs? I'll let you know after a few posts. I will say this though; It certainly hasn't done anything "new".
    Madoka: Dark take on the Magical Girl Genre.
    Nanoha: Magical Girl meets Gundam.
    Pretty Cure: Magical Girl meets Kamen Rider.
    Sailor Moon: Not sure if they count as magical girls since they ARE Teenagers. More or less similar to Cutie Honey, which isn't a magical girl show to begin with.
    Sakura: Poster Girl of Magical Girls.

    These are my though on the Magical Girl Genre so far.
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    The characters in Sailor Moon are undoubtedly Magical Girls. Sailor Moon basically redefined the genre, blending in the sentai elements that are still seen in Magical Girl shows to this day.

    And Sailor Moon, despite its reputation, could certainly be dark. The penultimate episode of the first season, which featured the violent deaths of most of the cast, was shocking enough to make headlines in Japan. And that's to say nothing of the manga, which grew unbelievably dark and surreal towards the end (due in no small part to Naoko Takeuchi's nervous breakdown).

    Another intriguing show is My Hime. It gets seriously nasty in places, but can also be taken as a pastiche of the Sailor Moon breed of Magical Girl shows. The show's ending is almost overt in its Sailor Moon-ness.

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    Magical Girl Shiny Celebi's Avatar Super Moderator
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    Sailor moon made the Magical Girl Genre, there is no question about that.

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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    The Magical Girl genre's true origins are in shows like Little Witch Sally and Himitsu no Akko-chan. Cutie Honey, though not considered a Magical Girl series in its day due to its shonen audience, is often considered to be one in retrospect. If nothing else, it was a big influence on the genre in that it introduced the idea of a transforming heroine, something that was later used in more mainstream series like Minky Momo.

    Sailor Moon was notable for incorporating many more shonen elements (such as the idea of having a sentai-like team of magical girls, as well as occasionally pandering to the new male audience with fanservice). Ordinarily, this would have just made it a Magical Girl series with some slightly quirky additions, but Sailor Moon became so popular that it reshaped perception of what a Magical Girl show could be.

    There's good and bad to this, really. On the one hand it's led to dozens of series that are Magical Girl shows insofar as they're influenced by Sailor Moon... but they might have no influences beyond that. It means that a lot of late-nineties Magical Girl Shows now feel more like Sailor Moon parodies than honest attempts at the genre. Tokyo Mew Mew is a particularly blatant example. On the other hand, Sailor Moon introduced a lot of new life and ideas into the genre. It's generally agreed now that Sailor Moon introduced the first openly lesbian characters in a mainstream Japanese anime. Lesbians (or at least the suggestion of lesbians) have become part of the whole package of Magical Girl tropes because of this, and while it's rarely been done with the finesse of Haruka and Michiru, it's still something positive that Sailor Moon added.

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    Dance hard techno Foxxy Loveshakes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    Madoka is an interesting entity in the magical girl genre. It has dark themes present throughout the entire show, keeping the user in suspense for the next strange, gruesome, or otherwise "bad" scene to come. It spoonfeeds the viewer the idea that magical girls are serious business, and that at any given moment, things can easily go awry. After watching the entire thing, I came to a few conclusions.

    Powerlevel-wise, the Madoka girls aren't very strong. Their attacks don't level cities, they don't shoot huge magic beams, they have no spells/incantations, and they have many, many vulnerabilities. The only exception here is Homura, who can control the flow of time. Pit the Madoka characters against any other magical girl cast, and they'd lose. (Except, again, Homura)

    The girls are all insane to some degree. Mami's prone to killing, Sayaka dies in every reality we explored, Kyouko's been alive for far too long, and Homura... Well, she's gone loony.

    The central theme moving the plot along is that hope, in some form or another, can save the world. Homura repeats her reality (at least) 5 times in the hope that in at least one of them, Madoka can be saved. Madoka's hope (in the fifth reality) is that she can find a loophole in the witch-fighting system and protect the people she loves. At the end, this hope is put to use, Madoka becomes a force of nature, and her dreams are realized.

    Now let's compare these observations with other magical girl shows.

    Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a magical girl show that presents a more organized view of a magical society. It starts off as your typical magical girl series, but quickly moves the plot along from lighthearted and funny to structured and dramatic. It doesn't keep the viewer on his toes looking for who's the next to die, nor does it present constant dark imagery that shapes the viewer's opinion. It simply shares the stories of a group of dedicated mages, their devices, and a universe under constant pressure. Is it gruesome at parts? You bet. Is it heartrendingly sad? Just watch Nanoha A's. However, by keeping the central theme (that most, if not all magical girl shows share) of Hope and Perseverance in the forefront, many people don't respect it or any other magical girl shows. People don't like seeing the bigger picture, they don't like character development, they don't like backstory, and they don't like to wait.

    Powerlevel-wise, Nanoha has some of the best one-on-one magical girls in existence. Vita, the knight of the iron hammer and her device Graf Eisen, the iron count, are best at breaking through defenses. In fact, "There's nothing in this world you can't destroy", says Hayate, not long before her statement proves true. Nanoha's excellent binds and long-range bombardment spells would decimate any magical girl that wasn't some sort of demi-god. Fate's raw speed, brutal attacks and surprise projectiles would pose a challenge to any girl not on their toes. When I look at this, I wonder how people can pass up this great, action-filled series.

    All the Nanoha girls have something they're fighting for. Nanoha's only wish is that she can pass on her knowledge of aerial magic to the next generation, and that she can, like Madoka, protect the ones she loves. Fate, who once fought for her corrupt mother, now fights to maintain her identity, keep the peace, and save the children science has forsaken. Teana fights to earn her keep as a powerful enforcer, despite her limited magic potential, and prove to everyone that she's capable of more than your average mage. They aren't crazy, but they have many, many reasons to do what they do, just like the Madoka girls.

    The central themes, Hope and perseverance, (And possibly friendship through violence) are present in every single season, in every single fight, and every single final battle. Magical girls overcoming the odds through hard work, a resolute heart, and a bit of magic. That's what magical girls are all about, and that's what magical girls ought to be. Inspirational beacons of dangerous cuteness.

    What did that wall of text explain, exactly?

    It means that no matter how you want to spin it, Madoka isn't much different from what we've already seen dozens of times already.
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  7. #7
    yandere=awesome Yamato-san's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    I looked at the title of this thread, and I knew the TC was gonna be talking about MadoMagi (this thread being made in close proximity to the series' finale seemed too unlikely to be a coincidence). Personally, I think it's one of the best anime I ever saw. It's not just because it's "dark and edgy", but rather, it manages to be dark and edgy in just the right manner. Aside from being a brutal deconstruction of its genre (which is especially noteworthy as said genre is usually presented in an extremely light-hearted tone, not dissimilar to this show's own bait-and-switch beginning), it doesn't go too far out of its way to portray these dark aspects. The series never seems to have any pointless padding, so it's all just enough to get the point across that, no, becoming a mahou shoujo (or any ally of justice) is not what it's cracked up to be, yes, anyone can die, no, things aren't always gonna go your way, and yes, immature little girls are very prone to having a nervous breakdown should they be put in these type of situations. Now that it's over, it's all the more satisfying when the series ultimately came to a, surprisingly, bittersweet conclusion that doesn't seem like a cheap cop-out (some people are complaining that it is, but really, the foreshadowing had always been there). So far as I'm concerned, this is a friggin' masterpiece, and its well-deserved popularity is quite massive, not what I'd consider a mere flavor of the month (for Christ's sake, it beat out Haruhi's record as being the most widely-discussed show on 2chan.... and this was when the series was only halfway through its run). I'm also prone to fangasming over anything which involves Yuki Kajiura (music composer, for those not aware). ^^

    As for the others: Sailor Moon's always a classic (though more recently, given the growing number of redone, more faithful manga adaptions, I've been curious about this one getting similar treatment... would've been a better route to take than the live action series, IMO). Nanoha's quite awesomely action-packed, and like Madoka, it's rather intriguing how it starts out looking like a typical fetch-quest only for the story to REALLY step it up a notch not long after Fate's introduced (speaking of Fate, her seiyuu Nana Mizuki sings some of the most awesomest theme songs I've ever heard). Cardcaptor Sakura... honestly, I still need to finish the manga/watch the anime (I only saw a few of the English dub episodes and... well, I don't need to tell how that went). And Pretty Cure.... I've heard a lot of criticisms for this one, but I've started watching the newest series, Suite. Thus far, I've found the episodic formula to be extremely grating (okay, how many times are they gonna have Hummy whine and moan that Hibiki and Kaede need to get along? I know this series started out with those two being childhood friends who drifted apart, which is a nice angle, but they kinda crammed it down our throats a bit too much afterwards... thankfully, the more recent episodes seem to have finally moved away from this). I've been meaning to watch the first series, especially as Toei's been providing free subs for more than a couple years now. ^^' Since I've been starting on Suite, maybe I'll finally get around to the first one soon.

    Yup, classes again. I'm gonna be at this for a while.

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    Dance hard techno Foxxy Loveshakes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Yamato-san View Post
    I looked at the title of this thread, and I knew the TC was gonna be talking about MadoMagi (this thread being made in close proximity to the series' finale seemed too unlikely to be a coincidence). Personally, I think it's one of the best anime I ever saw. It's not just because it's "dark and edgy", but rather, it manages to be dark and edgy in just the right manner. Aside from being a brutal deconstruction of its genre (which is especially noteworthy as said genre is usually presented in an extremely light-hearted tone, not dissimilar to this show's own bait-and-switch beginning), it doesn't go too far out of its way to portray these dark aspects. The series never seems to have any pointless padding, so it's all just enough to get the point across that, no, becoming a mahou shoujo (or any ally of justice) is not what it's cracked up to be, yes, anyone can die, no, things aren't always gonna go your way, and yes, immature little girls are very prone to having a nervous breakdown should they be put in these type of situations. Now that it's over, it's all the more satisfying when the series ultimately came to a, surprisingly, bittersweet conclusion that doesn't seem like a cheap cop-out (some people are complaining that it is, but really, the foreshadowing had always been there). So far as I'm concerned, this is a friggin' masterpiece, and its well-deserved popularity is quite massive, not what I'd consider a mere flavor of the month (for Christ's sake, it beat out Haruhi's record as being the most widely-discussed show on 2chan.... and this was when the series was only halfway through its run). I'm also prone to fangasming over anything which involves Yuki Kajiura (music composer, for those not aware). ^^

    As for the others: Sailor Moon's always a classic (though more recently, given the growing number of redone, more faithful manga adaptions, I've been curious about this one getting similar treatment... would've been a better route to take than the live action series, IMO). Nanoha's quite awesomely action-packed, and like Madoka, it's rather intriguing how it starts out looking like a typical fetch-quest only for the story to REALLY step it up a notch not long after Fate's introduced (speaking of Fate, her seiyuu Nana Mizuki sings some of the most awesomest theme songs I've ever heard). Cardcaptor Sakura... honestly, I still need to finish the manga/watch the anime (I only saw a few of the English dub episodes and... well, I don't need to tell how that went). And Pretty Cure.... I've heard a lot of criticisms for this one, but I've started watching the newest series, Suite. Thus far, I've found the episodic formula to be extremely grating (okay, how many times are they gonna have Hummy whine and moan that Hibiki and Kaede need to get along? I know this series started out with those two being childhood friends who drifted apart, which is a nice angle, but they kinda crammed it down our throats a bit too much afterwards... thankfully, the more recent episodes seem to have finally moved away from this). I've been meaning to watch the first series, especially as Toei's been providing free subs for more than a couple years now. ^^' Since I've been starting on Suite, maybe I'll finally get around to the first one soon.
    You say it's a deconstruction, but I don't think you know what that means. To be a deconstruction, the medium in question should be radically different to the point where only the overlying principles remain intact. Like I explained before, the only difference between Madoka and other more serious magical girl anime is that all the hopelessness and despair associated with wielding such immense power is in the forefront of the plot. The whole mechanism is driven by grief and misfortune, betrayal and hope. These mechanics are present in many other, if not all other magical girl anime. Madoka even has the same type of ending, where we see the realization of her best wishes wish, leaving the world in a much more stable state. Sailor moon did it. Sakura does it. It's not a new thing, and it's not a deconstruction. I agree wholeheartedly that it's a good, solid series with well-written characters and a fresh take on an old idea, but it doesn't warrant such intense fangasming.

    I disliked the ending. My speculation would have been way better. I feel kind of cheated at it, in fact.
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  9. #9
    yandere=awesome Yamato-san's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    no, it's definitely a deconstruction. A deconstruction takes the common tropes associated with a genre and delves into the specifics and the unfortunate implications that could be had with them (in other words, deconstructing). This is precisely what MadoMagi does.


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    Monster Professor Dr. Mecha's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical girls: the great debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Yamato-san View Post
    no, it's definitely a deconstruction. A deconstruction takes the common tropes associated with a genre and delves into the specifics and the unfortunate implications that could be had with them (in other words, deconstructing). This is precisely what MadoMagi does.

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