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Post Reply Madoka Magica and why I don't like it as much as everyone else.
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Posted 4/22/14 , edited 4/22/14
Ahem:




Insomnist wrote:
The problem then being that the story doesn't invite you to invest in the characters since you see no hope for them.


I had this issue with Watamote, but that was because there was no real plot progression, and no implication that improving her life was even on the table. I can't really understand seeing Madoka this way, given how increasingly defiant most of the characters are.

As you said, isolation being bad is one of the main themes, which is why things get better when the characters quit trying to be loners and start helping each other. Mami's death right after partnering with Madoka might seem to contradict this, but it happened because she didn't listen to Homura and tried too hard to show off on her own; this was a running tragic flaw from very early on. Madoka spends most of the show telling everyone to stop fighting unnecessarily, and her ascension makes everyone less isolated (both from her and from each other) which makes their lives better. One less fatal flaw to worry about.
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Posted 4/22/14 , edited 4/22/14

kotomikun wrote:


Insomnist wrote:
The problem then being that the story doesn't invite you to invest in the characters since you see no hope for them.


I had this issue with Watamote, but that was because there was no real plot progression, and no implication that improving her life was even on the table. I can't really understand seeing Madoka this way, given how increasingly defiant most of the characters are.

Woops. Added a question mark.

It was more a question for Fel than a personal assertion, I wasn't thrown off by the characters much.

But I also ADORE dark and hopeless stories. So, there's that.

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Posted 4/22/14
Huh. I don't think I have any other reasons for praising it, actually. I mean, I came across Madoka from suggestions under Shugo Chara. I had no idea what Madoka was, so I went into it expecting yet another average magical girl series. However, I was hooked from the first episode--and this was just from seeing that, rather than simple beams of light or something, the girls used actual WEAPONS (e.g., Mami's guns). I also liked the designs of the witches--I thought it was cool that, rather than simply being "evil" intelligent beings (such as the ones from Sailor Moon, for example), they were actual creatures .
Already being impressed with these elements, the show just impressed me more with each episode. But ultimately, I guess you could say it was just the "darkness" of the show that made me like it so much. It was something I had never come across before.
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Posted 4/22/14
OP is not arguing about why Madoka Magica is bad, he's arguing about why Madoka Magica is not one of the anime greats.

And to that, I'd have to agree with him.
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Posted 4/22/14 , edited 4/22/14

Insomnist wrote:
Woops. Added a question mark.

It was more a question for Fel than a personal assertion, I wasn't thrown off by the characters much.


Yeah... I probably should have been able to figure that out... er. Speaking of which, the XKCD was meant as a response to the topicless bickering from the previous page, which may not have been obvious.

Anyway... Madoka is a pretty weird show. I mean it's literally an old half-forgotten genre for little girls being invaded by horrific monsters and tragedy and weighty themes, which eventually deconstructs itself (and then the movie does it again). For some people, it's apparently too odd and unfamiliar to resonate easily, even if they can intellectually understand the good things about it. So we get a big contingent of the "well, it's good, but it's not THAT good" people. (Whereas I don't usually enjoy things that are too familiar, so I'm lucky there's even one popular show that's on my favorites list...)

I think this is a bit futile, really. You can't convince someone to become emotionally invested in something, and that's the component that almost all the it's-not-that-gooders are missing. I guess I'm just doing this for writing practice or something.
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Posted 4/22/14

kotomikun wrote:


Insomnist wrote:
Woops. Added a question mark.

It was more a question for Fel than a personal assertion, I wasn't thrown off by the characters much.


Yeah... I probably should have been able to figure that out... er. Speaking of which, the XKCD was meant as a response to the topicless bickering from the previous page, which may not have been obvious.
It's all good, you read it right I just wrote it wrong.


kotomikun wrote:

Anyway... Madoka is a pretty weird show. I mean it's literally an old half-forgotten genre for little girls being invaded by horrific monsters and tragedy and weighty themes, which eventually deconstructs itself (and then the movie does it again). For some people, it's apparently too odd and unfamiliar to resonate easily, even if they can intellectually understand the good things about it. So we get a big contingent of the "well, it's good, but it's not THAT good" people. (Whereas I don't usually enjoy things that are too familiar, so I'm lucky there's even one popular show that's on my favorites list...)

I think this is a bit futile, really. You can't convince someone to become emotionally invested in something, and that's the component that almost all the it's-not-that-gooders are missing. I guess I'm just doing this for writing practice or something.

Deconstructions are interestingly polarized, it seems like.
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Posted 4/22/14

kotomikun wrote:




Yeah... I probably should have been able to figure that out... er. Speaking of which, the XKCD was meant as a response to the topicless bickering from the previous page, which may not have been obvious.

Anyway... Madoka is a pretty weird show. I mean it's literally an old half-forgotten genre for little girls being invaded by horrific monsters and tragedy and weighty themes, which eventually deconstructs itself (and then the movie does it again). For some people, it's apparently too odd and unfamiliar to resonate easily, even if they can intellectually understand the good things about it. So we get a big contingent of the "well, it's good, but it's not THAT good" people. (Whereas I don't usually enjoy things that are too familiar, so I'm lucky there's even one popular show that's on my favorites list...)

I think this is a bit futile, really. You can't convince someone to become emotionally invested in something, and that's the component that almost all the it's-not-that-gooders are missing. I guess I'm just doing this for writing practice or something.


I too frequently think of that xkcd, so i'm glad someone posted it haha. I'm one of the people who did have an emotional experience from this show, so perhaps my opinion is biased. But still, I think there is a certain sense in which you can objectively say the writing in PMMM is excellent. The rest of this post is directed toward the thread in general.

While it's true that the plot of the show is very composed and a lot of things are happening every episode, I disagree with other people who have said "the characters don't have freedom in this show". Characters never do anything unless decided by a writer; the difference is that some characters seem to have more freedom because they are floating in plot-doldrums, so anything they do seems spontaneous. I think the characters in this show have very genuine and realistic responses to the events in this show. It just so happens that the genuine and realistic responses serve to move a bigger plot along. That isn't a lack of character freedom, its a sign of good writing which uses character reaction to build a story. Does every show need to do this to be good? No, I like shows with weak plots too. However, I think the tightly crafted story of Madoka should be seen as an accomplishment, rather than diminishing the character's reactions somehow.

I am actually enjoying this thread! For the most part the posts are well thought-out. Mostly.
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Posted 4/23/14 , edited 4/23/14
I hated sayaka.

All of her. The forced tragedy, her constant berating of people for their circumstances, her rise and fall that was the catalyst for the climax. All of it felt unnatural and poorly portrayed. It was the most forced and predictable thing I'd seen that year.

When the turning point in a series is ruined, nothing past it can recover. You have to nail that powerful moment or it loses it's credibility. After sayaka fell, the while series was just waiting to see a train wreck unfold.

God I hate it when deconstructions fail. It's one of the most annoying kinds of anime, because they either navel gaze or turtle their face into their rectum.
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Posted 4/23/14

Sequine wrote:



Perhaps you aren't familiar with that type of person, but the lead-up and climax of Sayaka's downward spiral seemed quite realistic to me. She has by far the most childish personality of the main characters, and when those naive expectations meet the cold, hard, world, she doesn't know how to cope. She pushes her friends away, becomes more and more reckless in her behavior, and starts to lash out. Even though she realizes on some level it isn't a good idea, her feelings of self-worth are so distorted by her previous mistakes that she continues this behavior. In the real world, a downward spiral like that would likely end in suicide, a drug habit, etc. In the show, she turns into a witch, the allegorical extension of what would happen in real life. Other than the allegorical bit, I don't see anything unrealistic here. It may not be typical, but it happens, unfortunately.
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Posted 4/23/14
There's a difference between the concepts making sense, and the performance/portray being convincing. The problem is not the idea, it's how forced it feels when things play out. It played out in an incredibly smooth and scripted, rushed fashion. None of it felt like anything other than "the plot says we have to dive off the deep end now." It literally stole the show for the sake of nothing but an alternately cliched and extreme outlook.

If we assume that the weakest/most extreme/dumbest reaction to a scenario is the most human, then yes. I have never operated under this assumption. Sayaka doesn't even attempt to come to her own senses of her own free will. The shock just wears off. A real human reaction, not just the product of some blatant non-conformist try hard, would have her fighting internally. People, even teens, aren't that weak.

But hey, this is why I don't like most deconstructions. It's just one confused extreme vying for attention on the grounds that it's not that more common extreme. At least the other show isn't PDS.
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Posted 4/23/14 , edited 4/23/14
Speaking of magical girl deconstructions... there's also Uta Kata.

Also, I thought this guy's rant was interesting:

http://nenena.dreamwidth.org/286031.html?thread=2943823&style=light
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Posted 4/23/14 , edited 4/23/14
Here's a question. The complaints about the predictability/flatness of the characters, do you think it's related to how closely tied they are to specific themes? Because in several ways it feels like specific themes have almost been made into character traits for specific characters, where they come to symbolize something about the show. So do you think that close link between characters and themes means they can't function as freely/"realistically" as you might like?

Because I could see there being a tradeoff in that area in terms of realism versus symbolism.

Just as an open question to anyone who feels this way.
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Posted 4/23/14
Well, I made it to the eighth page of discussions before the switch finally flipped. Now I've got to go rewatch Madoka. Darn.
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Posted 4/23/14 , edited 4/23/14

Shrapnel893 wrote:

Speaking of magical girl deconstructions... there's also Uta Kata.

Also, I thought this guy's rant was interesting:

http://nenena.dreamwidth.org/286031.html?thread=2943823&style=light


That guy did have an interesting rant. I'm curious if his opinion changed after finishing the show, or if he ever did. Because it seems like he was missing the context of the Japanese Buddhist philosophy which the show *very* strongly draws from. Without a certain level of familiarity with that, I don't know if Madoka would be as good. Because it isn't the only show out there that touches on the foundations of the genre. Far from it. It's the only one i know of in the last 7-ish years, and almost all of the ones previously mentioned were 10-20 years old, but Madoka isn't the only one. The thing is, it goes an extra level beyond genre deconstruction. It's a parable (or a morality play, if you like), from beginning to end. The idea that your own wishes have the potential to become your greatest enemy and ruin you is a concept that comes up a lot in Japanese Buddhist thought. It's such a prominent idea that the theme comes up in plenty of other shows which don't really comment on it, they take it as a given part of the plot. The interesting thing about Madoka is that the creators take that idea, show how it plays out, mix it with some Christian imagery, and offer advice to the audience, as real people, in the form of a hopeful but not naive outlook. The people who wrote Madoka really seem to me to *understand* the philosophical implications of these ideas, rather than have heard of them and throw in references in their show. *That* I think is what makes Madoka a great show. It's a cool genre piece, but the bigger idea is to remind people the themes exist outside the genre and are relevant in real life too.

I think the comments about predictability a little earlier in this thread may indeed be tied to the morality play nature of the show. The foundation of the story isn't a new one. It's a story that is probably as old as people, and at least as old as people have been thinking about life. However, it is a really good and new execution of that story. And I personally think it's nice to be reminded of that story every so often.
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Posted 4/23/14 , edited 4/23/14
Just saying one thing... if you think the twist in Madoka Magica wasn't foreshadowed, try Samurai Flamenco. Try watching THAT up until episode 7.
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