The Madoka Magica series has become almost synonymous with the modern face of anime, sitting alongside lauded titles such as Steins;Gate. Even if you haven’t seen it or perhaps dislike it, chances are you’ve seen the pink-haired Madoka cluttering the anime scene somewhere.
Ironically, it’s also become the face of the once-innocent magical girl genre despite its unorthodox take by the author of Fate/Zero, Gen Urobuchi. It is now Madoka Magica, not Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura that comes to mind when thinking of magical girls, especially among newer anime fans.
After a TV series, SHAFT set about creating two recap movies that summarised the anime. As for this third film, an entirely new scenario was written, doing what many anime films fail to do; to take the franchise into the unknown.
Madman has brought over the third and final film to Australia and New Zealand during a one-day screening, and we were fortunate enough to form a contract with Kyubey and take a gander.
Like with many films that continue a story, you must watch either the TV anime or the two films preceding Rebellion in order to understand what exactly is going. Even then, you’ll be a little disoriented going into the movie. True to the style of Madoka Magica, the film confusingly begins anew despite being set after the world-rending events of the second film.
Everything that fans are familiar with such as Madoka’s heart-warming family, her desperate and single school teacher and her friends Sayaka, Kyoko, Mami and Homura are all there safe and sound.
Without spoiling any key plot points, I can say that the viewers will be led on an intense journey through the spectacularly drawn Mitakihara City and beyond. While everything seems ideal at first, the secret of the world is far more sinister and illusory than we’re led to believe. The focus is on Homura, who previously sacrificed everything for the well-being of Madoka and is now faced with the same challenge albeit in a way no one can expect. The love between the two, often a running yuri-romance gag, isn’t a laughing matter anymore. As you’ll see, their bond even transcends universal law.
Interspersed with the series’ signature dose of despair, Rebellion offers some elaborate action scenes. With the Witches gone following the conclusion of the TV anime, the girls now battle Nightmares – hardly a challenge in comparison and which gives us a false sense of security. One highlight is the long-awaited grudge match between Homura and Mami which is one of the coolest, more outrageous battles I’ve seen recently.
The conclusion, while epic in proportion, could be a mixed bag for some viewers. We had a huge information dump during the anime, thinking we know it all now, but this movie turns everything upside down and dumps even more. The ending is unpredictable, almost shocking, and is once again left more than a little open. Is this really the last we’ll see of Madoka Magica?
The are two sides of the anime community. One who adores SHAFT’s animation and the other who despises it. OK so there’s probably a neutral group somewhere in between, but the point is that this is SHAFT territory through and through. Quick cuts, head tilts and twisted, hand drawn backgrounds that look like the result of a fatal acid trip. The beauty of Madoka Magica, and the high budget nature of this film, is mixing these elements with top-notch animation and powerful directing which makes it incredibly hard to look away for one second.
Fans will lap the visuals right up, and those walking in without seeing the anime before will still be enraptured by the stylised action and fascinating environments. The environments are sure to be of interest to any aspiring architect. An unfamiliar city that mixes futuristic designs, modern Japanese influences and old European cathedrals. It just looks like it’s from another dimension. No matter your opinion, there really isn’t anything else like it out there.
I’m a sucker for good music in anime, and Madoka Magica would have been half of what it was without the enchanting score by Yuki Kajiura. Rebellion is no different, introducing an entirely new sound track and dropping some of the previously overused themes. The result is simply a pleasure for the ears, creating a powerful effect when combined with the visuals. A mix of instruments including French accordion, flutes, violins and even heavy guitar during action scenes will have you trying to hunt down the official soundtrack after seeing the film.
The movie’s theme songs, “Colorful” by ClariS and “Kimi no Gin no Niwa” by Kalafina, stay true to aural experience since we saw the first episode of the TV series and sound just as good as you’d expect.
The Japanese voice actresses performed superbly as expected, going from a range of emotions; cute and lively to teary and full of despair. Having only recently been released in Japanese theatres, Madman currently didn’t have an English dub prepared which is more than fair considering how quick Aussies are able to see it.
While having enjoyed the Madoka Magica anime a few years ago, I was never a committed fan per se. But seeing how intense of a continuation that the creators came up with, shown within the span of two hours in a feature film, is simply phenomenal. It’s looking better than ever by the third film, with eye-opening action scenes while retaining the philosophical nature of the plot, especially during the second half.
Madoka Magica is a twisted fairytale, a polar opposite of your typical Disney flick or Studio Ghibli film. Rebellion combines the best of what we’ve seen in the series packed into a very well paced two hours. The animation and music all come together so well that you’d be impressed, fan or not. The conclusion, however, might be a little baffling for many fans or brilliant for some. Perhaps both.
With the addition of Rebellion, the three Puella Magi Madoka Magica films have become mandatory viewing for fans and an important experience for everyone else.
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