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Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 20, 2014 by  



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You don’t usually come across a magical girl anime storyline with wonderful anime production, fantastic music but also a sudden twist in its storyline going from cute and sweet to sudden helplessness and darkness. “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is a creative, unique and captivating series that is not too banal or too sweet and shows that the character’s choices can lead to tragic circumstance. If you are too busy to watch the TV series or just a “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” fan, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Limited Edition” is a Blu-ray release which I definitely recommend!

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Limited Edition

YEAR: 2012-2013

DURATION: Movie 1 (131 Minutes), Movie 2 (110 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex of America

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Series Directed by Yukihiro Miyamoto

Director: Akiyuki Shinbo

Series Composition: Gen Urobuchi

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Original Character Design by Ume Aoki

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Kunihiko Inaba

Chief Animation Director: Junichiro Taniguchi, Mika Takahashi

Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka

Director of Photography: Shinichiro Eto

Anime Production: Aniplex, Shaft

Featuring the following voice talent:

Aoi Yūki/Christine Marie Cabanos as Madoka Kaname

Chiwa Saito/Cristina Vee as Homura Akemi

Emiri Katou/Cassandra Lee as Kyubey

Ai Nonaka/Laura Landa as Kyōko Sakura

Eri Kitamura/Sarah Williams as Sayaka Miki

Junko Iwao as Kazuko Saotome

Kaori Mizuhashi as Mami Tomoe/Tatsuya Kaname

Ryoko Shintani as Hitomi Shizuki

Seiko Yoshida as Kyōsuke Kamijō

Tetsuya Iwanaga as Tomohisa Kaname

Yuko Goto as Junko Kaname

“Has a loving family and best friends, laughs and cries from time to time…” Madoka Kaname, an eighth grader at Mitakihara middle school, lives such a life. One day, she has a very magical encounter. She doesn’t know if it’s by chance or by fate yet, but this meeting will change her destiny. This is the beginning of a new story of magical girls…

Contains both Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1 -Beginnings- and Part 2 -Eternal- plus exclusive new cover art, a deluxe booklet, the original soundtrack CD, a US-exclusive English translation booklet for the deluxe booklet and a US-exclusive special postcard.

For anime fans who grew up with magical girl anime series, from the “Magical Sammy” series spun-off from “Tenchi Muyou”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Akazukin Cha Cha”, “Fancy Lala”, “Creamy Mami” to name a few, most of these anime series tend to be so sweet and sugary and cater to a niche group of anime fans.

While the series featuring older girls such as “Sailor Moon”, “Cutie Honey”, “Project A-Ko”, “Magic Knight Rayearth” had a bit of edge to the series and were known more for their action and characters which were designed as being a bit older than the “Maho Shojo” characters (which are typically young girls).  And one thing about Maho Shojo anime series is that it tends to stay within the confines of storylines and characters that are typically safe, cute, bubbly and sweet.

Once in awhile, you do get the melding of cute and sweet with an atmosphere of edgy and darkness.

A 2011 anime series known as “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” took things in a much different direction that the past magical girl anime series because of its edginess and tragic elements.

Produced by Shaft and Aniplex, the 12-episode anime TV series would feature a talented working staff which included director Akiyuki Shinbo (“Hidamari Sketch”, “Dance in the Vampire Bund”, “Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”) and series composition by Gen Urobuchi (“Fate/Zero”, “Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom”~, “Blassreiter”).

Music composition is by Yuki Kajiura (“.hack” series, “Noir”, “My-HiME”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”, “Fate/Zero”), character design by Takahiro Kishida (“Noein – to your other self”, “Macross Zero”, “Durarara!!”) and background art by Kunhiko Inaba (“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “C-Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility”).

The series was so popular that it won the Television Award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards, won 12 NewType Anime Awards and won the Grand Prize for animation in the 2011 Japan Media Awards.

When the series streamed on the Japanese video streaming site Nico Nico Douga in June 2011, it surpassed the previous record held by Lucky Star (at 570,000 viewers) with around 1 million viewers.   Also, the first Blu-ray for “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” broke the record of “Bakemonogatari” by selling 53,000 copies in its first week, 22,000 copies on its first day.

The popularity of the series eventually led to a manga series, a Sony PSP video game and three animated films (which combines all 12 episodes into three films).  The first two titled as “Beginnings” (Hajimari no Monogatari) and “Eternal” (Eien no Monogatari) with scenes featuring new animation but also voices being redone to compliment a film version.  A third film titled “Rebellion” was also shown in Japan.

The first two films was released in North America on Blu-ray (with the title “Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Limited Edition”) courtesy of Aniplex of America in July 2014.

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is a series about a young teenager named Madoka Kaname.  She’s 14-years-old and comes from a loving family and hangs out with her best friend Sayaka Miki and Hitomi Shizuki.

But lately, Madoka has been having nightmares.  A dark world filled with destruction and she watches these girls in battle.  As she watches and wishes they would be stopped, she is told by a cat looking extra terrestrial known as Kyubey that Madoka can stop it if she makes a contract with him and become a “Magical Girl”.

Meanwhile, a new girl named Akemi Homura has transferred to Madoka’s school and during her introduction in class, she gives Madoka a hateful glance.   Homura quickly becomes popular in school and excels in academics and athletics.

When she meets Madoka, Madoka tells her about her love for her family and friends and Homura responds by telling her her not to change.

One day, while Madoka and Sayaka were at a music store, Madoka hears a plea for help and she is led to a dark warehouse and finds a Kyubey that is hurt.  She then sees Homura and is frightened that she is about to hurt it.  Immediately, Sayaka comes to Madoka’s aid.

As the two are running away, both are whisked into a magical world where they meet a kind magical girl named Mami Tomoe who begins fighting against a witch in the magical world and defeats it with ease.

The Kyubey asks for both Madoka and Sayaka to sign a contract with him and become magical girls.

Magical Girls receive a soul gem which gives them their power.  The contract of becoming a magical girl states that a girl will get one wish in exchange for her using magic to fight against witches (which are evil entities born from magical girls who have fallen into despair and failed to purify their soul gem).  Each battle features a large amount of risk and during these fights, typically one dies.

Homura for some reason is trying her best to prevent Madoka from accepting the contract in becoming a magical girl.  But will Madoka and Sayaka want to become one?

VIDEO:

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is presented in 16:9 LB.  I have to admit that Shaft and Aniplex have done a fantastic job in this series.  For one, the amount of detail for the art backgrounds is incredible.  A lot of time obviously went into creating the atmosphere of this TV Series.  Typically, most TV series tend to focus on trees, skies, clouds and buildings but with “”Puella Magica Madoka Magica”, a lot of thought went into the series from objects, wallpaper (even Mami’s wall-paper was designed and not just a straight painted background).  You see the changes during the day and night, you can see sunset with the orange sky illuminating the area,the magical world with its creative and artistic design.

And overall, these colors really pop via HD. Reds and pinks, greens…they come are absolutely vibrant.

As for character designs, the character designs manage to keep with the “majo shojo” theme of characters looking young, even the older characters looking young.  But they are nicely drawn, good amount shading and also at times showing a sketched look.

Blacks are nice and deep, the series features colors galore.  If anything, the picture quality for “Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie” is very good considering this is anime TV series.  Artistic backgrounds, creative magical worlds, cool character designs… “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Puella Magi Madoka Magic The Movie” is presented in Japanese and English 5.1 and also the original Japanese linear PCM 2.0 stereo track is included.

One of the biggest difference from the original Blu-ray release for the TV series and the film is that the action-sequences are giving  a jolt of surround sound usage.  While dialogue is crisp and clear for both Japanese and English soundtracks, the film series to have a 5.1 soundtrack was a blessing and it was good to hear how the action scenes and the music come alive.

The voice acting on both the Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done.  I was expecting the Japanese soundtrack to feature high-pitch voices considering this is a magical girl series, but they kept the voices to the ages of Madoka and friends as 14-year-olds and older.   English voice acting was well-done and if anything, it’s great that Aniplex is including both Japanese and English soundtracks to this anime release.

But what stands out the most in this soundtrack is Yuki Kajiura’s music.  Each time I see her name associated with an anime series, if you are familiar with her work, you immediately know that the soundtrack is going to be wonderful and beautiful.  With “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, once again Kajiura’s music is captivating and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Limited Edition” comes with the textless opening and ending themes, trailers and TV CM Collections.  Plus a teaser trailer for “-Rebellion”.

EXTRAS:

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Limited Edition” comes with a 16-page booklet and slipcase exclusive box illustrated by character designer, Junichio Taniguchi.

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I have watched a lot of magical girl anime series and there are some that are just too sugary and sweet and some that are just flat out, bad.

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is one of the better anime series out there and for one, not only do you have a few very well-known anime industry talents from Japan working on this series, the production and look of the series goes far beyond what one would expect from an anime TV series.  With that being said, like many anime series that are compiled to make one film, you lose quite a bit of story in the film version.

With that being said, SHAFT has done a good job of making two comprehensive films and going through the effort to provide a buildup which would lead to the third film, “Rebellion”.

As for the series, you can’t help but be in awe of the detail that goes into the art backgrounds, the artistic creativity that goes into the making of the magical world during battles, the character designs and experimental ways of presenting it onscreen and of course, the fantastic music by Yuki Kajiura in combination with a storyline that is not only cute, but also dark and tragic.

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” features wonderful production values and I can see why this series has won so many awards in Japan.  It’s quite unique and creative in presentation and as for the storyline, what I enjoy is how things go from cute to dark really quickly.

I was surprised how the storyline of “Puella Magi Madok Magica” got darker, especially how things change with the character of Sayaka after she decides to become a magical girl.  Also, with many anime series with a cute alien or animal-type of character, these characters are most often pure and used for comedy purposes.

Revealing anything else would be spoiling this entertaining series, so all I will say is that fans will be intrigued by its storyline especiallyt he revelations of the magical girl process, which is unlike any other magical girl anime series that I have seen within the last 30-years.  But also become captivated by the film’s gorgeous animation and vibrant colors.

As for the Blu-ray release, once again, production quality is fantastic, colorful and picture quality is very good for an anime TV series.  The lossless soundtrack improves from the TV series in many ways.  Crystal clear music and dialogue but a better use of surround sound for both Japanese and English soundtracks.  And you do get a few special features including trailers and TV CM collections.

While you do get an exclusive box designed by character designer Junichiro Taniguchi plus a 16-page booklet, I do recommend searching for the TV series on Blu-ray as you get more Aniplex swag and a longer and comprehensive storyline.  But SHAFT did a great job of compiling the series into two films and setting the stage for its third film “Rebellion”.

Overall, you don’t usually come across a magical girl anime storyline with wonderful anime production, fantastic music but also a sudden twist in its storyline going from cute and sweet to sudden helplessness and darkness. “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is a creative, unique and captivating series that is not too banal or too sweet and shows that the character’s choices can lead to tragic circumstance.

If you are too busy to watch the TV series or just a “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” fan, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Limited Edition” is a Blu-ray release which I definitely recommend!






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