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Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 3 – Limited Edition Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

June 4, 2012 by  



A fresh, enjoyable yet dark storyline that is absolutely captivating and addictive! “Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 3 – Limited Edition Box Set” concludes the series with a bang!  And like the previous two limited edition releases, volume three is another must-own anime on Blu-ray release for anime collectors and is definitely one of the best anime TV series on Blu-ray released in America for 2012. Once again, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is highly recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2012 ANIPLEX, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 3 – Limited Edition Box Set

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 9-11 (100 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9LB Wide Screen), Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, English Linear PCM Stereo, English subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex, Inc.

Release Date: June 12, 2012

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 talents:

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…

This limited edition combo box set includes the third soundtrack CD, an exclusive collector’s box, two double-sided posters, collectible postcards, and a deluxe 24-page booklet with character designs, a special short manga by Aoki Ume and more!

All is revealed in the final volume of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” vol. 3.  Madoka Kaname must make the final decision… Will she become a Magical Girl despite knowing all the risks involved?

For anime fans who grew up with magical girl (majo shojo) anime series, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” combines the sweet characters that many fans expect from a magical girl series, but this time around, also a darker and more tragic storyline.

Created in 2011, the anime TV series known as “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is 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 well-received and it won the Television Award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards, it won 12 NewType Anime Awards and also 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 Magica 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 released in March 2012 and also, a three-film project that is in the works.

In the United States, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” Vol. 1-2 was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Aniplex. And in June 2012, the final third volume featuring episodes 9-12 will be released.

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” Summary

“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.  She loves hanging 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 an 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 other magical girls such as  Mami Tomoe and Kyoko Sakura.  But when one of them is tragically killed, the death affects both Madoka and Sayaka and with the prodding of Kyubey, one of them becomes a magical girl.

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 one of them has chosen the path to become a magical girl but also finds out quickly, that if one harbors too much negative energy, they can easily be consumed by it and be turned into a witch.

Volume 3 of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”

With the final volume of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, tragedy happens once again and Madoka is not sure if she can take any more of it.  Kyubey finally reveals the true reason why he wants Madoka to become a magical girl and also the secret is revealed in regards to the wishes that magical girls are promised.  It is also revealed why Homura has been trying to prevent Madoka from being a magical girl.

It leads to Madoka’s final decision… Will she become a magical girl knowing the risks? Or will Homura succeed in protecting Madoka and preventing her from becoming one?

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” features the following characters:

  • Madoka Kaname – A caring teenager who loves her family, loves hanging out with her friends and enjoying life. But lately, she has been having nightmares about witches and one of girls from her dream, a girl named Akemi Homura, shows up to her school.  From this point on, Madoka Kaname learns about the role of a magical girl but also the challenge that awaits them.  With the prodding by an extra terrestrial named Kyubey to become a magical girl, will she do so?
  • Akemi Homura – A new transfer to Madoka’s school and a teenager trying to prevent Madoka from becoming a magical girl.  For what reason is Homura going to great lengths of protecting Madoka?
  • Sayaka Miki – Madoka Kaname’s best friend and a girl who is in love with a boy who is ill.  She knows that being a magical girl, she can be granted one wish.  Will she do it?
  • Mami Tomoe – The first magical girl to befriend Madoka and Sayaka and the first magical girl tragedy that both Madoka and Sayaka had to experience.  A kindhearted person.
  • Kyoko Sakura – A magical girl who is constantly hungry and befriends Sayaka.  Kyoko learned how making a wish can always backfire, as she wished for her father, a preacher, to gain more followers.  Instead it led to her father’s insanity with tragic consequences for her entire family.
  • Kyubey – An extra terrestrial who tries to get young girls to become magical girls.  Those who form a contract with him will get one wish but in return, they must defeat witches that feed upon the hopes and dreams of people.  But there is more to Kyubey and overtime, Madoka learns the true intention of the Kyubey came to Earth.  Kyubey’s do not have emotions, so they do not understand the feelings of the girls they come in contact with.  There only main intention is to have girls become magical girls.

VIDEO:

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” 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 and I have to give Takahiro Kishida (the character designer) and Kunihiko Inaba a lot of credit for the visual presentatio of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica. 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.

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. Comparisons between the Blu-ray and DVD are mostly in the vibrancy of the colors in HD, while things look a bit softer for the DVD version.

Black levels are nice and deep, the series features vibrant colors galore. If anything, the picture quality for “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” is very good considering this is anime TV series. Anime fans should be happy with the overall visual presentation on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Puella Magica Madoka Magica” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo and subtitles are in English. While I would have hoped for a 5.1 soundtrack (as I would have loved to have more immersion with the surround channels and LFE), most anime TV series aren’t and are presented in stereo. Still, fans should be happy that two linear PCM tracks are included. They are front-channel driven and for the most part, dialogue and sound effects are quite clear and understandable.

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. Voice actress Aoi Yuki (“The World God Only Knows”, “Persona 4: The Animation”, “Dance in the Vampire Bund”) takes on the more emotional role as Madoka and her voice acting is wonderful as we see her going through various degrees of emotions from happiness to sadness. But for vol. 2, these are Sayaka-driven episodes and voice actress Ai Nonaka (“Air”, “Negima!?”, “R.O.D. – The TV”) has to play a wide-range of emotions like Aoi Yuki but also a more twisted version of the character as well.

English voice acting was well-done. Similar to the Japanese voices, Christine Marie Cabanos and Lauren Landa had to be much more emotional in these episodes and both voice actresses do a wonderful job for their characters.

And as mentioned in my last review, what stands out the most for me in the TV series is the wonderful musical soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 3” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Ending – Textless ending.

EXTRAS:

Aniplex is a Japanese company that is well-known for their anime releases but also for giving fans wonderful additions with the limited edition releases.

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 3 – Limited Edition Box Set” comes with the following:

  • 3 Discs – Blu-ray, DVD and the original soundtrack

This third soundtrack (which was originally released with vol. 6 of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” in Japan) comes with the following tracks:

  1. Numquam vincar    2:07
  2. Quamobrem?    1:31
  3. Cor destructum    1:28
  4. Surgam identidem    3:36
  5. Confessio    1:49
  6. Sagitta luminis    5:43
  7. Nux Walpurgis    2:34
  8. Cubilulum album    2:19
  9. Taenia memoriae    2:11
  10. La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin    2:34
  11. Symposium magarum    1:47
  12. Pergo pugnare    2:19
  13. コネクト -ゲームインスト-    1:34
  • Deluxe Collector’s Slipcase
  • Reversible 2-sided cover for BD/DVD case
  • 2-sided cover for Soundtrack CD case
  • 24-page booklet: Staff and voice actor interviews, character designs, special 4-panel manga by aokiume and art gallery by INUCURRY! (and more!)
  • Exclusive 2-sided posters
  • Exclusive postcards of “preview Illustrations” from episodes 9-11

Having watched the first eight episodes of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, it has been quite interesting to see how emotional and dark this series had turned out to be.

Typically, there is a banality that is seen with magical girl anime shows.  And while most are sweet, cute and lighthearted, in addition to each episode having some type of resolution at the end, this is not the case with “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”.

With this anime series, there is a continuing storyline that revolves around the character of Madoka, as she experiences the pain of watching people she cares about, meeting a tragic end or in a lot of pain.

The writers have made sure that with every four episodes, there is something learned about the life of a magical girl.  And with each lesson learned, it usually takes place after tragedy.

In the first volume, Madoka learns that these battles against the witches are not easy.  And she doesn’t quite understand why Akemi Homura is often trying to protect her, nor does she know why she has a cold demeanor.  But she did learn how tragic things can be for a magical girl.

In the second volume, with the death of Mami, Sayaka who wants one of her wishes granted, decides to become a magical girl herself.  But unfortunately, unlike Madoka who has a pure heart, Sayaka is a person that has despair in her soul and these negative emotions start to build up within her, to the point that her soul gem begins to darken.

The lesson learned is that even magical girl can easily become a witch because of the despair within them and further causing harm to their soul gem.  In the case of Sayaka, she becomes the witch known as Oktavia von Seckendorff and unfortunately, there is no sparing her life.  A witch will do all it takes to kill a magical girl and the magical girl must beat the witch in order to survive.

So, unfortunately, there is no positive way out.  And as Madoka grows tired of the killing, the emotional pain, she must make a decision.  Will she accept Kyubey’s request to be a magical girl, knowing the risks?  Or will Akemi Homura find a way to protect her?

With the third volume, writer Gen Urobuchi was able to craft a continuing storyline that slowly builds up to a magnificent finale.  Definitely an ending unlike any other magical girl anime series that I have seen before and for the most part, the efficacy of the storyline is greatly due to a finale that I never expected to happen.  So, I was greatly pleased of how the overall anime series turned out and how things concluded with this sereis.

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica” turned out to be a wonderful series with great attention to character development but also a storyline that is fresh, unique and captivating.

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 is Linear PCM Stereo and most series in Japan are released in stereo and while I would love to hear a lossless immersive soundtrack for “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, dialogue is still crystal clear, as are the effects but most notably, for its wonderful music soundtrack.

And of course, with the limited edition, Aniplex returns with as many wonderful extras that the first limited edition came with. From a beautiful second soundtrack to cool postcards, poster and an informative booklet (and much more), fans of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” will find this third volume limited edition to be another must-own release.  Actually, I felt that all three limited editions are must-own releases!

Overall, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 3 – Limited Edition Box Set”, is another home run for Aniplex. The storyline is just as captivating and addictive as the last volume but also a bit more emotional and dark. And like the previous two volumes, it’s another perfect release for Aniplex.

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 3 – Limited Edition Box Set” is highly recommended!

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