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Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Japanese: 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ, Hepburn: Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika, lit. "Magical Girl Madoka Magica"), often referred to simply as Madoka Magica, is a Japanese anime television series created by Magica Quartet, an artist collective consisting of director Akiyuki Shinbo, screenwriter Gen Urobuchi, character designer Ume Aoki, and producer Atsuhiro Iwakami. 

The entire series was NOT made available at launch.

Premise

Puella Magi Madoka Magica follows a group of female middle school students who choose to become magical girls, subsequently battling surreal enemies known as "witches." In consequence, they learn of the anguish and peril associated with their new role.

Production

Development

While collaborating on Hidamari Sketch and Bakemonogatari, Akiyuki Shinbo told Aniplex producer Atsuhiro Iwakami he wanted to create a new magical girl series, beginning the development of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. During the early planning stage, Iwakami decided not to adapt an existing work to give Shinbo more freedom in his direction style. Another goal of the project was to develop an anime that would appeal to a wider audience than the usual demographic for media within the magical girl subgenre. Iwakami and Shinbo intended their series to be accessible to "the general anime fan". Shinbo then asked Gen Urobuchi to work on the project as a scriptwriter and Ume Aoki as a character designer. Takahiro Kishida was engaged to adapt Aoki's character designs for the television series.

In his role as producer, Iwakami took a mostly hands-off approach. Because Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an original series rather than an adaptation of an existing work, his main goal was "coming up with a high-quality piece of entertainment". After helping to recruit the staff, he allowed them freedom to develop the content of the story, providing minimal guidance. After viewing the character designs that Aoki created, he was sure he could trust the creative talent of the team. In an interview with Anime News Network after the series finished airing in Japan, Iwakami said, "I don't matter much; it's up to those talents to do their work. If something comes to a stand-still I might intervene, but they did an excellent job and I was very happy seeing the results in episode one.

Release

The first ten episodes of the series aired in Japan on TBS and MBS between January and March 2011, while the final two episodes were delayed until April 2011 due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

A manga adaptation of the series and various spin-off manga series have been published by Houbunsha and licensed in North America by Yen Press. A novelization by Nitroplus was released in August 2011, and a dedicated magazine titled Manga Time Kirara Magica was launched by Houbunsha in June 2012.

A video game for the PlayStation Portable was released in March 2012 and another for PlayStation Vita was released in December 2013.

Reception

Critical

Puella Magi Madoka Magica has received widespread critical acclaim. Masaki Tsuji lauded the series' world building and narrative as well as the character development, and called the series groundbreaking. Masaki went on to say that Madoka Magica has reached a "level of perfection", and noted that the series is worthy of people's admiration. UK Anime Network's Andy Hanley rated the anime 10 out of 10 and lauded it for its deeply emotional content, and described it as immersive and filled with grandiose visuals along with an evocative soundtrack. He recommended watching it several times to fully comprehend the complex and multi-layered plot. Hanley called it the greatest television anime series of the 21st century thus far. Scott Green of Ain't It Cool News called the series "hugely admirable"; he praised the animation team's attention to detail, stating that the series "would not work nearly as well if the characters in general and as magical girls specifically weren't presented so spectacularly winningly by the production". Green also said he would highly recommend Puella Magi Madoka Magica to anyone with an interest in anime.

Michael Pementel of Bloody Disgusting called Madoka Magica a "fascinating work", and lauded its dark atmosphere and horror elements. Pementel highly praised the show's aesthetics and wrote that the "pacing in revealing twists" is one of the "show’s most exceptional qualities" and also commended the characters tragic arc—particularly Sayaka and Homura. He further praised the series for offering "unique, grim twist that not only seeps the show in despair, but subverts the subgenre", concluding that Madoka Magica "stands as one of the best works of anime horror, presenting characters that must strive to find hope through profound darkness."

T.H.E.M. Anime reviewer Tim Jones criticized the show's "weak character development" but also called it "beautiful, well-written, and surprisingly dark", and gave it four out of five stars. Jones also commended the unique animation and design of the backdrops shown during witch fights, which he described as "surreal, beautiful, [and] trippy". In his review of the three BD volumes of the anime series, Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network characterized the story as very emotionally dark and "one of the most ambitious and beautiful anime series in recent memory." He awarded each of the volumes ratings of A or A+ overall. Awarding the series five stars out of five, Common Sense Media wrote that the "animation style is full of fluid motion and attention to detail that makes it a uniquely pleasurable experience to watch" and "the main characters [are] well developed and its hard not to get attached to them as the story progresses".

Awards

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is considered as one of the best anime of the 2010s by several publications, that includes Polygon ,Thrillist , Looper, IGN, Crunchyroll and Anime UK News. The Spanish website Legiao Dos Herois listed the series as one of "10 most successful anime" of 2010s.

The show won the Television Award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards as well as 12 Newtype Anime Awards and the Grand Prize for animation in the 2011 Japan Media Arts awards, making it the first and only original anime television ever to win this award with the jury describing the series in their justification as "an outstanding animation with an ingenious magical scenario" and commended the "ambitious" show for "skillfully setting critical traps that shook the very foundations of the genre". It was nominated for the 32nd Nihon SF Taisho Awards and won the 2011 Bronze Prize for Kyubey's catchphrase. It also won three Tokyo Anime Awards in the Television Category, Best Director and Best Screenplay, and the Selection Committee Special Prize award at the 2012 Licensing of the Year awards. Madoka Magica was awarded a Seiun Award for "Best Media" at the 2012 Japan Science Fiction Convention and was also awarded a Sisterhood Prize for the Sense of Gender Awards. It also won the 2012 UK Anime Network Reader's Choice Award. In 2015, the show was awarded the inaugural Sugoi Japan Grand Prix; Japan's nationwide vote for manga, anime, and novels considered as cultural assets that have the potential to be beloved all over the world, among all of the works published since 2005. In 2017, Madoka Magica was selected as the best anime of 2011 by the Tokyo Anime Award Festival.


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