Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Episode #5

February 9, 2011 at 12:14 am Leave a comment

After the doom and gloom of the last couple of episodes, we surprisingly has one that’s more on the positive side. In some way what happened in this episode defies most of my predictions, yet at the same time makes me looking forward to the future development a lot more. The story in the episode is nothing major, but kept me on my toes the whole time due to some clever storyboarding and camera works.

Throughout the past 4 episodes e had been bombarded with an idea that has not been raised in this genre: that being an Mahou shoujo means selling your soul and sacrifice your life, especially if it’s only for that one wish. The wish can be wasted to something meaningless, or something that you might regret later in life. Whatever it is, putting your life in risk for that one wish to be granted, does not sound like a good idea. What the previous episodes showed is, that the life of a mahou shoujo isn’t all happy happy joy joy, it’s a life filled with solitude, in-fighting, and countless highly dangerous encounters with unknown monsters.

However, even with the dark side illustrated the fine print of the contract, a power to save people is still very important. If you can use your new ability to save people, especially the ones you love, would you do it? Or would you rather see them suffer a horrible death while you stand there, lamenting your inability to help them? Every superhero has a side that’s not suppose to show to the general public, however they are still the people that has been entrusted with a power to help them. It’s a dangerous occupation, but so is being the soldiers at war, or the law enforce departments at the shady districts. Granted it’s still not a happy happy joy joy fuwa fuwa job, but we still cannot underestimate their importance in the society. There are still a lot of people who are willing to risk their life to protect their loved ones.

now back on topic

I was a bit tense coming into this episode, because there has been a lot of flags raised in episode 4 that the story will go really bad this week. However, seems like Urobuchi (the writer) wants to brew the pleasant atmosphere a bit more before crushing the viewer’s spirits down. Sayaka’s wish has, at least for now, a happy outcome. It’s funny to see a more positive tone in an episode, as it made us aware of our own expectation of grim things to happen in this series. When you are disappointed that your prediction of bad things happening falls off the mark, you knew that the writer has successfully roped you into that mentality.

However, we are once again reminded of what happened at the end of episode 3. It’s unpleasant, and the smart storyboarding just sends shivers down my spine.

The in-fighting between the mahou shoujos started in this episode, mostly due to the conflict in the belief. You have the idealist, the must-save-all-people-at-all-cost magical girl in Sayaka. On the other side, the new mahou shoujo,  Kyoko’s realistic understanding of the witch-hunt mechanism takes in no account of the people that a familiar might harm, in order to gain the optimal benefit in each fights. In the previous episodes we had seen Mami doing what we’d expected, in the sense of exerting the ideal peacekeeper code of conduct. Mami had been said to be different however, since she’s willing to waste her powers to engage in fights that has no gains to her. While Homura also exhibits a realistic attitude towards her role, Kyoko showed us a cynical side in the mahou shoujo mentality. Her behaviour is understandable, but with that comes an unpleasant aura around her.

Even with my love in the story, I just can’t help but feel that SHAFT is not an adequate studio for the job. Granted that Shinbo’s art direction is amazing and Genki Curry’s unique art style brought a lot into the eerie atmosphere inside the witches’ barriers. However, there are a lot weird drawings, even in still shots, that needs to be rectified come DVD release. I’m talking about scenes where people are just talking casually. If I’m not too focused on the subtitle then the disfigurement is just too obvious to my liking. The close up shots are great though, but when the camera moved a bit out it just looks bad.

One last point. Homura has been one elusive mystical figure throughout the episodes. Not much is known about her, neither her past, her motivation, nor even her abilities. We caught a glimpse of what she can do during the final fight, and at the same time the conversation between Kyoko and Kyubey revealed one vital information which could be valuable come later one. Speaking of the fight, I was on the edge of my seat there throughout. It’s not just because they are fighting, but due to the writer’s track record and the internet’s predictions. Clever camera tricks helps elevate the tension as well, which I love immensely.

Overall episode 5 could be stated as one of the weaker episodes so far. Even though we received more information the whole episode just doesn’t feel as crazy as the previous ones. It might be stronger than episode 1 or maybe even  2, but after we got exposed to how dark the series can be in episode 3,  this episode just doesn’t the continuation of the atmosphere. Having said that, by itself episode 5 is still a great episode.


Entry filed under: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Tags: , , , .

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