Once the dog Densuke and the little sister Kyoko were more out of the picture, the show got better
Madoka is the one that gets pimped the most but I watched one episode and dismissed it as typical genre rubbish. Yet... everyone now talks about how great it is and even how genre subverting it is. So I figure maybe I should give that another try.
Before I get started, this entry contains some spoilers, so if you don't like spoilers, please don't read on.
I watch a lot of anime, but there are two genres I really never watch: anime for kids and anime for girls.
The title of Magical Girl Madoka Magica has the words "magical girl" in it, and it reminded me of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, a show that I didn't care for. Whether or not Nanoha was for little girls aside, I didn't get through all of the show, but I did watch enough to get a feel for the story in general. At first, when I saw Madoka I had a feeling it was going to be a Nanoha knockoff. Right from the beginning, I thought it was starting off and proceeding in a similar way, so I quit watching it.
Really, and this doesn't just apply to anime, there are lots of works, such as dramas, that just make minor changes to characters and setting and leave almost everything else the same. However, even if people know the story is borrowing heavily from something, and even if they know how the story is going to turn out, there are a lot of people that can enjoy watching that kind of show. If that weren't true, there would be no good explanation for the large audience of works like Mitokoumon [a period drama that has run since 1969 and is still going!], which have what we can call a VSOP (Very Special One Pattern).
I know from experience that the reality of it is that there are a lot of people who want to watch something that they "know" because they get a sense of security from watching a story unfold when they know how it is going to end, even if they don't know that particular story. Because of this, I had a feeling that Madoka was going to be "that kind" of anime, which is why I quit watching it.
However, from the ward residents who like anime [not sure what ward], I heard that Madoka was really good and they recommended it to me, so I went back to watching it. When someone recommends a work to me, chances are good I'll take that recommendation to mean it's something with merit, so I gave Madoka an honest chance.
The characters have a cute and likable design that young girls would like. At the same time, the style is similar to what guys who like cute characters would enjoy. As I mentioned before, I don't really have much interest in young girl characters; I prefer other character designs to these.
That said, by the time I finished the third episode, the kind of show this really was became apparent, and I realized this wasn't a show for kids. This show presents questions and philosophical messages and asks the audience to think about them.
For whom do people labour?
Is it for the sake of others?
Is it for their own sake?
What will people do when they come face-to-face with death?
This show is all about deception. For instance, don't be fooled by the cutsey character designs; what happens in the story is actually rather brutal.
When people do something for others... Are they really doing it for others?
When people do something for themselves... Are they really doing it just for themselves?
Those who you think are good... are they really good?
Those who seem bad... are they really bad?
What will people do when they are betrayed?
If you hold people to a standard, will you be angry when you are betrayed?
Or if you have lost faith in people, will you take betrayal in stride without being angered?
What you thought you did for the best turns out to work against you.
What you thought you did for the best brings disaster to others.
The best of intentions won't necessarilly mean the best result, for yourself or others. But there are people who live selfishly, and maybe it is because of that selfishness that they are able to live?
In order to gain this strong power, one must sacrifice something; without a sacrifice, the power of a "magical girl" cannot be obtained. People may not understand you're trying to help them, even if you devote your efforts to them. Magical girls are not ordinary people; that is, compared to a normal person, a very unreasonable demand is placed on them. Thus we call a normal person of whom an unreasonable demand is made a magical girl. "If you're going to say it, then why don't you walk the talk? (Though there is no certainty you can.)" It is very interesting to replace "magical girl" with "statesmen" in this paragraph and think about it that way.
Indeed, statesmen are not ordinary people. And because we do not think of them as ordinary people, by placing such demands on an ordinary person, we recognize those people as statesmen. [I don't think this is a totally accurate translation, but it gets the gist.] But if statesmen who seem to be able to walk their talk were not in actuality far removed from the best of ordinary people, they wouldn't even have that capacity. And so, because a statesman grows distant from ordinary people, it becomes difficult to decide how one [statesman] should conduct himself.
I think I understand why Madoka is referred to as "Chidamari Sketch" now. [This is a pun on "Hidamari Sketch" which as you may know is a comic about young artists by Ume Aoki, who drew the character designs for Madoka. "Hidamari" means sunshine. "Chidamari" means puddle of blood.]
This is an anime that adults should watch.
Gasp! I'm actually watching a show, for the first time in ages. =O (I'm bad about that.) I've started watching Princess Tutu, and I'm fairly certain it was made specially for me.