Netflix Hidden Gem: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Ok, let me stop you right now.  If you don’t care for anime, you might want to stop here and check out any previous posts you might have missed or come back next week.  I am not saying that I don’t want you here, because you know how I feel about you, but the truth is that anime and manga can kinda be a tough topic for the the Ladies of Comicazi (some of us are more for it than others), so I will understand if you would rather look at these cute pictures instead.  No really, I get it.  Anime isn’t for everyone.  And this can be particularly true when we are talking about anime that involve underage girls running around in very short skirts.

Madoka

Cue the Magical Girls.

So, everyone who wants to be here is still here?  Wonderful, let’s do this thing.

As I get older, I have been finding it more and more difficult to enjoy anime.  This might be something natural in that we all get more discerning in our old age, but I think a lot of it for me is that so so so many animes are pretty much the same.  Allow me to give you some examples:

  • Teens attend magical school to learn magical battle techniques
  • Teen discovers he/she has magical powers and must fight ghost/demon/vampire/alien to save humanity
  • Teen dreams of being the best boxer/skater/musician/pokemon master in the world, learns that obtaining dreams can be hard

I think you get what I’m getting at, right?

So when I tell you that I have found an anime that manages to put an interesting spin on the arguably over-done “magical girl” genre, I am being sincere when I say that watching these 12 episodes might very well be worth your time.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Magical Girl Madoka Magica) starts off very much like a lot of other “magical girl” animes – a group of middle school girls choose to become magical girls in order to protect their city and loved ones from witches.  Add an adorable bunny/cat thing that gives them their powers and identifies other girls with magical potential, and you have a show that on the surface looks a lot like Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura, or even the super cutesy Princess TuTu.  That is, until you see the girls go off to battle their first witch.  Here is where you can see the darker tones begin to surface.

In a lot of anime, the battles can feel very much the same.  We get our transformation of the character into their magical persona and so it begins.  In Madoka Magica, the witch and her domain are the real interest here.  Sure, the girls are still pulling swords and guns out of their chests and skirts, but each witch hunt is a feast for the eyes as the girls are transported to unique realms that stretch the boundaries of logic.  Animation buffs will love the mixed styles and techniques, while those of us with a taste for the weird will also find our appetites sated.

trap

The bat is a good idea, but I am concerned about its effectiveness against those pom-poms with mustaches.

Another aspect that sets Madoka Magica apart from other “magical girl” stories is how it deals with the act of living as a someone who has essentially given up their own dreams in order to fill the needs of others.  This is handled in a few ways, but the most intriguing is the exploration of what being a magical warrior really means.  Yes, you get the neat powers, the sassy lines, and fancy outfits, but leading this life can be both fatal and dehumanizing.  The girls must face the real consequences of their actions and decisions, regardless of what their initial intentions were.  There are a lot of cruel lessons to learn, and it can come off as especially harsh when we are dealing with characters who are so young and naive.  But this is all the more reason to think before you act.

kyubey

Adorable? Or creepy dead doll eyes?

If I still haven’t managed to pique your curiosity, I suggest letting Madoka Magica’s fan-base speak for itself.  There are numerous reviews out there as well as fans who have watched the series multiple times, picking out every Faust reference and coming up with theories behind everything from the complicated timeline to the true motivations of the characters.

So fellow anime fans, if there is an off chance you haven’t watched this one, add it to your queue and give it a shot.  Your familiarity with the genre and other anime tropes will add to the payoff even more.  And for those non-anime fans who took the time to read this post anyway, I’d like to thank you for sticking with me and if you are curious enough to watch this anime anyway, perhaps you will prove me wrong and this is just the gateway into anime that you have been waiting for.

And so I’d like to wrap things up with our usual invite to start up a conversation with us in the comments section.  Let us know if you plan to watch, don’t plan to watch, love or hate anime…heck, you can even share other Netflix Hidden gems with the rest of us.  We would love to hear from you.

Muppet Ladies: The Muppet Trivia 5 Wrap-Up

MT 2015 Wuzzy

Hard as it may be to believe, there really have been five Muppet Trivias at Comicazi over the years, hosted by different combinations of Ladies. The very first one was a Red Menace project, and the rest of us have taken on various hosting and organizing duties through the years. It’s always a lot of work, but it’s also a ton of fun and it remains my favorite of the events we put together.

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Another write up on why Mad Max: Fury Road is Important

 This post contains spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
image

Look who this image is focused on.

So many people have written about Mad Max: Fury Road that I almost feel stupid doing it at this point.  I’m not sure I have much new to add to the collective conversation.  But as this is very much in The Ladies’ wheelhouse, it feels like I should at least try.
 

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Three Things – Sci-Fi Edition

By now you know that we like to do our reviews and recommendations in threes around here – besides being a nice, neat number, it gives you a few choices – you might not love one comic, but another might be right up your alley. Today I’m reviewing three totally different media with sci-fi themes, so if you’d rather listen to or watch your stories than read ’em, I’ve got you covered! If you don’t like science fiction, I don’t think I can help you.  Continue reading

Muppet Trivia FAQ Starring Q and A

As you may have noticed if you’ve been keeping up with the blog or following the Ladies on social media, Muppet Trivia is almost here! But perhaps you have unanswered questions about Muppet Trivia. Maybe there are things you need to know before you decide to join us for an amazing night of Muppet themed fun. Maybe you’re afraid to ask (though I assure you, we’re all very approachable).

Well never fear! We’ve got the answers to all your Muppet Trivia questions and we’ve brought in two very special guests to bring them to you. You know them, you see them every day, and we’re pretty sure they’re two of your twenty-six most favorite letters of the alphabet. Let’s hear it for Q and A!

The letter Q and the letter A

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Honorary Lady of Comicazi: Caitlin Doughty

While pop culture, literature, and the media are the main focus on this site, we also take opportunities to call out a little attention to woman who are out in the world doing amazing things. So this week, I’d like to spotlight my newest hero, Caitin Doughty: mortician, author, creator of the YouTube series Ask a Mortician and founder of the website Order of the Good Death.

Doughty

Caitlin Doughty has a vision to change the world, and that vision includes lots and lots of dead bodies. Now, before I scare you away from reading my post this week, Doughty’s Ask a Mortician YouTube series takes an honest look at death and what happens to our physical remains after we shed this mortal coil. In a culture in which we often try to remove ourselves as much as possible from death and what it looks like, Doughty answers real questions about how a body decomposes, death rituals around the world, and offers alternatives to what many of us consider a traditional funeral.

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Movie/Event Review: I Am Big Bird

Caroll Spinney with Mr Snuffleupagus on the Sesame Street set

Sometimes, Snuffy gets confused about whether Big Bird is real.

Muppets have always been important to me. Like most kids born in the 70s or later, I grew up on Sesame Street. I can remember watching The Muppet Show at my grandparents house back when I was too young to understand a lot of it. As I explained in my origin story, I first met two out of three of the Ladies at Muppet Trivia, which is coming back in less than two  weeks. And my first solo post for blog was about the ill-fated Henson project Little Muppet Monsters. (Speaking of which some new information on why the show failed has surfaced since I wrote about it. Apparently, Marvel Productions hadn’t completed the animated segments for most of the episodes of the show, leaving the majority of the season half finished and unairable. CBS decided to air a second episode of Muppet Babies in the timeslot. The ratings were way better than those for Little Muppet Monsters and the show’s fate was sealed. Anyway…)  My love for things Muppet has waned and waxed over the years, but it’s always been there. Continue reading

Book Review: Ready Player One

RPO

What’s it about: When eccentric and introverted billionaire James Halliday dies, he leaves an “Easter egg” hidden in his online game OASIS that grants the finder his fortune.   Egg hunters (gunters) devote their lives to seeking out his egg using clues left by Halliday.  As Halliday was a child of the 80’s, the best way to work through this scavenger hunt is to become completely engrossed in 80’s pop culture, gaming, and music.  For five years, no one finds anything and only the most hardcore gunters continue to look. Then the narrator, Wade Watt (yes, the alliteration is a shout out to comic book heroes names) finds the first key and the hunt fervor starts up again. Continue reading

Three Things: To Read On a Picnic Blanket

After a particularly brutal winter here in the northeast, a fantastic spring is finally upon us. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the flowers are blooming (much to the chagrin of my sinuses) – it’s the perfect weather to grab a blanket and a good book or three and just sprawl around in the sunshine. (With appropriate hydration and sunscreen, of course.)

But what to read, you ask? Fear not, I have some terrific suggestions for you! And in further good news, they are all upcoming Comicazi Book Club selections, which means that if you’re local and decide to try one or all of these, you can come and talk about them with other people!

So shiny, how can you resist?

So shiny, how can you resist?

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Pretty Pretty Pancakes

Pancakes have been on my mind a lot lately.  Part of it was looking over some of my past posts in search of motivation, but the larger part of it was probably the epic Facebook debate Tiny Doom and I had over the superiority of pancakes or waffles.  I am staunchly on Team Pancake.

And so I wanted to prove the versatility and superiority of pancakes in a very Ladies of Comicazi kind of way.  And so help me, that way is going to be fancy!  It’s time to do some Pancake Art. *cue awesome power ballad

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I have become an immortal pancake!

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