Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: Aniplex of America
MSRP: $94.98 US
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rating: 13 UP
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Could this be the last stand for all Magical Girls?
I said it many times before but having been a fan of the Sailor Moon series as well as other classic Magical Girls titles already available, none has captured my complete attention quite like Puella Magi Madoka Magica that, in just three short volumes, has proven to be a unique anime series that does justice to the genre in the best possible way. In Volume 3, the truth behind Magical Girls is revealed as a major threat leads to a finale you really have to see to believe.
A lot has happened in the four episodes that make up Volume 3 of the series as Sayaka Miki – Madoka’s closest friend – had decided to make a contract with the creature they know as Kyubey. Her choice to become a Magical Girl that battles dangerous witches was out of genuine love for a boy who had lost all hope in ever playing the violin again so you would think a selfless deed like that would be rewarded, right? Well, this is not the case as Sayaka is not only losing the boy she made a sacrifice for but she is also regretting her decision to become a Magical Girl seeing as the job itself will eventually lead to something catastrophic.
Suddenly, Sayaka not only begins to regret her decision but a horrible change comes over her as she flees in a time when she really needs help. With Madoka Kaname and Homura Akemi looking for her, it is another Magical girl named Kyoko Sakura who finds Sayaka. Unfortunately, it is far too late to do anything to save Sayaka as a terrible tragedy occurs in the moment that a witch suddenly appears before the girl. I won’t spoil the surprise but the witch is deadly for a reasons that involve Sayaka.
Kyoko feels that she could save Sayaka but that would mean confronting the new witch and for this she asks Madoka for help. Yes, it would put Madoka in danger but if there was a chance they could save a friend then Madoka is more than willing to help. Sadly, the confrontation does not go down as planned and the end result is both heartbreaking and surprising. Really, you will not see it coming.
It is there and then that Madoka finds herself alone and finally confronts Kyubey who she accuses of lying to all the girls it had “tricked” into making a contract. It is then and there that we discover the truth behind being a Magical Girl as well as their connections to witches. On top of that, Kyubey also reveals the real motivation behind the Incubator’s need to make contracts with girls. Through this eye-opening conversation, we begin to finally understand Homura as well, particularly why she had tried to kill the little being.
Speaking of Homura, Volume 3 shifts its attention to her as we meet the real Homura Akemi. In the second volume we found out that her special power allows her to bend space and time but it is here that we understand what she did with that power and why she had always seemed like she had always known Madoka.
Homura’s story is both intriguing as well as heartbreaking as we meet the girl she use to be and her relationship with Madoka and her friends that also included Mami Tomoe (who in the first volume was killed) and we also witness how and why she became a Magical Girl. It is Homura who comes to the awful conclusion that Kyubey has never lied to any of them but it did know how to manipulate human desire. We all want something and if there was a way to get what you want instantly, magically, who wouldn’t trade something as seemingly worthless as a soul for a wish that was guaranteed to come true?
The truth is that the very concept of wishes that are instantaneously granted defies the boundaries of reality. If such a thing did exist it would be logical to assume that in order for a wish to be granted you would have to lose something in exchange. The loss in Homura’s case is too much for the girl to bear and, as a result, she had tried to change the future by changing the past … several times.
Meanwhile, with no other Magical Girls left, and the news that a powerful witch entity known as Walpurgisnacht already headed their way, Madoka feels conflicted about whether she should make a contract with Kyubey or respect Homura’s sacrifice. As Mitakihara City begins preparing for a massive storm that is really Walpurgisnacht, both Homura and Madoka prepare for a final showdown that will lead to an unforgettable and satisfying ending.
Madoka Magica did not disappoint in the very least and its final four episodes do a brilliant job of tying together all the loose ends that was introduced to us in the beginning. The result is a series that is well-written and unpredictable. Even the animation is delightfully unique.
An astonishing and fitting finale that you will not forget anytime soon, Volume 3 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is – without a doubt – destined to be ranked at the very top of the list of Best Magical Girls series in anime. From intriguing beginning the riveting end, no other Magical Girl series had me on the edge of my seat quite like Madoka Magica. It really is that good and believe me when I say that I cannot recommend this series enough. For anyone who has lost faith in the genre, this series will rekindle your love for Magical Girls in the best possible way.
BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Despite finding Sakaya, Kyoko is a witness to a terrible tragedy and the birth of a new witch as well as the Magical Girl makes a final attempt to bring back a friend. Meanwhile, we finally discover Kyubey’s real agenda and the truth behind Homura and her past that is linked to Madoka and her friends. With Walpurgisnacht approaching, Madoka must make a decision that could change the world.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
This series really is downright gorgeous to the point that you will be thanking Aniplex for including a Blu-ray version. There’s a lot of eye candy in this final volume and it will not disappoint in the very least.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting has been consistently strong in this series and Volume 3 is no different so whatever your preference is you will find that the original Japanese voice or the English dub performances are easy on the ears. The music is so good that you will definitely love the fact that the rest of the soundtrack is included in this Limited Edition set.
There are no new extras on the discs except for the credits, however, the Limited Edition release once again contains an individual disc for the soundtrack and – of course – both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the four episodes. Then there are the two exclusive two-sided posters that are simply awesome and the 24-page booklet filled with art, interviews and the cute four-panel comics. There’s also the collection of postcards with the amazing “Previews” artwork. The sets are pricey but well worth the money.
A brilliant and compelling ending to a mesmerizing anime series that did not cease to amaze from the very beginning, Volume 3 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is everything you can ask for in a finale to a great series. There are Magical Girl series and then there’s Madoka Magica that will not only rekindle your love for the genre but also make you glad you love anime.
Review copy provided by Aniplex of America