「夢の中で会った、ような……」 (Yume no Naka de Atta, You na……)
“As If I Met Her in My Dreams……”
From the great people at SHAFT comes an original work that looks like it’s going to blow my mind away. After being pleasantly surprised with their work with Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru last season, I was ecstatic to see that SHAFT was going to put out their own original series. While it is a “Mahou Shoujo” or magical girl show, I dove in head first, ready for anything. Being a big fan of Bakemonogatari, I was happy to hear that director Shinbou Akiyuki would be heading this project. While I don’t know a lot about Shinbou’s directing skills, it didn’t matter too much as I was head over heels to see the seiyuu cast for Madoka. Starring Yuuki Aoi as Madoka with an all-star supporting cast (Kitamura Eri, Saitou Chiwa, and Katou Emiri come to mind), I knew I would have fun just listening to everyone. Not to mention that the character design and animation quality in general are really slick. I understand that SHAFT has some interesting history behind them, but I was extra satisfied with how good everything looked in this first episode.
For the episode itself, it was pretty standard when it comes to first episodes – except for the beginning and the ending. The beginning sequence was pretty crazy. The only thing that comes to mind is it resembled something like a Reality Marble. In short, some sort of alternate reality where buildings are flying, magical girls are getting hit with said buildings, and the whole thing looks really dark and evil. It almost felt like someone was fighting in some sort of war except I was a little disappointed to see that the whole thing was just Madoka dreaming. That disappointment completely melted away after I saw Madoka’s baby brother, Satsuya. With a tag team effort between Madoka and Satsuya to wake up their mother, I think I’d probably react the same way after getting the sun right in my face. What really caught my attention was how nice Madoka’s house was. From the spacious bathroom, technology all over the walls, to the landscaping outside the house, SHAFT did a great job. As I tried to figure out how far in the future this show took place in, I was blown away by the classroom design. Classrooms made out of glass walls, desks and chairs made out of high tech plastic, fully computerized whiteboards, it became pretty clear that this show is somewhere in the future. (I would like a whiteboard like that..)
Things start taking a change of pace after a new transfer student named Akemi Homura (Saitou Chiwa) appears. At first glance she looks like a quiet girl who’s good at just about everything, except she happens to be the same girl from Madoka’s dream! From the looks of it, Madoka has no idea who she is but Homura seems to know a lot about Madoka – so much about her that she takes the opportunity to have a private conversation with Madoka. Something along the lines about losing everything precious to her if she decides to “change herself”. Where it gets really weird is after school when Madoka and Sayaka (Kitamura Eri) go shopping at the mall. After hearing a strange voice calling out for help, Madoka rushes off to a closed off part of the mall. With Sayaka right behind her, they managed to rescue a little fox like creature named Kyube (who was also in Madoka’s dream) that is being attacked by Homura. As Madoka and Sayaka flee, the world around them slowly starts changing. It looked like some sort of hallucination, so I find it kind of hard to describe with words. As strange creatures come to attack Madoka and Sayaka, Mami Tomoe (Mizuhashi Kaori) appears out of nowhere and saves the pair from being attacked. After an impressive transformation sequence and an even more impressive attack, the world around them returns back to normal as the monsters fade into the darkness.
After such an impressive first episode, I’m glad I picked this show to cover. At first glance, some people might think a show about “Magical Girls” could be boring – which would mean they haven’t watched the first episode yet. I still can’t think of a good way to describe the trippy fight at the end of the show, but I know that it was out of the ordinary and felt fresh to me. I have no idea how this show is going to be paced, but I’m glad the first episode managed to capture everything that I wanted. A little bit of magic, a short but impressive transformation scene, and a little bit of character introduction. What I’m really loving is the art style. Somehow with the way the faces are drawn and the way the world is colored, this show has really captured my heart. I’m almost in love with how SHAFT does their pupils.