OP Sequence

OP: 「コネクト」 (Connect) by ClariS
Watch the OP!: Download, Streaming ▼

「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.



      1. A director who some consider a mad genius that’s producing masterpieces, others a maverick who’s out to revolutionize the medium,and with some a hack who uses one unique gimmick, but generally agreed to be a really weird guy who’s shows have at least something to be talked about.

    1. Really? Because what I saw here was him going all out (as usual?) but this time with a more clear and definitive direction.

      Anyway, this turned out exactly how I expected it to be once I first heard of it. From this episode alone, you can see that the direction Gen Urobuchi is making the story move in could end up going the grim dark ”Unlimited Tear Works” route; Kajiura Yuki’s score was A+ also as expected and every score complimented the visuals.

      Not only did this show meet my expectations, but it exceeded it. Looking forward to more.

      Personally, I never thought that Shinbou’s work in Bakemonogatari was really a good example of how well he used he’s trademark style when you compare it to his older (and imo, better directed) shows.

      1. Look, I’m one who enjoys a good chunk of what the guy makes, but even then I can say that he gets out of hand a lot. The most recent example (and everyone agrees it was pretty random) was in the first episode of Bakemonogatari when all of the sudden SALAD BRAIN! I mean, what was the point of that? And then there is when ever he feels like cutting corners in a creative way, or worse, when they run into a schedule (conveniently on the 10th episode) of certain shows, and decided to cover the lack of animation with his usual style. That ends up looking pretty bad and it insult my intelligence when you know you an episode ends up looking like a picture drama or when you have Mt.Fuji just written in the background and then asks me to imagine it in the background.

        I like Shinbou when he’s good (which for the record, he was very good here) but when he’s bad … he’s bad.

  1. Looks really promising so far. The entire thing (excluding the chara design, haha) is way beyond Godlike. Music, Animation, Plot, everything seems really intriguing. Definitely going to follow this show all along.

  2. Unlimited Musket Works

    lol, This didn’t turn out to be what I expected. It was SHAFTY indeed and the character designs looks cute. And I so agree at how gg described this show “Madoka Magica is about a normal teenage girl who is living a completely normal school life when she and her normal friend suddenly get attacked by the Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei opening.

    Will watch more <3

  3. I did not expect to like this…but that modern environment was nice…and that trippy world…woow…that was like the ending theme for Bakemonogatari…and Maria Holic…*goes to check out “My xxx is Best in the Universe” video from TTGL Parallel works 2*………OHHHH!! it’s “Gekidan Inu Curry”!!(that’s a name….)

    Akiyuki Shinbo Directing + Gekidan Inu Curry Visuals + to the Music of Yuki Kajiura …… Hell yeah I’m in!

  4. Magical girl eh???……..No Offense, but where are the Magical boys?? “other than negi..and Yes, i realize my comment sounds very gay”…anyway, good quality first ep

    BROOKLYN otaku
  5. Oh and before I forget, the design of the characters really looked better in motion compared to the initial designs by Ume Aoki. Like Takaii had written, the pupils were really beautiful.

  6. It definitely exceeded my expectations. I’m hooked, and I’m not usually into dark. As for comparisons with Nanoha, if only Nanoha was this good, but Nanoha did have engrish-speaking Magic wands (“I can still be shot”) and a March of the Boobs (StrikerS OP).

    Nutbladder’s sub was low-res, hard-to-read crap, after 30 seconds I deleted it without seeding back. GG’s sub is 720p and the subtitles can be read without getting a migraine.

      1. Snap a little much?

        I didn’t mean to troll, it was my first time I watched subs from either group, and I wish Nutbladder would have waited before releasing their “v0” sub, 288p with yellow text really hurt first impression. I usually prefer honorifics to be kept, but I can listen for them as well.

      2. You’re a goddamn idiot, kitten. Puella Magi is the official romanization. If you’re not happy with gg’s translation/localization, go with another group. Whining about the correct, official translation [Puella Magi] only makes you a hypocrite.

        PRO-TIP: Puella Magi is Latin for Mahou Shoujo.

      3. The only people who gripe about translating honourifics are people that can’t understand any Japanese OTHER than the honourifics, and then think they are somehow adept and more knowledgeable than other viewers BECAUSE they understand the honourifics.

        gg’s subs are fine.

  7. madoka and akemi’s interaction reminds me of nanoha and fate’s.. XD

    girls everywhere!! i’m gonna follow this!!! *killed*

    LOL. srsly though,the dark feel it has was unexpected! XD but it had me becoming interested in it.XD

    akemi is pretty.XDD

  8. Liking this more than I thought I would!

    This is how I’ve always believed being a Magic Girl should be more like! A lot more violent, a lot more hurting, a lot more of reality in general. No cute and fluffy steal someone’s life force or steal some magic diamond from a little girl – but tossed into a hidden world where the rules are different! It’s confusing! It’s violent! And the only calm is in the eye of the storm itself – when you, the magical girl, realize the enemy is doing everything they can to KILL you and you either run and hide or you stand your ground and get your hands dirty!

    But, there’s still a small pinch of what makes a M.G. show – the cute chars, one happy go lucky girl, the talking cute familiar, and the censored transformation scene that tickles and tease our eyes!

    1. I heartily agree. While the point of magical girl shows is usually to be a fluffy, cutesy waste of time – SHAFT decided to strive for something deeper. Something about seeing girls trying to rip each other to shreds while wearing the cutest outfits imaginable is rather attractive to watch XD I’m loving the blend of cute and dark~

  9. ive loved bakemonogatari and arakawa under the bridge, I think this one will turn out great…

    personally ive rarely even seen any ‘magical girl’ anime before but knowing SHAFT, this is gonna be interesting to say the least…

    plus if theres a lot of yuri

    1. Amen to that yuri would be perfect to move away the kid factor in the magical girl theme and the girls are kinda cute so it wont end up like Aoi hana with manly soft girls just doing nothing but moan around and cry.

  10. Ehh, I expected more from this show. The animation and art style is /kinda/ cute, but not good enough to make me want to watch it in lack of other reasons. Not digging the whole paper style alternate battle universes whatchamacallem.

  11. Isn’t the white board quite common nowadays? Mine can do exactly that+print out what I wrote on it. Not trying to show off, but I assumed that its just very common.
    Oh how I love Saito Chiwa’s “何かしら?”

  12. Like I said once, when I heard “music by Kajiura Yuki and Ed by Kalafina” it instantly became one of my favorites anime of 2011. I was already sold long before the first episode aired. I’m also a big fan of Arakawa,Katanagatari etc, SHAFT in general, but I don’t know anything about directors and whatever. Before Kajiura’s music, everything else is just ice on the cake for me.

    Seems like each episode title is named after a sentence from the episode. I don’t saw that in any other anime except After War Gundam X, and it rocks.

    Oh and there’s an hot Swordwoman voiced by Kitamura Eri.

  13. whiteboard, glass panels not new though, except it’s still not present in classroom setting, but readily available at my research centre 🙂 BTW you can scribble on the glass panels in case you are having a technical/scientific chat with some colleague

  14. I feel like at one point the artist decided to hear how he should draw some scenes from some guy on shrooms. Other than that its probably about 10000 times better than I thought. Probably not going to be as amazing as FRACTALE though!

  15. Am I the only one NOT impressed with this at all?

    I mean, aside from the crazy art in two scenes, it was basically a generic magical girl introduction. What’s more, those scenes could have been animated completely normally… and it would have changed absolutely nothing. It was just done for the sake of being done. Big whoop.

    I just don’t see the big deal. Unless this has a story to go along with the visuals, this is just as generic as any other magical girl so far, except maybe for all of the hype it quite simply doesn’t deserve.

    I’ll give it a few more episodes though, not because of hopes or even because of the visuals, but ironically, because the music of all things was the only thing that seemed particularly outstanding.

    1. It’s not generic, it’s tradition. It’s tradition for every magical girl to begin as an ordinary girl and be thrust into the role of ‘Magical Girl’ through a chance meeting/event. All magical girls must also have a henshin device, henshin scene and have a mascot character.

      Basically, what I’ve described is present in one way or another in practically all Magical Girl shows:

      Cardcaptor Sakura
      Pretty Cure
      Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

      This tradition can even be seen and parodied in the Gainax classic Otaku no Video. It’s kind of like Sentai and Kamen Rider where there must be a set number of prerequisites before a show can be deemed Sentai and Kamen Rider.

      Without the above elements, this show cannot be deemed ‘Magical Girl’.

  16. Yuuki Aoi, Kalafina/Yuki Kajiura, Shaft, together they actually made such a awesome conbination. This episode was totally mind-blowing and way beyond what I ever could have expected. As usual, background and art by SHAFT is really awesome, at least the way I see it, been a fan ever since Bakemonogatari. With Yuki Kajiura behind the music(bgm and others) there is no a single fault to find from, her compositions alway manages to mesmerize me. Remembering Nanoha and Sakura, the first few mahou shoujos I watched, I thought that this was on a completely different level. If they are able to continue to keep it at this standard, I guess I have a sure pick for my best of 2011 anime right at the start of the year already.

  17. Ohhhhh this is a new feel for Mahou Shoujo. seeing this kind of animation makes a new feeling making it unique.
    But i need more episode to see this clearly.
    Boy the gun shooting scene was good

  18. Why they didn’t get Yukari Tamura……….Why they didn’t get Yukari Tamura. I love this series with its real life concept situation. The mother is the first MILF this year, that everyone would like. Shaft finally did it right, compared to the rest of their works full of eye catchers.

  19. Yeah, it seems someone wants to break with the typical Mahou Shoujo genre. And it worked. I really liked the dark atmosphere at the end and the really disturbing images with the aggressive cotton balls.

    I dont think its only Madoka having dreamt the beginning. I think its more along the line that she was watching a fight in another dimension by Akemi what was presenting itself as a dream. So the fight was real but to see it Madoka had to dream to get access to it.

    The only thing Im really disappointed in this show is the character designs, especially because they totally dont fit the very beautiful background and they often look totally cheap as if it was done hastly or they didnt have money for that anymore (though its not even nearly as bad as Pain vs. Naruto back then).
    But since its the first ep Im pretty sure that is intentionally. I just hope I can get used to it, especially since the mainprotagonist really looks physically disabled in the face sometimes.

    Story wise you cant tell much for now except it sounds as the Mahou Shoujos are fighting some witches in another dimension. And there seem to be different fractions of Mahou Shoujos since it sounded as Mami and Akemi usually try to kill each other.

    Overall it looks very promising and very strange. Not only the weird images when fighting but the school too. I mean its totally glass so you can always see inside the other class rooms. Looks like total suveillance to me.

    Oh and the SHAFT-ish style doesnt really suit always, but its far better than back then with Dance in the Vampires Bund.

  20. I was expecting a very very very cutesy anime with the characters talking about friendship and other stuff like that, but the dark atomosphere in the beginning, and the nightmarish scene near the end quickly change my views on this anime. I’m going to keep watching this to see where it goes.

    David Herbert
  21. I <3 this already.

    It's like if you threw people from the Hidamari Sketch universe into a world that's like Nanoha with a touch of Negima!?, Pani Poni Dash and SZS ridiculousness… then throw in a lil bit of SoulTaker darkness.

    This is like eye porno.

  22. Not to get TOO meta, but it would be interesting if there could be a weekly recap where Kiiagi, Divine, etc had a discussion on THE episode of the week and how the season is going. For this week, I think the polarizing opinions I’ve seen on this show would make for a particularly interesting discussion (if not quite Point/Counterpoint).

    Just a thought…

  23. This episode was kind of disappointing to me… it seemed pretty average. Most of it was pretty typical (I felt like I saw a lot of it before). The school surprised me but it looks exactly like this mall I’ve been to…

    The only part I really liked was the crazy random part with the butterflies and cotton balls with moustaches. I honestly burst out laughing when the moustaches came out. :p

    It still looks good though, I’m sure I’ll like it more with the upcoming episodes.

    1. That’s the main issue that magical girl anime tends to suffer from, imo. They rarely offer anything innovative and will conform to the same basic premise, which usually revolved around a Monster-of-the-week thing.

      Madoka Majica sorta suffers from this as well, though just based off the first episode, I can see that there is definitely enough room to break from the norm.

  24. So Shaft-y. Exactly what I loved about bakemonogatari. Under normally circumstances, I would not even bother considering to watch anything magical girl related, but seems interesting enough so far.

  25. When I saw this listed for Winter 2011, I dismissed it as “oh look, another stupid magical girl show”. My usual experience with magical girls has been the dumb cutesy stuff like Sailor Moon and Nanoha so expectations were very low. But I gotta say after watching this episode, that I was thoroughly entertained and converted.

    Ninja Penguin
    1. What the shit were you watching and how haven’t they been sued for using an amazing, multifaceted and trademarked heroine in something dumb and cutesy?

      This series actually seems similar to Nanoha in the later seasons. I’m liking the taken-for-granted technology and househusband in particular.

  26. I like how it makes me wonder if Akemi Homura is the one speaking sense with her warning or if the creature’s motives are true. Like it could be all a game that has nothing to do with good and evil like a trap. Making a deal with the devil or saving the world? Who do you trust? This feels like a movie quality package. I hope they keep the pacing and quality. Let us guess a little bit longer, maybe.

  27. + Kalafina

    + Senjougahara mahou-shoujo ver.

    +? Shinbo

    I’ll stick around for it, as I have no standards. It wasn’t ‘EARTH SHAKINGLY AWESOME” but I was entertained, regardless.

  28. 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.

    This made me watch the first episode and I think you’re perfectly right 😀 Thanks for the recommendation!

    I’m curious how this series will turn out :O I just hope it doesn’t get too “arty” and abstract… The combination of the simplistic, cute character-design and the SHAFTy effects was quite impressive 😀 If they keep it up like that I’ll surely enjoy the series :3

  29. Didn’t like the introduction nor the ending (it’s not the randomness which bothered me, more like how it felt like different styles of animation that didn’t mash well), but I really loved the slice-of-life feeling in the middle. Especially the mother-daughter interaction. I almost feel like hoping for the ‘magical’ side of the show to be downplayed in favor of the ‘normal’, but seeing as it is a magical girl show, that’s not gonna happen. I’ll keep watching as long as they throw a decent amount of SOL at me..

    1. I totally agree with you. I wasn’t really looking for crazy magical sequences (the super gunshot barrage was very pretty) but I enjoyed the slice-of-life feeling. What an awesome mom for high-fiving her daughter right?

      Who knows what’ll happen? 🙂

  30. I love this show. Okay, it’s only the first episode, so that would be presuming too much I suppose. It is highly likely that this first episode has infatuated me to the point that I am willing to proclaim my love for this show. Yeah, that’s more precise….

    When I heard SHAFT was going to be doing “their version” of a Magical Girl show, I knew I would just have to watch it. SHAFT is so abstract and artsy, I absolutely love how they break through the stereotypical anime norm (even if they do get a little carried away sometimes…). Their style is absolutely wonderful, and whenever I watch something they animate, it feels more like a moving piece of art rather than an anime.

    That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode. Actually, that would probably be an understatement. I’m sure it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but I LOVED this first episode. They kept all the things that make the genre of Magical Girl animes what it is (normal highschool girl gets her world turned upside down, transformation sequences, moe and simple lifestyle…hell, they even had the “running to school with a piece of toast in her mouth” scene!), and really broke the boundaries of the genre at the same time. This feels to me what Magical Girl anime should be; legitimately scary situations and emotions running high with amazing action scenes throughout, while cute and entertaining at the same time. It’s like they took the idea of Magical Girl anime, and made it as it should be, with tons of effort thrown in.

    The music really won me over. It suited the mood perfectly.

    I actually like the style SHAFT went with for the character designs. They’re very large headed, simple and cutesy on purpose. That’s just a part of what Magical Girl anime is. At the same time, SHAFT shows us that they have great artistic ability with their stunning backgrounds. So they push everything to the limits, but keep everything within that Magical Girl genre.

    I guess I’m just ranting, but I really like this show. I think it’s incredibly clever, and while it preserves the Magical Girl feel, it also feels like something full of effort and creativity.


    Or at least that’s what I think.

  31. To me, the cutesy characters don’t fit too well with the SHAFT-ish world.
    The music reminds me of .hack.
    The world seems to be a bit weird or futuristic?
    (Well, compared to other mahou shojo who function in normal looking streets)

    Have a ‘clash of styles’ feel.

    But the overall it is different from other mahou shojo shows.
    Something new.

  32. Unlimited Musket Works, Unlimited Rifle Works…either way I can imagine that F/SN’s Archer would be green with envy. Tomoe’s artillery barrage doesn’t need a long “you know it’s coming” summoning speech, and looks mighty effective. 😀

    Ninja Penguin
  33. Besides the weird flat-faced girls. Is this going to be yet another SHAFT show were everything for a first 4 eps or so are “normal” then it just shifts into gags and loud bangs to keep your attention?

  34. Pretty incredible first episode. The intro sequence was incredible, the scenery in the interior section and the outdoor area were both very original and the background music was amazing.

    While the middle part of the episode was a bit sparse, it did set the scene nicely. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of character development yet, but hopefully that will change soon.

  35. I never know that a mahou shoujo anime can be this good, well at least for my age (I’ve been watching anime for 20+ years now) as this kind of series usually target the younger generation of audiences, and it didn’t help that as you grow older your preferences gradually changes. But with a mahou shoujo that features a rather dark theme, I’m very curious on how this will play out…will this kind of series generates the interest of an audience that has long pass the age of magical girl themes.

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