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 Post subject: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 16th, 2011, 5:47 am 
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Thread for those open to discussing and watching this on a weekly basis. So spoilers will be aho outside of the thread opener so watch out if you aren't completely up to date.

I'll just briefly introduce the series for those keen to check it out. My more in depth description is in the 2011 anime thread, but that might be too revealing for those who want more surprises.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an unconventional magical girl series, mixing rather dark themes with opera style Kajiura music and trippy art direction ShinboXSHAFT style(think the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei openings, most namely Zan). And to contrast with the dark atmosphere, you got cutesy Ume Aoki(Hidamari Sketch) character designs to toss it all up creating and interesting contrast. Combine it all and you get a very gutsy approach to a magical girl series. Flintlock rifles involved.

Wikipedia and Anime News Network would provide more spoiler-less plot related descriptions, something I'm not all too good at.

And thus discussion is open.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 16th, 2011, 6:12 pm 
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Storm_Shinobi wrote:
you get a very gutsy approach to a magical girl series. Flintlock rifles involved.

I am indeed somewhat awed by what I get to see. The whole thing is just surreal, be it the "real" world where the girls go to school, or the parallel universe where the "witches" reside.

The series does confront the viewer with some interesting aspects, all more or less surreal or unusual. I'll go about my impressions in no special order, just like I took my notes.

The first thing I noticed was the huge bathroom that Madoka's family has in their designer house. Said bathroom, which seems to contain nothing but glass walls, a sink, and many mirrors in more or less senseful positions, must be bigger than my apartment no doubt. The writer was generally very generous with living space: In episode 02 they present Mami's apartment, which is also huge with big glass fronts, while the place of action looks like a bigger city, as in "living space is friggin' expensive!"

Madoka has a younger brother, who's so young that he's just learned how to walk a little while ago, and lives with her parents in that luxurious house. An interesting fact about the family setup is that her mother goes to work while her father stays at home to do the chores - an "at home dad" - which means she earns enough to allow for a single breadwinner and to maintain their above-average quality of life. The way she dresses also implies that she's not a mere office lady. Her clothes are very business-like, but not at all uniform-like.

The school that Madoka goes to, together with Sayaka, Akemi, Mami, and Hitomi (the so far very unmagical friend), looks like a show-case school - literally. Inside the buildings the walls are made of glass panes. The building is also huge and it kinda gives me an Utena feel - like so many elements of the visuals, I must add. Even without Madoka's paper-cuts Utena was just as surreal with long hallways, endless stairs, lofty roofs, and light Victorian style elements in architecture, as well as fine porcelain tea cups and all.

As for the physical appearance of the protagonists any viewer must notice the distinct hair colors of the girls: Blonde (Mami), pink (Madoka), tourquoise (Sayaka), black (Akemi), and green (Hitomi). You must also notice that red is, at this point in time, conspicuously absent. That is conspicuous insofar as it is an important color missing for a classical Sentai. There cannot be a Sentai without a Red Ranger. The "hothead" is missing - but rest assured, she will come as you can already see her in the opening sequence. We have other usual archetypes already assembled:
Mami, the "lady in training"
Madoka, the "younger sister"
Sayaka, the "tomboy"
Akemi, the "mysterious alien"
Hitomi... hm, I can't find the right word for her category. She's not "the girl next door", but she shows behavioral elements of "the princess". Oh well, I'll wait and see.

Speaking of their appearance: I'm convinced that some important person in the production has a leg fetish, as that physical feature is often in focus. Additionally there's an even mix of "leg wear" - longsocks, overknees, tights. I used the word "conspicuous" before, but it fits again.

As I watched the second episode I noticed a change in the opening: The opening features Madoka and her magical self, both naked and seemingly in different stages of physical development (this would not be the first series where the heroine slightly matures during transformation, as in Akazukin Chacha). In the first opening there's a white... something covering Madoka's private parts, and that thing is gone in episode two. There are no details exposed of course. I found it odd, why first hide it and then show it? Maybe they needed the first episode to convince the TV station and did not want to appear too sexy from the start?

Guns, guns, guns... flintlock rifles in large quantities on the one hand, and a revolver almost 10 ft high with a calibre exceeding the Yamato's on the other. Sayaka's baseball bat seems sorta lost in that display of firepower.

Did anyone notice the scribbling on the wall in episode 2? They reached up to the holy grail of German literature: Goethe's Faust.
The lines they quote are:

(1st writing)
Weh! Weh!
Du hast sie zerstört,
Die schöne Welt,
Mit mächt'ger Faust;
Sie stürzt, sie zerfällt!
Ein Halbgott hat sie zerschlagen!
Wir tragen
Die Trümmern ins Nichts hinüber,
Und klagen
Über die verlorne Schöne.


(2nd writing continuing:)
Mächtiger
Der Erdensöhne,
Prächtiger
Baue sie wieder,
In Deinem Busen baue sie auf!
Neuen Lebenslauf
Beginne,
Mit hellem Sinne,
Und neue Lieder
Tönen daraus!


English translation (not by me):

Woe! woe!
Thou hast destroy'd
The beautiful world
With violent blow;
'Tis shiver'd! 'tis shatter'd!
The fragments abroad by a demigod scatter'd!
Now we sweep
The wrecks into nothingness!
Fondly we weep
The beauty that's gone!

Thou, 'mongst the Sons of earth,
Lofty and mighty one,
Build it once more!
In thine own bosom the lost world restore!
Now with unclouded sense
Enter a new career;
Songs shall salute thine ear,
Ne'er heard before!


I don't dare an interpretation right now, how Faust fits into a series where there's a dimension plain where humans live and a parallel plain where the papercut witches exist. Japanese don't quote Goethe for no reason, but there's not enough information yet on the kind of reality they present in the series on which to base an interpretation. Early ideas are welcome though.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Wikipedia and Anime News Network would provide more spoiler-less plot related descriptions, something I'm not all too good at.

ANN has no description at all, luckily. Nobody was courageous enough to try.
Luckily, as the plot description error of Hôsô Musuko shows early abstracts are not always good abstracts...

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 17th, 2011, 12:58 am 
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We could go on a bit of a stretch and say Madoka counts as the red if we are to look at the whole group as a sentai. She wears red ribbons and theres red in her outfit plus she's the protagonist.

I don't think Hitomi will be a magical girl nor will there be more. The previews, CMs and promo materials pretty much only showed Madoka, Sayaka, Akemi and Mami, outfits and weapons of choice all revealed. But well who knows, there might be more, the show probably has countless other things up its sleeves and we'll probably expect almost none of them.


The Faust passage could be related to the motives of the witches. And there has been a theory that if a magical girl doesn't get a grief seed to purify her soul gem for long enough, she eventually turns into a witch. And since the passage goes on about destruction and fall from beauty and entering a new career... hmmmmm.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 20th, 2011, 5:30 pm 
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You might be right about Hitomi and the redhead in the opening, since in every Mahô Shôjo series there are supporting characters who are not involved in the transformation business. But I cannot remember ever seeing Naru (nor any support character) in the SailorMoon opening. I see a chance that Hitomi might remain a support character, but the team still needs a sexy short-tempered firestarter. :D
Madoka might show the color red, but she has no whatsoever character traits that are usually attributed to redheads, whose job is often to push the hesitant main character back onto her path to destiny.
The black ranger slot is definitely filled. :lol2:

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 21st, 2011, 3:16 am 
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Episode 3 is out... and we already have a casualty? A pretty brutal one at that.

At any rate this will probably pave the path for Madoka and Sayaka to become magical girls. Sayaka already has a wish to be in a dilemma over, and I reckon this episode gives Madoka her wish.

While we can more or less guess what happens next, they might surprise us. Still the wait for next week is gonna be painful.

---

Now that I noticed the redhead in the OP, well random OP people who appear for split seconds and haven't been introduced yet tend to be important in some way. So who knows.

With the whole Magical Girl thing being serious business, and the rivalry for Grief Seeds. There could very well be other antagonist Magical Girls about. Its probably a bit too early to stick Akemi in the antagonist slot yet. She wants to keep the number of people involved down so who knows how she'll react to a squad of involved people.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 21st, 2011, 7:40 pm 
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Episode 3 turns on the heat, definitely, and in more than one sense.

First of all, a boy enters the scene, and surprisingly in contrast to "tradition" it is the tomboy who's in love. That's very unusual.
But Makoto! someone might say. The immortal Kino Makoto was constantly in love, or rather had crush after crush, but it was always pretty clear that the boys she met would never again play any part. That only changed in the live-action series, where Rei's part as Yûichirô's love interest was taken over by Makoto and Yûichirô's absense in this regard was filled by Motoki. Anyways, I dare say that in a Mahô Shôjo Sentai it is usually the main character whose relationship is truely steady.
In the case of this series, however, it is Sayaka who so far seems to be the one with a sort of evolving relationship, and a relationship of a kind that makes one guess what kind of wish she's gonna make.

Second, Madoka's mother... I would never have expected to see a completely drunk woman in a Mahô Shôjo series. Imagine Ikuko, Usagi's mother, in such a state - it would have destroyed the mood of that Anime for sure. On the other hand, Madoka's mother is a carreer office worker. The connotation of drunk office workers (or any drunk male person) is less negative in Japan than it is in central Europe, and surely less negative than in a prude country such as the United States. But still: We are talking about a woman. Even if she is a devout office worker under peer pressure, the fact that she is a woman, married, with two children on top of that, lying on her porch, unable to crawl into bed, stammering complaints, makes the scene very controversial.
The man who drinks too much might or might not be admired as the king of the bar, but due to social gender constructs the woman who drinks too much will very more likely be considered a disgrace.
Taking Misato as an example: She consumes loads of beer and other alcoholic beverages at home, but when she drinks publicly, at the wedding, she pukes just as publicly.

And third... among cookies, donuts, candy, cake, and several hospital utensils, like syringes and pills raining down from above, comes the fight that looks like the very first implication of a casualty. I'm gonna spill it in the next sentence because it makes no sense to hold back for the rest of the episode descriptions: Mami seems to get devoured by the witch monster - the climax kill, in episode three.
If it happened as it seemed - because in media products like these and after all the years of consuming Anime I still claim that hardly any character has really been dead and gone forever as long as his or her corpse was not shown. The bodies who only vanish use to reappear sooner or later, in dramatic moments, alive and kicking, to save the day.
If it's real I will be simply amazed by the ruthlessness of the writer.

Speaking of the fight - as I mentioned Utena in a previous post I find it most interesting that Mami pulls a rifle out of her chest. Nice choreography, by the way.

Minor points:
- The names of the witches are more like graphical depictions than actual writing.
- The soundtrack might turn out very interesting.
- Saitô Chiwa, voice of Rebecca Miyamoto, sounds somewhat like Chihara Minori in her representation of Akemi.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Its probably a bit too early to stick Akemi in the antagonist slot yet.

I implied that Akemi is the Black Ranger, yes. The Black Ranger usually has ulterior motives and pursues aims that are not in perfect accordance with the ethic or moral stance of the group as a whole, but he (or she) is usually a part of the good guys, even if usually a rather difficult one. (In SailorMoon the Black Ranger archetype was actually represented by two persons, Haruka and Michiru.)
The Black Ranger is most often a lone wolf, a whiley individual with amazing fighting skills who achieves a lot but at one point learns the advantages of working as a team to achieve the big goal. I predict we'll get something like that from Akemi.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 22nd, 2011, 12:17 am 
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The writer of the anime is the writer for Fate/Zero and Nitroplus+ games which in short.... well he does brutal shit to characters without second thought. I reckon he's pretty ruthless. (although in F/Z's case, it is a prequel so everybody dying there is kinda lampshaded). Although getting your head bitten off is a pretty brutal way to go, especially in a Magical Girl premise. Even without a corpse we got a glimpse of her headless body there for a moment and after it got nuked we had some blood splatters.

At any rate, Mami staying dead is unlikely. I feel there's still stuff to do with her character and there is still a wish to be made by Madoka. Conversely it'd be completely weird not to wish her back to life.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 28th, 2011, 9:57 am 
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The blue ranger steps forward, and the red ranger appears only to be totally antagonistic.

I thought it was nice(well not nice but uh) that Madoka was undergoing an emotional turmoil and having second thoughts instead of plunging into it. Mami's revival remains on hold... heck god knows if its happening or not. Well I hope it happens before Madoka has to wish herself out of trouble.

But prices have to be paid, and whats the price of bringing someone back from the dead? But I get the feeling its not quite occuring to her that she can wish Mami back.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 2nd, 2011, 3:16 pm 
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Storm_Shinobi wrote:
The blue ranger steps forward, and the red ranger appears only to be totally antagonistic.

Based on
a) what Akemi says earlier in the episode, that every magical girl fights in a solitary fashion and will thus be quickly forgotten, and
b) Kyûbei's statement that the depicted town was Mami's turf and that after her demise another magical girl will step forward to take it over,
I guess that this series brings us a radically new notion of character development: The concept of the "Sentai" - the combat team - has not yet been established in the world!

In every other Mahô Shôjo series, at least in every single one that I ever saw or read about, when some Senshi come into being they are immediately aware of having to form a team and support each other.
This Anime's "red ranger" (Kyôko?) instead seems to be willing to topple Sayaka and become the sole witch hunter.
As for Akemi, I think she simply believes that Sayaka and Madoka are not psychologically fit to bear the burden of battling the bizarre witches.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
I thought it was nice (well not nice but uh) that Madoka was undergoing an emotional turmoil and having second thoughts instead of plunging into it.

I know what you mean. But it's not just sadness about Mami's death or simply being scared of the alien enemy. I dare say that it is a character trait of the magical girl in general that she does not want to be one. They all wish they could just be normal girls living their generally mediocre lives in peace instead of saving the world and standing up against a deadly opponent. (That statement of course can only be true for the magical girls who fight to save the world, and not for those who seek to become pop stars or something like that, compare Fancy Lala and Full Moon wo sagashite.)

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 11th, 2011, 3:02 am 
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Episode 6 is out, things get more intense.

Now the theory that Homura is from the future doesn't seem too far off. If we assume Kyubey is the only one that can create magical girls and the fact that he doesn't know about Homura could mean that she contracted with him in the future and returned to the past. Maybe her shock over Mami's death was that it wasn't supposed to happen. And she knows about Kyoko without the reverse being true and the coming of the next witch. I theorized that perhaps Madoka sacrificed herself in the future and Homura wants to prevent that. But maybe Madoka ends up destroying the world or something... who knows? Although I blah at time travel, it might seem clever when they start linking the future and past and all these cause and effect nonsense, but it tends to make it seem that everything is predestined.


And the truth is out of the bag, although we probably sorta guessed it. The Soul Gem is the person's soul itself. So when you don't clean it up with Grief Seeds afterwards, you probably just die. Turning into a Witch is still a possibility. And with the body being just a mere husk, it does raise some new questions. Is Homura even in her original body? Is it possible to just possess another body, or create a new one? Also this raises the possibility of Mami being alive - we never saw her soul gem being crushed.

Kyubey is obviously up to no good at all. And the fact that he consumes Grief Seeds afterwards kinda hints to something more terrible.

Interesting thing is that there is a food chain going on. For Magical Girls to maintain themselves, they require Grief Seeds harvested from witches. And to get more Grief Seeds, they essentially have to let Witches reproduce by creating familiars and letting those mature into witches, which means letting people die. Although question is that - does the Soul Gem dim over time? If all witches were annihilated and you just didn't use magic, it could be possible to just keep living. Although of course there would be girls that wouldn't want to give up their newfound strength and powers and there could be those who use them for more than just fighting witches.

But man, we're already halfway and Madoka still hasn't turned into a magical girl. It'd be really interesting if she never turns into one.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 11th, 2011, 4:23 pm 
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Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Episode 6 is out, things get more intense.

You have slipped past me, as I have just only seen episode 5, and episode 6 has not yet been made available in a format that my computer is able to play. 1280x720 x264 etc. is just not feasible, the sound rushes past the frame rate, so I watch rmvb episodes instead.
(Have you ever even mentioned ep. 5???)

Since you have already discussed episode 6 (I have not read your post to avoid spoilers) I will limit myself to the minimum about episode 5.

The opening scene in which Sayaka receives her magical status does seem awkward somehow. The usual Mahô Shôjô series associates this with positive visual elements, but not so in this series. Dark colors, shadows, references to demise, as she's falling backwards, leafs flying up. That's a way to visualize death scenes.
Everywhere else they tell you again and again that there's always hope as long as there's at least one man (or woman) standing, but Madoka Magica does not look like hope at all, more like blood, sweat, and tears.

As Yôsuke's hand is "miraculously" healed, I thought they're immediately exacting peer pressure on him. Hey, your hand is okay again - here's your violine. Play! Again that's just my personal impression of the roof scene, and he does not seem to mind much.
It seems interesting to me that while his hand is healed his legs are not. I'd like to see what they make of that.

And the girls fighting, Sayaka and Kyôko that is. Good aspect. Whenever Magical Girls, or any Sentai for that matter, were fighting among themselves in the history of Anime, they were either possessed by some evil superpower, or they were putting up a charade to fool the evil overlord. Really good.
I also would not have guessed that the main character would stay out of the "chosen circle" for so long.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 12th, 2011, 1:19 pm 
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Episode 6 it is, with well-presented information.

For once there's Madoka's mother stressing that even doing everything right does not guarantee a happy end - another quote that runs contrary to the usual sermon about hope that always prevailed.

Kyôko lectures Sayaka, saying that making wishes for other people would never produce anything good, because she'd wish for more and more, using wishes to control people or their lives entirely. Good point.

The Mahô Shôjo seem to change after they "awaken", as Sayaka does behave differently than before. I'd say she has grown somewhat paranoid, a state of mind that is too often associated with power.
Kyûbei stays out of that discussion, to my surprise, considering the Magical Girl series of the past, where the "pets" were always a sort of conscience and a source of reasoning, keeping the girls on track. Not so Kyûbei - he helps fulfill wishes and makes Magical Girls, but he does not seem to have a deep understanding of human nature.
It is an interesting fact about his character that now we learn facts about the nature of Mahô Shôjo which he never told the girls about: The body becomes a mere shell, while the actual life force is being stored in the Soul Gem.
"You turned us into Zombies!?" cries Kyôko.
"Well, isn't it convenient?" Kyûbei replies.
And now it makes sense - the scene in which Sayaka receives her powers. I wrote that it was presented like a death scene - and that's what it is! Her life force leaves her body, the body goes down. Death and rebirth. And when life and body are separated by more than 100 meters, control over the body is lost, the body just dies.
It does not reflect well upon Kyûbei that he does not tell them these things before they decide to join the club.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
this raises the possibility of Mami being alive - we never saw her soul gem being crushed.

And where is her Soul Gem?

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Kyubey is obviously up to no good at all. And the fact that he consumes Grief Seeds afterwards kinda hints to something more terrible.

For now I can't believe that he'll come out of the evil closet, I'm just under the impression that he has a different understanding of what's appropriate and what's not.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Interesting thing is that there is a food chain going on.

Indeed interesting. The girls rely upon the creatures they are supposed to destroy.
Well, I guess the witches will never go extinct because there's always grief and pain to make new ones.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
does the Soul Gem dim over time?

I thought the Sould Gem had to be recharged. If there were no more witches the life force would fade away slowly.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
But man, we're already halfway and Madoka still hasn't turned into a magical girl. It'd be really interesting if she never turns into one.

I'm sure she will. Otherwise it wouldn't make sense to describe her as a sort of prodigy. In two or three episodes a major crisis will surely occur that necessitates her transformation.

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 15th, 2011, 1:15 pm 
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Mami's Soul Gem was located on her head post transformation, but like it could have survived being swallowed whole and the exploding. Probably a long shot though. I guess even then it'd be lost in another dimension, but she coulld somehow stumble across something to take control or maybe. It'd still be fun for her to come back as like a witch or something.

Anyway the Soul Gem does need to be recharged when magic is used, but there hasn't been any mention that it loses power over time.


Magical Girls in this show are essentially Liches. Their souls were ripped from their body into a Soul Gem, a phylactery. Their body is technically dead anyway, no soul occupies it. If they were get their bodies destroyed, should the soul gem survive they could possess a new body, or perhaps recreate a new one out of magic. First instance of undead magical girls that I've seen.

As for Kyubey, I already see him as some kinda Lovecraftian monstrosity in a cute little body, except the body stops being cute when you realize he keeps that same expression all the time. While he doesn't seem to be the lying sort, I dare say only mentioning partial truths and keeping a lot under wraps can be just as bad. And his insistence on getting Madoka to make a contract is quite suspicious.

Also.
http://void.heteml.jp/flash/throw_gem/

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 16th, 2011, 6:28 pm 
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Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Magical Girls in this show are essentially Liches.

Put in AD&D terms, yeah, essentially. :sweat:

Storm_Shinobi wrote:

So damn cool... in a morbid kind a way, of course. Pink egg-like thing misses the truck, blue egg-like thing collapses. :P2:

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 Post subject: Re: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 18th, 2011, 2:35 pm 
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And more shit hits the fan wee.

And Kyubey is such a magnificent bastard compounded by the fact terms like bastard doesn't mean anything to him. Shows Sayaka the advantages of having her soul ripped apart from her body by making her experience the pain that would have resulted from the previous battle had it not been done.

Kyouko comes to terms with what had happened to them pretty quick and tries to establish a some kind of kinship with Sayaka, revealing that she spent her wish on her father only to have it backlash eventually and destroy her entire family. Trying to be a nice senpai suddenly. Sudden contrast.

Sayaka going nuts was like woah. Decided to shut off pain entirely, despite Kyubey advising against it(or maybe it was a ploy by him for mentioning it in the first place!). Hitomi declaring her feelings for Kyousuke was the final trigger after her belief that she cannot be with Kyousuke due to her 'body'. I guess now is to see whether she bounces back from it or how far she goes down.

Not sure what Kyouko is going to do from now on. She's definite concerned about Sayaka somewhat and isn't as selfish as she let off to start with. Although possibly she just wants to manage some sort of alliance or teamwork for the upcoming Walpurgis Night.

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If only they'd just unite under the power of pocky.

http://void.heteml.jp/flash/hmhm_jump/
Homura Jump Game.

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